April 14, 2012; Washington, D.C., USA; Cincinnati Reds third baseman Scott Rolen(27) reacts after striking out in the eighth inning against the Washington Nationals at Nationals Park. The Nationals defeated the Reds 4 - 1. Mandatory Credit: Joy R. Absalon-US PRESSWIRE

Reds Woes Through 10 Phlegmatic – Gaping Black Hole in 4 Spot is Not


The Reds have played three series so far in their 2012 campaign.  They’ll play about 50 more.

In those first three series, they’ve played the Marlins (4-6), Cardinals (7-3) and the Nationals (8-3). In three series, they’ve played two teams atop their divisions. They’ll begin another series this evening with the Cards.

What do we know through 10 games in 2012?

Rolen is congratulated on a two run home run by bench coach Chris Speier (left) and manager Dusty Baker (right) at Busch Stadium. (Jeff Curry-US PRESSWIRE)

The starting pitching, so far, hasn’t catered to intense expectations. Through ten games, the Reds have the 20th best starting ERA in baseball. Through ten games, Reds starters have allowed 28 runs, which is good for the 11th most earned runs allowed by a starting rotation. Reds starting pitching has amassed a mere 33 strikeouts. To put that into perspective, the 9-1 Dodgers’ rotation has 62.

As mediocre as the aforementioned numbers sound, they’re little compared to the woeful numbers this once prolific offense has provided.

The Reds are batting a collective .205 through ten games. That’s second worst in the NL, between the .210 hitting Padres and the .188 hitting Pirates. The Cards are tops in the NL hitting .299. So far, through ten, the Reds have amassed 30 RBIs, also good for second worst in the NL, right above the Pirates, who have just 16 RBIs.  Three teams in baseball have a worse OBP than the Reds – through ten games.

If you haven’t been watching the Reds at all, the above stats probably paint a picture of a team sitting around the 3-7 mark. Barring a Reds win in extras, they’d be just that – through ten games.

I’m not going to bore you with early talk. I won’t act like these games don’t mean anything. But I will try to put things into perspective.

4-6 just isn’t enough to be concerned at this juncture. The Reds were 7-3 through ten games last year, which included two series against two ultimate division winners in Milwaukee and Arizona. 7-3. How much fun did you have last Reds season?

Baseball is about gathering momentum and sustaining it across multiple series. The Reds haven’t really garnered much momentum yet – but playing two first place teams in three series will make that momentum a little difficult to come by. They don’t need to bench Drew Stubbs, yet. They don’t need to fire Dusty Baker. Mat Latos is going to live up to his contract because he’s got the talent to do so.

The only real problem the Reds have at this juncture is the clean-up. The 4 spot. Joey Votto‘s insurance policy. Through ten games, Scott Rolen looks like your cut-rate insurance policy that won’t protect you from mayhem. The tree branch has fallen on the car and it ain’t gettin’ covered.  The problem is, it’s been much longer than ten games. Scott Rolen, since 2010 post ASB, is batting in the .250s. He’s had eight home runs in nearly two years. Even more disturbing, he’s amassed just 11 walks in the time span.

Joey Votto has ten walks this season alone.

There needs to be a change at the 4, but the answer isn’t quite obvious. Jay Bruce is hitting .227 at the 4 spot after 269 ABs. Ludwick hits a cool .256 at the 4 spot after 993 ABs in his career, but we all know he hasn’t been his prolific self since his days in St. Louis. If you bat Brandon Phillips 4th, you lose the only possible lead-off hitter on this team right now.

Do you bat Joey 4th? Move Cozart to 3rd, maybe hit one of the catchers at 2? Your guess is as good as mine. What’s painfully obvious is that the word is out on how to beat the Reds. Walk (disarm) Votto, make the 4 beat you.

So far, it’s working.

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Tags: Baseball Cincinnati Dusty Baker Joey Votto LA Dodgers Major League Baseball MLB Offense Pittsburgh Pirates Reds Ryan Ludwick Scott Rolen St Louis Cardinals