All baseball fans start the season with the optimal optimism. After all, that is one aspect of the love of the game. Then again, many fans make predictions – some optimist, others realistic, and many just for fun. So, here’s a look at my team – the Cincinnati Reds.
They are the NL Central’s defending champions, as in 2010 they defied the predictions of the pundits – including me. Reds strengths are defense, starting pitching depth, and timely hitting. Joey Votto is for real, and the team surrounds him by a good mix of young and old players. Team speed is good, but not great. As with many teams, who knows which way the bullpen goes, but the latter seems to be in good hands.
Although the team is highly touted by baseball pundits, I have the following concerns for the 2011 season.
- 2010 did not involve many injuries. Two starting pitchers start 2011 on the DL. Is this an omen for what is to come?
- In 2010, the Reds led the league in late-inning, come-from-behind wins. Can this be done again? I know Opening Day says YES, but time will tell.
- Sometimes the stars align with the right players doing the right thing at the right time. Was that 2010?
- Individually, can Drew Stubbs continue to improve? Can Johnny Gomes produce enough to justify his questionable defense and streaky hitting? Can Scott Rolen productively play 110-120 games?
Every team has questions – plus repeating as division champs isn’t easy. I’m a loyal fan and will root for as many wins as possible – and I’ll settle for less than 162 wins – yet 90 will win the division. Tom Lasorda said each team wins a third of its games, loses a third, with the remaining third being the key to their success.
On paper, the Reds are the class of the NL Central. The games are not on paper, but played on the field over many months. Unfortunately, I see the Reds finishing in third place, but closer to second than fourth.
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