I know what you’re thinking: its only January, I was really excited last year and I was let down again, 2010 was awesome until the playoffs, so tell me why should I get my hopes up, what makes this year so different? There are 3 key areas that need to be taken into consideration as to why the Cincinnati Reds fans should get 100% behind our team. Those areas are: first a look back at the 2011 and the injury bug. Second the current status of the N.L. Central and finally the offseason moves made by Walt Jocketty and the Reds.
Coming into the Reds 2011 season the city of Cincinnati was electric with baseball talk and high hopes after a magical 2010 season that saw the Reds win the N.L. Crown in a tight race with the Cardinals and return to the playoffs. It was a magic that seemed to carry over into 2011 at least in Opening Day with 2 down bottom of the 9th walk off home run by Ramon Hernandez to win the game. However despite that win truth was the Reds were limping if not almost down right stumbling right out of the gate. Key Injuries to Pitching and Position players plagued the Reds all season long. Here is a list of injuries the Reds had in 2011:
03/22/2011 Johnny Cueto 15-Day DL Right biceps irritation
03/24/2011 Homer Bailey 15-Day DL Right shoulder impingement
03/25/2011 Jose Arredondo 15-Day DL Right shoulder inflammation
03/27/2011 Fred Lewis 15-Day DL Strained right oblique
03/29/2011 Jared Burton 60-Day DL Right shoulder inflammation
04/13/2011 Brandon Phillips Day-to-Day Left game – groin injury
04/17/2011 Juan Francisco 15-Day DL Strained left calf
04/21/2011 Scott Rolen 15-Day DL Strained left shoulder
05/14/2011 Ryan Hanigan Day-to-Day Hand
05/16/2011 Aroldis Chapman 15-Day DL Left shoulder inflammation
05/23/2011 Sam LeCure 15-Day DL Strained right forearm
05/24/2011 Matt Maloney 60-Day DL Strained left oblique
05/27/2011 Homer Bailey 15-Day DL Right shoulder sprain
06/26/2011 Jay Bruce Day-to-Day Illness
07/10/2011 Aroldis Chapman Day-to-Day Ankle injury
07/15/2011 Jose Arredondo 15-Day DL Strained right forearm
07/21/2011 Scott Rolen 15-Day DL Left shoulder surgery – out 4-6 weeks
07/23/2011 Jay Bruce Day-to-Day Inner ear infection
07/24/2011 Zack Cozart 60-Day DL Left elbow surgery – out for season
08/06/2011 Chris Heisey 15-Day DL Strained left oblique
08/08/2011 Logan Ondrusek 15-Day DL Strained right forearm
09/18/2011 Dontrelle Willis Day-to-Day Back spasms
09/19/2011 Yonder Alonso Day-to-Day Ankle
As you can see it was not only the number of injuries but the short amount of time in which they happened in. Coming out of Spring training Cueto, Bailey were injured and even though not listed Arroyo who caught some strange illness in spring training was far from 100% and never really recovered all season long. Essentially 3 of the 5 starting pitchers in the rotation were missing out of the gate. The bullpen was short with Jose Arredondo and Jared Burton who were also injured before the start of the season. Then in April the Reds lost 3rd base with Juan Francisco and Scott Rolen going out with in a week of each other. May was not better with the loss of Chapman who was over used and had to go down to Louisville to get straightened back out. With these key injuries and a strong Milwaukee and St. Louis teams the Reds (who on paper were still a good team from 2010) fell behind and never really recovered.
The current 2012 National League Central division looks vastly different than the 2011 one did that combined with upcoming contracts of Star Reds Players makes 2012 the Reds time to shine. Despite Pittsburg’s brief days in first place in 2011 the two major competitors to the Reds in the N. L. Central have been the Milwaukee Brewers and I hate say it but the 2011 World series Champions St. Louis Cardinals. When you look at the world champs (cough chumps cough) 2 major changes are the loss of Albert Pujols and Manager Tony Larussa. Obviously without these two the brains the brawn if you will makes St. Louis all be it still a good team but much weaker. In Milwaukee another key first baseman Prince Fielder was lost in free agency and N.L. MVP Ryan Braun is looking at a possible 50 game suspension for breaking the MLB’s illegal substance policy this will make the Brewers considerably weaker as well. Also The Reds know that the contracts of two of their stars will be coming up in the next few seasons namely Bandon Phillips and Joey Votto. With a good possibility of not being able to resign either. REDS general Manager Walt Jocketty knows that the time is now more than ever.
With the pressure on to win and win now Walt Jocketty kept his promise to make key moves to help the Reds win in 2012. The Laundry list for the Reds was a number 1 or 2 starting pitcher, figure out the closer situation with Francisco Corderos contract up, fill the left field position, and find a backup at the Short stop position. While many Reds fans were upset with Jocketty when the winter meetings came and gone with no moves by the Reds. Walt was quick to make up ground in January. Jocketty started with a 4 for 1 trade with San Diego which saw much touted prospects Yonder Alsono, switch hitting Catcher Yasmani Grandal and one time electric Reds starting pitcher Edison Volquez for Young Pitching star Matt Latos (who is also under Reds control for many years to come). Also right-handed reliever Brad Boxberger was the given to SD in the deal. Latos will most likely be the number 2 pitcher behind Cueto when the season starts with the potential to someday be the Reds ace. Walt lost no time and a few days later made a trade to bolster the bullpen with the Cubs to get setup man Sean Marshall. Then in a shocker the Reds signed Former Phillies Closer Ryan Madson. Ryan Ludwick was added from free agency to help with Left field. Walt also traded with Phillies to get Wilson Valdez to help back up Cozart at Short stop. Jocketty is now been busy offering minor league deals with invites to spring training to help with depth and create competition in spring training. In a very busy January Walt Jocketty and the Reds are now retooled to make their 2012 run.
As you can see the Reds who were already a good team despite the bad luck with injuries in 2011 have looked around the N.L. Central in 2012 and have gone all in by cashing in many of their top prospects and making key free agent signings. The only question that remains is: are the fans all in as well? One of the black eyes on Reds fans was in 2010 when the Reds made their magical run was the lack of fans in the stands. We Reds fans have a team storied in fame and tradition. We owe it not only to ourselves but also to fathers, Uncles, Aunts, Mothers, Grand Fathers and Grand Mothers who passed down their love of the game to us to this year more than any other years past get out and support this Reds team. Not just to go to the games but be excited about it. We need to follow this team from Spring training to Post season. If you can’t go to the game listen to Marty make the call on the radio. Take your kids because I believe this season will be one not to forget. It’s going to be a fun season I am not saying it will be easy St. Louis is still the chumps I mean champs and the brewers will not go down easy and even Pittsburg will prove to be tough from time to time but I don’t just believe, I know this team can WIN. They will not break your hearts so let’s put our hearts back into this team. So LET’S GO REDS!!!!!!!!!