Drew Stubbs is not your typical leadoff batter. He stole 40 bases in 2011, scored 92 runs and hit .243, 15, 44. He struck out a rediculous 205 times, though, which effected his average and on base percentage. Cozart will probably bat 2nd and play SS; he hit .310, 7, 32 in 77 games in AAA last season after hitting .255, 17, 67 and 30 SB in 2010 in the same league. He is currently ranked #75 among Baseball America's top prospects going into 2012 and he is 26. Joey Votto (.309, 29, 103), Brandon Phillips (.300, 18, 82) and Jay Bruce (.256, 32, 97) provide power in the middle of the order. Chris Heisey (.254, 18, 50) is expected to see his numbers increase playing every day. Free agent OF Ryan Ludwick will give him a little push for the job. The Reds will see what Scott Rolen (.242, 5, 36 in 65 games) has left. Francisco (.307, 16, 53 in the minors last season) will probably make the team and start over Rolen at 3B, making him a role player. Ryan Hanigan (.267, 6, 31) takes over for Ramon Hernandez behind the plate.
Cueto (9-5, 2.31 in 24 starts) was great when healthy last year. He made the All Star team but injuries held him back in the second half. Latos (9-14, 3.47) seemed to be coming into his own towards the end of last season with San Diego. The wild card for the Reds is Aroldis Chapman, who has been pitching as both a starter and a reliever this spring. If not, they still have some depth with Bronson Arroyo (9-12, 5.07), Mike Leake (12-9, 3.86), Homer Bailey (9-7, 4.43) and Jeff Francis (6-16, 4.82 with Kansas City). Chapman could make a very good rotation, great.
Madson came over from Philadelphia to be the closer. He was 4-2, 2.37 with 32 saves for the Phillies. Unfortunately, he needs Tommy John surgery and will miss the entire season. Sean Marshall comes over from the Cubs (6-6, 2.26 in 78 games and 9.4 K/IP), giving them legitimate closer option with Madson out. Nick Masset (3-6, 3.71, 75 games), Logan Ondrusek (5-5, 3.23, 66) and Jose Arredondo (4-4, 3.23, 53) give the team some cushion if Chapman beomes a starter. Obviously, Chapman will make the bullpen better if he is there, but I feel he is better suited as a starter. With the Madson injury, it is more likely Chapman will see some time as a reliever.
I think the Reds will break out this year. Partically because teams like the Cardinals and Brewers are expected to win the division and I think the Reds have a better all-around team than both of the other teams. Vegas has them at 86.5 for the O/U and I predict they will finish over, at 91-71, first place in the NL Central. A return to the postseason after a year off and this team could be dangerous since some core guys, Votto, Bruce, Cueto, Madson and Phillips now have postseason experience. It is time for the Reds and Dusty Baker to take over this division.