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In last year's The Hunt For a Reds October '05, the following brash prediction highlighted the wildly optimistic conclusion: "[T]he 94-68 Reds will snag the NL Wild Card and ride an October wave into the World Series."

Yeah, that didn't happen.

Now, what about 2006? Well, it's simple. The Reds are going to ...

... suck. Of course, last season in this space we predicted greatness for the 2005 Red Stockings, and while their 73-89 mark didn't land them in last place (thank you, Pittsburgh), it was a good 27 games behind the first-place Cardinals and 16 games off of Houston's Wild Card pace. So maybe this year, reverse psychology is in?

Nah. at least nobody anywhere on the Web (thanks to a Googled "2006 Cincinnati Reds preview") seems to think so.

Let's look at some of the high .. er, lowlights, with first a shout-out to some guy named Jack Scrafford, who authored about six hundred versions of essentially the same Reds preview for a number of content aggregators online, like this one for a site called that concludes, "Cincinnati Reds fans should expect more of the same in 2006."

To be clear, Jack isn't talking about following up on Morgan-Bench-Foster or even Sabo-Larkin-Davis; he's talking about the aforementioned 73-89 mark in 2005, the 2004 76-86 finish, 2003's 69-93, the 78-84 record in 2002, the 66-96 skein in 2001 ... that's right, we have to return all the way to the magical season of 2000 for the Reds' most recent over-.500 mark, an 85-77 record that was good for second place and within nine games of a playoff spot.

In other words, ewwww.

But again, the many-linked Scrafford isn't the only guy unimpressed with the 2006 Redlegs. For instance:

  • Over at MSNBC, we read, "it's hard to pick the Reds for anything but last place." And so they do, with a last place prediction replicating last season's 73-89.
  • And at FoxSports, we find something MSNBC and Fox can agree on, as the FoxSports Forgotten Fan writes, "History says this club will be more pretender than contender."
  • Does it qualify as good news when Eric Mack, Senior Fantasy Writer for, declares, "Is this a contending team? No. But the parts here are extremely useful to building a Fantasy contender"? (Probably not.)
  • Even the good folks over at CNN/Sports Illustrated seem to think the best news for the Reds is still at least a ways off: "The prevailing opinion is that new ownership should allow the Reds to become competitive again, but it may take a while for the full effects of the change to set in. The Reds have some compelling components, led by a productive young offensive core, but until they find a way to cure their pitching woes, they won't be going anywhere. Everyone in the offices at Great American Ball Park knows what the problem is, but it can't be fixed overnight."
So What?
If EVERYONE in those offices knows what the problem is, then how do we define it? Well, first, we play a little Match Game 2006, with the help of Sean Forman's indispensible (BBRef) Web site. Let's find out what we know about the 2006 Reds by comparing each member of the projected roster to that player's historically most similar "comp." Fasten those King's Island roller coaster seat belts, cuz here we go ...

2B Ryan Freel
SS Felipe Lopez
CF Ken Griffey Jr.
1B Adam Dunn
RF Austin Kearns
LF Wily Mo Pena
C Jason LaRue
3B Edwin Encarnacion
SS Kevin Sefcik
2B Orlando Hudson
OF Gary Sheffield
1B Bo Jackson
OF Jermaine Dye
OF Jesse Barfield
C Rick Wilkins
C Javier Valentin
IF Rich Aurilia
IF/OF Tony Womack
OF Timo Perez
IF Rey Olmedo
IF Frank Menechino
C Bill Nahorodny
IF Jeff Blauser
IF/OF Jim Gantner
OF Thomas Howard
IF Billy Grabarkewitz
RHP Aaron Harang
LHP Dave Williams
LHP Brandon Claussen
LHP Eric Milton
RHP Paul Wilson
SP Bronson Arroyo
SP Craig Swan
SP Paul Thormodsgard
SP James Baldwin
SP Joe Mays
CL David Weathers
LH-SET Kent Mercker
RH-SET Ryan Wagner
RHP Todd Coffey
LHP Chris Hammond
RHP Grant Balfour
CL Miguel Batista
RP Arthur Rhodes
RP Nate Bump
RP Rheal Cormier

So What Does This Teach Us? ... Honestly, not much. But it's fun to think about. For instance ...

You'll note that the most similar player to the Reds 2B was a SS, but that's balanced by the fact that the most similar player to the Reds' Ex-Jay SS is none other than an old friend who used to play 2B in SkyDome ... Similarly, Bo Jackson is probably not the best bet to play 1B for the Comparables, but is it any surprise the big-swing, homer-happy ex-football guy is statistically similar to another big-swing, homer-happy ex-football guy in Adam Dunn? ... Dunn's move to 1B after the trade of Sean Casey to Pittsburgh allows Pena into the lineup where the Reds would be thrilled with a Jesse Barfield-like performance from another strikeout-prone youngster ...

As for those "pitching woes" the Sports Illustrated preview focused on, well it's true that a rotation of Bronson Arroyo, Craig Swan, Paul Thormodsgard, James Baldwin and Joe Mays doesn't sound all that impressive. But in a BEST CASE SCENARIO, which is after all what pre-season is all about, the top season for each of those five comparables added up, historically, to a 72-58 mark, which the Reds front office would take from its rotation like, RIGHT NOW, if offered.

Of course, that bullpen list of comparables is at least intriguing enough to make one wonder if "youneverknow" will be uttered in Southern Ohio this season. Nah, it won't, but Torontonians at least have a pretty good idea of what it will be like to have Dave Weathers as a closer, presuming he hangs on to the job, and the Reds can start dreaming up alternatives to "Miggy and the Jets."

Unforunately, our method breaks down with arguably the two most talented relievers in the Cincy setup, Todd Coffey and Grant Balfour, neither of who has spent enough time in the big leagues yet to earn a "most similar" list on BBRef (starting 3B Edwin Encarnacion and backup IF Rey Olmedo had the same issue). However, the Reds would be more than happy to see both Coffey and Balfour match their own personal most recent big league seasons, Coffey's 4-1 mark with the '05 Reds and Balfour's same 4-1 record with the 2004 Twins.

Other possible contenders for what will be an overworked bullpen include LHP Tommy Phelps and RHPs Mike Burns, Rick White, Matt Belisle and Josh Hancock. Sadly for Reds fans, BBRef did not return "Bruce Sutter" as a comparable for any of them.

The Outlook? ... If everything goes right, from Junior staying healthy AGAIN to the bullpen reincarnating The Nasty Boys of 1990, this team could well challenge ... challenge to finish .500, that is. Alas, the Original Base Ball Club is destined to fall well short of that not-exactly-robust goal. Call it 64-98, last place, NL Central.

And hope last year's reverse-prediction deities are feeling kindly to the Queen City in 2006, of course.

The Hunt for a Reds October: The 2006 Sequel | 4 comments | Create New Account
The following comments are owned by whomever posted them. This site is not responsible for what they say.
Magpie - Saturday, March 11 2006 @ 12:13 PM EST (#142270) #
I like Aaron Harang quite a bit, but oh man, it's tough to be a pitcher in that ballpark. And it's tough to develop pitchers when you play half your games in a park that punishes them for showing up. (Also see Rockies, Colorado)

The Reds actually led the NL in runs scored last season (surprise!) despite getting 9 homers from their first baseman. Sean Casey's gone, and Wily Mo Pena becomes a regular. They may score more runs in 2006.

Mick Doherty - Sunday, March 12 2006 @ 04:50 PM EST (#142383) #
Apologies for the computers problems that briefly posted this preview, before it had been completed, yesterday for almost an hour. The Pulitzerian genius has now been completed and here is published for your insightful commentary and feeback.
Mick Doherty - Monday, March 20 2006 @ 11:53 AM EST (#143065) #
Pena for Arroyo?

According to our BBRef metrics, the Reds have just traded Jesse Barfield for Mike Harkey, or Rocky Colavito for Kevin Foster. On the upside, there is SOME chance they swapped Billy Conigliaro for Ted Lilly. But when that's the UPSIDE to a deal ...

Geoff - Monday, March 20 2006 @ 12:04 PM EST (#143069) #
Or you could say they traded Jesse Barfield for Aaron Harang.
The Hunt for a Reds October: The 2006 Sequel | 4 comments | Create New Account
The following comments are owned by whomever posted them. This site is not responsible for what they say.