Last updated: February 07. 2014 12:31AM - 692 Views
USHER COLUMN



Story Tools:

Font Size:

Social Media:

Absolutely nothing.


That’s what the Reds did to help themselves so far this offseason.


And while Reds general manager Walt Jocketty could always pull off a deal between now and Opening Day on March 31, the team is currently in a holding pattern.


The Reds came through Lima recently on their winter caravan. On the surface, everyone was in their usual offseason perky mood.


And why not?


If you can’t be optimistic in January, when can you be?


But you didn’t have to dig down very deep to find that the Reds have plenty of question marks for this season.


So, with that in mind, here are my top questions for the Reds with less than a week until pitchers and catchers report on Feb. 13.


What can we expect of ace Johnny Cueto, after he made only 11 starts last year because of his side/lat/back issues?


The Reds say Cueto is well rested this offseason and is ready to go. But no one really knows how he will hold up.


“I think you have to be concerned (with Cueto), simply because it’s something that took him out almost the entire season last year,” Reds broadcaster Jeff Brantley said on the caravan. It’ll be tough to compete without Cueto for the majority of the season.”


What is Plan B if Billy Hamilton doesn’t work out in center field?


Center field is Hamilton’s job to lose. He became a hot prospect by setting the professional record with 155 stolen bases two years ago between Class A and AA. Last year at AAA Louisville he hit .256 with 75 stolen bases.


The Reds are hoping Hamilton can hit around .250 in Cincinnati this year.


If he can’t deliver with the bat, they did sign outfielder/infielder Skip Schumaker. He could fill in with Chris Heisey to get through the year.


Those aren’t the kind of alternatives that guide a team to a championship.


How will left fielder Ryan Ludwick do this year?


Ludwick missed most of last season with a separated shoulder after diving into third base on Opening Day last year. He returned late in the year, but wasn’t the same player. In 129 at-bats, he hit only .240 with two home runs.


Ludwick should be fine this year and is expected to return to his 2012 form when he hit .275 with 26 home runs and 80 RBIs with the Reds.


Can the Reds expect more hitting from shortstop Zack Cozart and third baseman Todd Frazier?


Cozart, a .252 career hitter in two-plus seasons, hit .254 with 12 home runs and 63 RBIs. Expect about the same offense, with plenty of Gold Glove-caliber defense.


Frazier is a little bit more difficult to decode. In his first full year of 2012, he hit .273 with 19 home runs and 67 RBIs. Last year he slipped to .234 with 19 homers and 73 RBIs. His on-base percentage also slipped from .331 in 2012 to .314 last year.


The Reds are hoping his average rebounds. Whether it does is a big key to the year.


How much will the Reds lose, defensively, with Devin Mesoraco playing full time after Ryan Hanigan was dealt to Tampa?


Mesoraco is adequate behind the plate, but doesn’t have the arm accuracy of Hanigan. The Reds are hoping his bat will be an improvement over Hanigan. It may be, but Mesoraco is a career .225 hitter, who hit .238 last year.


The Reds will miss Hanigan’s overall defensive stability, including blocking balls, throwing and handling pitchers. Because of his defense, he was ranked by the MLB channel last year as one of the most underrated catchers in baseball.


How will the Reds’ rotation be without Bronson Arroyo, who is still a free agent?


With a healthy douse of Cueto, the rotation will be a plus with Mat Latos, Homer Bailey, Mike Leake and Tony Cingrani. It also helps that the bullpen will be a strength, including having Aroldis Chapman as the closer.


However, if Cueto goes down, it all begins to get out of whack.


At this point, there are quite a few question marks heading into spring training.

Comments
comments powered by Disqus


Featured Businesses


Poll



Info Minute