Originally written on The Outside Corner  |  Last updated 11/18/14

I don't know if you can call a 79-83 season a "disaster year", but for the 2010 NL Central champion Reds, it was pretty close. They finished third a season after winning the division crown, and nothing changed all that much. 2010 MVP Joey Votto raked again, they didn't get destroyed with injuries...it just kind of all went wrong. But the Reds retooled for 2012, and it's looking like a three horse race this season.

Reds on TOC
End of Season Postmortem
Top Ten Prospects
You May Say I'm a Dreamer 

Depth Chart (3/20)
C: Ryan Hanigan
1B: Joey Votto
2B: Brandon Phillips
SS: Zach Cozart
3B: Scott Rolen
LF: Chris Heisey
CF: Drew Stubbs
RF: Jay Bruce
SP: Mat Latos
SP: Johnny Cueto
SP: Bronson Arroyo
SP: Mike Leake
SP: Homer Bailey
CL: Ryan Madson

New Faces
The Reds acquired a legitimate top of the order starter in Mat Latos from the Padres for a bounty of prospects (and Edinson Volquez). The team also wanted a legitimate closer instead of Francisco Cordero, so they signed Ryan Madson, the top closer on the market, to a one-year deal. Madson was also granted a setup man in front of him, in the form of former Cub Sean Marshall. The team also brought in a pair of bench bats in Wilson Valdez and Ryan Ludwick.

Departures
In the Latos trade, the Reds gave up Volquez, Brad Boxberger, top catching prospect Yasmani Grandal, and top hitting prospect Yonder Alonso. In the Marshall deal, the team gave up significantly less in fifth starter Travis Wood, second baseman Ronald Torreyes, and outfielder Dave Sappelt. As for free agents leaving the team, former catcher Ramon Hernandez signed with the Rockies, Cordero went to the Blue Jays, and Dontrelle Willis signed with the Phililes (who have already released him).

Impact Rookies
This conversation pretty much begins and ends with two guys: top catching prospect Devin Mesoraco, and starting shortstop Zach Cozart. Mesoraco will immediately push incumbent Ryan Hanigan for playing time, and should earn the starting role before the All-Star break (unless he struggles offensively). Cozart was called up last season, and kept his rookie eligibility after an injury knocked him out for the rest of the season.

Position Battles
Mesoraco vs Hanigan will be an interesting battle for the catcher's position. Ludwick could push Chris Heisey for some playing time in left field, too. There's also the matter of Aroldis Chapman, and him not currently fitting into the rotation or the bullpen.

Injury Concerns
Cozart needed Tommy John surgery last season, but it was on his non-throwing elbow, and he should be ready to roll for Opening Day. Aside from him, the Reds are almost completely healthy.

Burning Question
Where does the future for Aroldis Chapman lie: in the rotation, or in the bullpen?

Best Case
The Reds perform like they are capable of, and they crush the Fielder-less Brewers and Pujols-less Cardinals en route to a division championship.

Worst Case
The Reds are in a dogfight all season, and end up in the same position they were in during 2011: third place.

Realistic Prediction
This is a damn good Reds team, and they're going to be in the hunt for the playoffs all season. I think where they end up depends on a few things, mainly health. Whichever team is the healthiest among them, the Cardinals, and the Brewers is going to win the division.

[follow]

MORE FROM YARDBARKER

Chargers keep playoff hopes alive with comeback win

Robin Lopez responds to Khloe Kardashian dating rumors

Report: Jermaine O'Neal 'intrigued' about joining Mavs

Report: Robert Griffin III likely to return to Redskins

Izzo criticizes coaches, players after embarrassing loss

Report: Kings, Nets talking Deron Williams trade

LIKE WHAT YOU SEE?
GET THE DAILY NEWSLETTER:

Is Rampage Jackson heading back to the UFC?

WATCH: DeSean Jackson mocks Eagles after win

Michael Vick: Jameis Winston is the future of the NFL

Report: No NFL team is moving to Los Angeles in 2015

Report: 49ers looking for young, offensive mind as next coach

Sheldon Richardson: I'm on the same level as JJ Watt

Dan Mullen wears funny 'Christmas Vacation' sweater

WATCH: Redskins FB gets in Eagles fan's face after TD

WATCH: Utah runs trick play on first offensive play of game

Mick Cronin misses game with unruptured aneurysm

Steve Alford: Kentucky is best team I've coached against

Peyton Siva jokes that Rick Pitino is in the mob

WATCH: Montrezl Harrell ejected for throwing punch

UNC wearing Jordan-era throwback uniforms

Brian Kelly: Justin Brent gets 'distracted,' is in my doghouse

Five free agent signings that should happen in 2015

Reporter asks Rajon Rondo awkward question about trade

Video: Swaggy P elbows Steven Adams in throat, gets ejected

MLB News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

By clicking "Sign Me Up", you have read and agreed to the Fox Sports Digital Privacy Policy and Terms of Use. You can opt out at any time. For more information, please see our Privacy Policy.

Mullen wears funny Christmas sweater

RG3 returning to Redskins?

Tom Izzo hot after bad loss

Kings, Nets talking Deron Williams trade

WATCH: DeSean mocks Eagles

Vick: Winston is the future of the NFL

No NFL team in LA next season?

UNC rocking Jordan-era throwbacks

Reporter asks Rondo awkward question

Three quarterbacks who could be traded this offseason

Jon Lester and the Cubs

Report: NFL players used 'horny juice'

Today's Best Stuff
For Bloggers

Join the Yardbarker Network for more promotion, traffic, and money.

Company Info
Help
What is Yardbarker?

Yardbarker is the largest network of sports blogs and pro athlete blogs on the web. This site is the hub of the Yardbarker Network, where our editors and algorithms curate the best sports content from our network and beyond.