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The Month in Review (June): Don’t Fear the Reaper

July 1, 2015

Here we are — entering, quite possibly, the last month you’ll see this Cincinnati Reds team as we know it. Depending on how things go in the next few weeks, we’ll either see some of the Reds’ biggest players traded away, or the team will hover just below .500 long enough for the front office to foolishly believe that they should hold onto everyone for the pennant run that nobody but the front office believes can happen.

Both scenarios end on August 1 with us repeatedly banging our heads against the wall.

Do the Reds NEED to trade Cueto, Leake, and Chapman? The short answer is yes. The problem is, the pieces the Reds will get in exchange for those players are unlikely to make a damn bit of difference in the long run. I don’t care about the financial state of the Reds — I care about winning. Unfortunately for the Reds, those two things are mutually exclusive.


Approximately 12 years after it was announced that Devin Mesoraco would need surgery to fix his hip, Devin Mesoraco finally (FINALLY!) had surgery on his hip. We’ll see him next year.

But how about Pena and Barnhart — not a bad backup catching platoon, huh? Sadly, they both lack the pop that Mesoraco provided the Reds.


Joey Votto’s back. Not that he ever really left, but now there’s not really any question how healthy he is. And he’s having fun with Brandon Philips, too.


Just when you think Brandon Phillips is going to continue his offensive slide, his bat comes back to life. And he’s having fun with Joey Votto, too.


Last week, Todd Frazier was in third place in All-Star Game voting behind Kris Almighty Bryant and Matt Carpenter. Frazier was over 1.2 million votes behind Carpenter, to be exact. At last count, he was in second place and only about 50,000 votes behind Carpenter. Behold the power of creating multiple email addresses!


It just figures, doesn’t it? Zack Cozart was having a career year and then — BAM — out for the season. Eugenio Suarez has been a nice offensive replacement, but his defensive skills remind everyone how much we miss Cozart’s glove.


Marlon Byrd is back, and actually playing really well. Good enough to probably get him traded to a contender before the deadline. Good for him. Bruce continues his inexplicable recovery from his inexplicably slow start, and Billy Hamilton continues to steal a ridiculous amount of bases despite being almost completely incapable of actually getting on base. What we’re left with is an outfield that’s turned out to be halfway decent — a far cry from the outfield earlier this season.


The Who-the-Hell-is-Pitching-Tonight rotation continues. Cueto has looked mortal, surely dropping his trade value in the process. Fortunately, the Reds are locked and loaded for a long run of future success so the players the Reds get in return for Cueto are almost irrelevant. DeSclafani, Lorenzen, and Leake have looked good and bad — sometimes in the same game — so it’s hard to get an idea of what the “future” rotation will be like.

Enjoy Cueto and Leake while you can, because they’re as good as gone by the end of this month. Unless, you know, the Reds are still “contending.”


I don’t recall throwing my phone in anger after seeing that a reliever gave up a lead, so the bullpen has been fine, I guess.


Reds fans love Aroldis Chapman — myself included — but a flame-throwing closer on a sub-.500 team is about as useful as having the fastest guy in baseball who can’t get on base. Chapman’s not a lock to be traded during this season, but you might as well do it while his stock is still high.


June record: 13-15

GO REDS! (?)

© Chris Sabo’s Goggles 2015. This Month in Review is in no way sponsored or endorsed by Skyline Chili (or the inferior Gold Star Chili). What do I look like, some kind of sell-out?

The Month in Review (May): The Great Pretender

June 2, 2015

I see what you’re doing, Cincinnati Reds. You finish strong in the month of May by sweeping the much-better-than-you-are Washington Nationals, hoping to sway the results of my monthly report card. But you don’t fool me. Not one bit.


Devin Mesoraco was finally placed on the DL. Maybe one of these days he’ll decide whether or not to have surgery on his hip.

Brayan Pena and Tucker Barnhart will be the catching platoon for the remainder of the season. While neither of them is particularly exciting, I am glad that Barnhart is going to get a lot of ABs.


As expected, Joey Votto’s scorching April was followed by a luke-warm May. Fortunately, Votto found his wallet, so hopefully that means we’re in for a scorching June.


Brandon Phillips quietly had a solid month. Slowed somewhat by turf toe, he’s been hitting for average — and not much else.


Your National League Player of the Week for the final week of May, Mr. Todd Frazier, is a beast. This team is bad now, but think how bad they’d be without Frazier’s punishing bat. He currently sits in second place among MLB home run leaders. That’s just silly.


Zack Cozart is still hitting. Not as well as he was in April, but he’s still hitting. Therefore, none of us should complain.


Most of May was a miserable month (that’s a lot of “M’s”) for Jay Bruce. He’s slowly digging himself out of a very deep hole, but he’s still miles away from the player he was before the 2014 season. Call me crazy, but I see Bruce as one of the first players traded before the deadline. Someone will see the upside he has to offer, convince themselves that they can fix his problems (because he’s finally
going to figure it out after 7.5 seasons, right?), and take him off the Reds’ hands. Best of luck to whomever that team is.

The rest of the outfield? The fastest guy in baseball can’t get on base, and Marlon Byrd is just kind of… there.


The Reds’ biggest trade chip has a strained elbow. I’m sure that’s nothing a pitcher should be concerned about. We’ll find out how much of a problem it is after tonight’s start. The only thing Reds fans can hope for is that he stays healthy and pitches well until the All-Star Break, otherwise the Reds will be lucky to swing any deal, let alone a good one.

Jason Marquis was finally relegated to the bullpen. Meanwhile, the young guys — DeSclafani, Lorenzen, Iglesias, and probably someone else whose name I have to look up every time to spell it correctly — have shown glimpses of good stuff. Considering these guys will most likely make up the bulk of the rotation for the foreseeable future, showing any kind of promise is encouraging.


Thankfully, the bullpen has improved. It’s amazing what happens when you release Kevin Gregg. Hoover and Cingrani have been really dependable. Unfortunately, they’re rarely pitching when the Reds have the lead.


Chapman had a whopping 4 saves out of 4 opportunities in May. Let’s just say that wasn’t because the Reds had huge leads every game. He also went through his annual weird stretch where he ended up with 3 losses. It happens. Fortunately (or unfortunately), when you’re an all-around below average team, the closer is the least of your worries.


May record: 11-16

GO REDS! (?)

© Chris Sabo’s Goggles 2015. This Month in Review is in no way sponsored or endorsed by Skyline Chili (or the inferior Gold Star Chili). What do I look like, some kind of sell-out?

Mailman, bring me no more blues

May 18, 2015

Fine, I’ll write something about the Reds.

In another life, before my rise to Celebrity Reds Blogger, I used to run a short-lived movie review site. I quickly found that I could easily write 1,000 words about a bad movie, but when it came time to write something about a genuinely good movie, I was at a loss for words. So, could someone please explain to me why I can’t think of one damn thing to say about the Reds?

The Reds are not B-A-D (although they’re quickly getting there). There also not G-O-O-D, either. They’re somewhere in the middle — in that place where nobody knows what to think of them. They’re the Terminator 2: Judgment Day of baseball teams.

Some will say the team is overachieving, while others will say it’s underachieving. It would take some convincing to get me to say that they’re achieving anything. Just think: if they’re playing at this level of mediocrity now, imagine what we’ll have to endure come July and August when many of these pieces won’t even be around anymore.

Perhaps the most frustrating thing about the current state of the Reds is that there are very few ways to fix it. They can’t afford to buy talent in free agency, and the players they’ll get in return from the eventual fire sale will be cheap MLB-ready talent and prospects, not players that can fix the club before the new Star Wars trilogy is complete.

But at least the right smokestack catching on fire was pretty exciting.

The Month in Review (April): Pain Lies on the Riverside

May 4, 2015

Here we go again… another season of report cards for our beloved Cincinnati Reds. And just like the ones I got in school, you’ll probably want to hide April’s report card from your parents.

For those of you who are new to the patented Chris Sabo’s Goggles Report Card® game, here’s what you need to know:

1 cheese coney = This isn’t even a snack, let alone a meal. Try harder.

2 cheese coneys = You could do better, but you could also do worse.

3 cheese coneys = Now we’re getting somewhere. Not perfect, but pretty darn close.

4 cheese coneys = How can you complain about four cheese coneys? Simple–you can’t.


Where have you gone, Devin Mesoraco? Well, he’s spent the majority of April injured, and in typical Reds’ fashion, they have been cryptic about his injury and have yet to put him on the disabled list. Instead, he’s taking up space on a roster that could be filled with… I’m just kidding — the Reds don’t have anyone to fill out their roster.

So as we patiently watch Brayan Pena and Tucker Barnhart fill in, the nation turns its lonely eyes to the Reds front office and wonders what the hell they’re thinking. Woo-woo-woo.


Lest I jinx anything, because it’s the only thing worth watching right now, I’ll just say that Joey Votto is having a very nice start to the season.


Slowly but surely, Brandon Phillips is beginning to show some signs of life. He started off the season only hitting singles (and not very many of them), but in the last couple of weeks Phillips is starting to hit the ball a little harder and drive in some runs. Which is good, because the better he plays now, the more value the Reds will get for him when they trade him at the All-Star Break.


His average may not be great, but Todd Frazier is hitting homers like a boss. He currently has 7 more home runs than uber-rookie Kris Bryant. Because New Jersey.


If I’ve said it once I’ve said it a thousand times: Zack Cozart is an offensive threat to be reckoned with. Okay, I’ve never said that, but isn’t it nice to see this guy finally hit?


What if I told you that only two Reds outfielders were batting over .200? And what if I told you that one of those two outfielders was Skip Schumaker? And what if I told you the other was Billy Hamilton? And what if I told you that the Reds “big” free-agent acquisition (Marlon Byrd) was batting .169? And veteran slugger Jay Bruce was batting .188?

That would be pretty depressing, wouldn’t it?


The Good: Johnny Cueto has been good, but you wouldn’t know it from his 2-3 record. Mike Leake and Anthony DeSclafani have actually been really solid (especially the latter). They’re going to need to continue being really solid because…

The Bad: Don’t be fooled by Jason Marquis’s record. His only wins have come when the Reds have scored 8+ runs.

The Ugly: Homer Bailey, the $100 million man, is shelved until mid-2016 at the earliest.


My parents always told me that if I don’t have anything nice to say, then I’m probably talking about the 2015 Cincinnati Reds bullpen.


There’s a reason why I have a separate category for the closer, because Aroldis Chapman does not deserve to be lumped in with those bullpen guys. What he does, day in and day out, is pretty remarkable. It’s just a shame he can’t do it for a better Reds team — emphasis on Reds team, because he’s going to end up on a better team either at the All-Star Break or during the off-season.


April Record: (11-11)

GO REDS! (?)

© Chris Sabo’s Goggles 2015. This Month in Review is in no way sponsored or endorsed by Skyline Chili (or the inferior Gold Star Chili). What do I look like, some kind of sell-out?

Box Full of Letters

April 29, 2015


The Future is X-Rated

April 27, 2015

Regardless of what happened during the first series against the Brewers, or what happens during this week’s Brewers series, the Cincinnati Reds aren’t going anywhere this season — and probably the foreseeable future. You know it, I know it, and you can bet your ass the front office knows it.

There are reports that the Reds were so convinced that they couldn’t re-sign Johnny Cueto they didn’t even make him an offer before the Opening Day deadline. They didn’t even try. Didn’t float a, “what do you think about this, Johnny Beisbol?” Nothing. While I agree the Reds have virtually no (realistic, non franchise-destroying) chance of signing Cueto, what’s the harm in trying?

The fact that they didn’t offer Cueto a contract supports my belief that the front office knows this team was D-O-N-E on April 6. Spring Training if you want to get technical about it. Sure, they hoped they could squeeze out one more moderately-successful, don’t-advance-past-the-first-round-of-the-playoffs season, they just weren’t going to try too hard to ensure that happened.

For better or for worse, these are your Cincinnati Reds. Deal with it.

Conventional wisdom says that teams should wait until the All-Star Break before trading off (or acquiring) pieces, but let me ask a question:


Sure, you’ll theoretically get more in return if you wait until the All-Star Break, when teams are desperate to improve at the last possible moment, but couldn’t you arguably get more in return by giving teams the services of — oh… let’s say Johnny Cueto — for more than two and a half months?

Are you telling me there isn’t a team that could use Aroldis Chapman today — on April 27 — and immediately change the shape of their season? And are you telling me that a team wouldn’t offer a king’s ransom in return for Chapman’s services on April 27? I don’t buy it.

I mention Cueto and Chapman because they’re as good as gone. Probably Leake, too. Maybe even Jay Bruce if the Reds are really going to throw up their hands and start over. Anyone want Brandon Phillips? For the right price the Reds will gladly scratch his name off the lineup card.

Considering the state of the organization today, we all know the Reds’ next chance at success is a long way off, so why not get started on rebuilding the franchise sooner rather than later?

Or we can dedicate an entire weekend to celebrating something that happened 25 years ago because we have nothing else to celebrate. It’s up to you.

Bad Boys

April 20, 2015
Tom Gannam | AP Photo

Tom Gannam | AP Photo

In the last 33 (THIRTY-THREE) series the Reds have played in St. Louis, the Reds have won 3 (THREE) of them. Once in 2003, once in 2006, and once in 2011. Do you remember anything about those seasons? Probably not, because the Reds finished 69-93, 80-82, and 79-83 respectively in those seasons.

That right there is why I don’t consider the Reds/Cardinals rivalry an actual rivalry. A rivalry suggests a show of competitiveness from both teams, a battle between two foes that’s exciting to watch, a back-and-forth struggle for supremacy. The Cincinnati Reds don’t have a rivalry with the St. Louis Cardinals — they have an inferiority complex.

But enough about the doom and gloom of last weekend, let’s talk about the 2015 season!

The Reds started the season 4-0. That was fun. There was talk that maybe, just maybe, this team could be scrappy enough to do some damage. One last hurrah, if you will, before we bid farewell to Cueto and Chapman (at the very least) at the end of season.

Since that encouraging start the Reds have gone 1-7. For those of you who struggle with math, that means the Reds have a 5-7 record. The only reason they’re not in last place in the NL Central is because the Brewers are stinking up the place with a 2-10 record.

By the way, the Reds begin a four-game series with the Brewers tonight, so something has to give, right? Right?!

Only the foolish and misinformed believed that this 2015 squad was going to be special, but a few of us (I’m not included in this group) thought the Reds could surprise a few people. Should we be concerned? After all, it’s only April. Sadly, the “it’s only April” excuse is only valid when expectations were high and the team has failed to meet them. Expectations were already low and the team is performing BELOW those expectations. This isn’t a case of “it’s still early” — what you’re seeing is exactly what this team is capable of.

So, is April 20 too soon for a fire sale? The Atlanta Braves spent much of the offseason trading off the core pieces of their team (and then some) and they’re sitting at an impressive 8-4. Yes, the “it’s only April” excuse works in reverse. Nobody expects the Braves to keep up this pace for the whole season, but the fact is — as of April 20 — they’ve exceeded everyone’s expectations thus far.

At this point, I’d be happy if the Reds had any expectations.



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