Continuity in place as Reds turn to 2011
Front office, core roster likely to remain intact next season
CINCINNATI -- After years of instability, front-office changes, manager changes, player turnover and alterations in philosophy, the Reds will bring something to 2011 their fans are rarely able to count on.Welcome to something called continuity. "You got to have continuity of staff before you have continuity of team," said manager Dusty Baker, who was recently extended for two more seasons. Pitcher and 17-game winner Bronson Arroyo will have his $11 million option picked up. And a vast majority of core players and key contributors are either already under contract or under club control for next season. This is a roster that should remain largely intact and poised to make another run, especially in a National League Central division that doesn't appear to be super strong heading into 2011. The Reds have rarely had a deeper rotation and will head into next season with more quality starting pitchers than available spots. Arroyo, Edinson Volquez, Johnny Cueto, Travis Wood, Mike Leake and Homer Bailey are all back and Sam LeCure and Matt Maloney will be trying to get their way in. Aroldis Chapman made a huge splash as a reliever late this season but the club hasn't determined if he'll be a starter next year. If he does, it could be the development of a future ace. In the bullpen, closer Francisco Cordero, setup man Nick Masset and Logan Ondrusek are among those coming back. Among position players, Joey Votto will be coming off of his MVP caliber season and a huge bump in salary. He's first-time arbitration eligible and work will be done to sign him to a multiyear contract. Brandon Phillips and Scott Rolen are already signed for next season. Jay Bruce, who hit 25 home runs, is also a possible arbitration guy as a Super 2. In order to accommodate those pay raises and those to other arbitration eligible players like Volquez and Cueto, the Reds will have some tough decisions to make on club options to players like Orlando Cabrera, Ramon Hernandez and Jonny Gomes and a free agent like Arthur Rhodes. It remains unknown how much, if at all, the Reds' $76 million payroll from 2010 will increase for next season. With a 91-71 record, the Reds finally had their first winning season since 2000. Knowing most of the same cast of characters is set to return, it seems less likely Cincinnati will have to wait another nine years to get a winning team. This is where the Reds' roster stands as they head into the offseason: Contract issues Free agents: OF/IF Willie Bloomquist, IF Miguel Cairo, OF Jim Edmonds, LHP Arthur Rhodes, RHP Mike Lincoln, RHP Russ Springer
Club options: SS Orlando Cabrera, OF Jonny Gomes, RHP Aaron Harang, C Ramon Hernandez, RHP Bronson Arroyo
Player options: None
Eligible for arbitration: LHP Bill Bray, OF Jay Bruce (possible Super 2), RHP Jared Burton, RHP Johnny Cueto, C Corky Miller, OF Laynce Nix, RHP Edinson Volquez, 1B Joey Votto
Non-tender possibilities: Miller, Nix Catchers: Ramon Hernandez: Clutch hitter, respected
Ryan Hanigan: Solid defensively, improved run producer
Corky Miller: Could return as camp invite Hernandez had a $3.25 million vesting option that would have been guaranteed had he played 120 games. He played 97. There's a chance Hernandez could return, as he and Hanigan formed a solid duo that led all NL teams catchers with a .296 average. With prospect Devin Mesoraco on the horizon in Triple-A, Hernandez could be good for a one-year return. First base: Joey Votto: Posted MVP numbers, still improving?
Yonder Alonso: top prospect blocked by Votto The only question about Votto's future is how much better can his superlative offensive numbers get? He's much improved defensively and could eventually be on track to earn a Gold Glove. Alonso's future is bright and he got a taste of the Majors. But with Votto standing in his way, there is no place for him. Second base: Brandon Phillips: Cemented as the regular
Chris Valaika: Clearly a promising prospect
Phillips was moved to the leadoff spot and performed well in that role but doesn't draw walks or reach base like a prototypical leadoff hitter. His defense is, without question, the top one or two at his position in baseball. His potshots at the Cardinals in August indicate there is more room for maturity.Shortstop: Orlando Cabrera: Proven leader
Paul Janish: Great glove, improved as a hitter With a $4 million option for 2011, Cabrera's return isn't a lock, but his veteran leadership is without question. He showed he can still play top-level defense. However, Janish has an even better glove and range defensively and made steady improvement as a hitter. His ability to step in when Cabrera was hurt in August improved his stock. Will this be the winter the keys to the spot are handed to Janish? Third base: Scott Rolen: Steady hitter, steady glove, steady leader
Miguel Cairo: Dependable utility guy that picked up slack.
Juan Francisco: Big power, needs to be more selective With a 99-64 Reds record when he's played the last two seasons, having Rolen in the lineup is a proven boost for the rest of the club. However, the 35-year-old has to be preserved and rested to keep him going all season. He hit 17 homers in the first half and only three in the second half as he was banged up down the stretch. Like Alonso, there are questions about what becomes of Francisco. He has great promise but nowhere to play regularly. Outfield: Jay Bruce: Bat getting better, Gold Glove caliber right fielder
Drew Stubbs: Speed, power, defense, high ceiling
Jonny Gomes: set career-high in RBIs
Laynce Nix: Became key lefty hitter off bench
Chris Heisey: Showed promise and pop at the plate
Jim Edmonds: Likely to retire Both Bruce and Stubbs went through some growing pains with profound slumps but both came out of it to turn in strong seasons with great late-summer pushes. With their speed and range, two-thirds of the outfield is well-covered. It remains to be seen what becomes of Gomes, but with his option worth $1.75 million, he is still a bargain for the production he provides. Rotation: Bronson Arroyo: Epitome of consistency, dependability
Edinson Volquez: Should be better another season away from Tommy John surgery
Johnny Cueto: Keeps making progress
Homer Bailey: Showed signs of figuring it out, must continue growth
Travis Wood: Stepped up and was impressive
Mike Leake: Will seek to build up his innings
Aaron Harang: Not expected to return The Reds know exactly what they'll get from Arroyo, who has a durable arm and takes care of his body. After working out the kinks in his mechanics following his midsummer return, Volquez has the chance to be the All-Star pitcher he was in 2008. Cueto keeps improving and has figured out taking a little off his fastball can make him more successful. Leake and Wood can be better in their second seasons. After Arroyo, Volquez and Cueto, it remains to be seen who will be in and who will be out of this stacked rotation. Bullpen: Francisco Cordero: Has to cut down on walks and hits in the ninth.
Nick Masset: One of the better setup guys.
Arthur Rhodes: Had one of his best seasons, at 40.
Aroldis Chapman: Throws gas. Will he start? Future closer?
Bill Bray: Reclaimed spot as middle- to late-inning lefty.
Logan Ondrusek: Became a solid setup man
Jordan Smith: Still learning how to work from bullpen Cordero notched 40 saves but he gave everyone cardiac issues with frequent walks and hits in save situations. In the final year of a four-year deal, it could be his last year as a closer. If Chapman remains in the bullpen, the clamoring will continue that he and his 105-mph fastball should be installed as the new closer. Rhodes wants to return but the Reds haven't tipped their hand on their plans for him yet. Masset and Ondrusek have the right-handed portion of setup duties all locked up.