Questions To Be Answered in Cincinnati

StephenCorrespondent IMay 18, 2009

Right off the heels of sweeping the Arizona Diamondbacks, my beloved Cincinnati Reds were swept themselves by the San Diego Padres, who, by all accounts, are much worse than their NL West foes in the desert. Hopefully, this is just a punch in the gut and not a full-blown reality check.

While the Reds are gasping for air today after the aforementioned blow to the belly, this is the perfect time to dust off those old cliches which have been lying dormant for about seven months and get them crankin’ again. It’s no stretch to imagine that the Reds will be needing them more and more often.

  1. “It’s a long season. It’s a marathon, really.”
  2. “You win some, you lose some.”
  3. “You can’t win ‘em all.”
  4. “It’s times like these that you really see what your club is made of.”
  5. “We never play well on the west coast.”
  6. “We gotta play it one day at a time.”

After a quick rummage through Crash Davis’ book of wisdom, what is really going on?

The fight and scrap the Reds had shown all throughout the Cardinals and D-Backs series’ were nowhere to be found this past weekend.

In recent years, the Reds tend to struggle against clubs they should beat and have success against clubs they have no business contending with. In my opinion, that helped put the icing on the cake in the Reds’ sweep of the Diamondbacks.

 

More Concerns

Joey Votto has had a difficult time staying on the field the past two weeks. He sat out a few games due to “flu-like” symptoms and had to leave during the second game in the Arizona series due to “dizziness.” Again suffering from dizziness, Votto had to exit Saturday’s game against the Padres, and sat out the finale.

OK, so he had the flu earlier. That’s no problem. We all get the flu and I couldn’t imagine going to the grocery store with it, much less playing professional baseball.

He was suffering from dizziness in Arizona. No problem there either. He admittedly was dehydrated from the flu and failed to replenish his fluids which hit him like a ton of bricks in the desert heat. I’ve been to Arizona a couple of times and it is a heat that can sneak up on you if you’re not careful.

Now he leaves a game early in San Diego suffering from the same dizzy spells. I’m starting to get a little more worried. In his last at-bat in San Diego, Votto hit a routine pop-up that was easily played by the defense. That’s not a big deal.

The big deal was that he didn’t even run to first base. Fans of the “Clutch Canadian” will know that is very “un-Votto” like. Normally on that play, he would be half-way to second base before the ball was caught.

He’s supposed to see a doctor today in Cincinnati and hopefully they’ll get to the bottom of it. Until then, it’s difficult to measure any concern since nobody knows what he’s dealing with.

Nick Masset is now on the Disabled List with a left oblique strain. He’s apparently making good progress, but no word on when he’s expected to return. Masset is a tough loss too. He’s looked fantastic out of the pen this season putting up great numbers: 1-0, 1.23 ERA, 12 strikeouts in 14.2 innings pitched.

There’s also no word on who they will call up to replace him. Baker says he wants a lefty.

The only southpaws on the 40-man roster are Bill Bray and Matt Maloney. It was announced last week that Bray will undergo Tommy John surgery thus putting an end to his 2009 season.

Maloney has done well with AAA Louisville thus far. He’s 3-2, 2.64 ERA in seven starts. He’s also struck out 38 batters in 44.1 innings.

Pedro Viola was another name I heard John Fay throw around during his sit-down in the booth with Marty Brennaman Friday night. Viola is 2-0, 3.00 ERA with 16 strikeouts in 15 innings pitched.

I was able to watch Viola throw for the Dominican Republic in the World Baseball Classic this spring. Not in person, on TV. Either way, he looked dominant.

But in order for the Reds to call-up Viola from Louisville, they’re going to have to clear a spot for him on the 40-man. Luckily, I’ve got just the spot for him to take.

Darnell McDonald.

Four words: Designate him for assignment. Problem solved.

It’s doubtful the Reds will do this since that takes a warm body off of an already razor-thin bench, as well as cancels one of Dusty’s golden boy projects.

Even if they have to make two roster moves, calling up a bench player and a reliever at the same time, they should do whatever it takes to get McDonald out of Cincinnati. He’s had a good run giving him plenty of stories to tell the grandchildren one day, but it’s time to end the Darnell McDonald experiment.

Back to the Masset issue. I’m not sure what the Reds will want to do between Viola and Maloney. While both are performing well in AAA, Maloney has been used exclusively as a starter while Viola has been tagged a reliever. The Reds need a reliever right now and, in my opinion, shouldn’t take innings away from Matt Maloney.

In addition to losing Joey Votto Saturday, Edinson Volquez had to leave early as well.

He left in the sixth inning complaining about something in his back. The word right now is that it’s nothing too serious and he plans to make his next scheduled start against Carl Pavano and the Indians Friday.

After Micah Owings pitched 5.2 innings of relief in Saturday night’s marathon in San Diego, what will the Reds do with him and his scheduled start versus Jamie Moyer Wednesday?

There are a lot of questions to be answered for this club. They’re staring the greatest adversity of this young season in the face right now. How they respond will say a lot about what they’re made of and how good they really are.