First of all, let me clarify something. This thread has NOTHING to do with "contention" or playoff hopes. That ship sailed long ago on the 2008 season. Like all fans, I had my hopes up when the season started, but it has become very apparant that this Reds team will not be making a run in September. I accept that.
Normally, once I've hit that "acceptance" stage, the baseball season is more or less done for me. My viewing patterns slip and I slowly sink away from the Reds. I start dreaming of football and by the time late summer/early fall arrives, the Reds are almost completely off my radar-- playing out the string never interests me.
But this year is different. If the Reds go 80-82 with a bunch of aging vets doing it with smoke and mirrors, that does nothing for me. But if they go 80-82 with a good collection of young players (especially starting pitchers), then that is something I can support.
This team is better than their 38-45 record. We've basically been a .500 for two months-- and I think that's what the 2008 Reds are-- an average team.
But they are an average team with a SIGNIFICANT upside. Significant work remains to be done (especially with the lineup), but they are enough legititimate young players that I feel comfortbale in our direction. Not 100% sold, but comfortable.
Having said that, I still think winning is important. I will feel a whole lot better about 2009 if we finish 2008 somewhere near .500 rather than with 70 wins.
I think getting to .500 ASAP is a good/somewhat reasonable goal for this team.
And right now may be our best and/or last shot this season.
Next 7 games are at home against the Pirates and Nats. After that we do have 6 tough games in Chicago and Milwaukee before the break, but we come back to a 9 game homestand, including series against San Diego and Colorado.
If we can win 5-6 games this week, we can put ourselves in position to be sitting right around .500 on August 1st. And right now, with the collection of youngsters we have, that is worth watching to me.