So, another ESPN magazine arrived in my mailbox this morning, but this one was different. It featured baseball on the cover and promised to provide a 2012 MLB preview in the realm of its glossy pages. That was enough to lure me in as I seen uncovered their outlook on the Reds upcoming season.
The folks at the 4-letter network tabbed the team to finish second in the NL Central, just behind the reigning World Series Champion Cardinals. The Brewers occupied the third spot and were followed by the Pirates (4th), the Cubs (5th) and the Astros (6th).
Here's their best-case and worst-case scenarios for the season:
Best-case: Mat Latos, the new ace of the pitching staff, shines, as does new closer Ryan Madson. Joey Votto wins his second NL MVP award, Brandon Phillips signs a long-term deal the Reds slug their way to their second NL Central title in three seasons.
Worst-case: After pitching in spacious PETCO Park, ex-Padre Latos struggles in a cozier stadium. Aroldis Chapman's arm can't hold up in the rotation, Votto doesn't get enough pitches to hit, the Reds don't score much, the team finishes third and Phillips walks in free agency.