Until about a week or so ago, I was really pretty positive about the direction of the organization. I never thought we were in contention for the post-season this year, but I was genuinely excited about the young core, Jocketty, and where this team could be headed as early as 2009 with the right roster tweaks.

Now, I'm beginning to wonder if we're just hopeless.

I am a believer that if you have 2-3 top-notch, top of the rotation starters, that filling in the roster behind them isn't too tough. It's been forever though since the Reds could boast of those starters.

It looked like things were changing this year with Harang, Volquez, and Cueto.

But with each start, they look more pedestrian, and with each start, I become less convinced that they are going to be good enough to lead us into the future.

Volquez was brilliant early in the year--- but that was due in large part to his ability to pitch out of some serious jams. He kept walking guys, but managed to get outs before they crossed the plate. Now those walks and singles are scoring. I am beginning to wonder/worry if his extremely good early results weren't a product of some good luck.

I'm actually a bit less worried about Cueto, but at this point, I certainly don't think we can pencil him in as a sure-fire top line starter.

And who knows if the miles on Harang's arm are catching up to him?

Those three guys are close to 100% the key element to our success in the near future, IMO. If they are really good (which is what we need), then this team could be really good because I trust Jocketty to fill out the roster properly.

But if they are NOT really good, then I don't see what Walt will be able to do to make this team any better than average at best.

As much as we talk about all the changes that need to be made to the roster, I truly believe that the most important component(s) to the Reds becoming a contender is already on the roster.

IMO, two of the three need to be excellent, and then we can afford to have another be simply "solid."

Early in the year, this trio looked very promising...now, not so much.

Walt can wheel and deal all he wants, but in the end, if those three don't come through, none of it will really matter.

It's depressing enough to be 10 games under .500 in early August-- but it's made worse when you see the key to the future getting knocked around.

We already know the 2008 team pretty much stinks. But for awhile I had hope that this team may be laying a solid foundation. But they've really sucked the life out of that hope lately. Sigh.