My inbox has been flooded with pm's the past week or so with redszoners demanding answers..."TBL...what should we do??? Are we in? Are we out??? Help!!!" Rather than respond to each of you individually, I shall respond to you all collectively.
Ok. First of all...are we still in this thing? Do the Reds have a chance to win? The answer, sadly, is a resounding "no." The Reds are out of this thing, and it became official after the Mets swept us at home. Don't believe me? Then take the front office's lack of activity at the deadline as a referendum on the season. I am not necessarily angry they did nothing (other than flipping Cordero and Hernandez), but if they truly felt we had a shot at this thing, they would have overpaid for someone. They didn't. Yeah, yeah, yeah...I know anything can happen, blah blah blah. It would take a small miracle for a team that's in 4th place in the worst division in baseball, 7.5 games behind the leaders (who went all-in before the season started as well as the trade deadline), that has not demonstrated any ability whatsoever to play consistently good baseball. Save this post if you're one of those "hope springs eternal" people. I will gladly eat the crow if I'm wrong, but I'm not.
So, if we operate under the assumption that I am correct and we are indeed out of it, this is what needs to happen during the remainder of this frustrating, maddening season.
1. Move Arroyo from the rotation. DL him with "fatigue" or lingering effects from the mono. Matters not. If we don't DL him, move him to the LeCure role and put LeCure back in the rotation. LeCure has pitched really well in the long relief role and, personally, I'd like to know if that's how he projects or if he can become an effective 4/5 guy. I'd prefer the latter but would bet on the former.
2. Leave Volquez exactly where he is. He's been pitching better down there. Let him continue to get things together in Louisville and we'll hopefully have a new Volquez in 2012 or, at least, a more attractive trading chip in the off-season.
3. Try to float Hernandez, Cordero, Renteria and Cairo through waivers and strike a deal for each one who clears. Cairo has proved his worth as a versatile utility guy with a respectable stick. Hernandez has been awesome the entire time he's been a Red and is signed to a very favorable contract, which is why I doubt he clears waivers. Cordero's price tag makes it very possible that he will, however. Renteria should clear. He's playing better and I could definitely see a playoff team finding him to be a useful addition.
4. (Contingency) IF - if - Hernandez and Cordero clear waivers and are dealt, call up Mesorasco and let he and Hanigan split duties the remainder of the season. Get him some valuable experience before 2012. Install Masset as the closer and see how he handles it. I am not as confident as his abilities in that role as many here, but we'll really only know after he gets his shot. Of course, I am of the belief that a defined "closer" is wholly unnecessary, but that's a completely different discussion.
5. Frazier needs to get the majority of time at 3rd regardless of Cairo's trade status or Rolen's health. Rolen is done, quite simply and Cairo was never meant to be a starter. I think Frazier can stick but, again, we just have to see.
6. Ensure Alonso sees plenty of time in left. He'll never be Willie Mays but he at least has to be serviceable. He's a legitimate hitter but he's not going to be playing first with Joey here. He's got a superior bat to Heisey but defensively Heisey is clearly better. Giving him plenty of time in left during the remainder of the season should go a long way towards solving our left field quandary.
7. Limit Leake's innings. If we were in the thick of the race, I'd not be so bullish on keeping his pitches low, but he's pitched so well this season that I am close to admitting I was wrong about him, and he's undoubtedly in our long-term future plans. No sense in wasting innings now. Pitch him but don't push him.
8. Cozart and Janish at SS. Cozart needs to be the starter and Janish the backup. Cozart has probably been the highlight of the season for me. I am also happy to see Janish swinging the bat a bit better. If this tandem continues to look good, we may be set at SS for quite a while.
9. Get Dave Sappelt up here and split the CF starts with Stubbs. My faith that Stubbs will ever be a good leadoff hitter decreases daily. I want someone up here with similar talent to push him. If Sappelt shows he can stick with the big club, then maybe we deal Stubbs in the off-season. Maybe he moves to left next year and hits 6th/7th in the order. Maybe it's not Stubbs Sappelt makes expendable, but Heisey. There's so many redundancies in our outfield right now.
10. Bring up Boxberger IF Cordero is dealt. As previously stated, I am not supremely confident in Masset, and Boxberger sure as heck looks the part.
11. Last but not least, send Chapman down and start extending him. Make the guy a freaking starter already. Do this yesterday.
So, there you have it. I know a lot of my "plan" involves calling up young guys and starting their clock, but, why not? We were reticent to deal these guys for a reason, I assume, so let's see just how many of these prospects should be in our plans for next season.