The Reds' 1999 OF also had Michael Tucker and Jeff Hammonds ON THE BENCH. Reggie Taylor and Ruben Mateo are poor substitutes.

I guess I struggle with the concept that he had a brilliant run (your word, not mine) from '97-'00, but now suddenly he is middle of the road.
What's so difficult about it? Once upon a time JimBo got great returns for guys like John Smiley, Dave Burba, Jeff Brantley and Jeff Shaw - all of whom were overrated or washed up.

JimBo used to have the knack for plucking players who were ready to step in and play immediately. He didn't really deal for prospects so much as he went out and collected young talent. That's what a GM on a small-to-medium market team needs to do to keep his team afloat - cashier your second-tier vets for definites and turn your nose up at anyone offering you a maybe. JimBo doesn't make those deals anymore. He's spent two-plus years collecting maybes.

I give credit to the guy for the days when he was "on" and putting together what became the '99-'00 club. Yet I find when I give him proper credit for those successes it underscores what he hasn't been able to do in recent years. He's no longer a trade svengali. He's never been a development guy (a decade of failure in developing so much as one quality starting pitcher speaks for itself). That leaves you with a GM whose chief skill is rummaging through the bulk bins and finding something of modest value.

Quite frankly JimBo only had limited skills when it came to his job in the first place. He couldn't afford to backslide on the few things he did well. Well now he's done exactly that. People obsess about Jr. and Larkin, but IMO JimBo's future rests on the backs of Ryan Dempster, Jimmy Haynes, Sean Casey, Aaron Boone, Jason LaRue and Felipe Lopez - because ultimately it's the performance of the water carriers which makes or breaks a team.