The second half of the baseball season, denoted as the games after the All-Star break, begins tonight for the Cincinnati Reds and there is a less-defined objective.
Do the Reds try to win as many games as possible, a meaningless exercise at this point, or do they try for next year’s No. 1 draft pick by compiling baseball’s worst record?
They almost did it last year. The Philadelphia Phillies lost one more game than the Reds, so the Phillies ‘won’ the No. 1 pick and the Reds used their No. 2 position to draft third baseman Nick Senzel.
RIGHT NOW, AS THE second half begins, the Reds are one game behind or ahead, if you prefer, of the Atlanta Braves in the saunter toward baseball’s worst record.
The Braves have lost 58 games to Cincinnati’s 57.
It might be quickly evident over this nine-game homestand what’s going to happen because the Reds play the dregs of major league baseball — three with the Milwaukee Brewers (38-49) beginning tonight, three with the National League West’s worst team, Arizona (38-52), and three with the National League East’s last place team, Atlanta (31-58).
IF, AS EXPECTED. the Reds soon trade All-Star outfielder Jay Bruce and perhaps shortstop Zack Cozart, it will be evident the Reds are throwing in the towel at fastball velocity.
And why not? It is part of the Reds Reconstruction Act. Like the Braves, the Reds are doing nothing toward winning games this year.
MLB, of course, frowns upon any indications that a team is not trying to win individual games in order to pad their losses toward a strong position in the draft.
THE REDS DO TRY to win individual games with what passes (barely) as a major league roster. But one can almost sense some glee among some club officials as the defeats mount and the team creeps higher in their all-important Draft Standings.
The Braves aren’t the only team the Reds have to ‘beat out’ for the No. 1 pick. Arizona is a candidate. So is Minnesota with 56 losses, Tampa Bay with 54 losses, the Angels with 52 losses and the Padres with 51 losses.
SO, WITH ALL that in mind, consider this little item and guess what team they’ve talking about.
“The team has had 19 players on the DL. One is their star starting pitcher. Their rotation has turned into Who, What, When, Why and I Don’t Know. A rookie leads the team in home runs. The catchers for most of 2016 have hit below .200.”
Is it the Reds? Homer Bailey, their star starting pitcher is on the DL and the starting staff is, indeed, Who, What, When, WHY and I Don’t Know. And rookie Adam Duvall leads the team with 23 homers.”
That passage was penned by Mike Downey, a former Chicago and Los Angeles sports columnist. And he was referring to the Los Angeles Dodgers. He finished it with:
“Somehow the Dodgers own the National League’s fourth-best record. They are 11 games over .500. Their record is superior to those of 2015’s two World Series teams. But just about the only one at Dodger Stadium getting any praise is the broadcaster (Vin Scully).”
But the ultra-rich Dodgers aren’t rebuilding and aren’t even thinking about draft pick positioning.
So, Reds fan, strap yourself in because the second half is going to be as bumpy, if not bumpier, than the first half ride. And maybe it is time to start talking about Marty Brennaman.
They’ve had 19 players on the DL. One is their star starting pitcher. Their rotation has turned into Who, What, When, Why and I Don’t Know. A rookie leads the team in hits and HRs. The catchers for most of 2016 have hit below .200. The sluggers Gonzalez and Puig have a combined 14 home runs.