The Cincinnati Reds currently sit at 19-16 and are in third place in their division behind Pittsburgh and St. Louis, so why am I not worried? Well I have a few reasons, first and foremost its MAY 9! There's still a lot of baseball left to play and if you know anything about this division you know its a two horse race in the end. While the Pirates are a decent team its been years since they ended with a winning record and I don't see that changing. They're a first half team that sputters and dies away in the end. St. Louis of course is a perennial contender and will always be there to haunt us but I'm still not worried.
Which leads me to my next reason: The Reds have some great problems coming up. The first of those problems is what to do with Tony Cingrani when Johnny Cueto comes back. Obviously you can't send Cingrani down with a 2.63 ERA and a winning record. The Reds are formerly had a pretty negative streak of having 6 consecutive games without a quality start. That's not good. While the rotation was flat out amazing last year it might be time to blow it up. The most common name thrown around when fans talk about replacing someone in the rotation is Mike Leake. It's an easy answer to a complicated question, it's also unfortunately the wrong answer. After examining the rotation you notice there are two guys with an ERA over 4.00 that's Mike Leake and Bronson Arroyo. While I like Bronson I have noticed his age is catching up to him. Yes he has had two outings where he pitched eight innings and looked very good, those outings were against the Marlins and the Phillies, two teams you should beat every time you play them. Throw those starts out and you have one start of seven innings and the rest are either six or five. Now the problem is if you watch his games you'll notice that he starts to look tired after five innings. That's where the wheels seem to fall off for him in. In his seven starts he has allowed 16 runs before the sixth inning to give him a 4.30 ERA.
Compare that to Mike Leake's, whose stats are not much better, Mike has a 4.32 ERA and has allowed 15 runs before the 6th inning. These stats are very similar for two pitchers that are very and that's why my decision would be predicated on the one statistic that can't be decided by competition, age. Bronson is 36 and Mike 25, age is an uncontrollable element in any sport. Eventually time catches up with everyone, we've seen it in even the greatest players, and while he is a good player, Bronson has never been great so it's a natural progression. The dilemma that comes with age is that you can't justify sending down a pitcher that's 36 and has been a great starter for you year after year.
Now I'm not suggesting he be released or even traded, he's an integral part of the heart of this team. My answer to this question is sending Bronson to the bullpen. He's usually good within the first three innings so having him as the long reliever is a perfect role for him when Cueto comes back. He's also good to keep around if Leake can't right the ship or someone gets hurt, he'll be there to act as a tourniquet just in case.
The other problem the Reds have is whether to resign Choo at the end of the season, bring up Billy Hamilton, or release or not resign someone else. Choo is currently on an incredible hot streak with a .323 avg, .453 OBP, 15 RBI, 27 Runs, and 7 HR he's the Reds best hitter right now in arguably the most important position in the lineup, if he keeps this up you can't make a legitimate argument for not resigning him unless he wants way too much, which is possible since his agent is Scott Boris. Hamilton on the other hand is hitting .190 AVG, .254 OBP, 11 Runs, 22 H, 8 RBI, and no home runs and these are his AAA numbers. His SO are pretty good at 22 but again it's AAA number so add at least ten SO to that number. Hamilton hasn't figured out AAA pitching so why would you throw him to the wolves to try and figure out ML pitching right now. If you're insistent upon bringing him up though, you can choose to not resign Ludwick, considering he's not amazing down the stretch of course, and place Choo out in LF since he's not the strongest fielder this would lessen his affect on fielding and maximize his potential in the lead off role. If Ludwick does great down the stretch this gives you a serious dilemma, but for now lets deal with what we know.
We know that Choo has been magnificent, Cingrani has pitched great in his first few starts, and Leake and Arroyo have been pretty close to awful thus far. These are a couple different answers to some difficult questions that the Reds will have to answer, if not for this year then next year.