Originally written on The Outside Corner  |  Last updated 3/20/12

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]

GET THE YARDBARKER APP:
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45
MORE FROM YARDBARKER

Kevin Sumlin: Texas A&M players have 'chip on their shoulder'

WATCH: Elvis Andrus steals home against Padres

Seahawks went on Hawaiian vacation to ease SB tension

Robert Kraft: Deflategate 'most overblown story' in NFL

Top 10 storylines for Week 1 of college football season

Jim Tressel once sent touching note to family of Michigan OL

LIKE WHAT YOU SEE?
GET THE DAILY NEWSLETTER:

Sony cut 'Concussion' scenes to avoid angering NFL

Ryan Clark: Trent Richardson is 'worst RB of all time'

Report: David Feherty won't be back at CBS Sports

Warren Moon: RG3 needs to start taking the blame

Lovullo: I don’t see Hanley Ramirez playing left field again in 2015

Judge Berman’s one-sentence order repeats Deflategate decision timeline

Harbaugh named starting QB but won't announce it

Ohio State downplays revenge talk ahead of Va. Tech rematch

WATCH: D-backs pitcher fails on quick pitch attempt

Ex-FSU WR Snoop Minnis trolls rival Florida in great way

Suspicous photo may lead to drug test for CC Sabathia

How the Houston Astros went from garbage to gold

Jack Eichel plans to move in with teammate Matt Moulson

Report: Bills GM 'went rogue’ in cutting Fred Jackson

Terrance Knighton irked by Redskins-Kardsashians comparison

Connor Cook on not being named Michigan State captain: 'It stinks'

Danny Amendola’s advice to those on roster bubble? ‘Control what you can’

Dallas Cowboys: Rookies to watch

Apple reportedly sought exclusive rights to new Bill Simmons podcast

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.
the YARDBARKER app
Get it now!
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

Top 10 storylines for Week 1 of college football season

Underdogs: Hopefuls that can shock in the World Cup

Manfred digs Shoeless Joe a deeper grave

Why Mike Trout ain't right

The Opening Drive: Jamal Anderson warns UM fans before heading to Salt Lake City

Best and worst MLB players in August

RG3 blames intern for liking Instagram post trashing owner

Four most surprising roster cuts from NFL teams

Raiders cut Trent Richardson

Caroline Wozniacki smoking cover of ‘Rhapsody’

Today's Best Stuff
For Publishers
Company Info
Help
Follow Yardbarker