Every sports publication in the world puts out season previews. Some are interesting, some aren’t. For the most part, folks just don’t have the time necessary to do the kind of in-depth preview that is going to be of any use to a reader that actually follows the team being previewed (the team previews going on at Sharapova’s Thigh are the exception that I’ve seen).
So most previews end up being pretty surface level, and boring. Well, we’re not going to do that here at Bleacher Nation. It’s much more interesting (read: easy) to simply examine why the team currently sucks and is going to suck in 2009.
So enjoy – we’ll be previewing the suckiness (suckeyness?) of the other teams in the National League Central over the next five weeks.
First up after the jump is a team that holds a special place in all Cubs fans’ hearts because of the lovable scamp at the helm – the Cincinnati Reds.
Baseline for Suckitude
Last year, the Reds went 74-88, finishing 23.5 games out of first. That’s pretty sucky. And away from the cozy confines of Great American Ballpark, the Reds were 31-50. That’s really sucky.
The baseline for suckitude is quite low for the Reds, so it’s going to take an impressively sucky performance in 2009 to outdo 2008. Fortunately (for us), they’re pretty sucky.
Sucky Offseason Moves
Sad Arrivals: C Ramon Hernandez (trade with Orioles), LHP Arthur Rhodes (free agent), CF Willy Taveras (free agent), OF Jonny Gomes (minor league free agent), Jacque Jones (minor league free agent), Daryle Ward (minor league free agent).
Departures: INF/OF Ryan Freel (traded to Orioles), LHP Jeremy Affeldt (free agent, signed with Giants), CF Corey Patterson (free agent, signed minor league deal with Nationals), INF Andy Phillips (free agent, signed minor league deal with Pirates), RHP Gary Majewski (non-tendered, signed minor league deal with Phillies), RHP Matt Belisle (non-tendered, signed minor league deal with Rockies), C Paul Bako (free agent, signed with Cubs), RHP Josh Fogg (free agent, signed minor league deal with Rockies), LHP Kent Mercker (expected to retire), C Javier Valentin (free agent, not expected back).
Even though he isn’t technically a departure because he was traded in August, you could fairly add Adam Dunn to the list. And that sucks.
Willy Taveras is the big addition for the Reds. Um. Woo. Dusty Baker is going to have a field day with that speed, dudes. Speed never slumps. It’s hard to criticize much else that the Reds have done because they didn’t add anyone worth mentioning, and didn’t lose anyone who didn’t madly suck anyway. Well, except for Corey Patterson and Paul Bako. They’re going to miss those guys hard.
Shout outs to more Cubs castaways: Jacque Jones and Daryle Ward. There must be a sign in Cincy that says, “Not quite good enough for the Cubs anymore? Come to Cincinnati!”
Their Own Blogoverse Thinks They Suck
The Red Reporter takes shots at a couple signings, near and dear to we Cubs fans:
The Reds have just signed Jacque Jones and Daryle Ward to minor league deals. Ward is listed as a first baseman, which is news to me. I guess we needed depth at first base since Valentin is gone. It bears mentioning that both of them are 33, both are crappy, and both are left-handed. I’m really not sure what to make of these deals. They’ll be used as bench filler, but I have no idea how they make us better as a team.
Even more directly addressing the suck, Redlegs Rundown offers some poignant quotes:
Finally I got the Reds to look forward to, except I can’t put my finger on what exactly it is I actually “look forward to” about the Reds, I guess I just love watching them no matter how bad they are. So anyway, here we are after the long offseason, where our biggest name signed was Willy Taveras. Ugh.
Damn. Sometimes I forget how good I have it, getting to blog about the Cubs and all.
The Suckiest Part of Their Suck
Just take a look out in left field. The Reds face a roaring battle between Jerry Hairston, Jr. and Johnny Gomes (and maybe Jacque Jones). Hairston was admittedly solid last year, but the career .700 OPS doesn’t scream corner outfield spot. It screams middle infielder. Backup middle infielder. And Gomes, so hot early in his career, has fallen off the map. However it ends up, left field is going to suck hard for the Reds in the post-Adam Dunn era.
Ironically, if they could just get pitcher Micah Owings out there, they’d have a solid-hitting left fielder.
A close second for the suckiest part of their suck? Perhaps the suckiest manager in all of baseball, especially for a young, low-salaried team. Dude.
And in the End
The Reds rotation has a chance to not be horrible. Johnny Cueto and Edinson Volquez make up one of the hottest young pairs in baseball (that sounds hot). Of course, the last time Dusty Baker managed one of the hottest young pairs in baseball – sigh, Kerry Wood and Mark Prior – he broke them both. Aaron Harang is no longer the great and under appreciated pitcher he once was, and Bronson Arroyo is incredibly hit or miss. His hair is beautiful, though.
And then there’s the long-heralded, but can’t-quite-make-it-work-on-the-big-league-level Homer Bailey. If he could finally put it together, and the rest of the crew didn’t, you know, die, the Reds could have a rotation that easily matches the Cubs. But it would take the confluence of a whole lot of good luck.
So that’s where the 2009 Reds are. Shaky bullpen, young and overworked rotation (well, they will be overworked), and a lineup that is decidedly worse than it has been for the last couple of years. That’s a recipe for suck. And the 2009 Reds will.