My biggest weakness is baseball chicks. - Jonathan Daniel
The Reds have done well to build a contender. But in what area can they still improve?
"You are the weakest link. Goodbye!" Remember that? Man, that was a sick burn once upon a time. I remember playing Legend of Zelda: Four Swords with my high school buddies and when one of us would die the rest of us would yell that at them and then we'd all fall over laughing and caffeine free Mountain Dew would come out of our noses. Awesome memories, man. Awesome. END OF BAD INTRO.
This Reds' team is pretty stacked, yeah? They won 97 games last year and the only major pieces who are not returning are Drew Stubbs and Scott Rolen. And those two positions actually look stronger, as Shin-Soo Choo and Todd Frazier are remarkable upgrades. The rotation, which collectively did not miss a start, is fully intact. They are even adding Aroldis Chapman to the mix. The bullpen is losing Chapman, but is still one of the league's top squads. The bench is better by virtue of the departures of Wilson Valdez and Miguel Cairo.
Dusty Baker? Yeah, some folks really don't like him. He has a tough time filling out the lineup, that's for sure. But with the addition of Choo, their biggest gripe should be defused. He is a lead-off man of the highest quality, and so the lineup should be sufficiently Dusty-proofed. Aside from that, he has proven adept at taking care of the pitching staff and fostering a positive clubhouse environment. So I'm cool with that.
What about depth? Louisville will boast a number of the Reds' best prospects this year, providing quality just-in-case guys if an injury should occur. Mike Leake looks like the sixth starter right now, and Tony Cingrani and Daniel Corcino will both likely be capable of stepping in. Todd Redmond is still around, too.
As for position depth, Henry Rodriguez is capable of filling in around the infield. He's probably a stretch at shortstop, but he's played there before. They probably aren't comfortable moving Billy Hamilton back to shortstop as an injury replacement, as they probably don't want to interrupt his development. There really isn't much minor-league depth in the corner outfield, though. If something were to happen to one of the starters, Chris Heisey and Xavier Paul would fill in. They could also play Hannahan or Rodriguez at third base and move Frazier to the outfield. Or they could bring up Billy Hamilton to play center field and move Shin-Soo Choo to a corner.
So that's probably it. The biggest weakness on this team is a lack of viable options in the minor leagues in case of injuries at shortstop. That's it. And you know, worst-case scenario is that they have to trade some of these prospects for a replacement. If they aren't willing to plug in guys like Rodriguez and Hamilton as starters, they can always pick up a stopgap.
Oh boy, this is a good-looking team. Six weeks until pitchers and catchers report. Ohhhhhhhh boy.