Written by Tony Meale
Published: 02 March 2009
Adam Dunn? Gone. Ken Griffey Jr.? Gone. Aaron Harang? Fell of a cliff. While the big names have left Cincinnati, there are still many guys that can help your team. Tony Meale even find a top tier player on the Dusty Baker's team.
Brandon Phillips (2B):
This Red carries a big stick. Unfortunately, he is ineligible.
Phillips is easily one of the top five two-baggers in the league, and given the uncertainty surrounding the health of Chase Utley and the legitimacy of Ian Kinsler, Phillips becomes even more valuable. A 30-30 man in 2007, Phillips’ season was cut short last year with a broken finger, but he still managed 21 homers and 23 stolen bases in 141 games. Now that he will bat fourth for the Reds’ new small-ball lineup, 30-30 is again a real possibility. It’s a shame that there isn’t a stat category for “ridiculously sweet defensive play,” because the defending Gold Glover would lead the league in that area. Still, he’s Brian Roberts with power and Dan Uggla with speed. If Phillips is still available in the third round, consider yourself lucky and grab him.
Second Tier Edinson Volquez (SP):
Volquez (17 wins, 3.21 ERA and 206 strikeouts) was the ace of the Reds’ staff least season and the team’s lone All-Star, but he regressed a bit after the break (12-3 and 2.29 before and 5-3 and 4.60 after). The real Volquez probably lies somewhere in between. He’s a legit fantasy SP-3 with SP-2 potential. Francisco Cordero (CL):
Closer Francisco Cordero notched 34 saves with a 3.33 ERA last season, and he had more strikeouts than Jonathan Papelbon. Cordero’s WHIP (1.41) could be better, but he’s a consistent performer with 40-save potential. Third Tier
The Reds have several third-tier guys who, by season’s end, could be second-tier or first-tier players; among them are Aaron Harang, Joey Votto and Jay Bruce. Aaron Harang (SP):
No one could have predicted Harang’s abysmal performance in 2008. From 2006 to 2007, Harang was on of the most consistent starters in fantasy baseball, posting good win and strikeout totals (an average of 16 wins and 217 Ks per year). Harang lost 25 pounds in the off-season, and, at only 30, should have plenty of gas left in the tank. The Reds have confidently named him their ace and Opening Day starter for a fourth consecutive year, and if he comes anywhere close to his totals in 2006 and 2007, Harang will be a steal. Joey Votto (1B), Jay Bruce (OF):
Joey Votto (24 homers last year) and Jay Bruce (21 homers in 108 games) enter the season under the radar, but anything less than 30 homers and 100 RBI from either one would be a disappointment -- at least, according to management. Nevertheless, the upside is there, and both of these guys are great value picks in the mid-late rounds. When faced with the dilemma of drafting Votto or Bruce over the likes of Carlos Delgado or Jason Giambi, well, there’s really no dilemma at all. Question Mark Willy Tavares (OF):
In 133 games last year, Willy Tavares hit .251 with one homer, 26 RBI and 64 runs scored. The only reason he is remotely fantasy relevant is steals (he led all of baseball last season with 68). The power and RBI totals will never be there, but if Tavares can bump his average to the .300 range -- he hit .320 in 97 games with Colorado in 2007 -- and stay healthy, he could easily score 100 runs. Plus, Reds manager Dusty Baker wants Tavares to run even more this year, so 70-plus stolen bases is a real possibility. Even if Tavares can’t improve in any other category, he can single-handedly put you at -- or near -- the top of your league in stolen base totals. It’s hard to pass that up in the late rounds. Sleeper Jerry Hairston Jr. (2B, SS, OF):
When healthy, Jerry Hairston Jr. is a good all-around player. In just 80 games last year, he hit .326 with six homers, 36 RBI, 47 runs and 15 stolen bases. Over a full season, his numbers would translate roughly to .325/10/70/90/30. Plus, he’s eligible at second, short and in the outfield. The only problem is Hairston, 32, has played only one full season in his career, and that was in 2001; in fact, he hasn’t played in more than 100 games since 2005 when he was a Chicago Cub. Still, no one can deny his value when healthy. Consider using your last-round pick on him and plug him into any holes that open in your lineup throughout the year. Prospect Watch Homer Bailey (SP):
Once deemed the top pitching prospect in all of baseball, Homer Bailey was called up in 2007 and 2008 and clearly wasn’t ready either time. Last season the righty went 0-6 with a 7.93 ERA and posted a WHIP of 2.09.
Still, Bailey is only 23. And while he’ll start the season in the minors, don’t be surprised if he comes up in case of an injury. At some point, the talent just has to come together, doesn’t it?