We return with the latest Ask the Expert, this time with John Fay of the Cincinnati Enquirer (to read his blog, click here). He gave us some insight into the team’s plans for their young starters, their line-up, what to expect from Jay Bruce and so much more. Let’s take a look at what he had to say:
1) There are always fears about pushing young pitchers too hard and risking injury. After bursting onto the scene in ’08, can we expect any limitations put on Edinson Volquez or Johnny Cueto this season? What type of production do you expect from them?
John Fay: Neither Cueto nor Volquez pitched very much in Winter Ball. I think you’ll see them approach 200 innings, if healthy. My guess is Volquez takes a slight step back. You can’t expect him to go 17-6 again. I think Cueto will be better, if he matures. His emotions cost him at times last year.
2) After years of having Ken Griffey Jr. and Adam Dunn filling the middle of the Reds line-up, have you heard anything about how the team may construct their 2009 line-up? Where are players like Joey Votto, Edwin Encarnacion and Brandon Phillips expected to slot in?
John Fay: The lineup will be Taveras, the left fielder, Votto, Phillips, Bruce, Encarnacion, Gonzalez and Hernandez to start. My guess is Dickerson and Jerry Hairston Jr. will share left.
3) What are the chances Jay Bruce suffers a sophomore slump? What can we expect from Jerry Hairston Jr. and Willy Taveras? Could Chris Dickerson force his way into the line-up?
John Fay: I think it’s more likely that Bruce takes a step forward. He’s a smart kid. He struggled a bit in July. I think he’ll learn from it. Hairston will be a big part of team, if he can stay healthy. I think if Taveras struggles, you’ll see him in the leadoff role. Dickerson is the favorite to at least platoon in left — based on his tools and the good numbers he put up over 31 games at the end of last year.
4) Aaron Harang or Bronson Arroyo? Which of these two veterans do you see having a better season in 2009 and why?
John Fay: This is a big year for Harang. He was horrible last year. He came in in the best shape of his life, down 25 pounds to 255. Arroyo will win his 14, 15 games and pitch 200 innings.
5) Ramon Hernandez was one of the major additions the Reds made this off-season. What type of production do you think he could post in Great American Ballpark?
John Fay: The Reds are counting on a bounce-back year from Hernandez. He certainly could hit 20-plus at Great American. The more important thing is how he plays defensively and works with the staff. He wasn’t very good in Baltimore last year as far as defense. The Reds need him to be better.
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