Since I’ve been old enough to follow Reds baseball, I’m not sure I remember the Reds going through a true rebuild before now.
Sure, there have been seasons where they’ve been hapless in one area, where they had some good pieces but the injury bug bit them, where the moves they made didn’t work out. I can’t remember the team doing a voluntary rebuild in that time, though. The “we need to stink now so we can be better in a couple of years” type of rebuild.
That’s the type of the rebuild the Reds tried to kick off after the 2014 season. Before 2015, the Reds hadn’t finished last in their division since 1983. They’ve finished last every year since, and sit firmly there as I write this.
As rebuilds go on, expectations come with it. Expectations are low early on. With a young team, you expect some growing pains. You expect some players to struggle, and some players to grow into their own. To the Reds’ credit, some have panned out to this point, like Eugenio Suarez and Luis Castillo, but as things have moved along, expectations dictate that a handful more than that should be farther along than they are.
Who’s accountable for that?
The candidate getting the most heat lately is Bryan Price, and it’s warranted. He came in with a reputation of being able to develop pitchers, and the Reds have a list of pitchers that we should be expecting more out of longer than any other team in baseball. Either the Reds are the unluckiest baseball team that’s ever set foot on a diamond, or they haven’t been developing pitchers. Whose job is that? Whose should it be?
What about the front office? They’re the ones who scouted these guys, and the ones making the deals to construct the roster. One thing that struck me about this rebuild that I don’t remember in my previous years of being a Reds fan in losing seasons is that this current regime didn’t really make any big league deals. They’ve been adamant that their course forward is from the young players within, and that acquisitions otherwise don’t really fit their strategy. That’s a fine perspective in Year 1 when you can lose a lot of games, but in Year 4, that act is wearing thin. It’s harder to justify trusting the process when the process isn’t yielding results.
At some point, are the underperforming players themselves going to be held accountable? At what point do the Reds take their current roster and actually test them? Why did the Reds give Tim Adleman more innings than anyone else on their staff last year when he was going to go pitch in Korea and they were still going to lose 94 games? Asher Wojciechowski and Lisalverto Bonilla combined for 99 innings last season!
If there isn’t a breaking point, things are going to stagnate while expectations rise. When a front office attempts a rebuild, there’s an understanding between them and the fan base that the fan base has to watch some pretty bad baseball, but they’ll be rewarded for their patience with good baseball. Have you seen anything out of this Reds team to make you think there’s good baseball in store for them this year? If not, when are the Reds going to turn things around? And if this isn’t what ownership and the front office envisioned, who’s going to be held accountable?