2006 Finish: 80-82, 3rd place in the NL Central, 3.5 games back
Manager: Jerry Narron, 3rd season with the Reds
Comings: RHP Dustin Hermanson, SS Alex Gonzalez, C Jason LaRue, LHP Mike Stanton, RHP Brian Meadows
Goings: INF Rich Aurillia, SS Royce Clayton, RHP Ryan Franklin, LHP Scott Schoeneweis,
Offense: The Reds are capable of slugging it out when needed. Ken Griffey missed most of the spring with a wrist injury. The future hall-of-famer is also making a position change, moving from center to right. The Kid appeared in only 109 games but was still able to hit 27 HRs. Ryan Freel takes over in center on a full time basis. Freel hit only .271 but had on OBP of .363. Freel also provides above average defense. LF Adam Dunn still provides loads of power and loads of strikeouts. Dunn hit 40 HRs and struckout 194 times. First base will be handled by returning starter Scott Hatteberg. He does not put up the power numbers you expect out of the position, but he gets on base and doesn’t strike out. 2B Brandon Phillips finally had a breakout season after coming over from Cleveland. SS Alex Gonzalez comes over fom Boston and provides super defense. 3B Edwin Encarcion took over during the season and should be a mainstay for years to come. C David Ross put up career highs in HRs with 21 and RBIs with 52. This prompted the Reds to trade Jason LaRue. Josh Hamilton was picked up in the Rule 5 Draft. More about him below.
Rotation: The Reds paid out big bucks this winter, giving extensions to RHPs Bronson Arroyo and Aaron Harang. Arroyo established himself as a NL front of the rotation starter. He went 14-11 with a 3.29 ERA. Harang also established himself as a dependable innings eater, going 16-11 with a 3.76 ERA. LHP Eric Milton was mediocre going 8-8 with a 5.19 ERA. RHP Kyle Lohse was 5-10 with a 5.83 ERA. The fifth starter should be RHP Matt Belisle. He was 2-0 with a 3.60 ERA in 30 games, only two of those starts.
Bullpen: RHP Dustin Hermanson was picked up off the scrap heap and looks like he will be the Reds’ closer. Hermanson missed much of last year with back problems. Veteran LHP Mike Stanton will take on the late inning work against left-handers. RHP David Weathers is a durable veteran saved 12 games last year. RHP Todd Coffey had 8 saves and will provide depth. RHP Kirk Saarloos is a very good swing man. LHP Bill Bray had a solid first year, posting a 4.09 ERA and will continue to improve.
Homer Bailey-RHP-Seventh overall pick of the 2004 First Year Player Draft. Considered one of the two best pitching prospects in baseball (the other being the Yankees’ Phillip Hughes). Baseball America rated him as the fifth best prospect in baseball. Has a fastball that sits 92-96 topping out at 98. Throws two devastating curveballs, a 12 to 6 hammer and a 11-5 looper. His change up is showing improvement and could become another plus pitch. Got an increased workload last year, pitching 139 innings between Class A and Double A. He struckout 156 hitters and posted an ERA of 2.46. Had an outside shot at this year’s rotation, but will probably start the year at Triple A.
Josh Hamilton-OF-Rule 5 pick from the Tampa Bay Devil Rays. Devil Rays chose Hamilton first overall in the 1999 First Year Player Draft. Was on the fast track out of high school in Raleigh, N.C., before a substance abuse problem sidelined his career. Was suspended for over 3 years by MLB. Got reinstated in 2006 and played in 15 games before having to have minor knee surgery. He is an elite five tool player. Hamilton has above raw power. He has above average speed and can play all three outfield positions. Has an incredible arm strength as witnessed here. Hamilton threw 95 MPH off the mound in high school. Has to stay on the big league roster all season for the Reds to retain his rights and I am rooting for him.
Analysis: As many deals as Wayve Krivsky made during the season, I was disappointed the Reds made minimal noise during this offseason. The team is better than it was this time last year, but I still don’t think they have enough pitching to get it done during the stretch. I am really looking forward to seeing Josh Hamilton play and hopefully he can turn his life around.