Now Hold on a Minute

2 of 2

As I was thumbing through this morning edition of the Dayton Daily News sports section (yes, in print form), I glanced around and a couple of headlines grabbed my attention.

First, a hearty BRM congratulations are order for the Dayton Dragons. After their 6-0 victory coupled with a loss by the Fort Wayne TinCaps, the Dragons secured not only a playoff spot, but the Eastern Division title for the second half of the season. The Dragons will begin the MWL playoffs at home in a best-of-three series againt eh Lansing Lugnuts beginning at Fifth Third field on September 7. Game time is 7:00 PM.

But that wasn’t the headline that grabbed me the most. Here’s the one that did…

“Commentary: Reds’ lack of transactions costly”

Upon my initial glance of this piece, I was nodding in agreement. It’s hard to argue that point at all when you think about it. And as I began to indulge myself in the commentary by B.J. Bethel, I was beginning to agree even more.

Until…I ran across this.

“Seeing this play out, it’s no surprise Milwaukee has a double-digit lead in the National League Central. The Brewers tied up players it needed (Ryan Braun) and acquired players it needed more (Zack Greinke). The result — Milwaukee is having its best season in 30 years. “Resting on one’s laurels isn’t smart — especially when a team has no laurels on which to rest.”

Um, excuse me, but didn’t the Reds also make a couple of guys pretty rich during the offseason? I believe Reds GM Walt Jocketty signed a trio of guys to multi-years deals. Would that not qualify as tying up those you need to keep?

I suppose that six-year, $51 million deal that Jay Bruce signed means nothing. For the extended slumps Bruce hits, he was NL Player of the Month for May and was recently named NL Player of the Week for a second time. He may not be Ryan Braun now, but he very well could be on down the line. And for good measure, the Res hold an option for a seventh year. He’s only 24 now, and while some will argue that he needs to be more consistent, he should (I won’t say will) over time. Just in case…

And didn’t Jocketty also lock up the Reds newly found ace for four years? In case you have forgotten, his name is Johnny Cueto. He only leads the majors in ERA (2.05). He should have no less than 12 wins (even after missing a month at the beginning of the season) and may receive some votes (not for first) for the NL Cy Young. He won’t win it, but I think he could be in the top 10. Four years at $27 million may turn out to be a bargain.

The one that could be argued is the contract concerning Joey Votto. It did not include any free agency years, but it did cover the remaining years in which Votto is arbitration eligible. Three years for $38 million.

Those are three of the organizations top four or five players together for no less than two more years barring any transactions. And I will say this about the Brewers (and it’s not an insult to them). They may have the likes of Braun, Greinke, Corey Hart and Rickie Weeks for locked for a period of time, but a major force in that lineup in Prince Fielder may not be back next season. If the Brewers were as vigilant as Bethel states, why wasn’t Fielder offered such a deal? It could be that he’s represented by one Scott Boras.

You cannot argue the length in regards to Braun’s deal. He’s a Brewer until 2020 and maybe even for 2021. He’ll be 36 at the start of that 2021 season. No Reds player is tied up for that long. And you have to wonder of that will bite them in the end. Only time will tell, but Braun’s numbers do bear that it might be a deal that is worth the bucks the Brewers front office is doling out here.

That being said, I did belive that in having the trio of Bruce, Cueto and Votto in the fold for a couple more seasons after this one, Walt Jocketty didn’t do too bad in this area this past winter. To state that Cincinnati did nothing is completely false. And I do have one other slight disagreement.

The Reds had no laurels on which to rest? While this season has not met the expectations, the Reds did win the division last season. Call it luck or call it skill (I think it’s both), they are the defending divisional champs. The outcome in the 2010 postseason is surely nothing to boast of, but you simply cannot dismiss last season all together.

The Reds did rest on their laurels. The free agent signings of Fred Lewis and Edgar Renteria partnered with minor league deals made to Jeremy Hermida and Dontrelle Willis will not incite a sense of fear to any opponent, divisional or not. True, the holes the Reds had after 2010 were not filled last off-season. The only gap seemingly corrected is that of the shortstop position in which Zack Cozart will have every opportunity to win the starting nod going into spring training of 2012. And as Bethel points out, it was a case, in my words, of too little, too late. The questions of left field, leadoff and cleanup hitters, and maybe even another top of the rotation starter do jump out at you. Those signings I spoke of did nothing to cure these ills. Hard to disprove that in any way.

I’m completely aware that this is merely one person’s opinion. We do that here every post. This lack of moves is not the sole basis for the Reds lack of success this year. The list is a bit longer than that.

And that is for another time.