By Mark Carpenter –
Hold the presses! As I write this column on a Monday morning, the Cincinnati Reds are tied for first place with the World Champion Chicago Cubs in the National League Central. Let me repeat that, tied for first place. OK,it is only a small sample size of six games and by the time you read this it may have changed but for now, Reds fans are basking in the glow of beating the dastardly Cardinals two of three over the weekend.
All through the offseason, fans questioned the Reds’ “rebuild” plan, wondering when the trading off of many of their high-priced stars was going to start paying off. Fans were frustrated by the lack of progress shown by the young players acquired in those trades, but after one week of the 2017 season, some of the optimism is back.
Most fans did not expect four wins in the first six games, and perhaps the biggest surprise has been the dominant performance of the Reds’ bullpen, who as you all know set all kinds of dubious records of futility last season. Manager Bryan Price may be feeling a little “Piniella-like” with the back end of his pen shaping up to be one of the team’s big strengths, with some combination of Lorenzen, Iglesias, Wood, and Cingrani, looking like the Nasty Boys of old. Other than a couple of hiccups, the starting pitching has been solid,with rookie Amir Garrett looking like a seasoned veteran in blanking the Cardinals and Scott Feldman getting a nice bounce-back start after a rough Opening Day outing.
For those of you who haven’t figured it out, Bronson Arroyo is probably just a stop-gap until some of the young pitchers in Louisville get more seasoning and get enough days for the Reds to gain that extra year of control. (That worked out pretty well for the Cubs and some kid named Kris Bryant). Look for the name Sal Romano to be part of the big-league rotation sooner than later.
At the plate, the Reds have hit at least one home run in each of their first six games, with Zach Cozart hitting a robust .450, which may unfortunately be an audition for a mid-season trade. Adam Duvall is trying to prove that last year was no fluke and if Billy Hamilton hits .286 all year, the offense will be in good shape.
So, perhaps the “rebuild” plan for the Reds has some merit after all. At least the first week has been fun to watch and as always, fireworks and bobbleheads will always fill the seats. May I add here also that it is a travesty that television money has three games being played to open the season on Monday, taking away the traditional opener that belonged to the Reds. Money > History, but no one in baseball does Opening Day like Cincinnati.
While it seems the Reds plan has worked thus far, the residents to their west seem to be trying to come up with some plan of their own with the NFL Draft just two weeks away. The losses for the Bengals have added up in the offseason and fans are really wondering how the draft will go and if the team has any more free agent signings up their sleeve.
Maybe the Bengals are going for that “rebuild” mode too but it is safe to say that Who-Dey faithful won’t be quite as patient as their neighbors. We’ll know more in a few weeks.
For now, rejoice in the fact that the temperature outside seems to be rising and that means baseball, baseball, and more baseball. That’s good with me.