April 01, 2006

NL Central - Reds

This team has the rare combination of being terrible and dangerous. Many people forget that they played .500 ball for the second half of last year, and hence weren't the pushovers they were in the first half of the season. As always, their problem is their terrible, terrible pitching combined with their incredibly hitter-friendly ballpark. Their bats are pretty good (their ballpark helps). Their OF is one of the best in baseball - with Kearns (if he ever gets his crap together), Griffey (if he manages to stay healthy for the 2nd year in a row), and Dunn (no caveat here, he's good). Lopez and Valentin are pretty good, and Encarnacion is a promising player. But their newest acquisitions are a downgrade from last year. Womack has nothing left in the tank, and Hatteberg is running out of gas as well. If the Reds finally play Freel at 2b or LF (moving Dunn to First) and have him bat leadoff, they will be a much better team. He's an Eckstein-like sparkplug, except better.

I would also argue that their pitching hasn't gotten any better - in fact it may be even worse. Here's their opening day rotation - Harang, Arroyo, Williams, Claussen, Milton. Of those five, only Harang is going to be decent, though Claussen may improve this season. Milton is the worst possible pitcher for their ballpark, as we saw last year when he coughed up a major-league record 40 gopherballs. Their new guys, Arroyo and Williams, are no slouches with the gopherball themselves. Williams gave up 20 of them last season in only 120 innings - most of which were at pitcher-friendly PNC park too. Arroyo gave up 22 homers last year, though he did pitch a full 200 innings. He's a decent pitcher, but if you subtract the GAB from his projected stats he will probably be pretty sub-par, which is not what you want from your #2 starter.