As frustrations continue to mount for Cincinnati Reds players and fans alike, everyone is searching for a quick fix to this team’s laundry list of problems. With the trade deadline approaching and the Reds being a small-market, prospect-rich organization, would they be willing to part with young talent to create a more competitive 2011 team? Should they?
The biggest problems facing the Reds right now are starting pitching and offense. Edinson Volquez, the opening day starter, is probably the greatest source of frustration for Reds fans. His control issues have landed him in triple-A Louisville where he’ll need to sort out his problems if the Reds want to make a run at the postseason. The starting five’s 4.11 ERA is good for 22nd in the Majors. The Reds have to find a way to bring that number down, especially when they struggle so much to score runs. Rumors of bringing Ubaldo Jimenez to the Queen City were floating around, but that may be a bit far-fetched now. The Rockies were asking way too much in catching prospect Devin Mesoraco and Guinness World Record holder Aroldis Chapman. I’d like to stick with the current combination of Bronson Arroyo, Johnny Cueto, Mike Leake, Homer Bailey and Dontrelle Willis and hope these guys can right the pitching ship in the second half. All these guys have shown flashes of brilliance, it’s just a matter of having them all put it together at the same time.
As for the offense, the Reds haven’t had legitimate production out of the leadoff or cleanup spots all season. Reds leadoff hitters are hitting a combined .257 with a whopping 145 strikeouts, by far the most in the majors. Drew Stubbs is the main offender, striking out a league-leading 135 times. That’s five more than Adam Dunn. That’s right, Reds fans: Drew Stubbs strikes out more often than Adam Dunn.
The Reds are reportedly interested in the Astros’ Michael Bourn, who is a similar player to Stubbs, except he’s a lefty and a bona fide leadoff hitter. He’s hitting .298 out of the leadoff spot this year with a .358 OBP, compared to Stubbs’ meager .258/.338. Now, I’m not saying Michael Bourn is the key to the Reds’ problems or that I would even want the Reds to make a deal for him, I’m mostly just embarrassed the Houston Astros have a better leadoff hitter than the defending NL Central champs.
Reds cleanup hitters are hitting .245 with just 10 homers and 60 RBIs. This spot in the order has been a revolving door of Scott Rolen, Brandon Phillips and Jay Bruce. Although Phillips and Bruce are having decent seasons, production out of the four hole is essentially nonexistent. A big bat to fill this hole is probably a long shot considering the Reds’ budget, but former first-round draft pick Yonder Alonso could see some time there since being called up from Louisville following the Jonny Gomes trade.
If I’m Walt Jocketty this weekend, I’m only making deals that make the team younger. I have faith in the farm system and want these young kids to succeed. Let’s see more Chris Heisey, Zack Cozart, Todd Frazier and Alonso. Deal Francisco Cordero and let Chapman close. Forget the win-now attitude and let the Cardinals break the bank for short-term success. Even if the Reds don’t make a run for it this year, at least they’ll know what to expect in 2012.