So I just had my 3rd experience of the year at Great American Ballpark today to watch my Reds take on the San Diego Padres. And I went home with another tough taste in my mouth after yet another Red’s loss. Today’s game was especially tough to watch. And since the 3 game win streak which was capped off with an amazing come back win in Florida, this team has played awful in every way imaginable.
So really where to start? I first of all want to state that I am a huge Red’s fan. And it is tough for me to feel this way about a team. It really takes a lot to thwart my optimism. Last year I thought this team had enough talent to be in contention. I felt the same way coming into this year. And I still have not yet lost all hope on this season in that it is still April. But today’s game was just that bad, that it really got to me.
First of all, this team thus far has demonstrated an abysmal offense. The team is currently batting .243 as a whole while our opponents are batting .282 against us. I mean it is hard to win when you are getting shut out as they did today. To clarify even further, we had one guy in today’s starting lineup who bats over 300. You want to take a guess at who that was? It was Paul Janish, our back up shortstop. The man who “forced” us to pick up a bat in Orlando Cabrera to take his spot. In addition, can Dusty Baker make up his mind on the set starters in the outfield. This has been a reoccurring theme the past couple of years in that we play outfield by committee. Well Jay Bruce is not cutting the mustard. The city of Cincinnati has placed very high expectations on this guy and he is crumbling under the pressure thus far. I still have hope that this will change in that Bruce did not receive the heavy expectations for no reason. Secondly, Drew Stubbs is vastly underachieving at this point. I mean the guy, like most other rookies, is really struggling with the transition to competing against Major League level pitching. It shows in his .170 batting average. Today’s starting outfielders across the board bat .170, .213, and .180. This is unacceptable! Lastly, on the offensive end, Brandon Phillips batting .213 is a dagger. Now you will not find a better guy than Brandon. The fans love him (myself included) and the city really embraces his presence. Not to mention he fields with the best of them. But he has to start hitting with more consistency. He is a leader for this team and with that comes responsibility to produce at the plate. Hopefully he can turn it around.
Now lets look at the pitching side of the equation. This has been mediocre overall at best. We have a 6.2 overall staff ERA which is pretty horrific. But they are at least not struggling as much as the offensive area. This is largely due to mainstays in our bullpen like Arthur Rhodes, the little man Danny Herrera, and our closer Francisco Cordero. Unfortunately, our top 2 in the rotation have ERA’s of 8.31 and 7.43 respectively. Arroyo has performed the way that is expected. He can be solid for 3 starts and then get lit up every 4th. This is typical. Harang has been terrible. The Reds really cannot have this guy as their number one anymore. Harang has been one of my favorite players in the League for years now. But it is not 2005 or 2006. This guy appears to have lost it. Then you got Cueto. Cueto looks to have great stuff at times. But he also gives up entirely too many homeruns and struggles psychologically after even giving up one measely base hit. His maturity level will hopefully get better in time because he does have the potential to have a long and productive career. Cueto needs to work on having a “short-term” memory. Then finally, Volquez. The man really tarnished his name and brought the team some bad press with his drug use. Lets hope he comes back and pitches lights out. I will at least forget about his tarnished reputation if he performs and will be happy to have him back.
So back to today’s game. First of all Adrian Gonzalez hit a screamer into left center to put the Padres on the board in the first inning. I waited for a while for the Reds to even muster their first baserunner. This took way too long! We made the Padres starter today, LeBlanc, look like a Cy Young caliber pitcher. In the end we ended up with a miniscule 6 baserunners on the day. 4 hits and 2 walks. Not to mention 3 horrible base running miscues. This is unacceptable. Our bats have to wake up or we will fade out of contention real quick. We have to go back to the basics of making contact with the ball, running the bases hard, but also running the bases with some level of intelligence.
So my question for you all. Can this Red’s team turn it around? And if they do not, should Dusty be fired at the All Star Break if we are in the cellar?
I am pulling for these guys to turn it around in that I still believe we have the nucleus of talent to do it.
Stay tuned for the next edition of Sportskraze.