Cincinnati Reds: 5 Moves That Would Push the Reds into October
The Cincinnati Reds are good, very good, but they are not yet great. The team is being held back by a few holes that will need to be addressed if the club plans to make a run in the 2012 postseason.
At times the Reds flash brilliance and you can catch a glimpse of who they can be, but their inconsistency and the subpar performance of a couple of key contributors is holding them back.
Let's take a look at what Cincinnati can do to make the move from a very good team, to a great team.
Move Aroldis Chapman out of the Closer's Role
I'm not saying this because I am some jackwagon who is jumping off the bandwagon. I was never on the bandwagon. I said it before he was moved to the closer's role and I will say it again—the closer's role vastly under-utilizes Chapman's abilities and he should not be used there.
This isn't 20/20 hind-sight here. Most closers don't face the heart of the order regularly and they more often than not are thrown into "not-so-crucial" situations.
With the type of manager that Dusty Baker is (simple and by the god-forsaken book), Chapman is locked into throwing what is often one worthless inning, starting an inning off to "protect" a two or three-run lead. That's what a closer is to Dusty. Stepping into these situations has caused Chapman to rely on fastball after fastball after fastball.
No matter how good your fastball is, big league hitters will eventually catch up to you.
While pitching in more crucial situations, the "Cuban Missile" was forced to use his arsenal and continued developing his other pitches like that devastating slider.
Chapman needs to be pitching in crucial situations from the sixth inning on, and once he is in, he should be throwing two-plus inning stints.
Make a Trade for a Power Hitting Left Fielder
The team is in major need of a power hitting right-handed bat to hit cleanup. Trading for Carlos Quentin or Josh Willingham could fill that gaping hole.
Those of you who will argue that BP is doing a fine job need to wake up and smell the truth— they need consistency folks. Brandon Phillips is not a cleanup hitter, nor does he provide adequate protection for Joey Votto. He does a decent job, but decent doesn't take you far in the playoffs.
Filling this void opens up BP to go back to the leadoff spot and begins a domino effect by allowing Zack Cozart to drop back to No. 2 in the order; both moves will vastly improve the overall lineup.
If you didn't know who Josh Willingham was then I'm sure you do after Sunday—he took Aroldis Chapman for an upper-deck ride and slapped another "L" on Chapman and the Reds' records.
Promote Donnie Joseph to the Big Club
Maybe you have heard of him and maybe you haven't. I wrote about him about a month ago in an article called "5 Cincinnati Reds Prospects Not Named Billy Hamilton." In the article I predicted that Joseph would be ready for the majors this season.
Well, he's ready, and a bit sooner than even I predicted. The kid was promoted to Triple-A and has simply continued to dominate. He owns a 0.72 ERA in 31 appearances and over 37.2 innings pitched. During that time he has allowed only 15 hits and walked 12 for a 0.73 WHIP and has racked up 55 K's.
The Reds need to stop piddling around with Bill Bray, who on his rehab stint in Triple-A pitched five innings giving up six hits, four earned runs, and walked four. Did I mention that Bray walked in a run and gave up the lead on his first appearance back.
Bray is not yet 100 percent and now is not the time to be fooling around when you have other options.
Develop a Viable Backup Plan in the Instance a Starter Goes Down
Someone will eventually get hurt—it's the nature of the game. Homer Bailey seems to be the most likely candidate to go down first as he has never thrown more than 22 starts in his previous five seasons due mainly to injuries.
The Reds may already have this plan in place and we just haven't been informed of it. I would hope that this is the case. For the team and the fans' sake, let's hope that plan includes either Chapman as a starter or trading for another starter.
The best route for the club is to bolster the bullpen and begin stretching out Aroldis Chapman as stated in slide one. I have a feeling however that they are preparing Alfredo Simon for the task, and that bothers me. Simon has thrived at his current role and should remain there as it seems to be best suited for him.
Trading for a starter would most likely be too costly for the club. Bolstering the bullpen by bringing up Donnie Joseph and checking out the available closers on the market is the way to go.
Todd Frazier Needs to Be in the Lineup 2 out of Every 3 Games
Todd Frazier is a jump starter for this ball club. He is the kind of player that that brings an attitude, a grit, and fills a void on the field left by others on the team. Jim Leyland calls them "Dirt Balls" and claims that every club needs them on their team.
Getting Todd Frazier's bat in the lineup at least two out of every three games is a must for this team. Most of Frazier's extra-base hits have come in clutch, close and late situations. He starts rallies. He is a late inning spark plug and an excellent 7-hole hitter.
To Sum It All Up...
With a few moves, this club is well on its way to extended postseason play. The Cincinnati Reds are a very good team with an open window. They need to take advantage of it.
It's not often that you go through a season to this point with only five starting pitchers and with limited injury to your roster. Things are going the Reds' way this year and it would be a shame to see that luck go to waste—just look to the Phillies as proof of how quickly your window can close due to injuries.
Billy Hamilton continues his tremendous progress in Single-A—I take a scout's look at how he is progressing and incorporate a unique look at his stats to demonstrate how amazing they are outside of his steals.
Joey Votto continues to stake his claim as the best hitter in baseball and is doing things that few others can ever claim in baseball.
Drew Stubbs is on track for a return to the lineup on Monday. Will this hurt Todd Frazier's playing time?
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