When you have the type of season the Cincinnati Reds had in 2012, it is very easy to forget the fact that they won 97 games. They led their series 2-0 and seemed destined to go to the World Series. Instead they dropped three straight. Losing in the first round in such drastic fashion to the eventual World Series Champion San Francisco Giants was heartbreaking. Despite this heartbreak, the Cincinnati Reds are ready for several great seasons ahead. As a huge Reds fan, I could not be more excited going forward. That said, there are several big time questions for the Reds before the 2013 season kicks off. Here are three of the most pressing:
What will they do about the leadoff position?
The leadoff spot in the batting order has been a sore spot for years and Brandon Phillips is not the solution. His awesome bat is much better served down in the order. Although Zack Cozart and Drew Stubbs have some of the qualities of a good leadoff batter, they simply don't get on base often enough. Billy Hamilton is likely the long term solution but he is probably still at least a year away. I think that the Reds should address this over the winter and bring in someone to take the spot.
Should Aroldis Chapman be a starter or stay in the closer role?
This is a tough question to answer because there really are advantages either way. The truth is, the Reds have some solutions among their starters. Filling the closer role could be a bit more challenging. There are plenty of guys that could do a good enough job at closer, but they would not be Aroldis Chapman good. Chapman has the potential to be the best ever if he embraces the role and resigns himself to the position. As a starter, I would be concerned about his stamina down the stretch. Dusty is not exactly an arm saver.
Will Scott Rolen retire and should he return even if he doesn't?
Scott Rolen is an absolute beast of a third baseman and he still occasionally has moments with the stick, but he has become expendable at best. I would love to have him around as a defensive replacement or for depth, but I doubt Rolen would bother returning for such a role. Todd Frazier is ready for a spot in the lineup in my view and he needs to settle in at third base. Some feel that Frazier does not have a large enough sample size to see what he can do full time, but I truly think he is the real deal. The guy comes up big every time he is in a big situation and that speaks volumes about his ability when it counts. That is the type of player that Rolen has been i his career as well. I love Rolen and appreciate his career, but I think it is time to step back a little at best.
*Southern is a life-long Cincinnati Reds fan that grew up watching Pete Rose, Johnny Bench and the boys dominate the Major Leagues. He longs for those days once again in Cincinnati.
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