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Reds’ annual ‘big tease’ may finally come true

Could it be true? Could this be the team that could end nine straight years with a losing record?

The Cincinnati Reds have teased us in the past with talk of a contending team only to leave their fans disappointed over and over.

But this time … maybe, just maybe …

To win in baseball, it takes pitching and defense. The Reds have bolstered their defense with Scott Rolen at third base, Orlando Cabrera at shortstop and possibly Drew Stubbs in center field. Those three added to Brandon Phillips, Joey Votto and Jay Bruce give the Reds a solid defense.

But that’s just half of the equation. The other half is pitching and the Reds potentially have their best starting rotation is 20 years.

Aaron Harang must return to his form of two years ago, Bronson Arroyo needs to repeat last season and hopefully not falter due to his age, and Edison Volquez will be watched closely when he comes back from Tommy John surgery that sidelined him for more than half of last season.

The emergence of Homer Bailey and Johnny Cueto last season gives the Reds two more solid starters in the rotation that fit perfectly into their plans. Both are young and cheap.

Free agent Aroldis Chapman signed in the off-season along with his 100 mile an hour fastball that should eventually join the rotation and replace Mike Leake as the fifth starter.

Leake isn’t out of the picture, though. If he has the stuff the Reds’ like, he could make Arroyo and/or Harang and their large salaries expendable. The Reds dangled the two in front of other teams during the off-season and got a few nibbles, but no one was ready to bite just yet.

The bullpen was one of the best in baseball last year and Francisco Cordero is the anchor that should hold it in place this season.

Of course, the Reds will need all the pitching they can get. The offense produced just 673 runs last year, seventh worst in the major leagues.

A lot of the Reds’ success will depend injuries. The Reds were ravaged last season with injuries to 19 different players and can’t afford to lose anyone for an extended period of time.

So will this be the year the Reds right the ship? Will this constant teasing cease?

Let’s hope so or it’ll be another long summer.

Sinatra

Jim Walker is sports editor of The Ironton Tribune.