MLB March Report: Cincinnati Reds

It’s win-or-else time for the Cincinnati Reds, after a disappointing fade in the late summer and fall of last season. Cincy’s main competition from last year, Milwaukee and St. Louis, is re-tooling after major free agency hits. The Chicago Cubs have the money, but still have a big rock to crawl out from under. Houston is completely rebuilding. So with all due respect to Clint Hurdle and the Pittsburgh Pirates, that leaves the Reds in a position to win their second NL Central title in three years. And the word from the Queen City is that the heat is on Dusty Baker early—if they’re not off to a sound start, we can look for a managerial change by Memorial Day and a possible firesale. If they are playing well, Dusty’s safe and sound and the front office will get what they need to make the playoffs. This dynamic makes the Reds one of baseball’s most interesting teams in 2012, and TheSportsNotebook evaluates them today, based on their ability to get on base, hit for power, starting pitching and relief pitching.