Playoff hopes

At the beginning of this season I had the utmost confidence in the Reds offense. The lineup was fierce, and it never felt like the Reds were out of it. And they weren't. Late comebacks were the norm. It was fun to watch.

That offense was combined with suddenly competent starting pitching, and all of a sudden the Reds had a shot, something I don't think any of us really expected. The bullpen was broken, but I figured that's the cheapest part of a team to fix, Krivsky would work some magic and the Reds would be full steam ahead for the postseason.

At this point in the season I distrust the offense. The bottom third of the order is a guaranteed three outs most nights.

At this point in the season I distrust the starting pitching. Besides Aaron Harang everyone has come back to earth. It's still far better than I ever would have expected last offseason, but it's margin of error has gotten awfully thin lately.

At this point in the season I distrust the bullpen. Sure, it's improved. But Narron doesn't know how to use it, and it still seems to me like the Reds are always a bad move away from blowing a lead.

In the past month the Reds have gone from being 2/3 of a solid team to being a team in shambles. I've tried to maintain a certain level of optimism around here, so I haven't mentioned the run differential, but I think it's probably past time.

The Reds have now scored 546 runs and allowed 581. They've gone from having the best offense in the National League in 2005 to having the seventh best offense in the NL. From tops to middling. And they've gone from having the worst pitching in the NL to ... having the second worst pitching in the NL.

This is not a playoff team. It hasn't been a playoff team since Krivsky traded Kearns and Lopez to the Washington Nationals. And it's a damn shame because I think they might have made it if Wayne had simply stood pat on that move and made all the other trades he's made. 2006 is going to be remembered as a lost opportunity.

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