I enjoy writing little articles, and since I love my Reds, I figured I'd throw something up to kind of introduce myself to everyone. If you guys like it, I'll write more. If not, I'll write more anyway.
Today I wanted to take a little while to review the Reds season only 12 games in. I know it is very early for observations, and still 150 games to go before the playoffs begin, but I think it is necessary to form some thoughts on where we are and where we want to be. WE are the Cincinnati Reds fanbase, so I think it's fair to use WE when I speak of the Reds as a whole. Win together, lose together. Fans and their teams go hand-in-hand...so let us begin...
Many of us were at Opening Day 2006, which was exactly 2 weeks ago today. 16-7 Cubs. It was fun, but it was a loss. And an ugly loss. I don't think anyone drew any conclusions about this team that day, nor have they today probably, but that game was certainly not a lot of fun for a Reds fan who had been waiting a long time to get back out there to the stadium to watch a game...
Then, when the week continued, the Reds went on to win the next game with the Cubs 8-6, and the winning pitcher was Bronson Arroyo. He hit a home run, and everyone was back in a good mood again. Griffey also homered, as did Rich Aurilia. It was a good win, and split the short series between the division rivals.
As that first week went on, we won 3 close games with the Pittsburgh Pirates on our own turf by a combined 4 runs, and things looked on the upside, other than we were beating the worst team in our division, and they were scoring a lot of runs. The 4 game sweep was cut short by a Dave Williams start. It was the only loss of the series, and he only received 3 runs of support while only giving up 2 runs in 6 innings of pitching. It was a quality start for Williams, but the bats didn't provide the offense we needed. Hopefully, we won't have to talk about that much this season.
Regardless of all of that, we were 4-2 heading into a 6 game road trip against 2 of the best teams in the division...first we headed to Chicago's Wrigley Field for a 3-game series with the Cubbies...
The first game, pitched by Arroyo, was home run after home run, as the Reds tallied up 6 homers and 9 runs on the day, in a 9-2 win over the Baby Bears on their home turf. Arroyo is definitely standing out as our ace of staff thus far, and to this day still has more homers than Barry Bonds this season, the active home run king himself.
It was night and day and the Reds lost the next game 1-4, committing more errors than the number listed in the hit column. 5 errors. Yikes. How did they only ring up 4 runs? Claussens efforts should be applauded for keeping this in reach, but our bats couldn't touch Greg Maddux.
In the finale of the first away series of the season, the Reds looked exactly how I would want them to look. Eric Milton, who is not the most popular guy on these boards, allowed only 2 runs in 6 and 2/3 of an inning, while three-run homers by Felipe Lopez and Austin Kearns (not always very popular either) led the way to an 8-3 win. The bullpen held up well, and we won the game and took 2 out of 3 from the Cubs in Chicago. Onto St. Louis!
If you weren't already in a great mood about the Reds 6-3 record, you got another reason to cheer in the first game of the Reds/Cards series in the new Busch Stadium. Our original Ace, Aaron Harang, pitched 7 shutout innings, while grabbing the sole RBI of the day, and looking the best he has this season so far. 1-0 Reds, and roll on to a 7-3 record, and first place in the NL Central. (Yes, its still early, but hey, I'm happy to say that anytime.)
The next 2 games of the series, and also the last 2 games we have experienced, were not nearly as ugly as Opening Day was, yet by the response some Reds fans have given, one might think it was twice and bad for these reasons:
Dave Williams looked horrendous and gave up 3, 2, 1 in the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd innings, respectively. I was pretty angry at his performance myself, but more dissapointed that our bats couldn't hit Sidney Ponson, who I don't believe is nearly as great of a pitcher as Greg Maddux, who the Reds had their other poor batting performance against.
The last game of the series was a nail-biter to the very end, and the Reds pitched to Albert Pujols after he had already hit 2 home runs on the day, to allow him to victoriously trot around the bases one last time. I wasn't too upset with this loss, as we all know the Cards are the better team these days, and they have the best player in the National League, without a doubt.
So, here we are, 7-5, with 4 of those 7 wins against the Cubs and Cards, and 4 losses against them also. Not bad to go .500 against the best 2 teams in the division, I say. Especially with 6 of those games on a road trip, which we came out of 3-3. As long as these kinds of numbers keep rolling in, we will be alright. Nobody expects the Reds to win it all this year, and very few see a playoff berth. My expectations of this team are to play .500 baseball, or get within 5 games of .500. Now, we are going to have to have some pitching improvements and roster changes to get the right roster in the dugout from day-to-day....
These are MY moves if I were the GM today...
1-Bullpen HELP immediately. Find someone that can perform innings of 1-2-3 work.
2-1 Starting Pitcher.
How do I get there?
First of all, we obviously have too many infielders. I would put everyone on the trading block to see what we can get for them, and the evaluate their values, and try to make a move to get more bullpen help.
Secondly, I would be willing to trade whoever the other teams wanted, besides Griffey (ticket sales, merchandise sales, and a great asset to the team and community, as well as 2005 Comeback Player of the Year), for a high-valued pitcher.
Now, my conclusions from all that I have written today are this....
We need better pitching, and I would be highly surprised if Krivsky does not make some kind of a move soon to get some higher quality players in the bullpen. That assumption made, I think the Reds can definitely be an around-.500 ballclub, and hopefully inject some kind of a morality booster into the organization and community, and show that this new ownership is on its way to achieving good baseball again.
Thank you for reading this, and I hope to hear back from you all with constructive criticism. No flaming please.