The Cincinnati Reds really haven't been very good for a while now.
They seem like a franchise that is always rebuilding, yet never contending. A perennial cellar-dweller in one of baseball's most competitive divisions.
But fans in Cincinnati are starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel. A young lineup core with Jay Bruce, Joey Votto and Brandon Phillips are one of the most under-rated trio's in the major leagues.
Johnny Cueto and Edison Volquez are brilliant young studs that can anchor a rotation for years to come.
However, what should excite Reds fans isn't just the names on the lineup card.
Most consistently bad baseball franchises get enough early draft picks that they will develop very good players. But because the majority of these teams are small-market, they can never afford to hold on to their futures.
The Marlins have worked away around that, they trade their young talent away for younger talent, develop those guys, and contend again a year or two later.
In contrast, the Padres are basically forced to trade one of the best arms in baseball in Jake Peavy because they simply can't afford his contract. Soon enough, their going to have to trade Adrian Gonzalez. They probably won't get players of their caliber in return.
But Cincinnati, at its heart, is a baseball city. While it's true that the Reds have made some bad moves which contributed to their lack of success this decade, if Reds management can put a winning team on the field, notably one with a long-term future, they could easily fill that stadium.
Since Jay Bruce was drafted in 2005, he was annually considered one of baseball's best prospects. He came into the big's with a bang last season, blasting 21 home-runs in just over 400 at-bats.
So far this season, Bruce has knocked out 12 and while not a high-average guy, he will gradually improve on the .238 he's hitting now.
Joey Votto and Brandon Phillips create a dynamic right-side of the infield. Votto is a professional hitter who can hit 30 HR's with a .300 or better average. He also leads the team in slugging percentage.
Phillips is a speedy second baseman who at only 27, is horribly under-rated at his position. He has everything you want. Power, speed and the genuine ability to hit.
The pitching staff too, with solid veteran stand-by's in Harang and Arroyo as well as great young pitchers in Cueto and Volquez. The promise of their young-guns is enticing.
The point I'm trying to make is that with a talent pool like this, Cincinnati will make some noise in the next couple of years. Baseball will flourish again in that city, which in turn is great for the game.
Because of that, the Reds will be able to keep their key guys for a long time.
The fans of this beleaguered franchise have reason to hope again.