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Cincinnati fans optimism is in high gear. Reds added three potentially key pieces to their team puzzle. Starting pitcher Mat Latos (from Padres), closer Ryan Madson (Phillies) & reliever Sean Marshall (Cubs) instantly upgrade Cincy's pitching staff. Dusty Baker must be smiling. Reds have a great opportunity to make a run at the Central title.
More good news for Reds fans. Gone from NL Central foes are two slugging 1B. Albert Pujols (Cardinals) and Prince Fielder (Brewers) signed big money contracts with American League teams.
Reds lineup packs a punch. Joey Votto (1B), Brandon Phillips (2B) & Jay Bruce (RF) are the core of a maturing lineup. Much is expected of LF Heisey & CF Stubbs. Reds are high on SS Zack Cozart.
Starting rotation has talent and should receive plenty of run support. Problem is pitching in a hitters friendly home park. Great American gives up runs in bunches. Cueto, Latos, Arroyo, Bailey & Leake must come out of the gates on fire. Cincinnati lacks a lefty starter which could hurt down the stretch.
New closer Madson will get plenty of save opportunities. Marshall joins a bunch of strikeout artists out of the pen (Masset, Chapman, Ondrusek & Bray). Cincinnati's pitching staff might lead the league in strikeouts.
Prediction: The future is now. Cincinnati has assembled a winning formula on paper. Champion Cardinals still favorites to win Central. Reds will challenge. MLB added another Wild Card team beginning in 2012. Reds appear to have the inside track. 90+ wins well within reach.