The biggest news for Cincinnati Reds fans in 2005 was the fact that Ken Griffey Jr.(.301 35 92) was able to play an entire season injury free for the first time in over 5 full seasons. What was so impressive about Griffey’s 2005 performance was his ability to completely return to form, hitting for both power and average. Griffey grabbed the Comeback Player of the Year Award for his outstanding efforts.
The rest of the Reds 2005 offense was provided by Adam Dunn (.247 40 101), veteran 2nd baseman Rich Aurilia (.282 14 68) and outfielder Austin Kearns (.240 18 67). Unfortunately, the Reds starting pitching didn’t offer many wins in 2005. Starters Aaron Harang (11 13 3.83), Brandon Claussen (10-11 4.21) and Ramon Ortiz (9 11 5.36) joined Eric Milton (8 15 6.47) and closer David Weathers (7-4 3.94 15 saves) to handle the majority of the pitching duties during the season. Weathers’ was picked up from the Mets and was converted into a full-time closer we he nailed down 15 out of 19 save opportunities. No real staff Ace emerged in 2005 with Harang leading the rotation with 11 wins. The Reds ended the season with a less then impressive final 73-89 record, finishing 27 games behind the NL Central Champion St. Louis Cardinals.
Off Season Moves:
The Reds recognized pitching as their main priority during the off season so they traded away popular first baseman Sean Casey to the Pittsburgh Pirates for left handed starter Dave Williams (10–11 4.41). Unfortunately the Reds did little else to address their starting pitching needs. Veteran Infielder Rich Aurilia re-signed, and Cincinnati also traded for utility man Tony Womack (.249 in 2005), which was designed to give the team some options off the bench in 2006. Lefthander reliever Chris Hammond (5-1 3.84) also signed on from the defending NL West Champion Padres.
Expect Adam Dunn now to move over to first base, leaving the outfield responsibilities to Austin Kearns, Ken Griffey Jr. and Wily Mo Pena. The Reds really didn’t significantly address the starting pitching in the off season and the one new starting pitcher they acquired (Williams) will hardly make a difference for the team in 2006. With Harang leading the group with only 11 wins there is a bunch of work to be done before the Reds can hope to contend. Williams was only a 10 game winner in 2005 so fans shouldn’t expect much from him either.
Like many major league teams, the Reds are relying heavily on their youngsters which include Kearns, Pena, Dunn, shortstop Felipe Lopez, and Ryan Freel. Fans were happy to get the old Griffey back in 2005 and are hopeful he will pick up where he left off when he starts the 2006 season. Dave Weathers is simply not a strong closer although the team managed to squeeze 15 saves out of him last season. Hammond was a nice pick up and should help out a struggling bullpen – but even more help is needed. Cincinnati Reds fans should expect more of the same in 2006.