Saturday, February 26, 2011

Preseason Preview by Position

Wow, try saying the title of this post five times fast without messing up! 
Today will mark the beginning of a series of posts breaking down the Reds preseason roster position-by-position.  The following is the tentative schedule of the days and the positions that will be covered:

Day 1: Outfielders
Day 2: Infielders
Day 3: Catchers
Day 4: Relief Pitchers
Day 5: Starting Pitchers 

So without further due let's talk about the guys who patrol the vast, grassy area of the field known as the Outfield.

Key Losses: Laynce Nix

Key Additions: Fred Lewis

Jay Bruce- Jay is coming off a stellar 2010 campaign in which saw him posts career-highs in almost every offensive statistical category.  The 23-year old from Beaumont, Texas batted .281 with 25 longballs and 70 RBI's.  In addition to his improved offensive prowess, the left-handed Bruce also showed off some great defense in his RF position last year.  However, the one moment from last season that people will remember from Bruce is his National League Central Division clinching homerun that sent the Reds to the playoffs for the first time in 15 long seasons.  This memory can be relived through this link.

Jonny Gomes- Gomes returns for his third season in the Queen City much to the delight of Reds fans everywhere. His toughness and hustle has made him one of the most beloved players in this city in the last decade.  Not only did Jonny play hard, but he also produced at the plate in 2010 driving in 86 runs.  If the Reds want to return to where they were in '10 this guy must continue to provide some punch in the batting order. 

Drew Stubbs- Number 6 was a very pleasant surprise to the franchise in his rookie year.  Drew provided exceptional defense in CF while also providing some pop at the plate with 22 HR's.  The promising young player also managed to swipe 30 bases rotating from the lead-off man in the lineup to the bottom of the order.  One thing to look for in 2011 is Drew to cut down on his high number of strikeouts (168) and get on base more either by walk or hits.

Chris Heisey- Heisey was called up from AAA Louisville in early May last year and never went back.  A valuable pinch-hitter and defender off the bench, Chris quickly became a fan favorite through his ability to come through in the clutch and his all-out style of play.  He is likely to resume this kind of role this year with the chance of a spot-start here-or-there to give the regular guys a day off.

Fred Lewis- Mr. Lewis is definitely the wildcard for this group.  The 30-year old player signed with the Redlegs as a free-agent in the offseason after spending last year with the Blue Jays.  I expect him to take over the role that departed Outfielder Laynce Nix did last year which would be to provide a left-handed bat off the bench in late-inning situations.  Fred could also see some time in any of the 3 outfield spots due to his speed alone.

Guys we could see later in the year: Todd Frazier, Jeremy Hermida, Dave Sappelt

Group Grade: B
One of the great factoids about these guys is that they are all relatively young and have yet to reach their potential.  However, outside of Bruce none of these guys are going to inflict fear in opposing pitchers.  With this being said these players are durable, versatile and should cover a lot of ground defensively all the while producing some steady offense this season.

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