Last season the reds were in 1st place for over 100 days with only 1 starter named befroe ST. We now have three.
I've seen this argument a lot, so I figured I would respond to it. The Reds essentially played well until May 31, where they had a 32-21 record. Their record the rest of the season? 46-63. So to make the argument that the Reds played well enough to have first place for 50 days, you also have to acknowledge that they played so poorly the 4 or so months of the season that they dropped 17 games in the standings.
It doesn't make a difference to me that we have 3 named starters rather than 1. Jimmy Haynes is to me a mediocre run-of-the mill pitcher who was blessed with tremendous run support last year. He is always good for a 1.5 WHIP and an ERA over 4, very close to the stats he posted en route to losing 17 games in 2001. Ryan Dempster has gone from All-Star to mediocre pitcher very quickly, and this is especially disturbing because Chris Welsh commented several times on the games last year that his velocity was down and that trainers thought he had too much bulk. He was so incredibly inconsistent last year that at times it looked like he was throwing BP and other times he was striking 8 or 9 guys out.
Graves to me is our only All-Star caliber pitcher, and he is just learning how to start rather than relieve. I am thinking 15 wins from him, but the funniest thing in their conversion with Graves was 1) they did it at the end of the season last year when he wasn't really in the shape to do it (arguably a Bowdenesque move in that his save total was reduced and subsequently his arbitration paycheck) and 2) they have spent most of the offseason paying musical chairs in the infield when Graves is an extreme ground ball pitcher. I have always thought that if you have a somewhat suspect pitching staff, you need to at least play good infield defense so as to not give the other team an extra out.
Anyway, I am not at all impressed with the pitching staff, especially if guys who I am not overly fond of (Acevedo, Chen, etc) vie for the last rotation spots. Given that the organization seems prone to rushing pitchers through the minors without much regard for their health or progress is equally disturbing, as not help is really in sight.
The offense and defense aren't looking spectacular right now either. Essentially we have a very poorly constructed lineup. We have 3 middle of the order producers, and then essentially a lineup filled with 6-7-8 hitters. We have no viable top of the order candidates and generally lack team speed and baserunning skill. We have way too many critical guys coming off of some sort of injury. Our infield defense is shabby at best, and as I think VR said, reeks of late inning defensive replacements. Only about half of our lineup has regard for the strikezone anymore, with the likes of Boone, LaRue, Lopez, and now unfortunately Larkin barely posting OBP's over .300. We are putting in Larson at 3B, whom Bowden and Boone seem convinced will hit 40 homers without acknowledging that he has put up a career OPS under 500 against RHP.
And even though I don't like arguments centered on intangibles, I honestly feel like we are sitting on a powder keg here. We are going to have some sort of controversy between Jr and Boone, there is going to be a whole "Larkin last year of contract" thing again, and Bowden is on the last year of his deal, meaning that if you think the gloves have already come off, think again.
Unfortunately, right now 2003 reeks of 2000 right now. High expectations dashed in what overall is an organization on a downward spiral.
I picked fourth place and without a huge pitching overhaul I can't see a much better finish. I'm sorry for being so negative but the last 6-8 months in Redsville has greatly disillusioned me.