Season 29 preview of The Cincinnati Red Army
by Reginald Van der Sloot
of the Cincinnati Free Press
It was a busy off season for Red Army GM Douche LaRouche. Cincinnati ownership put pressure on the 31 year old Canadian executive to "Cut Salary, and invest in Starting Pitching"
LaRouche followed those orders by shipping out long time reliever Jin Ho Sano to the only other Franchise that Sano had personal ties to, the Ottawa Hosers. The Hosers are the team that signed the native of Yokosuka Japan at the tender age of 18 in Season 18 for $13.9 million. Sano is poised to be a key member of Ottawa's 3-man closer by committee, his career 1.23 WHIP and 3.87 ERA are a welcome addition to the Hosers.
Also taking up residence near the Rideau Canal and robot/Prime Minister Stephen Harper are switch hitters Jean Berkman and MVP candidate Steven Soriano. Red Army defence may struggle in season 29 as both Berkman and Soriano each won the Gold Glove last season at their respective positions. Berkman's defence is slick enough in the eyes of the Ottawa coaching staff that he is pencilled in as the starting 3B for at least the beginning of season 29. Soriano is moving back to 2B -the position that he played from his being incepted into the big leagues until his acquisition by The Red Army- and is slotted in as the number 2 hitter in a very potent Hoser line-up.
LaRouche is "Saddened to have been forced to trade to 2 young stars and a long-term member of the team in Sano but I'm excited to welcome Juan Polanco and Vic Miranda"
Miranda has a wonderful bat from the left side of the plate with the ability to be a thorn in the side of both lefties and righties. He has ample power, and good plate vision. Unfortunately Vic's defensive abilities come up a little short, even for a 1B. He does however have youth on his side and one of the best fielding coaches in Eric Long. Those two factors should work in his favour and as a result we might see some improvement there.
Polanco is one of the most coveted young position players in both leagues. The Cincinnati fans were given another large trade to dissect just days later when in typical Rd Army style, Polanco was immediately shipped out of town,in this case back to Canada. Montreal is where he ended up where young Jaun was packaged with super-sub Albie Nieto and long-time Red Army Starter Yonder Trevino. Like Sano, Trevino is going back to the team that signed him as an IFA way back in season 15 as an 18 year to a $15.1 million signing bonus. Trevino's 148 career wins, 22 complete games, 3.56 ERA and 1.23 WHIP suggest that he was well worth the initial investment. The Maroons are hoping that he is still worth the $7 million dollars left on this, his last year of a 5 year deal.
LaRouche has publicly stated that he dealt Trevino because there was no chance of being able to re-sign the 4 time All Star before he hit Free Agency. It is not because of the disappointing game 7 NLCS performance last season versus Mexico City "Actually I love the guy, my Wife and I named are most recent addition to our family Trevino... our bright red beta-fighting fish. I wanted him to retire a Red Army. He expressed his desire to win a world Series but to not re-negotiate his contract before Free Agency. He'd rather play out this contract and I respect that decision. I felt that with Spike Parris becoming a Free Agent the following season and the price that good SPs are going for in Free Agency, that it was essential for the competitiveness of the Red Army that we bring in some young and controllable arms.
Trevino, Nieto and Polanco were the price that Montreal set in order to bring in 2 very good SPs in Veras and Willie Pena. "We also received Willie Miranda in the deal, and we feel that once he develops fully that he will be an adequate replacement for Berkman in RF"
Veras, one of the top IFA signings of season 26 ($23.7 million bonus) projects to be a very nice number 2 or 3 once he gets promoted from AAA and has the ability to throw close to 300 innings per season. Willie Pena will fight it out with Parris and Veras for the 2-3-4 job. It appears that these 3 will be surrounded by Viciedo as the number 1 and Harold Leach as the number 5.
The unloading of salary by Douche LaRouche allowed Cinci to go out and sign veteran back stops Jesse Newson and Carlos Cervantes to back-up season 27 batting champ Zephyr Miles. Newson and Cervantes might play a little bit of RF this upcoming season and should provide some nice pinch-hitting this season. The Red Army used some of their freed-up cash to re-sign FA Ralph Lambert. Lambert is entering the twilight of his career and it is believed by the Vodka soaked Red Army scouts that a similar performance to last season's 1.18 WHIP and .217 OAV is certainly not out of the question. Lambert will be joined by Miguel Neruda in the pen. The Type A free agent relief pitcher was signed to a 1 year $4.6 million dollar deal.
LaRouche has admitted that he was chasing FA Starters Ciriaco and Padilla between the mega deals with the Hosers and Maroons. "Unfortunately the price got to be too high for our comfort. More unsettling to us was the length of the deals that the agents were demanding. Ultimately I convinced ownership to allow me to make a maximum-deal offer to Fernando Rosado and we luckily won the sweepstakes. We are ecstatic to have Fernando with us and we hope that he can add to his career total of 7 MVPs.
During the short news conference days after signing the 4 year $70 million deal with a 5th year mutual option of $20 million and a $5 million buy-out. Fernando Rosado stated "that he loved his time in Toronto, that the recent ALCS defeat was shocking and devistating. I would trade my personal accomplishments for a World Series Championship... or two or three"
Cincinnati may have overpaid for the now tremendously wealthy 31 year-old Dominican as his overall abilities will most surely be in decline over the net 4-5 seasons. There is no question though that the acquisition of Rosado is what allowed LaRouche to deal Polanco and Nieto and thus improve their pitching. Overall, Cincinnati has lost some depth in the field, and versatility at the plate but their overall pitching depth has gotten stronger and what looked like a 5 year window of competitiveness may have been lengthened by another few seasons with the addition of the 3 very good pre-arbitration eligible players.
The Red Army will be in a dog fight to make the playoffs this season due in large part to the division that they play in and not their own possible in-abilities. The NL North is arguably the toughest division in the World. It is home to the crazy good Dangerous Crew, the always extremely competitive/often dominating Spartan Franchise. Then there is the young and always improving cross-State rivals in Cleveland, the Bad Seeds.
The bookies in Vegas are leaning toward making Cincinnati the odds on favourite to win the division by no more than 2 games, with the last place team in the division finishing a mere 6 games out of first.
The offence is going to be relatively consistant in the match-box that is Great America Ballpark. Despite the hitters, it would not be out of the realm of possibility to witness The Red Army on the sidelines come October for the first time since season 22, especially if they run into injury trouble or the pitching is erratic.
Posted by Jose Canusee