A RIVAL SCOUT SIZES UP THE REDS
I'm going with Cincinnati over Milwaukee to win the division, but it's going to be a hell of a race if they both stay healthy. The Reds' pitching depth and their bullpen are a little better. . . . Their rotation is solid 1 through 5, with Mike Leake just sitting there waiting to fill in. If they have an injury, they won't miss a beat. . . . Edinson Volquez ranges from 93 to 96 on his fastball, with sink and life. If he can harness his command, he can be an ace. . . . Johnny Cueto can get erratic. If their catchers can keep him under control and on line to the plate and prevent him from overthrowing, he'll be fine. . . . Aroldis Chapman has got a great arm, but he has a bullpen delivery, lots of excess motion, not as smooth as you'd see from a starter. There's a lot of effort to it in the knees and arm, making it harder to stay under control and repeat. If he ever gets plus command, s---, it's all over because his stuff is devastating. . . . Francisco Cordero may not have the stuff he once had, but the ability to close is still there. He used to be a power guy, but he knows how to throw the ball over the plate and change speeds. . . . Joey Votto has a nice, quiet swing. He's a hell of a hitter, the center of it all for them. . . . With older guys like Scott Rolen, the question if he starts slow is whether he's slipping or just getting himself ready. I say he's just getting himself ready. He's still a professional hitter. . . . I love Jay Bruce. I think he can be a force. He can get a little overanxious, but he's becoming more selective at the plate. The physical skills have always been there.
April 3, 2011
WITH 2010 STATISTICS
MANAGER DUSTY BAKER
4TH SEASON WITH REDS
The Reds' NL--leading team batting average in 2010. Not only was it the team's highest in 10 years, but Cincy's .009 advantage over Colorado and St. Louis was also the widest margin between the top-hitting NL teams since 2001.
Jonny Gomes has enough good qualities to be worth a roster spot. He mashes lefthanders (.276/.371/.507 in his career) and is a decent base runner for someone without great speed. What he's not is an everyday leftfielder. Gomes has very poor range, rating next-to-last among leftfielders in Ultimate Zone Rating a year ago, and he doesn't hit righties nearly well enough (.233/.309/.438 career) to make up for that. He's a platoon player whom Dusty Baker has turned into an everyday one due to a high RBI total—and it's hurting the Reds. If Baker doesn't want to turn left field over to the power bat and young legs of Chris Heisey, he can at least use Fred Lewis against most righties. Lewis gets on base at a higher rate than does Gomes (.348 career, .354 versus RHP) and represents the best solution to the Reds' gaping hole in the leadoff slot. Gomes has worth against lefty starters and as a pinch hitter, but Baker's allegiance to him isn't something the Reds can afford.