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View Full Version : This team has accepted a culture of losing



savafan
07-24-2009, 06:47 PM
I see it in just about every game I watch.

There are guys who are biding their time until they can leave via free agency (Encarnacion).

There are guys who look to pad their own stats for the sake of making their wallet fatter (Phillips).

There are guys who make their decisions based on favoritism rather than actual talent (Dusty).


Tear it down. Burn it down. Blow it down completely and rebuild.

There are too many holdover veterans who've accepted the Cincinnati culture of losing that it's going to start to carry over to the young players coming up. Once you accept losing, it's like a dog who's tasted blood or a malignant tumor in the brain, it has to be destroyed...eradicated.

Right now the only people I see on the field with any fire in them are Votto, Herrerra and Rosales. It seems like everyone else is going through the motions.

I'm not saying trade away every one, but you have to get rid of those players who have accepted losing and are comfortable with the status quo.

Dusty has to go too. He can't even instill basic fundamentals in this team. I've never seen a group of professional athletes make so many stupid mistakes on the field of play as I have with the 2009 Cincinnati Reds.

I'm tired of watching a club of guys playing ball with their friends who are fine with losing ballgames as long as they draw a paycheck. I'd rather watch a AAA team fighting for their careers than complacent millionaires.

I've grown fond of a lot of these players over the years, but I'm tired of the losing culture. If you're going to rebuild, do it all the way like Tampa Bay did. We've spent the better part of a decade attempting to half rebuild and half compete at the same time. You can't do both. It's fundamentally impossible.

And get someone in here to manage this ballclub with some fire to drive the young kids to play hard. If a guy screws up, I want to see the manager rip him in the paper the next day. He'll remember that the next time a similar situation arises.

I would take another five seasons of losing baseball to watch young guys with potential try their hardest between the white lines before I can watch another five seasons of mediocre to downright awful baseball with guys who just don't seem to care anymore.

Falls City Beer
07-24-2009, 07:13 PM
Eh. When this team was pitching over their heads, they were winning. Then reality set in and the pitchers turned into the pumpkins they are.

This isn't unfixable.

savafan
07-24-2009, 07:16 PM
Eh. When this team was pitching over their heads, they were winning. Then reality set in and the pitchers turned into the pumpkins they are.

This isn't unfixable.

This team has played over their heads for parts of the last 15 years

Falls City Beer
07-24-2009, 07:16 PM
This team has played over their heads for parts of the last 15 years

And it's always been the pitching that's the mirage.

BCubb2003
07-24-2009, 07:33 PM
Blow it up, Walt. Make it yours.

RFS62
07-24-2009, 07:41 PM
Blow it up, Walt. Make it yours.



Catchy phrase.

:pimp:

Unassisted
07-24-2009, 08:24 PM
Blow it up, Walt. Make it yours.I get the distinct impression from the big "Walt" thread that there are many RedsZoners who don't trust Walt to use enough dynamite for such an operation.

MikeS21
07-25-2009, 08:40 AM
The problem is that every "tear down and rebuild" cycle sets the franchise back another three or four years. I think we are closer than that.

There are some obvious adjustments that need to be made with the line-up, but they can be addressed IF trading chips like Harang, Arroyo, and Coco are used properly.

Raisor
07-25-2009, 09:09 AM
The goal needs to be: Make the playoffs every year. Of course that's not going to happen, but it needs to be the goal.

The last few years the goal seems to be "inch closer to .500, then watch us try to get to .501.

At this rate, the Reds will be a .500 team sometime in the 2010s and a playoff contender by 2020. At that point it will have been 25 years since the team made the playoffs.

redsmetz
07-25-2009, 09:25 AM
The problem is that every "tear down and rebuild" cycle sets the franchise back another three or four years. I think we are closer than that.

There are some obvious adjustments that need to be made with the line-up, but they can be addressed IF trading chips like Harang, Arroyo, and Coco are used properly.

You've hit the nail on the head. I've been saying all month that I think the club was using this year to actually see what players were chips for bolstering the club and which players were keepers (and some players could be either). Now it's a matter of consummating those moves - something easier done here on RZ than in reality.

We're as frustrated as the players. Hence tossing around phrases such as "blow it up" which we say year in and year out. But you've said it - that's going to set us back years and that would be foolish. I'm glad we here on RZ don't run this club.

traderumor
07-25-2009, 09:37 AM
I would say that the players are collectively playing up to their capabilities, which just isn't very good. They need better players, plain and simple.

HeatherC1212
07-25-2009, 10:41 PM
You've hit the nail on the head. I've been saying all month that I think the club was using this year to actually see what players were chips for bolstering the club and which players were keepers (and some players could be either). Now it's a matter of consummating those moves - something easier done here on RZ than in reality.

We're as frustrated as the players. Hence tossing around phrases such as "blow it up" which we say year in and year out. But you've said it - that's going to set us back years and that would be foolish. I'm glad we here on RZ don't run this club.

Thank you. I completely agree and it's kind of driving me bonkers reading all this stuff about blowing things up and getting rid of everyone when everyone isn't the problem. There are some good pieces to this club (and some players who are not currently in the roles they were originally intended to be thanks to injuries) but they need the right help, aka the missing pieces to the big puzzle. Throwing the puzzle out and starting over is NOT what this club needs right now. I think they're pretty close as well and I hope TPTB do some good things this week if it means improving the club. I'd like to see them do what they can to improve the team for the long haul and build on the good things that are all ready here, and then we can see where they stand both in the remaining games this season and in preparation for next year.

KoryMac5
07-26-2009, 12:03 AM
There is a fine line between Pittsburgh and Tampa and it really depends on the folks you have evaluating talent. Pittsburgh chose to go cheap and pick signability guys. Tampa went best player available and lucked out as many of their young stars have panned out for them. I don't think the Reds have to start fresh in the offseason. I think the Reds can hold on to some core guys (Votto, Bruce, Cueto, Volquez) while dealing some excess fat (Harang and Arroyo). I just don't want to get stuck in some time space continuium that see us rebuild and tear down three or four times over the next ten years.

RED VAN HOT
07-26-2009, 12:09 AM
Blowing up may be a little harsh, but I would like to see some bold moves. I am tired of the "3 million dollar" free agent contract that seems to accomplish no more than block the advance of minor leaguers. I'd like to see Frazier and Cozart in AAA now. Next year, it would be nice to break camp with Stubbs, Heisey, Frazier, and Cozart on the 25. Add Votto, Bruce, Phillips, and Hanigan and you have a starting 8. Keep Dickerson and Janish. Defer decisions on Hernandez and Gomes until season's end. Keep JHJ on a one year. I have not given up on Valaika. I suspect injuries contributed to his poor season. I think that lineup would be an improvement over the current one.

For starters let's go with Bailey, Cueto, Volquez, Wood, and Stewart.

I think such a lineup has the potential to turn things around and shake the expectation of losing that seems to pop up about this time of year. If they didn't win, it would not be as hard to accept.

corkedbat
07-26-2009, 12:19 AM
Problem is, this franchise never fully blows it up nor do they go all out and try to win now, they just go along with a hodge podge of young talent, a handful of decent vets and millions of dollars in filler dreck. They end up with the mediocrity we've seen since 1999. They need to develop a plan and see it through. This past offseason was an embarassment.

BuckeyeRedleg
07-26-2009, 12:24 AM
I don't know if the team has accepted a culture of losing, but I do know the fans have.

And I can't blame them.

WVRedsFan
07-26-2009, 12:49 AM
I think savafan and redsmetz both make good observations. I fall in between them somewhat. I think we do have players here are just glad they have a job and know that as long as they show up everyday, things will be fine. You can see it. The team, however, does have some talent. As mentioned before, Votto, Bruce, Volquez, and Cueto need to be the core. I have no great desire to keep Phillips, but I'll add him to the list of keepers for now. Ecarnacion, Gonzalez, Taveras, Nix, Gomes, and especially Hairston need to go. Heck, give them away for all I care.

Edwin isn't going to get any better. He's almost 30, and that's not "young." Gonzalez is the most worthless big check the Reds write. Taveras, well, you know. Nix and Gomes are fodder. One of them might be kept as a fourth or fifth outfielder, but they won't be missed. Hairston was the single most telling player on the club. He's never done anything in his career and yet he was the most coveted signing of the winter. Why? Beats me. He's worse than fodder as a starter. He could be tolerated as a bench player, but like so many others, he's a guy that tempts the manager to play him. Why, I don't know.

Then go out, spend the money, and hurt a little to bring in a real MLB shortstop, third baseman and two outfielders (hopefully Hanigan is the real deal at C). Deal for a competent starter and keep your bullpen (although I'd send Weathers to the highest bidder if it's $1. Stormy has been great over the years, but time is up).

I do feel that Walt is watching and evaluating. He was handcuffed by some bad contracts and made a couple himself, but he will either make the proper moves in time or he'll be gone. It's 50-50 on whether that will happen. I still feel like it will, but we'll know a lot more by next weekend.

Oh, yeah, I most forgot. I have a lot of respect for Dusty (call me stupid), but I think he can win with the right players, but he must go along with Dick Pole, and the rest of the coaching staff.

BuckeyeRedleg
07-26-2009, 12:52 AM
Edwin isn't going to get any better. He's almost 30, and that's not "young."

Edwin is only 26.

WVRedsFan
07-26-2009, 12:58 AM
Edwin is only 26.

Matters not. The time from 26-30 flies. After a hot "streak" in which he went 7-7, his is now 2-17 over the last 7 days. That's the way he is. Maddening. He is never going to be what many of this board thinks he will be. Never. Time to cut bait and deal him.

Cedric
07-26-2009, 01:49 AM
It matters plenty. He's still seen as a player that can mature and get better. Some teams might see value in him. Might want to see if a change of scenery helps.

Matt700wlw
07-26-2009, 02:28 AM
I'm really tired of having this conversation every single year.

Maybe next year will be different....

Johnny Footstool
07-26-2009, 02:35 AM
Blow it up, DanO. Make it yours.

Blow it up, Wayne. Make it yours.

RED VAN HOT
07-26-2009, 11:07 AM
A strategy does seem to be in place. Spend money on player development rather than free agency. Don't rush players to the majors. Let them play .5-1.5 seasons at each level. Don't bring up your future everyday players until they are ready to stick. Avoid to the best of your ability extended learning periods while players on the ML roster. Doing so incurs a double hit in that the club must endure sub-standard performance while advancing the player toward arbitration and free agency. It turns the club into a farm team for other ML teams with larger payrolls.

Avoid long term contracts. A deep minor league system makes it easier to do so. Retain players for their prime years, 26-31, at a reasonable cost. Offer short term contracts to those you want to keep past that time. Those demanding long term, high dollar contracts are out of reach anyway. Offer them arbitration and collect the draft choice.

I believe this club has used free agency for low priced gap filler contracts until such a system could be put in place. Without the injuries, this set of players might have stayed in contention longer.

westofyou
07-26-2009, 11:30 AM
I believe this club has used free agency for low priced gap filler contracts until such a system could be put in place. Without the injuries, this set of players might have stayed in contention longer.

I know this franchise has used free agency for low priced gap filler players since Howsam passed on picking a player at the first FA draft in 1976.

You can count the prime players signed by the Reds on one hand but you need a family of 6 to cover the Larry Biitners and Rich Aurilias that have been inked.

It's a given that the Reds need a healthy ML system, that's like saying people need water to live. What they need is to actually make successful steal type of trades and some significant FA signings of better than average players.

The signing of a guy you "hope" plays larger than his lifetime average is not always a bad move, but it's not always a successful one that creates wins nor a culture of winning. A couple of STAR players can change a team and a clubhouse, otherwise you're just Milan High School looking for that one strange year when it all goes right.

VR
07-26-2009, 11:58 AM
This is a year that they can move some people....Harang, Arroyo, Cordero, EE, even BP.....that actually have VALUE, not just looking to move them to save $.

Those 3 pitchers are in their decline.....and most likely their value will not increase next year. If you can move 2/3 of them...they have a good chance of getting something in return. The Reds just haven't had that over the years...and here's a chance to really set yourself up to make a move in 2010.

SMcGavin
07-26-2009, 12:17 PM
And it's always been the pitching that's the mirage.

Every post of yours is a varation on this.

09 Reds ERA+: 100 (9th of 16)
09 Reds OPS+: 84 (15th of 16)

Give it a rest.

Strikes Out Looking
07-26-2009, 12:22 PM
I believe the fish rots from the head first. Carl Linder Jr., uh, I mean Bob Castellini takes the most blame for being afraid to lose a few bucks this season and let Walt do what needed to be done in the offseason (A right handed left fielder who actually could drive in a few runs, hello Mr. Dye, Mr. Holliday). And then Walt seems like Hamlet, afraid to make a decision. And then there's Dusty "I played with Hank Aaron" Baker, who while has the respect of his players, doesn't seem to have the fear of his players.

So, I say don't blow up the roster. I say blow up the management structure.

nate
07-26-2009, 12:33 PM
Every post of yours is a varation on this.

09 Reds ERA+: 100 (9th of 16)
09 Reds OPS+: 84 (15th of 16)

Give it a rest.

I know what you mean the naptime but the Reds FIP is second to last in the NL and they're definitely in the lower half of NL ERA. The Reds' starters are fourth from the bottom in ERA and second to last in FIP. The relief pitching's ERA is excellent at third best in the NL but the FIP seems to be trending toward the middle.

All this means that the defense has helped out the pitching quite a bit and it's actually a lot worse than some of the shiny numbers they put up earlier.

I'm most concerned about Cueto.

membengal
07-26-2009, 01:10 PM
Cueto's tired. Completely inevitable. Least surprising thing of the season, frankly, coming off of his innings last year, his winter work, and the early start to the year. It is what it is.

Frankly, the organization ought to shut him down to rest him up for 2010.

Falls City Beer
07-26-2009, 01:11 PM
Every post of yours is a varation on this.

09 Reds ERA+: 100 (9th of 16)
09 Reds OPS+: 84 (15th of 16)

Give it a rest.

Read the context of my post. Savafan said that the Reds have had competitive half-seasons before, and I agreed, but in those half-seasons, it's been a pitching mirage that has kept them around. Then, reliably, the pitching collapses. That comment was inclusive of all seasons, not just this one. Are you going to deny that pitching has been this organization's problem over the years?

Sure, pitching has been slightly less of a problem this season (mostly because of the bullpen), but to pretend as though it isn't a problem is constructing a narrative that isn't there; a persistent and ongoing narrative at that.

And really: what a joke to tell me to give it a rest when the Taveras crap runs wild on this site, beaten farther to a pulp than any player outside of Dunn, yet doesn't get punished for CLEARLY breaking board rules.

RED VAN HOT
07-26-2009, 03:45 PM
It's a given that the Reds need a healthy ML system, that's like saying people need water to live. What they need is to actually make successful steal type of trades and some significant FA signings of better than average players.


My point is that the Reds need a better than healthy minor league system because that is the only way they are going to be able to compete with teams that can afford twice the payroll over the long term. It is possible to see value in another team's player and "steal" him in a trade. I'm not sure how often these opportunities come along. I don't think the Reds will ever be able to afford significant FA signings. A high dollar, long term contract that goes sour, can ruin a small market team for years. The Yankees and Red Sox can simply write it off.

I doubt that any of us knows what WJ is thinking, but the evidence suggests that he has turned down trades for Dye and Rolen because the prices in minor league talent were too high. Thus, I have concluded that he believes maintaining the minor league strategy is the best alternative for the Reds.

SMcGavin
07-26-2009, 05:11 PM
Read the context of my post. Savafan said that the Reds have had competitive half-seasons before, and I agreed, but in those half-seasons, it's been a pitching mirage that has kept them around. Then, reliably, the pitching collapses. That comment was inclusive of all seasons, not just this one. Are you going to deny that pitching has been this organization's problem over the years?

Sure, pitching has been slightly less of a problem this season (mostly because of the bullpen), but to pretend as though it isn't a problem is constructing a narrative that isn't there; a persistent and ongoing narrative at that.

And really: what a joke to tell me to give it a rest when the Taveras crap runs wild on this site, beaten farther to a pulp than any player outside of Dunn, yet doesn't get punished for CLEARLY breaking board rules.

Perhaps the post I quoted wasn't the best example of it. But you've been making basically the same point since spring training: the hitting will be fine and the pitching is going to suck, just like always. That was the case in the past. That has not at all been the case with the 2009 Reds and I find it hard to make an argument otherwise.

Taveras clearly has been beaten into the ground but not by me, so not sure what you are getting at there. I'm not the guy who enforces board rules. I'm saying that you're breaking a rule, I'm saying that you keep backing a viewpoint that IMO is completely false. You clearly disagree. Not a big deal.

Falls City Beer
07-26-2009, 05:13 PM
Perhaps the post I quoted wasn't the best example of it. But you've been making basically the same point since spring training: the hitting will be fine and the pitching is going to suck, just like always. That was the case in the past. That has not at all been the case with the 2009 Reds and I find it hard to make an argument otherwise.

Taveras clearly has been beaten into the ground but not by me, so not sure what you are getting at there. I'm not the guy who enforces board rules. I'm saying that you're breaking a rule, I'm saying that you keep backing a viewpoint that IMO is completely false. You clearly disagree. Not a big deal.

If you don't see the pitching as a similarly huge problem, you're not watching. Not that I'd blame you.

SMcGavin
07-26-2009, 05:17 PM
I know what you mean the naptime but the Reds FIP is second to last in the NL and they're definitely in the lower half of NL ERA. The Reds' starters are fourth from the bottom in ERA and second to last in FIP. The relief pitching's ERA is excellent at third best in the NL but the FIP seems to be trending toward the middle.

All this means that the defense has helped out the pitching quite a bit and it's actually a lot worse than some of the shiny numbers they put up earlier.

I'm most concerned about Cueto.

ERA and FIP aren't the best to evaluate the Reds since they are park dependent and the Reds play in an offensive environment. ERA+ shows a completely average staff, but is admittedly defense dependent. I'd be interested in seeing team xFIP if someone has it. I don't mean to imply that the Reds pitching has been any great shakes - I think it's pretty pedestrian, I just think it's been significantly better than the offense.

Kc61
07-26-2009, 05:20 PM
Cueto's tired. Completely inevitable. Least surprising thing of the season, frankly, coming off of his innings last year, his winter work, and the early start to the year. It is what it is.

Frankly, the organization ought to shut him down to rest him up for 2010.

I would move Cueto to the bullpen immediately. I would have him pitch two or three innings of long relief occasionally. Keep him pitching but sparingly.

Owings is hurt, so they can bring up Maloney and Lehr to join the rotation. If they trade a pitcher, bring up somebody else. Give Sam Lecure a couple of starts if necessary. Volquez will pitch before season's end, he'll help fill out the rotation. Let Bailey keep going though, he can use the major league work.

Cueto does seem beat. Herrera also seems beat just watching him, the sharpness seems gone.

There's no use pushing things this season, it is over.

nate
07-26-2009, 05:20 PM
ERA and FIP aren't the best to evaluate the Reds since they are park dependent and the Reds play in an offensive environment. ERA+ shows a completely average staff, but is admittedly defense dependent. I'd be interested in seeing team xFIP if someone has it. I don't mean to imply that the Reds pitching has been any great shakes - I think it's pretty pedestrian, I just think it's been significantly better than the offense.

I don't think the park effects are be so extreme that they skew those rankings much.

I think the pitching has been better than the offense but it's more because the offense is horrendous; the starters, poorish; the bullpen good and the defense good.

Falls City Beer
07-26-2009, 05:22 PM
I would move Cueto to the bullpen immediately. I would have him pitch two or three innings of long relief occasionally. Keep him pitching but sparingly.

Owings is hurt, so they can bring up Maloney and Lehr to join the rotation. If they trade a pitcher, bring up somebody else. Give Sam Lecure a couple of starts if necessary. Volquez will pitch before season's end, he'll help fill out the rotation. Let Bailey keep going though, he can use the major league work.

Cueto does seem beat. Herrera also seems beat just watching him, the sharpness seems gone.

There's no use pushing things this season, it is over.

I don't understand why Cueto seems "beat" in July. He hasn't been particularly overworked this season. He's already got one MLB season under his belt. Is he not training enough?

membengal
07-26-2009, 05:30 PM
I would move Cueto to the bullpen immediately. I would have him pitch two or three innings of long relief occasionally. Keep him pitching but sparingly.

Owings is hurt, so they can bring up Maloney and Lehr to join the rotation. If they trade a pitcher, bring up somebody else. Give Sam Lecure a couple of starts if necessary. Volquez will pitch before season's end, he'll help fill out the rotation. Let Bailey keep going though, he can use the major league work.

Cueto does seem beat. Herrera also seems beat just watching him, the sharpness seems gone.

There's no use pushing things this season, it is over.

I like the bold. Co-sign this whole post.

Ron Madden
07-26-2009, 05:41 PM
Blow it up, Walt. Make it yours.


But I thought we were moving in the right direction. :(

Kc61
07-26-2009, 06:05 PM
But I thought we were moving in the right direction. :(

The concept of stressing pitching and defense was good. But there were two major things that the Reds missed on.

1. No team can succeed with any major part of the team as poor as the Reds' offense. When the offense is this bad, the pitching will inevitably fold. Because pitchers will press when they know they are getting no support.

The same happens when a team has no pitching, the offense starts to press knowing it needs 6 runs to compete. In this case, the offense was so awful that ultimately the pitchers gave way.

2. The starting pitching was overrated. I never understood in the off-season how the Reds were so sure that last year's middling starting staff would suddenly be an excellent one. Yes, Harang was likely to improve off his 2008 numbers. Volquez was an all-star in the first half of '08.

But there was certainly no likelihood that Harang would return to his peak form coming after a bad 2008. Volquez had faded somewhat in 2008's second half. Arroyo is a fourth starter and Owings a fifth starter.

They probably counted on improvement from Cueto, and he did improve early on, but it's quite a jump to assume that this group would be so great that the team could withhstand a poor offense.

Looking back, it all seems so pie-in-the-sky.

cincrazy
07-26-2009, 09:05 PM
The concept of stressing pitching and defense was good. But there were two major things that the Reds missed on.

1. No team can succeed with any major part of the team as poor as the Reds' offense. When the offense is this bad, the pitching will inevitably fold. Because pitchers will press when they know they are getting no support.

The same happens when a team has no pitching, the offense starts to press knowing it needs 6 runs to compete. In this case, the offense was so awful that ultimately the pitchers gave way.

2. The starting pitching was overrated. I never understood in the off-season how the Reds were so sure that last year's middling starting staff would suddenly be an excellent one. Yes, Harang was likely to improve off his 2008 numbers. Volquez was an all-star in the first half of '08.

But there was certainly no likelihood that Harang would return to his peak form coming after a bad 2008. Volquez had faded somewhat in 2008's second half. Arroyo is a fourth starter and Owings a fifth starter.

They probably counted on improvement from Cueto, and he did improve early on, but it's quite a jump to assume that this group would be so great that the team could withhstand a poor offense.

Looking back, it all seems so pie-in-the-sky.

The most frustrating thing to me has been the front office's insistence that the offense will be fine once everyone is healthy. As if having Gonzo and Edwin back in the fold would magically make it an above average offense. I refuse to believe the Reds are THAT stupid. They knew this offense would suck, and they were dishonest about it.

They could have landed Jermaine Dye. Dye currently has 22 homers and has been a key to the White Sox success. You mean to tell me those 22 dingers wouldn't make a big difference up to this point? They couldn't have signed Ray Durham to a decent deal before the season and thrown him into the mix at 3b? Just those two moves, or similar moves, would have been enough to make this offense respectable.

But the Reds punted on the season from the word go. That infuriates me. The more I think about it, the angrier I get. Out of fear of the tanking economy, they gave up on the year. The translation of "We're going with pitching and defense" in essence means "Wait until next year."

I've waited until next year my entire life. I'm tired of waiting 'til next year.

Roy Tucker
07-26-2009, 09:48 PM
I think BC is going to have to open his checkbook for there to be any appreciable change in the club. The Reds appear to have some decent-to-pretty-good players coming up in the farm system, but more piece players and no impact players. The Reds need impact players. Guys like Hairston and Gomes and Nix and Taveras and Hernandez really don't belong getting the ABs they do. I know the Reds have gotten hurt by injuries, but even at full strength, this is a .500 team at best.

The Cubs and the Cardinals continue to restock their talent levels, the Astros seem to do it by mirrors (but they do it), and the Brewers have drafted and developed well. The Reds seem to just fuss and fret and worry and make half-baked moves in zig-zag directions and the team on the field shows that schizophrenia.

Falls City Beer
07-26-2009, 10:00 PM
I think BC is going to have to open his checkbook for there to be any appreciable change in the club. The Reds appear to have some decent-to-pretty-good players coming up in the farm system, but more piece players and no impact players. The Reds need impact players. Guys like Hairston and Gomes and Nix and Taveras and Hernandez really don't belong getting the ABs they do. I know the Reds have gotten hurt by injuries, but even at full strength, this is a .500 team at best.

The Cubs and the Cardinals continue to restock their talent levels, the Astros seem to do it by mirrors (but they do it), and the Brewers have drafted and developed well. The Reds seem to just fuss and fret and worry and make half-baked moves in zig-zag directions and the team on the field shows that schizophrenia.

With the contracted increases on tap for a lot of average and below average players, that checkbook's going to have to be really free. This club has a mint locked up in a lot of blah talent.