Cincinnati Reds' Bats and Pitching: Where Have They Gone?
Every year in the wonderful city of Cincinnati we get the chance to feel bad for our Reds. This year is no exception to this rule.
In 2007 the Reds were 12-13 in April, not bad, but still not good. This year they went 12-17, and heading into May it does not look very promising.
If history repeats itself, then we are in deep trouble.
In 2007, May brought us a 9-21 record. Everyone in Cincinnati hopes that they turn that record around in 2008. Just like every team in baseball, the Reds have their troubles, but it seems they have more than most.
The first problem is the pitching staff. Although during the off-season the Reds tried to solidify their pitching staff, the attempts failed.
The biggest problem was the signing of a roughed up pitcher from Colorado, Josh Fogg. His troubles followed him from Colorado to Cincinnati. He has pitched in six games this year, starting three before being moved to the bullpen. His ERA through those six games is 8.24, with a 1-2 record.
The Reds made this surprising move in December and so far it has obviously not paid off. I can't understand what former GM Krivsky was thinking when he made this acquisition. Colorado's Coors Field is not pitcher-friendly, and Fogg struggled there. So bringing him to Great American "Small" Park was not the greatest idea in free agency history.
Of course, Fogg is not the only problem that Reds have in their pitching staff. Bronson Arroyo is not the number-two starting pitcher that he once was.
When the Reds acquired him in 2006, he put up some good numbers, although not that impressive when you break it down.
But since then he has been dismal at best. His 24-29 overall record and his three-year ERA average of 4.83 make him a fifth starter on a decent team, but when he is with the Reds he is No. 2, and he does not fit there.
The only positive to Bronson is that he is constantly in the league lead for innings pitched. What does this mean when they guy has trouble getting people out? Well, it means your team has a pitcher with a rubber arm, but the longer he is in the game, the more likely he is to let up runs.
But you can't call the pitching staff an entire waste. There are some great positives in the pen and the rotation.
The first of those is Aaron Harang, he has been the Reds number one man since 2004. He has been impressive over that span, with two 16-win seasons and leading the league in innings pitched.
His record this year though does not compare to the way he has pitched. He is 1-4 this year, but he has a 2.98 ERA and has only let up more than two earned runs in one start. Harang is the best pitcher the Reds have and the offense needs to step it up and bat for him.
Two of the best young arms in the league are with the Cincinnati Reds, Johnny Cueto and Edinson Volquez. The two of them are young fireballers and have bright futures ahead of them. These are two guys that the Reds need to build a pitching staff around. Combined they are making under $800,000 a year and might be the best young combo in baseball.
And the best addition the Reds did was Francisco Cordero from the Brewers. He is the kind of closer the Reds have lacked since Jeff Shaw in the mid to late 90s.
He already has 4 saves and a 1-0 record. His ERA is a 1.00 and he has double the number of strikeouts than he does walks.
The Reds can trust that when he comes into the game that the game is safely in his hands and they do not have to worry about anymore seventh- and eighth-inning debacles from last year.
Pitching is not the only problem that Reds have to deal with. They have some offensive and defensive troubles as well.
The defense needs to start playing up to their potential, with no more errors and a lot more effort.
Only 29 games into the season and the Reds have racked up 19 errors. Of these errors, 11 of them come from the left side.
Adam Dunn, while a decent hitter when he makes contact, is not the best option in left field. Left field is built for speedy guys and guys who can hustle.
He only has two errors on the season, but is a much bigger liability that the stats show. His lack of hustle and effort in left field allows other teams to get hits that would be caught if he made the effort to run in on the ball a little bit more.
The biggest problem on that side of the field is third baseman Edwin Encarnacion. His glove and arm alone have accounted for eight errors this season. Why is a guy like this in the Major Leagues?
The answer here is simple: Send him to Triple-A Louisville and move utility man Ryan Freel to third base. Freel is an all around player, he hustles and he can use the bat.
The Reds may have one of the most powerful offenses in the Majors, but rarely do you get to see it at the full potential.
The offense has only scored 56 runs on the season. This is not good enough to win baseball games, and if wasn't for a few well placed offense bursts, then the Reds may have 46 runs at best.
Great American may be the best home run stadium in the country next to Coors Field. It it was built for home runs and high scoring games. The Reds have a lineup that can drop home runs at any given time. The problem is that they don't.
If the Reds would start playing to their full potential then they would be one of the most dangerous teams in the NL Central. They have decent pitching and a powerful lineup.
For the first time in recent memory, the Reds' farm system is developing great players that can play at the highest level.
With the hiring of new GM Walt Jocketty the Reds may be a more aggressive team in free agency and trades and will hopefully bring in some solid players during the course of this season and this upcoming off-season.
It may not be too late to salvage this season, but if it is, here's looking at 2009.
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