Reds are about 10 games further below .500 than last year. To my eyes, sports teams are basically short-term enterprises, teams change a lot, you don't give credit to a team for a bad year.
Still, the Reds did make progress in some respects. I'm not talking about some draftee in A-ball who may be good in 5 years. I mean the Reds, and guys close to being Reds.
At the major league level, there was a lot of progress with the starting 8 guys. Big improvement from EE, Dunn advanced as a hitter, Griffey was healthy (trade value up), Phillips emerged, Hamilton a big addition.
Starting pitchers, Harang is great, but little progress otherwise. In the pen, Burton has emerged as a good late innings guy, Weathers still tough, but all others still question marks. Can't say Reds made progress in major league pitching department.
Bench strength at major league level much improved. Keppinger, Hopper, Cantu now look like they can add solid depth for next year.
4 emerging stars in high minors. Prospects always are question marks, but Bruce, Bailey, Cueto and Votto all advanced this year (with Bailey then, perhaps, taking a step back).
So, when you parse it, the team improved in many ways. But the pitching right now is Harang, Arroyo (probably), Burton, Weathers (whatever is left in the tank), and a bunch of question marks. Some progress, but not improved in the critical pitching department.