Three new fantasy-oriented articles about the Reds can help pass the time until pitchers and catchers report.

Robert Bishop offers a look-ahead on the entire team, including this comment on the competition for left field:

The big battle is expected to go down in left field, where new signing Ryan Ludwick will try to resurrect his career by holding off 27 year-old Chris Heisey, who at this point in his career has a better chance at being a productive regular. 25 year-old Todd Frazier could find himself in the mix as well with a good spring. His chances of making the 25-man roster are bettered by the fact that he possesses enough positional flexibility to play corner spots in the infield or the outfield.

Mike Podhorzer at Rotographs digs into the peripherals to form an estimate for Homer Bailey’s 2012 season.  Podhorzer compares his conclusion (180 IP, 11 wins, 3.95 ERA) to other projections:

Overall, my projected line is the most optimistic, though not by much. It is understandable why the computer projections only project 160-166 innings, though I am a little surprised that the fans only project 162. Maybe the shoulder injury from last year is a factor, which admittedly it should be. All projections assume a high BABIP, which seems wrong when you look deeper into why his career BABIP is slightly higher than league average. We all expect some control regression, as well as a strikeout rate spike. In addition, we all expect improvement over last year, though stop short of projecting a full breakout.

Finally, Will Overton at Roto Professor tries to figure out if Mat Latos will make the leap to a major league ace.  His bottom line:

Latos is a 24 year old with good control and the potential to be dominating in terms of strikeouts. He doesn’t give up too many home runs and there are no real signs of his early successes having heavy luck involvement. There is a whole lot to like here. … There is more risk involved just because he hasn’t shown the ability to do it for a full season yet, but there is plenty of reward as well.

UPDATE: Mark Sheldon at MLB.Com has an excellent spring training article posted today. It offers a comprehensive treatment of the new guys, prospects to watch, the players we lost and those looking to rebound. He believes the fifth rotation spot will be a battle between Leake, Chapman and Francis.  His answer to the question of whether or not Devin Mesoraco is ready is this:

Mesoraco, the Reds’ No. 1 prospect, batted .180 as a September callup last season but earned high marks for his catching skills and working with the pitchers. The club showed its commitment to him by letting quality veteran Ramon Hernandez move on as a free agent. Mesoraco will likely split catching duties with veteran Ryan Hanigan in some sort of hybrid-platoon.

One more fantasy-slanted article spotlighting the Reds was posted by Kenneth Arthur at Fake Teams.  He identifies Joey Votto as the Reds best hitter and Mat Latos as the best pitcher. No surprises there. He also thinks Aroldis Chapman could be a breakout player and pegs Johnny Cueto as a possible disappointment.

The scary trend of Johnny Cueto: His K/9 has dropped every year he’s been in the majors, from 8.17 in 2008 to 6.00 last year. He had a .249 BABIP against in 2011 and that’s definitely going to rise. Cueto might be able to get by and post an ERA of 3.20 (much more likely than the 2.31 he posted last year) but that will only come with a few strikeouts.