I planned on getting this up sooner, but I’ve been busy studying for finals all weekend and I’m just hoping on hammering this out before I resume studying.
I’m going to go ahead and break down the three outfield spots in this post and I thought about doing our bench, but I’m not going to. I figured it’s still kind of up in the air bench-wise until we get through the spring, so I’ll just leave that for everyone’s own discussions.
I’ve been super excited to do this one because I really like what we’ve got in store in the outfield for 2011. I know we’ve all heard rumors of Jocketty trying to potentially get a left fielder who can lead off, but whatever happens is okay with me.
I. Left Field – Jonny Gomes – Go, Jonny, go. From the time I watched the 2008 playoffs, following Tampa Bay, I’ve loved Gomes. I know he showed shaky plate discipline all year, but I had fun watching him. He’s got insane amounts of energy and I know if something happens and he’s relegated to the bench in 2011, he’ll be 100% okay with it. Ever since I learned about all of the hardships he went through, he’s become a huge favorite with me. Jonny refused to let anything drag him down and he showed that tremendously last season. He received a lot more playing time than expected and put up career highs in runs batted in, games played, at bats, and hits. The only thing that made me nervous was that he kind of fell off after the All Star Break. Opposing pitchers would start throwing curves in the dirt knowing he’d chase, and sure enough, he did. If #31 is back as the starter in left next season, it shouldn’t be too much of a problem. I just hope to see Gomes cut down on all the strikeouts, quit swinging wildly, and improve on defense as well. If it comes down to a platoon situation, it might be more beneficial for the Reds.
II. Center Field –Drew Stubbs – Where to begin with Stubbs? His speed is incredible, he plays solid defense in center, and has even shown to have quite the pop in his bat. The one thing everyone talked about was his strikeout numbers. I know he struck out a lot, but I don’t really see any reason to be concerned yet. Stubbs is coming off his first full season as a major leaguer and there’s no reason for him not to improve on his swing. I read an article over on http://www.cincinnati.com a few weeks ago about where they would like to see Drew bat next year. If he could cut down on the K’s, he’d be a solid leadoff hitter for Cincinnati, but I think Stubbs would be more beneficial batting lower in the order, around the 6th or 7th spot. I liked him a lot when he came up in ’09 and I think he can be better in 2011. Those 22 homers and 77 RBIs were great for a guy who didn’t have a full season under his belt and I could see him hitting 25-30 homers a year and driving in 80-90 runs. Of course those are just predictions, but the way he’s played up here it would not surprise me. Also, I’d love to see him bring back the high socks.
III. Right Field – Jay Bruce – Bruuuuuuuuuce. Every game I went to, I loved hearing that. This kid is going to be part of the heart of soul of the Cincinnati Reds for a long time. Watching Jay have that marvelous catch in the right field corner to rob Adam Laroche of a home run and preserver a win for us was incredible. Of course, his walk off blast to propel us into the playoffs for the first time in 15 years was unbelievable. If Bruce had made the team out of Spring Training in ’08 and hadn’t missed time in ’09 with his broken wrist, he might be even close to 100 homers than he is. After three seasons, he stands with 68 home runs, 180 runs knocked in, and a .257 career average. The only number that really sticks out in a bad way is the average. He showed great signs of improvement this year batting .281 and I think that could stay around that mark and even get close to, or break, .300 sometime in his career. He had a few weak months last season, but he really picked it up in August and everyone quickly forgot about those months. Defensively, he’s one of, if not, the best right fielder in the National League and I would even go as far as to say he might be the best in baseball. His arm is phenomenal and I would be stunned to not see him win a gold glove next season on in 2012. At 23 years old, the sky is the limit for our Texan right fielder.
I tried to work on this one as much as possible, but finals are getting the best of me. Once I’m home next week, I’ll do the final part of the breakdown.
ON DECK: The Pitching Staff! Boy, oh boy, this one’s going to be a doozy.
Thanks for reading!