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Playing Pepper 2013: Cincinnati Reds

Posted on February 26, 2013 at 2:30 PM
Filed Under: Cincinnati Reds | Playing Pepper
For the fifth straight year, Playing Pepper returns to C70 At The Bat.  If you aren't aware, this series helps get a feel for the other 29 teams in baseball by asking those that follow them the closest--their bloggers.  We've got spring training action going, so it's time to play a little pepper.

Cincinnati Reds
97-65, first in the NL Central, lost in the NLDS

While the rivalry between the Cardinals and Reds didn't have any legendary fisticuffs this year, there were some similarities to the 2010 season.  The Cards got off to a hot start, then the Reds passed them.  The Cards got close, but eventually weren't able to seal the deal and put the Cincinnati club away.

With Houston moving away and the rest of the division not necessarily ready for prime time, the NL Central would again seem to come down to these two teams.  To find out about our closest competition, I tapped the shoulder of an old friend.  Shawn Weaver has been doing Playing Pepper since the very beginning, plus participating in our preseason NL Central show on Blog Talk Radio.  You'll find his writing at Cincinnati Reds Blog and him on Twitter @coweaver.

After the jump, let's find out about this past offseason and whether moving the closer to the rotation is really the smartest thing to do.

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C70: How would you grade the offseason? 

CRB: Getting Shin-Soo Choo is a big upgrade for the offense, especially the leadoff spot, though the defense will take a hit. Choo is a good RF, CF probably not so much. Other pickups were minor but should upgrade the bench, which was dragged down by historically terrible seasons from infield backups Cairo and Valdez. So, the offseason hinges on the performance of Choo. I give it a B+ overall. 

C70: What are your thoughts about Aroldis Chapman moving to the rotation? 

CRB: The possibilities of Chapman as a starter are very exciting. There have been a number of naysayers wanting him to remain in the bullpen (including Dusty Baker and Brandon Phillips) but the chance of getting an ace out of the deal is too much to pass up. If it works, and that's still an if, the Reds could get the best starting rotation in baseball out of the deal.  Chapman/Cueto/Latos...who would want to face that in a postseason series? 

C70: Has it finally clicked for Homer Bailey? 

CRB: Bailey looked really good down the a guy who has finally figured it out. He faced some bad teams, but shut them down like a top pitcher should. He's had ace stuff and promise for awhile. To build on that success, and with the potential arrival of Chapman....this could be a true "four aces" rotation. 

C70: What rookie will make the biggest impact in 2013? 

CRB: No rookies project for significant playing time this year...the most likely (and barely a rookie) is reliever J.J. Hoover, who could play a key role. The exciting minor leaguer is SS turned OF Billy Hamilton, with the blinding speed. His ETA is 2014, but an injury to Ryan Ludwick and a good start at Louisville could move up his timetable. To be sure, Hamilton will not arrive before midseason. 

C70: What will be the final record of the team and where will they finish in the division?  

CRB: This Reds club looks like a 95-win team, and has to be the division favorites. 

C70: What one thing from your team are you most looking forward to watching? 

CRB: The rotation, especially if Chapman makes the transition. The club has a significant chance to reel off strings of zeroes.

Thanks much to Shawn for taking the time.  It's going to be a tough chore for the Cards to make up that ground to the Reds this year and it should make for an exciting race!

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