Last night was the kind of gut-punch loss that can happen to most any team: the Reds were playing in rain-delayed, rainy conditions at poorly-lit Wrigley field, missing their best player and regular third baseman, with their weakest starter on the mound.
But the loss (and the losing streak) revealed some of the flaws in a team with something of an over-inflated self-image after their recent hot streak. The Cubs have a terrible offense and a weak bullpen. Chris Volstad has been a terrible pitcher this year. Yet the Reds lost a game to this team by a score of 5-3. They've averaged 2.2 runs scored per game over their 5-game losing streak.
They can't go back to before the trade deadline and acquire any number of bats that seemed to be going for less than expected. But they can make a few changes to improve the team:
Release Miguel Cairo
Probably the most obvious move for baseball reasons, if also the most difficult otherwise. By all accounts, Cairo is a hard worker and valued clubhouse presence. But he's hurting the team, especially with Joey Votto out. His bat has noticeably slowed and his range diminished. He'd likely make a good coach, he just has no business on a contending team's bench that already houses Wilson Valdez, much less making back-to-back starts.
Last night's game brought his season line, in 108 PA, to .154/.176/.212. Contending teams have summarily DFA'd better players, earlier. Mike Fontenot would make an able replacement. So would Lyle Overbay.
Call up JJ Hoover
I don't think Logan Ondrusek necessarily has to go. His problem is partly in his usage. Why bring him into the highest-leverage situation in the game when you have Broxton and a well-rested Chapman? But JJ Hoover has been slicing it up in Louisville. Since coming over from Gwinnett:
1.41 ERA, 0.719 WHIP, 13.2 K/9, 3.2 BB/9, 3.4 H/9.
Try to find a replacement for Wilson Valdez
I say "try" because if you think the team always needs to have a true second SS, it's not that easy to find one - especially after the deadline. Didi isn't ready and neither is BIlly. You have to search the waiver wire - on which the Reds hold the last position in the NL.
If, however, you're be fine with Frazier and Fontentot as the back-up/emergency SS for 20 days before rosters expand, the Reds could then go out and get any bat they wanted.