NL Central: Can the Reds Stay Alive?

StephenCorrespondent IJune 8, 2009

CINCINNATI, OH - APRIL 8: Joey Votto #19 of the Cincinnati Redshits a three run home run against the New York Mets during the first inning at Great American Ballpark on April 8, 2009 in Cincinnati, Ohio. (Photo by Mark Lyons/Getty Images)
The Reds have dropped seven of their last 10. Ouch.
With that said, have the Reds already seen better days this season? Has their proverbial goose been cooked?

I’m not sure, but I don’t think so. In depositing some early season wins and having great success on the road, they still remain two games above .500 and only three and a half games out of first place.

The scrappin’ Redlegs are playing with a stopgap lineup right now and I’m not sure they’re getting the same breaks they were earlier in the season.

No doubt, it’s a tough blow when two of your All-Star caliber players go down.

Matt Maloney filled in quite nicely for Edinson Volquez on Saturday, and that was refreshing. However, I don’t see there being a replacement for Joey Votto on this club.

In my opinion, what hurts the Reds as a baseball team the most concerning Votto’s disability is the uncertainty of it all. No one knows what he’s going through and, therefore, no one knows how long this is going to last.

Yes, he’s on the 15-day disabled list, but when it comes to things like this, there’s really no time table. In fact, over the weekend one of the broadcasters said Votto will not be ready when he is scheduled to come off the DL.

Say the worst case scenario happens and we don’t have Joey Votto-matic for an extended period of time. What must happen in order for the Reds to hang around and contend this season?


1. Jay Bruce Has Got To Heat Up

This is a no-brainer, I realize that. Forgive me if I have insulted your intelligence, but it would have been far more ridiculous had I not mentioned this.

Bruce is a very young guy with tons of talent and in no way am I throwing him under the bus. But with that said, a guy with his talent has to bring up his .216 average and .304 OBP. 


2. Brandon Phillips Must Continue To Produce Offensively and Defensively

The Reds can’t afford for Phillips to go into an extended slump like we saw the first month of the season. Thankfully, as the old baseball adage goes, defense doesn’t slump.


3. The Reds Have To Get Edwin Encarnacion Back in the Lineup

I’m not a firm believer that Jerry Hairston, Jr. is an everyday player, especially at the hot corner. We’ve seen “Edwin-esque” throws out of Hairston the past couple of days, so you can’t really make the argument that he should stay there based on his defense.

People don’t care for Edwin Encarnacion because they don’t think he plays hard. They don’t think he gives a crap after making a throwing error, so they’re quick to throw him under the bus and ready to ship him out of Cincinnati.

But while Encarnacion is no Brooks Robinson, he is the best option at third base the Reds currently have. In fact, Edwin is an above-average third baseman.


4. Mike Lincoln Must Be Stopped

I don’t know or care what they have to do to keep him from entering baseball games, but they need to do it. Make up some phantom injury and disable him, I don’t know.

Just do something.


5. I Don’t Have Anything for No. 5.

Sorry, I’m a terrible journalist.

I’ll have more on Edwin Encarnacion later.