I am a great game thread guy and always have been. It's like a sports bar to me. Fans gathered around discussing the game. A big variety of opinions and arguments. Some people insult and some are diplomatic, but all Reds fans. The shock was that over the last month or so, no one participated, and I guess, I understand why. This had to be the most frustrating season I have ever expereinced.
Let me explain that I am a long-time fan. Went to my first game in 1961 and was raised on the Reds. There have been good times and bad, but regardless, the Reds, especially during he season have always been my passion. This year was different. After last year's emotional NL Central win, it appeared we were on our way. The Phillie beatdown in the playoffs was simply devastating, but there was hope for the future. This team simply took all that away and put us back where we were from 2001-2009. And it hurts. A lot.
We watched the off-season, foolishly thinking that moves would be made to shore up left field and shortstop, and we got Fred Lewis and Edgar Renteria. We hoped for a stud pitcher to be our ace and instead, we got Edinson Volquez as the opening day pitcher and ace. He failed miserably. Bronson Arroyo had a uncharatistically bad season and the kids, with the notable excpetion of Johnny Cueto and Mike Leake (finally), simply didn't have what it took to win. The offense was putrid, even though they scored a lot of runs, usually in bunches and then going on vacation other times (and I admit a lot of that had to do with the pitching not holding leads). The bullpen was at times brutal.
And so we returned to the lost decade and it was very hard to understand. I have great respect for Walt Jocketty, but he should have known that left field was a problem and Jonny Gomes was not the answer. He should have known that Fred Lewis was not going to help much and that Chris Heisey, despite his late season heriocs with the HR's was a fourth outfielder at best. He should have known that Paul Janish would hit a little bit north of .200, even if his defense was superior. You must score runs to win. The loss of Scott Rolen was notable, but the backup plan was not there.
The season was over by then, but Votto struggled all year, coming off the MVP year. Part of that was Jay Bruce's .250+ year (I know his OBP) that didn't protect him much. Bruce will be a great one some day, but this year, he looked lost at the plate 3 of the 5 months of the season. Other than Votto and the 2/5 of the season Bruce peformed, what else was there. Drew Stubbs struck out (it's still an out) over 200. Brandon Phillips had a career year and had to deal with the organization not negotiating with him. Dysfunctional? Maybe.
My biggest fear is we'll go into 2012 with the same program. Volquez will be our ace (we never learn, especailly with his late-season heriocs, kinda), Janish will be lauded for his defensive work at short, Rolen will play 110 games while Francisco languishes on the bench, Heisey will get the majority of playing time in left while Alonso hits the pine, Stubbs will continue to whiff and Bruce will continue to struggle. It's depressing to me. I'll be watching what happens over the next four months, but I don't expect much. I've done that for too long. While St. Louis added people to help (and even though they lost major contributors), as did Milwaukee, we were satisfied with what we had. The result was a losing season. Just like before.