Reflecting on the last 10: Well we are 10 games into this season and things are not looking good fans. I really am trying to be an optimist here, but right now, I feel like I am simply being a realist. The Reds are sitting at 3-7 and have looked bad getting there. Their 3 victories have all came with exceptional pitching efforts, including 2 shutouts. 2 of the wins have been won by a combined 2 runs. There really has only been 1 game out of the 10 where they seemed to play a complete game, and even then it took Mike Leake pitching great and Billy Hamilton exhibiting his game changing speed. Man he needs to get on base more. These 10 games have been hard to watch (or listen to).
What we’ve learned: So what have we learned in this young season? First and foremost, the offense of this team is very poorly constructed. And that is being polite. Sure people can say the Reds are battling injuries, but outside of Devin Mesoraco those injuries are to backups and pitching. It is not a good sign when your top choice as a pinch hitter is your backup catcher. Chris Heisey, playing off of the bench, is the only other contributor to this offense. I would argue he needs to be starting and Hamilton needs to be coming off of the bench. He is more valuable as a pinch runner at this point if he can’t get on regularly. Our starting SS has 1 hit in 10 games and no walks. Unfortunately there is no depth at the position and no one to challenge him or push him. Skip Schumaker will not provide the boost that this team needs when he is healthy. He was brought in to be a backup and he will produce like a backup. This team desperately needs a RH bat in a bad way. In my opinion things will not get any better until that happens.
The bright spot: Devin Mesoraco is back from an injury and hitting the ball very well. If he keeps it up, he could slide up in the lineup a bit and provide some help. See, there is some optimism for you. Still, I do not think his return will be enough to improve the offense in a drastic way… and there is the pessimism.
Looking forward: So will it get any better and do we have anything at all to look forward to? Yes! The thing we have to look forward to is having our top 3 bullpen pitchers returning at some point. 2 of the loses have been pegged on the bullpen and another 2, possibly 3 games, have been blown open and put out of reach because of the bullpen. This part of the team will get better with time and get back to where it was last year as one of the top bullpens in baseball Help is on the way! Mat Latos will eventually return… hopefully? He apparently is having set backs with his arm. His return would help the rotation and strengthen the bullpen by moving Simon back into his spot and replacing one of the lesser arms currently taking up space. Those are the only improvements I see in this team’s future. Baring any trades the offense is what it is. I do not see it getting better than slight improvements with the current lineup. Votto’s numbers will increase and Bruce will hit more than he currently has. I think Hamilton’s numbers will increase a tad and we can expect more from him as the season goes on and he grows. I think Cozart will reach base again at some point this season. However, I do not see this offense as enough to carry this team past a third place finish in the NL Central.
The Standings: Looking at the standings at the 10 game mark provides no more optimism. Sure the Reds are only 5 games back… wait, that’s not good either. The Reds are in last place in the NL Central while the Brew Crew stands at the top. Yes it is early, but it is still not a very good sight. I think when the smoke settles and the roster heals up things will get a little better. We will pass the Cubs in the standings eventually. Our pitching staff we will improve and provide us enough wins to not end up in last. If I had to make some predictions with the small sample size we have I would be depressed with the outcome. With what we’ve seen so far this year I predict the Cardinals to be the NL Central Champs. I think they have enough offense and a top notch pitching staff. They will start to hit better and offensive production will improve. After the Cards I would predict the Brewers in second and the Reds and Pirates wrestling around for their spot at third place with the Cubs looking up at everyone. Again, these predictions are off of what we have seen in the first 10 games of the season. Take a look at the standings and see what you think. Here is to hoping I am wrong!