CINCINNATI — If ever there was a time to push the plunger on the Cincinnati Reds, blow it all up and start over, the time arrived over the weekend.
The last place Milwaukee Brewers came to Great American Ball Park and couldn’t have embarrassed the Reds any more on their home turf than if they yanked the pants on every Reds player down around their ankles.
The Brewers scored a three-game sweep, 12-1, 7-3 and 6-1. For the mathematically challenged, that’s 25-5 over 27 innings. The Reds seemed as interested as a 5-year-old kid shows over a plate of green beans.
AND IT ISN’t GOING to get any better.
General manager Walt Jocketty appeared on national TV Saturday night and the best thing he said was that third baseman Todd Frazier is untouchable, non-tradeable, don’t anybody ask. It’s the same thing I said in a blog a few days ago.
Frazier should be the only guy on the roster who is not available in a trade. Everybody else should be on standby alert to pack their bags.
With the trade deadline about three weeks away, it is time for Jocketty & Company to get real busy. The rebuilding process should begin immediately.
II WILL NOT BE difficult to trade pitchers Johnny Cueto and Mike Leake. They are free-agents-to-be and have value to contending teams.
And Aroldis Chapman is a blue chip. Because the Reds have control over him for another year, earlier in th season I thought the Reds should keep him. I no longer feel that way. Why?
Well, because of the way he is used, or not used, he is an expensive trinket, a guy on the roster for the pure entertainment of the fans.
They don’t use him in tie games. They don’t use him in extra inning games until the Reds grab a lead. They don’t use him for more than an inning. And, most of all, if a game isn’t in a save situation, they don’t use him at all.
Save situations for the Reds this year are not plentiful, so why keep him. He is a valuable chip and the Reds probably could get two or three prospects who are close to being major-league ready.
Marlon Byrd could be useful to a contending team looking for some pop in the outfield. So could Jay Bruce if a team is willing to take on his contract and be patient with his persistent strikeouts.
OTHER THAN THAT, what the Reds can do is limited because of contract situations. Who would be prepared to take on the huge contract of Joey Votto? Brandon Phillips has a big contract, too, and as a five-and-ten guy he has veto rights on all trades. He keeps saying he wants to retire in a Reds uniform. But does he want a World Series ring, does he want to play for a winner? Or does he want to languish in mediocrity for the rest of his career?
Fans talk about the quick success of the Houston Astros and the Kansas City Royals. It won’t happen overnight for the Reds. The Astros and Royals were not strapped with bloated contracts and they built their minor league system. There isn’t much in the minors to turn the Reds around quickly, especially with position players.
SCOUTS FROM OTHER teams are circling the stadium, ready to pick and pluck. And Cueto and Leake aren’t the only focus.
A scout from an American League team showed up the other day and said, “My team sent me here to look at the young cather, Tucker Barnhart.” So it is evident to other teams that the vastly underachieving Reds are ripe.
Jocketty and the front office haven’t done much the last couple of years other than fire Dusty Baker, who had taken the Reds to the playoffs three of his last four years. And now look where they are.
Instead of looking ahead of them at the St. Louis Cardinals, Pittsburgh Pirates and Chicago Cubs, the Reds are looking over their shoulders. The Brewers are only two games away from taking fifth place away from the Reds and pushing them into last place.
Now is the time, time for Jocketty & Company to surrender and begin some major overhauling. It won’t be easy. It is time for Jocketty to show his creativity.