I think I do a lot of ragging on Paul Daugherty around here, so it seems fair that I point out a time when I agree with him:
What if the halves had been reversed? What if Jerry Narron's team started 51-31, and not vice versa, then tumbled to 60-70, its record before Tuesday's doubleheader? We might not be praising the manager, mentioning a division title race or suggesting this team is closer to contending than had been imagined.
Same record. Different spin.
Don't be fooled.
This year's 78 or 79 wins will be about the same as last year's 80.
It will suggest the Reds got no better last offseason, a suggestion made in this space last winter, after the club made a big deal of signing Aaron Harang and Bronson Arroyo.
If the team interprets a strong finish as a sign of marked improvement, look for 78 or 79 wins next year, too.
This has been a really long year, and while I've really enjoyed the last month or so I'd rather not repeat it. Krivsky needs to realize that some serious changes need to be made for this team to have any shot next season, changes that go beyond simply adding a couple of relievers.
There's a lot to be excited about going forward. This is quite honestly a team full of players entering their prime. Check out the ages by position:
1B: 38 if it's Hatteberg, but just 24 if they play Votto
SS: 31 (A-Gon) or 28 (Keppinger)
CF: 27 (assuming it's Hamilton)
Then you've got Jay Bruce waiting in the wings who's just 21 years old. That is a lot of guys hanging around the magic age of 27, with a couple of older players in Hatteberg and Griffey who can still produce.
Then you look at the bullpen and there's some relative youth there as well:
Bray - 24
McBeth - 27
Burton - 26
Coutlangus - 27
The bullpen is fixable if Krivsky can repeat his success with Jared Burton, but it's the rotation that is really the problem. Homer Bailey is still too young to really count on which leaves Harang and Arroyo. Maybe Bailey turns out ok next year which would put the Reds in decent shape in the weak NL Central, but realistically I think Wayne is going to have to find two starters for the rotation before even worrying about the revolving door fifth spot. That is a tall order for a guy who has missed as often as Krivsky has.
I get where people are coming from with the renewed optimism lately. I feel it myself, and I've actually come around on the idea that Krivsky deserves another year to implement his grand plan (assuming there is one), but I still find it rough to hope for anything spectacular as long as the starting pitching cupboard is so bare. That is what needs to be the focus this offseason, and I only hope Krivsky doesn't get sidetracked too much with the bullpen or with the Adam Dunn option question.