By Kyle Lovern
July 24, 2014
Cincinnati Reds fans, and there are many in this area, have to wonder what is going on with their team.
Since the All-Star break, the Reds have lost six straight games and have nose-dived from second place in the National League Central Division to fifth place.
Sure, they have suffered some injuries, but their offense is as stagnant as pond scum. The Reds cannot produce runs and the effort by some players seems lackadaisical.
For most the season the pitching has been strong and the defense has been the best in the NL, but for some reason they cannot get enough runs to win games.
Some Reds fans are already questioning whether Bryan Price was a good choice as manager. He has been known as a great pitching coach, but this is his first time as the main man. He has to make out the lineups and call all the shots.
Of course there is former MVP Joey Votto who is on the disabled list (DL) for a pulled quad muscle. Can you imagine Pete Rose sitting out for weeks with a sore leg. Votto’s power numbers and RBI production have dropped off like flies.
Then you have Jay Bruce who is about as inconsistent as a pig in a poke. Bruce has also spent time on the DL.
Votto makes $12 million (M) this year, while Bruce over $10 million. Seventh inning setup relief pitcher Sean Marshall, who was on the DL most of last year, has been injured again. He makes over $6 million and has pitched in 15 games for a total of 14 innings with an ERA of 7.71.
Thank goodness pitcher J. J. Hoover “only” makes $520,000 for his 1-7 record and 5.36 ERA.
Brandon Phillips is out with a legitimate injury. Cincy certainly misses his Gold Glove at second base and he is able to bat anywhere from second to cleanup in the order. Phillips makes over $11 million.
Ryan Ludwick’s best days are behind him. He was injured for most of last year and does not appear to have any more power since his shoulder surgery. By the way, Ludwick makes $8.5 million.
Chris Heisey has had his chance to shine, but like Bruce, he is inconsistent. (Is he worth $1.7 million?)
All-Star Todd Frazier continues his steady play and is definitely an anchor for the infield. He can play third base and first base without missing a beat. Talk about a bargain. Frazier is making the league minimum at $600,000. With a team-leading 20 home runs, 54 RBIs and a nice .283 batting average, he is a definite bargain.
As of late, reserves Ramon Santiago and Scott Schumaker, second year catcher Devin Mesoraco and rookie Billy Hamilton have been the lone bright spots. (Mesoraco has had two stints on the DL, but has done a solid job behind the plate and with the bat.)
That’s not counting the bullpen, especially Jonathan Broxton and Aroldis Chapman, who have pitched very well. ($7 M and $7.8 M respectively)
However, the middle relievers have blown several games.
The Reds’ starting rotation makes a combined $33.3 million. Homer Bailey $9 M, Mat Latos $7.2 M, Johnny Cueto $10 M, Mike Leake $5.9 M, and Alfredo Simon $1.5 M.
I guess the Reds did luck out with Simon. He only made the roster because of injuries in spring training. He went into the All-Star game with 12 wins. With his “minimum” salary makes $1.5 million, which is a relative bargain in this day and age.
The Cincinnati front office needs to make a mid-season trade and make it fast before the season is gone. The Reds need a run-producing power hitter.
They may also need to consider if paying Votto and Bruce millions for the way they have played this year is really worth it.
How many times do you see a player sign a big, long-term contract, only to see their play tail off and their effort lacking?
Maybe Price shouldn’t take all the blame. However, maybe the Price isn’t right for Cincinnati.
Looking at some of these sizeable contracts, which are about as inflated as the national economy, it could be the front office and GM Walt Jocketty that needs to rethink his strategy.
For now, the Reds can be happy they are not Chicago Cubs fans.
(Kyle Lovern is the Sports Editor for the Williamson Daily News. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 304-235-4242, ext. 2277 or on Twitter @KyleLovern)