Maybe the first month of the season has been a fluke, but as things stand right now I have to say that I'm more pessimistic than optimistic when it comes to the 2008 Cincinnati Reds. I'm pretty sure we're not going to be seeing a cover like the one above this November. Here's my reasoning:
- Paul Bako is going to get a lot worse. All the credit in the world to the guy for what he's done so far, but he's going to be 36 in June and he has a lifetime OPS+ of 64. He's never slugged over .358 in his career, and he's currently at .507 for the season. A lot of 0-3s are on the way.
- Brandon Phillips, Edwin Encarnacion, Joey Votto, and Jeff Keppinger have all been as good as we could have hoped, so I don't see improvement coming from those three.
- Aaron Harang probably is going to fall back to earth a little bit. I'm holding out some hope that he's on his way to a career year, but more than likely he's going to finish at his customary 3.75 or so ERA, which means he's been pitching over his head for the first month.
- Ken Griffey Jr. might be simply slumping, but he is killing the Reds hitting third. Griffey and then Phillips seems like it's an automatic two outs time after time after time.
- The bullpen, for being a Reds bullpen, has been great. Todd Coffey was really bad, but that problem's been fixed. I can't see it getting much better.
- The rotation, for being a Reds rotation, has also been great. I think Arroyo (assuming he's not hurt or anything) will get a lot better, but if the Reds aren't winning now with how decent the pitching has been than that doesn't bode well for the future.
- The roster construction this season is probably the poorest I have ever seen, which is pretty amazing given the past seven years. Any of the current problems would be excusable if they were singular, but when you add up the two lefthanded firstbaseman, the three catchers (Javier Valentin has had 6 at bats since April 17th), carrying Freel and Hopper, and then Freel and Hairston ... it's just too much. Pretty much every team is going to have weak spots, but the Reds seem to actively seek them out. Corey Patterson hitting leadoff and playing center field day in and day out is another great example.
This isn't the end of the world. A lot of smart people have been pointing towards 2009 as the Reds year to start contending again. But while I know that's always made sense, I still had hope that things might fall the Reds way in 2008. Not looking like that's going to happen.