Things have been looking up as of recently. After a 3-15 record over an 18 game stretch spanning from May 18th to June 5th, it was all I could do to just sit and stare at the standings and wait for Pittsburgh blow past as the Reds sank. After a nice little 5-2 west coast road trip (the first winning west coast trip for the good guys since 2004) and an overall 7-3 record in the last ten games, the Reds are sitting a bit more pretty at 37-33, just 2 games back of Milwaukee. Even though we watch year in and year out, I think we still need to remind ourselves as fans that each baseball season is a marathon, not a sprint. I know that at at least 2 different occasions in the past couple months I have had my hand on the panic button ready to close up shop on the Reds season. I think I just need to finally realize I have no clue and sit back and let the play on the field spell out the narrative before jumping to conclusions.
As for the ups & downs, I’ll be covering the good and bad performances of the prior 14 days seeing as how we have been a while without a three up/three down (my bad)….
Starting Pitching – Reds’ starters have finally started to string together good outings, and in a big way. Over the previous 12 games, the starters are a combined 7-2 with an ERA of 2.72 and 1.25 WHIP. We can point directly to this and see the reason behind the recent run of smiling scoreboards. Especially impressive has been Johnny Cueto and Mike Leake. Cueto is quickly showing himself to be the ace of the Reds staff. In his last three starts, Cueto is 2-0 with an 0.86 ERA, 0.857 WHIP, and 16 Ks! Leake has bounced back well after his trip to AAA. He is also 2-0 over the previous 12 games, carrying a 1.13 ERA 1.00 WHIP and 11 Ks. We know the offense is still going to hit, but if the pitching can continue it’s stride things could get scary fun. Now if only we could find Homer Bailey.
Drew Stubbs – Reds’ outfielders have been taking turns clobbering the ball. A week or two ago it was Jay Bruce. Now it has been Stubbs’ turn. Over the past 2 weeks, Stubbsie is hitting .326/.436/.522 with 2 HR, 7 RBI, 9 R, 4 SB. He has been a veritable roto league stat stuffer. Even with the high strikeouts I think we can live with the production we have seen from Drew and in a perfect world with a better leadoff hitter he should be batting lower in the order to take more advantage of his power. Also, I am officially going to stop bitching about him needing to bunt more.
Jonny Gomes – If not for the better hitting, for the awesome all-out diving catch of a Dodger line drive 2 games ago. Web Gems aside, Gomes has bounced back at the plate after getting another crack at LF. Getting 6 starts in left out of the past 12 games, Jonny has hit rather nicely with a slash line of .333/.423/.476 with a homer and 7 knocked in. Hopefully the stretch on the pine helped him break out of him funk. I am still skeptical that this will carry on the rest of the way, but it’s good nonetheless.
Edgar Renteria – Not really for his offense, which hasn’t been very good really (.182 BA in last 12 games), but more for his defense mainly. The errors are there for the season (his 8 errors and .939 fielding % are worst on the team among position players even in limited duty) but I point to one instance that has caused me to pause. In the second game of the Dodger series, with Renteria starting at short for the game, he was quite shaky. 2 fielding errors, one bobbled ball in the first allowing the first baserunner of the game and a dropped fly ball in the fourth. Add those to a couple other shaky, yet completed, plays and Renteria is contributing next to nothing.
Reds Upcoming Schedule – The winning might come a little more difficult soon however. Interleague play is back starting tonight with the Blue Jays coming to town and the AL East parade just continues after that. 3 games series with Toronto and the Yankees at home followed by a road trip to Baltimore and Tampa Bay for 2 more series and ending back at GABP with 3 more versus Cleveland marks a stretch of 15 games against tough AL opponents. 2 or 3 potential playoff teams and some rather frisky teams hanging around .500 could lead to a rough patch for the Redlegs. Just warning everyone now so we can all starting stretching our panic button-pushing finger.
Keeping Brandon Phillips? – A blip came across the rumor wire on ESPN.com commenting on Brandon Phillips’ want to stay in Cincinnati and it got me thinking. Quoting Phillips it says:
"“It’s going to be hard to keep me here, I’m not trying to break the bank. I’m just trying to be fair. I don’t want Jayson Werth money or CC Sabathia money.”"
I can’t say I blame him for that stance, it really is a tough situation. There is no question that BP would love to stay in Cincy for his career, he has said it on multiple occasions. But we run into the normal small market dilemma: How to keep a great cultivated talent when payday rolls around. Now Phillips has his one option year left at $12 million so things aren’t coming on immediately, but the time will soon arise for Reds fans to start to come to terms with potentially losing Brandon Phillips. For me, I think this might be a time for the Reds front office to open the purse strings some and do everything in their power to keep BP. He means a lot to the team not just on the field but off it as well. It’d be really tough to lose BP and it’d honestly be tough for me to see Phillips roaming the diamond in another uniform as a Reds fan.