UNSOLICITED OBSERVATIONS from The Man Cave wondering how in the names of Bill DeWitt and Bob Howsam and Humpty-Dumpty are the Cincinnati Reds going to put all the pieces back together again.
As everybody knows these days, the Cincinnati Reds are emphasizing the ‘less’ in hopeless. They are playing baseball like a guy trying to push a Hummer uphill.
They’ve acknowledge, if not by word at least by deeds like trading Johnny Cueto, Mike Leake, Todd Frazier and Aroldis Chapman, that they are tearing it up and starting over.
SO IT WAS NOT surprising that baseball pundits predicted the Reds would finish near the bottom of the National League Central this year.
But who would have thought it would be this bad, a 16-34 record after 50 games? Who would have thought they’d be seven games behind the next-to-last-place Milwaukee Brewers? Who would have thought they’d lost 11 straight and 16 of their last 19?
They do, of course, draw a partial pass for the disablement of projected starting pitchers Homer Bailey, Anthony DeSclafani, Raisel Iglesias, Michael Lorenzen and Jon Moscot, plus the full-season loss of catcher Devin Mesoraco.
But the position players don’t get passes, not when the Reds can put Joey Votto, Brandon Phillips, Zack Cozart, Eugenio Suarez, Adam Duvall, Billy Hamilton and Jay Bruce on the field.
THE THING THAT IS most baffling about this talked-about rebuilding process is that one wonders how that rebuild is going to come about?
The optimistic fans talk about the construction of the Chicago Cubs and how the Reds can do it that way. Oh, really? The money-loaded Cubs are a piecemeal team with some homegrown players, some players acquired by trades and some players signed as free agents.
Their homegrown guys are Kris Bryant, Starlin Castro, Jorge Soler, Hector Rondon, Javier Baez and Kyle Schwarber. They traded for Jake Arrieta, Anthony Rizzo, Dexter Fowler, Kyle Hendricks, Addison Russell, Pedro Strop, Travis Wood and Justin Grimm.
And they signed expensive free agents Jon Lester, John Lackey, Ben Zobrist, Jason Heyward, Jason Hammel and David Ross.
THE REDS CAN’T DO it that way. They don’t have a full bank vault. And the trades they make right now are not for established stars. They are giving up established stars for prospects or suspects.
No, there is no way to do it The Cubs Way.
They have to do it mostly by growing and developing their own and developing the prospects and suspects they are acquiring by dumping salary.
If they are doing it that way, they have a long, long way to go — years and years. If they are growing their own they need to start at the grass roots with teams like the Class A Dayton Dragons, where the young draftees begin their careers.
HOW IS THAT process going?
Over the last five years, 15 of the 16 Midwest League teams have been to the playoffs, with Dayton the lone exception. Over the last eight years, 15 of the 16 Midwest League teams have gone to the playoffs at least twice. Again, that one team that hasn’t is the Dayton Dragons.
The Dragons, of course, are an affiliate of the Reds. And how are they doing this year? The Dragons are a Reds-like 13-and-37, 19 games out of first place and 9 ½ games behind the next-to-last-place team. Sound familiar?
The Dragons are last in the league in runs scored and last in the league in team earned run average. Again, does that sound familiar?
THE REDS HAVE the No. 2 overall pick in the June draft and several early-round picks. They need to pick wisely and then cross all their fingers and all their toes because baseball drafts are one big crapshoot.
Any rebuilding process is going to take a long time and it is going to depend upon most things going right (and when does that ever happen?) and most of all it is going to take a very large bundle of luck.
And don’t expect them to do it The Cubs Way. That isn’t going to happen. The best thing Reds fans can do is appreciate the effort and aim all the luck in the world toward Great American Ball Park. Growing pains are, well, painful.