Injuries are a cruel fact of life when it comes to the game of baseball. There are more tendons, joints, ligaments, bones to pull, strain, tear and break than any of us care to count. Players were once vaunted for their durability and their lack of common sense for playing through these injuries. Call it the 21st Century-ization of ballplayers, but no longer do must play through excruciating pain.
In case you have been away on sabbatical, the Reds will be playing without Brandon Phillips for likely the remainder of the season. Gone for 8-12 weeks with torn ligaments in his left thumb, even the optimistic timetable has him recovering only for the Postseason. Of course, without Phillips’ glove and bat in the lineup, the chances of even making the Postseason look bleak.
Last week in this very same space, I wrote about how if the Reds opted to sit on their hands the next three weeks, they could kiss a chance at October good-bye. In hindsight, it may have been a bit far-fetched, but now with players dropping like flies on a windshield, it is time to start wheeling and dealing.
Perceive Walt Jocketty however you may, but there is no denying his ability to take a risk and a make a move. At the time, the package he sent to San Diego to acquire Mat Latos was highly criticized, with four useful Major League players going the other way. Does anyone out there want a mulligan on that deal?
As recent as the Trade Deadline of 2012, he went and acquired Jonathan Broxton from the Kansas City Royals at the deadline for a few prospects most fans have never heard of. Rather than renting Broxton’s services for a few months, Big Jon was re-upped and will be in the Queen City through at least next fall.
Is it entirely possible that the Redlegs do not make a move at all? It would be a risk, but I could see it happening. Skip Schumaker is a serviceable ballplayer who could play second the majority of the way, with Ramon Santiago occasionally spelling him. Hopefully Joey Votto will return to play in some proximity down the stretch, allowing Brayan Pena to spell him from time-to-time over at first.
For much of the way that Phillips has been criticized in the past for his low on-base percentage and declining OPS+ numbers, what will be missed most is his glove. Over the next three months, there will be countless balls that Schumaker and Santiago may not reach that Brandon would have snared in the back of his webbing.
Looking in the short term, the Cincinnati Reds are only two and a half games out of first-place. Milwaukee Brewers fans may not want to hear it, but there was no way their team was going to continue to win 60 percent of their games the entire year. Officially, this is a race.
As a personal barometer, I have never truly cared about the standings until the All-Star break. In baseball, teams can be legendary for 100 games, but it is all about who has the endurance and talent to outlast everyone else over 162. Any team can win in the Postseason—all you need is 11 wins. Over 162 games, the best team is going to win.
And that, is beauty amongst the darkness.