Although it seemed like the season ended just a few weeks ago, it is already back, and almost in full swing. After falling in the National League Wild Card Game against the division foe Pittsburgh Pirates, it was a long wait for another season to begin. Now that the offseason is over and Spring Training is among us, Reds 101 decided to look at a few questions that all Reds fans should need answered during the first month of the season.
1. Can Billy Hamilton replace production lost by Shin-Soo Choo?
After Shin-Soo Choo signed a long-term deal with the Texas Rangers this offseason, a major question that many asked were "who was going to replace the overwhelming production that he brought to Cincinnati?"
Reds general manager Walt Jocketty has stated on more than one occasion that for the time being, Billy Hamilton will be the guy. From what fans saw of him at the end of last year, he could very well be everyone's guy. We know he has the speed and agility to make things happen on the base path, but how consistently can he get on base to make those things happen? Also, does he have the stamina and durability to last an entire season in the big leagues?
I think fans will find out relatively quickly how much Hamilton can mean to the Reds this season. If he can find a groove and find ways to get on base he will have no problem finding ways to score runs. With a veteran group of hitters such as Joey Votto, Jay Bruce, and Brandon Phillips sitting behind him, Hamilton will make a significant impact as the season carries on.
2. Will Johnny Cueto, Ryan Ludwick, and the rest of the roster remain healthy?
If there was one thing that might have hurt the Reds most last season, it was the overwhelming number of injuries that plagued the roster.
Ryan Ludwick missed a majority of the first half of the season with an injury that was sustained on opening day. Johnny Cueto, Tony Cingrani, Sean Marshall, Jonathan Broxton, and Chris Heisey among others also missed a considerable amount of time due to injury.
Replacing key production from Ludwick for the first half of the season was hard enough, but losing a top three starter and multiple relief pitching might have kept the Reds from contending for the top spot in the National League. If the core group of guys can stay healthy, I don't see why all of the players that missed time last year can come back to full strength.
3. Will Bryan Price have a successful first season?
Following the playoff loss, it didn't take long for fans to call for Dusty Baker's job. A short time later Baker was out as manager of the Reds. There were numerous rumors as to who would be the next guy. Finally it was announced that pitching coach Bryan Price would become the new head guy.
The question is, can he be successful as a manager? With major league experience as both a player and coach, one of only five managers to do so, he might bring a new era to Cincinnati baseball. He has a very good relationship with the players and knows a considerable amount about the roster he has in front of him.
He has a reputable resume and it looks like he might have a long, successful stay in Cincinnati. If fans are lucky we may find ourselves in the same spot we were in in 1990, our last World Series Championship.
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