It's probably time to hang up the tired refrain about the Reds being stuck in neutral, just a key acquisition or win streak away from restoring their 2010 birthright. Trade deadline debates are always fun - and it's an interesting discussion about what parts the Reds are unlucky, un-clutch or simply un-good - but 102 games says that this is a middling baseball team. They've played two games below .500 to date and are 5-5 since the All Star Break. The team's longest win streak on the season is five, which has happened twice - both times before mid-May. Things could have turned out differently, but they didn't.
The Reds have really made two major personnel changes not prompted by the DL.The late, but successful move to improve one of the Reds' glaring weaknesses - shortstop offense - has been reset until at least early August. On July 26, the Reds are sitting on no immediately obvious net improvement over the first half. Which is probably compounded by things like injuries, now and future, and an over-taxed, mismanaged bullpen. So I think it's too late to talk about the Reds playing .500 ball as if it's not their natural state.
But it's still to early to say the Reds are incapable of playing better in their last 60 games than their first 102. The pitching will almost certainly be better, with Willis, Leake and an improved Homer Bailey essentially swapping out for bad innings from Volquez, Wood and a DL-bound Homer Bailey. Third base is probably a tick above where it was in the first half, depending on what you think of Frazier/Cairo's defense. And the schedule gets easier in August and September, allowing the Reds to cash in on that third-order win percentage. I can't delude myself into thinking any longer that this is enough to alchemize the chronic 4th place/3-5 GB hole into first place gold, but it's a surprising game. And Walt can be a mighty surprising executive sometimes.
|2011 - Johnny Cueto||6-3||13||14||2||0||0||0||95.2||66||26||21||5||30||56||1.98||1.00|
|2011 - Jon Niese||9-8||22||20||0||0||0||0||124.1||127||62||52||10||37||105||3.76||1.32|