Wednesday, October 06, 2004

Regular season postmortem 

Well, my beloved Reds managed a HUGE flameout in July as the Cardinals ran them down and went on to post the best record in baseball. Ken Griffey Jr. became injured. So did Barry Larkin. So did Austin Kearns. The bullpen, once a strength of the team blew numerous leads and helped seal the fate of the team.

The Reds did make some modest improvements in their starting pitching with Paul Wilson leading the starters with 10 victories and Aaron Harrang emerging from a mid season injury to show outstanding stuff that was lacking early in the year. Sean Casey was finally fully healthy as was Adam Dunn. Both men had MUCH better years than 2003. The player who made the most progress though was Willy Mo Pena. He went from a forgotten almost cast off bench player to being a viable and effective fourth outfielder. In fact, the talk here in Cincinnati has been to move Kearns from right field to third base in order to make room for Pena's bat.

I personally think the Reds ought to put Kearns on the auction block or watch his playing time vigilantly. The team needs to cut Barry Larkin loose as a player if he isn't willing to be either a bench/pinch hitter or a player/coach. Casey is the clubhouse leader and heart and soul of this club now. It is now time to move on. Let Felipe Lopez take over at short (another player who developed nicely this year down in the minors and in his brief stints in the big show) and take your lumps. It isn't every day that a Hall of Fame shortstop comes along. Other improvements might include moving Ryan Freel to third and picking up some free agent pitching. Resigning Wilson and Dunn should be the highest priorities for this club.

Finally, the Reds would be much better off with the infusion of about $15 million to the payroll. I know that this isn't likely to occur out of the blue, but it would be nice step the ownership group could take to demonstrate a seriousness about winning that the average shmuck sports fan can understand. All in all, I don't really understand what a lot of the complaining is about. The team cuts $20 million in payroll to go from $60 million to about $40 million and the team's performance doesn't get any worse, it actually improved. The Reds have a little bit of promise and I am cautiously optimistic at this point, flameout notwithstanding.

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