It’s no secret that the Cincinnati Reds were a pretty terrible team at the end of the 2014 season, and I have been as critical of their winter as the next guy. Nevertheless, the Reds have had several positive developments in Spring Training, all of which give us at least some reason for hope. Among the good news, here are three reasons to be optimistic about the 2015 Cincinnati Reds as Opening Day approaches.
They Released Paul Maholm
This is not a knock on Maholm in any way. On the contrary, he had quite a nice spring and will almost certainly end up on a Major League roster sooner rather than later. Heck, he may even find his way into someone’s Opening Day rotation. The fact that the Reds felt good enough about their revamped rotation to just cut ties with Maholm has to make you feel a little better about life without Mat Latos and Alfredo Simon.
The Offense Is Intact
While the surprising rotation held the Reds together for most of 2014, even breakout seasons by Simon and Johnny Cueto could not ultimately overcome the crumbling foundation of the team, which for years had been their offense. Big question marks coming into Spring Training included Joey Votto, Brandon Phillips, and Jay Bruce, and the great news is all of them seem to have survived March with their bodies basically intact, and they are all swinging the bat at a decent clip. With Opening Day just a week away, it’s good to have the big boppers in the fold.
There Is Help on the Way
While the Reds don’t have a player that excites like Kris Bryant of the Chicago Cubs, they do have big-time prospects in pitcher Robert Stephenson and Jesse Winker just waiting for their shot at playing time on the Riverfront. The two youngsters were never really a factor in Spring Training, but it will be very tempting to bring up Winker (especially) after a few weeks if the offense sputters at all out of the gate. Marlon Byrd was brought in to plug the hole in left field this season, but, at 37, he is definitely on borrowed time. Winker, on the other hand, has time on his side. That doesn’t mean he wants to wait, though, so expect him to push the issue. Like Bryant, he won’t be in the Bigs on Opening Day, but it may not be long after.
Making it all the way back to the playoffs after such a putrid collapse in the second half last season is a tall order for the Reds, but then now is the time to hope. Spring is in the air, and Opening Day is just a week away!