Well, after offending so many folks with last week’s column I have decided that this week I should write about cute little kittens and puppies, pretty flowers, or maybe rainbows. Instead, I believe I will again tackle the topic of our beloved Cincinnati Reds, which I have said before is almost too easy, with a new supply of material available every day.
First off, don’t let me break too many hearts by stating that this season is lost for the Reds, not the way they envisioned the year the Midsummer Classic comes to town. Here is it June 17 and the hometown boys are seven games behind five teams for the new second wild card spot and a whopping 14 games behind the “espionage” Cardinals in the National League Central. Of course, after the big news of yesterday, maybe the FBI and Major League Baseball will make the Patriots, oops, I mean the Cardinals forfeit all their games. Great, then the Reds would just be eight games behind the Pirates. You get the point. It is time to start to look to the future, because the present is not pretty.
The solutions to fix the 2015 Reds have been bantered about by media types from coast to coast and it is obvious that the Reds that we see today will not be the Reds we see a month from today. It is time for Walt Jocketty to get on the phone and see if he can hit some magic in the trade market. His first bargaining chip, and I never thought I would say this, has to be Aroldis Chapman. There really is no sense paying a closer that type of money to appear once a week on a team that is never going to reach the .500 mark. If you aren’t going to use him in an 11-inning loss in Chicago, then why keep him and pay him? Chapman should bring in some good prospects, which considering the state of the Reds’ farm system, might be a welcome addition. Cubs? Yankees?
Then the talk has to turn to Johnny Cueto. A column last week in a national baseball publication listed the Blue Jays, Giants, Rangers, Dodgers, and others as possible Cueto suitors. In other words, the teams that can afford to use Cueto for the remainder of this season for a Series run and then lose him to free agency. That is obviously why the return on Cueto is not really what it should be at this point compared to what it may have been in February. But you know what they say about hindsight and in February the Reds lineup looked like it could match up with anyone in the division, but that lineup no longer exists.
Are there any other trade possibilities? Jay Bruce’s name has been thrown about, but I’m sure that his statistics for the past season and a half are not exactly calling out “send us your top prospects.” In reality, the team cannot afford to trade too many players the way their season has gone injury-wise. Don’t let me forget all the calls for the head of Bryan Price. Though the current Reds manager has made a number of head-scratching decisions, you can hardly blame him at this point considering the hand he has been dealt.
On the injury front, realistically can it get any worse? Old guys get hurt, young guys get hurt, the disabled list stays populated. Zack Cozart was in my eyes an All-Star this season but one bad step at first base and he may not be back until the middle of next season. A rookie pitcher dislocates his shoulder three batters into a start and the list of bad luck goes on and on and on. The excitement of hosting the All-Star Game will still be something special, but think about how special it would have been if the Reds were in the thick of a pennant race. I know that is what the decision makers at GABP were thinking going into this season.
For Reds fans such as myself, it is now time to re-evaluate this team and lower the expectations considerably. Don’t let sweeps over the Nationals and the Phillies cloud your vision, because as you have seen along come the Padres, Cubs, and Tigers, followed by the Marlins, Pirates, Mets, and Twins. Yeah, it’s not looking real promising the next couple of weeks. But as I have written before, this team can pull the Jekyll and Hyde act with the best of them. Win three or four straight and get everyone’s hopes up, then lose three or four in a row in the most painful ways possible to watch.
DeJesus, Dominguez, Negron, Suarez, Adcock, Lorenzen, Villerreal, and many more to come. Get used to these young guys and let’s see what happens. I’m kind of enjoying watching games lately just to see what they can do. It’s not what I envisioned in March, but it’s what we have to deal with. Making the best of a bad situation!