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.
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! (?)
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.
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.
We’re a week (6 games) into the season and–as expected–I still have no idea what to think of this team. Votto and Frazier look great, but the other 6 hitters in the lineup have yet to do much of anything. While it’s too early to read into ANYTHING that’s happened so far, I’m comforted by the fact that Votto is hitting for power again. His early success will just make his mid-season knee flare-up all that more painful for the fans.
On Opening Day, Johnny Cueto hit the 1,000 strikeout mark. For his career, not the game. The rest of the starting rotation hasn’t been bad, either. They’re going to need to be good if the offense is going to continue being anemic. I mean, the hardest hit ball by Marlon Byrd this season hit a fan in the face.
Still, most of the experts picked the Cardinals and Pirates to finish 1-2 in the division respectively, so winning 4 out of 6 against those two teams to start the season is hardly something to dismiss.
Now, let’s talk about Kevin Gregg.
Okay, let’s not.
Chicago is the place I’ve called home for the last 15 years. It’s also home to two baseball teams — one of which has even won a World Series in the last 107 years.
To find out what’s going on with the other team I spoke to Ivy Envy, who were kind enough to take a break from dusting off their “THIS IS THE YEAR” sign long enough to answer a few questions for me.
CSG: It’s hard to deny that the Cubbies have made a lot of moves that will make them a better team for years to come, but when you see what happened to Javier Báez after he got called up (.169, 95 Ks, 213 ABs), are you hesitant to get TOO excited about guys who have yet to prove themselves in the Majors?
IE: I think a lot of sports fans are familiar with “cautious optimism” and when you have a team and organization that is based on young talent, like the Cubs are, it’s where your mindset with the team tends to be. We have had plenty of failed prospects, just over the last decade, so it’s difficult for some fans to put that much hope in young players. However, this is a different organization than it was 5 years ago. The new front office has completely changed how the Cubs scout and develop young players.
In regards to Javier Baez specifically, he didn’t do much to comfort those that are convinced “prospects will never work out”, but it’s way too early to write him off. Baez has historically struggled at every level when he first arrives and then he figures things out. I think the hype on each of these prospects is a little higher than it should be just because the lot is so impressive. I like Baez. I think strikeouts will always be an issue with him, as it typically is with any power-hitter with a long swing like his. At this point, he obviously has a lot of work to do with pitch recognition and plate discipline.
While people want to bring up the failed prospects (Corey Patterson, Josh Vitters, Brett Jackson, Hee-Sop Choi, Felix Pie, etc), it’s worth noting that most young players struggle after first being called up. In his first season in MLB, Anthony Rizzo hit .141/.281/.242. This idea of prospects panning out will be the conversation over the next few years. I’m sure the prospects will cause Cubs fans emotions to be all over the place these next few years.
CSG: Wrigley Field—and the surrounding area—will look significantly different in the next few years. What are your thoughts on all the changes?
IE: I love Wrigley Field, but at the same time feel that the ballpark and the neighborhood could be greatly improved. For Wrigley to last for generations to come (or even the next 10 years), something needed to be done. I don’t exactly feel comfortable taking my daughters to a ballpark where there is netting to protect fans from falling chunks of concrete.
I have no issue with the modernization of Wrigley, because I feel like it’s necessary. The renovations are self-funded and no support will come from taxpayers, so signage and other revenue generating aspects are necessary. These next 4 or 5 years are going to be rough in the area. The Cubs have stretched the renovations out to continue play a the ballpark.
As the world will see Sunday night in the Opening Night game against the Cardinals, Wrigley is a construction site right now. It’s not pretty and it probably won’t be for quite a while.
CSG: What do you see as the biggest challenge that could prevent the Cubbies from contending in 2015?
IE: I think it has to be that the team is so young and they will be relying so heavily on prospects. When Starlin Castro and Anthony Rizzo (age 25) are your leader veteran position players, it’s a really young team. The success of the 2015 Cubs will hinge a lot on the individual success of Kris Bryant, Javier Baez, Jorge Soler, Jake Arrieta and Kyle Hendricks.
CSG: Fill in the blank: Kris Bryant will _________________ in 2015.
IE: Sparkle. Right now, Kris Bryant is the poster-child for this rebuild. He’s billboard material. He’s as polished off the field as he is on. He’s got the smile. His eyes sparkle. We find him dreamy.
CSG: Your prediction for the 2015 Chicago Cubs
IE: I’m kind of all over the place with this team. My most realistic guess is 83 wins. I could easily see them being 5 games better than that, and I could just as easily see them 5 games worse than that. The important thing is the 2015 Cubs will be a lot more entertaining than fans have seen in a number of years. The division, as a whole, should be a lot of fun to watch over the next few years.
Thanks again to Ivy Envy. You can listen to their musings about the Chicago Cubs at ivyenvy.com.
Spoiler: The podcast is really just a front for the Official Clay Aiken Fan Club.