Over the weekend, it was hard to ignore the fact that there are already some negative or worrying storylines around the Reds early in Spring Training. Plenty of fans are concerned that Nick Senzel won’t be on the Opening Day roster signaling that the team has motives more important than putting the best product on the field. Marty is in mid-season form knocking Cody Reed’s development from last season (after seeing him pitch for all of...one inning). There’s still hand wringing over whether the front office should have done more for the roster this offseason. It seemed as if everywhere you looked, there were concerns with this baseball team.
Not only that, but someone might realistically look at the NL Central and conclude that even with all of the upgrades the Reds made, they’re still likely looking up at three other teams in this division. The Cubs are still the Cubs, the Cardinals added two of the best players in baseball, and Milwaukee got even better after a surprising 2018. Even if Cincinnati is better than they’ve been the past few years, it’s probably not enough to crack the top half of the division.
A fan could easily look at 2019 and be frustrated by what they see ahead. There will be continued questioning of the front office, continue criticism of the players by Marty, and in all likelihood, a sixth-straight season without a post-season appearance by the Reds. How’s that for putting a damper on a season that hasn’t even gotten started yet?
However, during this first week of March, every Reds’ fan should slow down, take a deep breath, and enjoy the moment we’re in right now. Not simply because Spring Training is a time to dream about what could be, but because the Cincinnati Reds are about to put the most interesting product on the field that we’ve seen since 2013. That’s reason enough to enjoy this moment fans find themselves in right now.
Before the promise of spring gives way to the dog days of summer, we need to take a second and enjoy:
- The fact that over the past two weeks, we’ve watched a major league player lick a bunch of baseball bats, sing in his car, go to a Super Bowl party, walk around downtown Cincinnati in the most entertaining way possible, and genuinely seem happy to be a Red. Some fans might have concerns with his potential on-field production, even though he’s coming off of one of his better offensive seasons in recent years, but it’s hard to ignore the fact that Yasiel Puig is simply an entertaining person to have around. If wins are going to be hard to come by, at least be fun to watch. Puig goes a long way toward making that a possibility for Reds’ fans this season.
- There are lots of things that could go wrong, but this front office has assembled the deepest and most talented group of pitchers that have been on this roster since the Reds’ recent playoff runs. Nothing ever works out perfectly in baseball, but a rotation featuring Gray, Wood, Castillo, Roark, and DeSclafani has the potential to be competitive every single day this season. Sure, injuries could happen. Someone from that group will likely underperform, but for the first time in years a pitching rotation has been assembled that doesn’t automatically mean the team is losing games three out of every five days. That’s improvement, and it adds that much more hope to 2019.
- We get to watch Joey Votto play baseball for another year.
- That we’re witnessing the blossoming of a star in Eugenio Suarez. Yes, he stumbled down the stretch last season, but there are plenty of signs that what we witnessed last season wasn’t simply a lucky couple of months. Suarez has shown real development as a hitter, and if he takes another step forward in 2019, Cincinnati could have a middle-of-the-order multiple time All-Star on their hands...all for the price of Alfredo Simon.
There are plenty of other things to enjoy right now. The coming of Nick Senzel. The electric arm of Raisel Iglesias. The name recognition and star power that players like Matt Kemp have brought to Cincinnati. For the first time in a long time, the baseball world is talking about the Reds, for reasons other than an inept pitching staff. This is a solid major league roster with plenty of positive storylines to go around heading in to 2019.
Could this season go wildly wrong? Of course it could, this is baseball. But for the moment, let’s stop and enjoy what we have right now. That’s not to say there aren’t issues that we should be worried about, but on the first week of March in 2019 the Cincinnati Reds have taken steps forward, and they’re going to put a better product on the field than they have in years. Let’s not forget to take a moment, sit back, and enjoy where we are right now, because right now is pretty good.