Only two weeks ago, the Cincinnati Reds were still playing post-season baseball. Just two short weeks ago, this team was still viable, even if reeling heading in to play NLDS Game 5. Fast forwarding to the present, there’s still baseball being played; unfortunately, the team for which we root isn’t there.
I haven’t stopped watching baseball since the Reds were eliminated on October 11th. I’ve still watched the other series’ games being played, including seeing the rival St. Louis Cardinals advance to the LCS only to suffer a similar fate as our Cincinnati club did. Yes, World Series Game 1 was played just last night, with a convincing win by the San Francisco Giants, the very club that led to an earlier off-season for the Reds than any of us would have hoped.
There are many thoughts as a writer that have crossed my mind in the time that has passed where this team could have done differently. There are plenty of opportunities for things to improve that would make this team far more potent than they displayed for large chunks of the 2012 campaign. Yes, there are things to be celebrated of what went well, but the reality is any “celebratory” notions are quickly dispelled when a team doesn’t reach the promised land and win it all.
Some things have been moved into the “certain” column from the “undecided” one in a short time. We know that Dusty Baker will be back after receiving a new 2-year contract from the club. Given what he had to work with for large chunks of 2012 and the results delivered, I’m perfectly okay that this choice was made. He’s not perfect, no manager is. By and large, he delivered the best that could be expected with limited resources. In the same vein, we also know that the team’s invested assets (Joey Votto, Jay Bruce, Brandon Phillips, Mat Latos, Johnny Cueto, etc.) are under contract for at least a couple more seasons each.
Some outliers remain, such as what to do or how to proceed with Ryan Ludwick (who declined the club option for 2013). Who fills the leadoff spot in 2013? Nobody stepped up to deliver in that role, and, very clearly time and again, the offense suffered from lack of runs. Will someone like Drew Stubbs be dealt in a deal that could be best in the long-term for both him and the club? Does Aroldis Chapman stay the closer … or does someone else in the pen fit the bill?
Thankfully, this team doesn’t require a major overhaul, but the fact remains the team couldn’t score runs effectively for big stretches of time. Even when they achieved long winning streaks, runs were often at a scarcity. The path forward isn’t necessarily obvious yet, but it should be exciting to know it can be reached.
Continue the discussion with me on Twitter @JDRentz.