Cincinnati Reds - 3 Studs, a Dud and a Sleeper

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The Reds will most likely finish at or near the bottom of the NL Central once again. They're stocked with young talent and could truly become a contender in the very near future.

But who can you count on for fantasy production?

Find out with Three Studs, a Dud and a Sleeper for the Cincinnati Reds.

Get everything you need to know about the Reds after the jump...

Top 3 Reds

Brandon Phillips - 2B

If you're drafting Phillips in search of assistance with AVG, you're in for a rude awakening my friend. He's a free swinging dynamo that is more adept at providing punch at a position that is usually reserved for contact hitters and sacrificial lambs.

Phillips' career 2007 season (30 HR, 94 RBI, 32 SB, 107 R) was a peek at what his numbers could have been in 2008 had he not broken a finger towards the end of the year.

He's top five 2B material in 2009 and you'd be wise to make him an addition to your ballclub if you can withstand the high volume of strikeouts (109 in '07, 93 in '08) he's sure to deliver.

Joey Votto - 1B

Rating Votto this high is very tough for me because I have a very tough time believing in this kid for a number of reasons. From the expected sophomore slump to the fact that there are a plethora of options at 1B many would consider better than Votto.

But then again, that could mean good things for your franchise. If you can hold out until after the premier 1B are gone - while loading up on more important position needs - Votto would be an absolute steal somewhere in the seventh to eighth round.

Jay Bruce - OF

Bruce had himself an impressive rookie campaign playing center field for the Reds. Just like any other rookie, he had his moments of grandeur and others we're sure he'd like to forget.

We'd prefer that Bruce temper his desire to be a power hitting outfielder and return to the kid who hit nothing but frozen ropes in the minors. If Bruce can avoid the slow start he had in 2008 (32 K, .223 AVG, .614 OPS in June), we like his chances.

If not, be prepared to ride the wave of inconsistency all year long.


Edison Volquez - SP

I hate putting Volquez here because I love this kid. I love his personality and his pitching style.

But he's got one thing going against him that I refuse to overlook regardless of his personal ability. Dusty Baker is his manager.

Which means that Dusty will ride this kid until he turns into a broken down, depleted nothing that at one time had such a promising career. Volquez showed signs of slowing down at the tail end of 2008, no surprise due to the 14 times he cleared 110 or more pitches.

In Dusty, you get a busty. (Terrible, I know)


Johnny Cueto - SP

The 22-year-old righty is due for big things in 2009 and would be an absolute steal if you found him somewhere in rounds 16 to 17. Remember, this kid has been tabbed as a future number two pitcher and without the burden of expectations Volquez has to deal with, could blossom in 2009.

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Yeah, take another cheap shot at Dusty. At least he can get out of the first round of the playoffs.

Olsen responds: You criticize me for taking a cheap shot and quickly take one yourself in the very next sentence?

I love it, primarily because I'm a White Sox fan and get a kick out of anything of that nature directed to the boys on the North Side.

But I'd love to hear more because it's so rare to find a Dusty public no less.

You honestly think Dusty knows how to handle a pitching staff?

Dusty is a disaster. In Cincy we call him the "Toothpick" for a reason, the only thing he can effectively manage is the crap between his teeth.

Olsen responds: That may be the funniest thing I've heard all day.

How can Volquez be a "bust" while Cueto is a "sleeper?" I take it you realize Dusty Baker is the manager of both right? If Dusty is going to wear out Volquez than he most definitely will also wear out Cueto, at least by your logic. Did you really not see the contradiction?

Olsen responds: On the surface it would appear that my evaluations would contradict, but let's dig a bit deeper.

First, Cueto is two years younger than Volquez. Second, Volquez has thrown 102 more career innings than Cueto.

Both are important factors in evaluating the so called, 'Dusty Effect'. Cueto will almost certainly be overused by Dusty and his band of misfits, but he'll be better prepared to withstand the innings onslaught primarily because of youth.

Also, Volquez won 17 games last year compared to Cueto's 9. My classification of a sleeper hinges on two distinct qualities:

1. You're someone few people outside of the baseball diehards know about.
2. You're coming off a subpar year and expectations for this season are low.

The first definitely doesn't apply to Cueto as much as the second does.

Call it a hunch, call it intuition, call it whatever you'd like. Bottom line is that I think Cueto may potentially have a better year than Volquez.

Make sense?

Not really since the ages are 25 and 23. I guess it would make sense if one were 31 and the other 29 but not when they're as young as both Volquez and Cueto are. Cueto also only had 22 less innings than Volquez last year. And for Dusty wearing Volquez out, you do realize that he didn't even reach 200 innings last year right? Wouldn't a pitcher have to throw well into the 200's to be considered overworked?

Was Brandon Webb overworked last year in his 226 inning of work? How about Tim Lincecum and his 227 innings? The Cubs very own Ted Lilly and Ryan Dempster pitched more innings than Volquez. Tim Lincecum averaged 5 more pitches a game than Volquez and pitched 30 more innings. Is his manager overworking him? He's only one year younger than Edinson.

Olsen responds: First and foremost, remember we're talking about Cueto and not a Cy Young award winner like Brandon Webb, a once in a lifetime talent in Lincecum, and established veterans like Lilly and Demptster.

There are a ton of pitchers in the major leagues who can shoulder the load of a 200+ inning season without a problem. But comparing him to the fellas mentioned above is unrealistic.

You run into trouble when you leave young pitchers in during a season in which your team is going absolutely nowhere. How could you possibly defend Dusty Baker leaving Volquez out to throw 568 pitches (113 average) in the kid's last five starts of the season in September?

We're talking about a kid that had never pitched an entire regular season and who had already been showing signs of fatigue. At a point in the season when the Reds were already preparing for 2009, wouldn't you want to save your young star the wear and tear?

Here's what ESPN has to say about Volquez:

Reds manager Dusty Baker worked this guy hard last season, and there's a good chance he's going to pay the price in 2009. Volquez made 32 starts, pitched a personal professional-high 196 innings, and was kept out there on the mound for 110 or more pitches 14 times. He also was called upon to throw 39 pitches in relief with one day's rest in May. As such, it's no shock that after the All-Star break, Volquez saw his ERA slip to 4.60 and his WHIP to 1.46, managing just six quality starts in 13 tries.

We can go back and forth about this all day. In my estimation, Volquez is a prime candidate for a sophomore slump. He's a freakish talent that's going to be a fantasy contributor in the future, including this season. But if you're looking for him to repeat the unexpected and impressive numbers of 2008 you're going to be disappointed.

As for Cueto, I think the opposite is true. Again, because the expectations for him are lower in FANTASY terms, I think he could be had for a very reasonable price or draft pick because, thus making him a sleeper because I believe he will exceed those expectations.

Thanks for checking in, I appreciate your comments and it's always nice to get in a good ol' fashioned baseball dispute.

Ok, maybe it was a cheap shot on Pinella (who I really like btw) but I guess I just get tired of the constant Dusty bashing. He is not perfect and has many flaws, I'll admit that, but he's far from the horrible manager that everyone thinks he is. He has gone to a world series and even though Cubs fans thinks he's satan in disguise, he did almost take them to a world series too. I think he's a winner and he'll be a winner again. Kerry Wood and Mark Prior get WAY to much credit for damaging his reputation.

I'm a Reds fan and I'll give his first year a pass because of the lack of talent and what not. I think the Reds have a good young core and we'll see what Baker can do with them.

One thing I would like to add about Votto...he's one of the hardest working players (if not the hardest) on the Reds team and has a pretty good head on his shoulders. I don't anticipate a sophomore slump.

Olsen responds: Thanks for giving us your side Jarrod.

I'll agree that Dusty does receive a lot of undue criticism in the city of Chicago. I think that's primarily because he's become the scapegoat for the 2003 season (along with you know who).

But again, we'll see how it plays out in Cincy. Good luck this season.

I only mentioned the few that came to mind. I guess my first question is why can't I compare him to Webb, Lilly, Dempster, and Lincecum? I was talking about Volquez not Cueto. You were claiming that Baker overworked him while defending the ones I mentioned who were worked even harder. What exactly makes the names above able to shoulder a heavier load than Volquez? I'd also like to add that the managers of Roy Oswalt, Jamie Moyer, Aaron Cook, Dan Haren, Chad Billingsley, Kyle Lohse, Ricky Nolasco, Derek Lowe, Cole Hamels, Mike Pelfrey, Braden Looper, and Ubaldo Jimenez all worked them harder than Baker did to Volquez. Yet I don't see any articles about them.

Look, all I'm asking is for a little intellectual honesty. You can't claim Baker overworked Volquez without also mentioning the above. Well, you can but then you'd be dishonest.

Olsen responds: You're completely missing the point.

I tried to find a middle ground with you, but apparently the deep desire compelling you to defend the rep of Dusty Baker will not allow you to do the same.

You want my intellectual honesty?

Dusty Baker performs a disservice to young pitchers by using them too much.

Thanks for reading.

Curt what I think he is trying to say is that Volquez hasn't pitched a full Major League season therefore he isn't ready to shoulder the load that those other guys you mentioned can. In time it will come that he'll be able to throw that many innings. He's not necessarily being overworked for his age but for his experience level.

As for the Joey Votto situation I think he might fit better in the sleeper category because I don't believe many people really know much about what he does because he plays on such an abysmal club. But he is very good and as was pointed out above he is an extremely hard worker, so I don't expect a sophomore slump out of him.

Olsen responds: You hit the nail on the head Robert.

But as for Votto, strictly looking from a baseball standpoint and throwing fantasy implications out the window, I think he'll do just fine in 2009. In the fantasy realm, however, there are a plethora of 1B available ahead of Votto that can do the same, if not more, for your squad.

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Matt Wood is a web editor for and editor of He is also a contributor for satirical sports publication The Heckler. Have a fantasy question? E-mail him.

About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by Matt Olsen published on March 24, 2009 12:00 PM.

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