5 Cincinnati Reds Storylines to Follow During Spring Training
5 Cincinnati Reds Storylines To Follow
In 2013, the Cincinnati Reds once again got above the 90-win mark and once again, they were eliminated quickly in the playoffs. While they were eliminated in the NLDS in 2010 and in 2012, the Reds lost in the Wild Card Game in 2013 to the Pittsburgh Pirates. Longtime manager Dusty Baker was fired immediately after the end of the season and was replaced in-house by pitching coach Bryan Price. Despite all of the recent frustration surrounding the team, Price will have high expectations for a team that should contend for a division title, although the Pirates and defending NL champion St. Louis Cardinals will make it difficult. The Milwaukee Brewers will get slugger Ryan Braun back for a full season, and the Chicago Cubs have a very good farm system built up as they continue their rebuilding process.
The Reds have been unable to translate regular season success into postseason victories over the last few years. They certainly have the talent to win it all, but the championship window with superstars Joey Votto and Jay Bruce can only last so many years. This year's edition of the Reds will be similar to the past few seasons, with a respectable lineup, a rotation full of potential and the hardest-throwing left-hander on the planet in the back of the bullpen. The Reds only lost one major piece in free agency this winter in leadoff hitter Shin-Soo Choo, but the team appears to have the necessary in-house components to replace him.
Will this finally be the year that Reds fans will have something to celebrate about? Here are five Spring Training storylines to follow for the Cincinnati Reds.
5. Billy Hamilton
Billy Hamilton appears to be the next youngster ready to take the field for the Reds. He is one of the fastest players to ever play in the majors, and will be a threat to steal every time he is on base. The question for him will be whether or not he can get on base effectively at the major league level.
4. Brandon Phillips
In 2013, Brandon Phillips had what some might call a down year. With over $50 million due over the next four seasons, the Reds will be hard-pressed to find a team willing to trade for someone with his bloated contract. The Reds will have to hope that a declining Phillips produces adequately enough this year.
3. Tony Cingrani
Tony Cingrani was one of the best mid-season call-ups in all of baseball last year, striking out 120 hitters in just 104 innings. A power pitcher, Cingrani relies entirely on his fastball to get outs. Hopefully this Spring Training, Cingrani can work on a secondary pitch that will allow him to continue to be effective in the majors.
2. Robert Stephenson
The top prospect for the Reds, Robert Stephenson should continue his development in Spring Training and into the regular season. Stephenson will be a favorite to get into the rotation for 2015 but for this season, the Reds will have to hope that he can make an impact late in 2014.
1. Joey Votto
In 2013, considering all of the success he's had, Votto hit just 37 home runs. While this dip in home run numbers was unfortunate, there should be no reason for concern as Votto certainly has the power to continue being the elite player he's been for quite some time now.