October 4, 2013

On The Rebound: Ready for a new look Reds

By Mitch Howard
Sports Writer

LAUREL COUNTY, Ky. — The Cincinnati Reds put a fitting end to probably the most bland playoff season in their proud history. They ended the regular season with five straight losses and then dropped a one-game Wild Card playoff the Pirates.

Woo Hoo. How did you enjoy that playoff run?

The only thing I can compare it to would be high school football where every team in a district makes the playoffs. The fourth place team then faces Goliath and the Giants and losses 157-0. There isn’t much fun in that.

While the social media pundits call for manager Dusty Baker to be pushed into the Ohio River, the problem I see is not just the manager. This is coming from a non-Baker fan.

The Reds made the playoffs for the third time in four years. That hasn’t been done since some guy named Sparky Anderson managed the team. It has been a good stretch and if you want great seasons with sad endings you are thrilled. Reds fans are not the Yankees fans and do not expect a World Series ring every year. But the team assembled is a team that cannot step up in these situations.

Our last three playoff appearances include being swept by the Phillies, topped by a Roy Halladay no-hitter. Last year they blew a 2-0 series lead to the Giants, who went on to win the World Series. Then we add this year’s fold job against the Pirates.

But the fact is prior to Baker it had been 12 years since the Reds even made the playoffs.  He has one more year on his contract, so give him another year. Might want to buy a bus ticket for hitting coach Brook Jacoby though.

The Reds scored the third most runs in the National League, behind only the Rockies and Cardinals. Most of this scoring was done in meaningless games against nondescript teams. When it matters most the Reds runs producers were harder to find than matching socks in the dryer.  They cannot manufacture runs, can’t bunt, and don’t run bases well.

The Reds rotation in left field combined for a .250 average. This was much better than the production from the No. 2 hitter, with a .228 average ranking last in the league.

Cincinnati struggled all season with runners in scoring position. The Reds were just 1-for-10 Tuesday with runners in scoring position. Joey Votto and Brandon Phillips were 0-for-6. And those two are the centerpiece of your team.

Joey Votto is a superstar and I’m sure a great friend charities, fans, and small fuzzy animals everywhere. But his only sign of emotion is raising his eye brows. Joey please just punch somebody, anybody. Punch Dusty Baker or Marty Brennaman if you want.

I want a Lou Pinella that will pick up the second base bag and throw it into the outfield. I want a Pete Rose that will knock Ray Fosse into the third row. This team doesn’t have enough fire to light a cigarette.

The Reds only have key players that could opt for free agency, Shin-Soo Choo and Bronson Arroyo. It wouldn’t bother me if they let them both go. Let Billy Hamilton play centerfield and there are plenty of arms to plug in for Arroyo. Just get me somebody with a little bad disposition.

The Dodgers season turned around when they added Yasiel Puig. You know what he would do? He would punch Dusty Baker in a heartbeat.

The Reds haven’t won a World Series since 1990. It’s not that long when consider the Cubs have been waiting since 1908. But watching this team play is like watching a season of scrimmages.