[The writing staff was asked to provide their thoughts on the Reds upcoming season, in 100 words or less. Nation, whose opinion do you agree with the most? And what would you write in your 100 words?]
Taylor Ballinger – I feel less optimistic about this yearÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s club than I have in a while. It seems like yesterday that Cincinnati had built a contender, and now that window is closing. There are just too many question marks. Will the lineup stay healthy enough to produce? Will a legitimate 4 or 5 starter emerge? Is the bullpen even worse than last year? My guess is the lineupÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s much better, but the rotation/bullpen takes a significant step back and by the trade deadline the Reds look to sell and dive into rebuild mode. IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢m terrible at predictions so letÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s hope IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢m wrong.
Nick Carrington – Ã‚Â I expect the Reds to be good when healthy. I also expect them to sustain injuries that will expose their lack of depth (sound familiar?). Their top six hitters are good enough to win a lot of games and Billy Hamilton might just take a step forward in year two. The rotation is good enough as long as Marquis doesnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t make more than a few starts. Depth is the greatest challenge. If a couple of their top six hitters go down, the Reds have very little behind them to keep the team afloat until key pieces return.
Jeremy Conley – In the spring, IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢m physically incapable of predicting that anyone but the Reds will win it all. ItÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s going to take some breaks, but the under-the-radar key to remember is that the bullpen went 11-31 last year, and thatÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s just not going to happen again. With some new arms and better timing, I expect the bullpen to be around .500, and that would be a 10 win improvement right there. I expect weÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ll take the NLC with less than 90 wins, because I think it will be a battle all season, and will probably come down to the final weekend.
Greg Dafler – I expect the Reds to win more than they lose in 2015, yet the division title remains just out of their reach. They need to be healthier than they were last season, especially to their key starting pitchers and, of course, Joey Votto. Votto’s rebound alone from knee and leg injuries would make this club a league average offense. The Reds will need improvement from two other positions to push this offense into league leading territory.
Nick Doran – The Reds will unwisely extend Johnny Cueto to a big money long term deal. The offense will return to the upper half of the NL in scoring due to bounceback seasons from Joey Votto and Jay Bruce. Billy Hamilton will struggle all season at the plate. The bullpen will be volatile but JJ Hoover will end the season as the 8th inning setup man. The rotation will pitch well but the Reds will use 10 starters. The Reds will contend all year in a strong division but will ultimately fall short of the playoffs.
Mark Elliott – Reds 2015 Timeline Ã¢â‚¬â€œÃ‚Â April 1st – Excitement; May 1st – Strong concern over lack of run production, especially from the top of the order; June 1st – Thinking where Cueto will end up next month; July 1st – All Star Game Fever; August 1st – Guessing if Cueto will come up in the rotation when his new team comes to town; Sept 1st – Looking for our Bengals and Buckeye jerseys; Oct 1st – Glad itÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s over.
Jeremy Forbes – It should be a pretty fun season to watch, even more so with the ASG in Cincinnati. I think the Reds offense with a healthy Votto and Bruce combined with Frazier, Mesoraco, and anyone besides the previous Ludwick/Schumaker combo in LF will come together and perform well enough offensively to keep them in the general conversation of a Wild Card spot. The starting pitching and relief pitching will ultimately fail to be enough to keep them from having to be sellers at the trade deadline. Look for Cueto, Chapman, Byrd, and Pena to be among those dealt.
Grant Freking – If Joey Votto, Devin Mesoraco and/or Johnny Cueto spends extended time on the disabled list prior to the All-Star break, the Reds will sink and the season becomes academic by late July. But, if the Reds are in the thick of the playoff race at the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline, how will the front office react? Will the powers that be sit on their hands like last summer or provide reinforcements? A leap of faith, either by adding an influential arm or bat, will be required to provide the club with boost in the dog days of summer.
Greg Gajus – IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢m not optimistic about the Reds chances in 2015, as it would take everything going right (with performance and health) to contend, and that is a rare occurrence. The offense needs Votto/Bruce to bounce back to 2013 levels, and everyone else to maintain their 2014 production. The pitching after Cueto, Bailey, Leake, and Chapman is projected to be replacement level and one key to the season is how quickly they move off the idea of Jason Marquis #4 starter. The biggest thing in their favor (and everyone else) is a compressed league, which is why I picked the Cubs.
Jeff Gangloff – The biggest key to the RedÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s 2015 season comes down to one word: health. If the starting rotation can stay healthy and Joey Votto, Jay Bruce, and Devin Mesoraco can be counted on to play an entire season without injury, then thereÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s no reason why this Reds team canÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t win at least 80 games. I expect bounce back years from Votto and Bruce and ultimately think Mesoraco and Votto are in this yearÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s MVP discussion. Will it be enough to make up for a shaky back end of the rotation and bullpen? We will see.
Wesley Jenkins – More likely than not, the 2015 Reds team will be similar to the 2014 Reds, just without the injuries to blame (hopefully). With the core getting older, no clear offensive upgrades, and question marks in the rotation and bullpen, there doesnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t seem much room for optimism. For the Reds to make a run at the playoffs, Votto and Bruce must bounce back, and Mesoraco and Frazier need to continue their reliability from last year. The rotation needs to stay steady, and the bullpen must improve upon the collective dumpster fire they were a season ago.
Nick Kirby – There is only one major key to the Reds in 2015: health. The Reds depth is absolutely atrocious, and if they lose major guys to injury for any significant time, it will be a very long season (and we could see this team blown up after the All Star game). If the Reds can have a season like 2012, where they stay mostly healthy all season, the Reds have enough talent to compete for a postseason spot.
Matt Korte – From Captain Obvious: Everything relies on our health; Votto, Bruce, BPÃ¢â‚¬Â¦all need to stay healthy and play 140+ games for us to contend.Ã‚Â But beyond that, we enter the season with some serious question marks in the rotation.Ã‚Â Mesoraco and Frazier will build off of their All-Star appearances from a year ago and join Votto, Chapman and Cueto for the ASG.Ã‚Â Kristopher Negron and Michael Lorenzen will have their moments and develop as fan favoritesÃ¢â‚¬Â¦at the end of the day, we just arenÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t near the class of the division, but finish a respectable 83-79 and miss out on the playoffs.
Bill Lack – One key for the Reds this year is the health of the starting 8. A significant injury to Votto, Bruce, Frazier, or Mesoraco and the offense will fall apart. The offense could be good, with health, and increased production from LF, RF, and 1B over last year and no significant drop-offs elsewhere. The other key is their starting pitching. Once you get past Cueto, Leake, and Bailey; the rotation gets very Ã¢â‚¬Å“iffyÃ¢â‚¬Â. The remaining two spots need to be Ã¢â‚¬Å“not horribleÃ¢â‚¬Â for this team to compete. For them to be competitive, everything has to go right. I donÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t believe it will, I predict a below .500 season and a 4th place finish.
Jason Lawrence – I’m equally as optimistic about the Reds’ offense rebounding as I am pessimistic about their pitching in 2015. It seems that Votto and Bruce will bounce back nicely and Marlon Byrd will be an upgrade in left. Hamilton and Cozart probably won’t improve too significantly and Phillips will continue to decline. DeSclafani hopefully will be a serviceable #4 starter but the #5 spot could be a disaster. There are several question marks behind Chapman in the bullpen. If everything goes right I think they’re a playoff team. One or two key injuries and they’re last place.
Kevin Michell – I think they’ll be in the hunt all year, but that could bite them in the end. Joey will hit better, Jay should too, and Mike Leake will have a better season than anyone not named Johnny Beisbol. The difference between coming in third with no playoffs and placing higher while snagging a wild card will count on Todd slugging near the same as last year, Homer pitching up to his contract value, and some combination of Byrd and Boesch in left field giving us a slash line in the vicinity of .270/.310/.390.
John Ring – Everything has to go right: Votto plays 150 games and is Joey MVP, Cozart is mediocre instead of awful, Bruce bounces back, Phillips plays like he did three years ago, Pryce builds a bullpen, Homer pitches like he did in 2012. If those six things happen the Reds could win 92-95 games. If it all blows up, the ceiling would be 68-70 wins. If the ship is sinking in June, Cueto will have to be traded along with others. It’s not a pleasant thought but realistic. Our best arm on the staff (Chapman) will once again pitch just 60 innings, more or less.
Chris Wilson – For the Reds to have a winning season, everything must alignÃ‚Â Ã‚Â perfectly. Everyone must remain healthy and the club needs bounce back seasons out of Bruce and Votto.Ã‚Â Billy Hamilton must improve on his ability to get on-base and then Votto, Mesoraco, and Bruce need to become a force in the middle of the Reds lineup.Ã‚Â If health and production stay consistent, the Reds could win the division.Ã‚Â But those are a lot of IFs to take in heading into the season.