As everyone knows, the Cincinnati Reds season ended last weekend. Strangely, it was a 3 full months later than we’d grown accustomed to. And now we find ourselves looking forward to 2011, but it’s somehow different. This time, we’re not only expecting the Reds to be a winning team, but to repeat their finishing of first place in the National League Central.
It’s amazing how much one year can change things. Just think of what this team accomplished in 2010. The last winning season had been in 2000.n They were looking at a losing streak in the double-digits. That’s Pittsburgh Pirates territory, right there. With a record of 91-71, the 2010 squad didn’t even come close to having a losing year.
The last time the Reds had been to the playoffs and won their division was 1995, fifteen years ago. Not only did the Reds break their losing streak, but they grabbed first place and broke their postseason drought, too. Perhaps most excitingly, unlike the 2008 Milwaukee Brewers, who spent everything of value in their minor league system just to win the wild card, the Reds spent nothing. Their farm system is loaded with too many major-league ready players, many of them pitchers.
Pitching wins playoffs, and the Reds didn’t win this year. But their pitchers are still young. Bronson Arroyo, at 33, is the oldest and most experienced, and he pitched a great game. It was the playoff-shy defense that lost Arroyo’s start. Edinson Volquez is the second oldest starter at 26. All the other contenders for the rotation are 24 years old or younger. And most of them now have playoff experience.
You’ve got to think that with the poor showing this year, the players will all be more motivated to return in 2011 and show that they can win a playoff game. It happened with the Philadelphia Phillies. Their first year of being in the postseason after 14 years away ended in the same result as the 2010 Reds: a sweep in the first round. The next year? The won the World Series.
And there’s no reason the Reds can’t duplicate that success.
Here are the primary contenders for the starting rotation next year.
- Bronson Arroyo
- Edinson Volquez
- Johnny Cueto
- Homer Bailey
- Travis Wood
- Mike Leake
- Aroldis Chapman
Not to mention, there’s dependable back-ups like Sam LeCure, Matt Maloney, and Micah Owings should anyone go down. That’s 10 quality starting pitchers, which is about 9 more than the Reds had for the majority of the 2000s.
I’m already excited about next year. It’s a good time to be a Reds fan.