The Cincinnati Reds just put rotation stalwart Sonny Gray on the injured list with a groin injury, placed resident bullpen filthiness Tejay Antone on the injured list with a forearm issue, and moved former top prospect slash swiss army knife Nick Senzel onto the 60-day injured list as his knee surgery recovery progresses slowly.
And now, MLB Trade Rumors is already running this:
That’s because good teams shop for good baseball players when they’re playing well, in theory.
Of course, the Reds are also in the heart of their best stretch of baseball of the season, having run the St. Louis Cardinals out of Busch and into the throes of 4th place while also sweeping the Colorado Rockies in the midst of an impressive 8-2 stretch, one that coincided with me stating plainly that it was the most ‘put up, or shut up’ week of the season. And now, all of a sudden, this week’s matchups with the potent Milwaukee Brewers and star-studded San Diego Padres actually carry meaning once again, with the Reds now entering the week as a rare above .500 version of themselves.
That’s it. That’s the dichotomy of what this particular franchise is right now, again. On the cusp of something worth going for with fresh success fueling the fire, yet still an overriding sense that there’s no search and rescue team out looking for them at the moment. Despite Sonny, and Tejay, and Michael, and Nick, and Moose all being shelved indefinitelyl, there just isn’t any sense that the front office has the backing from their owners to actually throw a lifeline to the players who’ve been performing dutifully on the field.
In Nick Castellanos and Jesse Winker, the Reds have the most potent 1-2 offensive punch of any club in the game right now. Rookies Jonathan India and Tyler Stephenson have settled into quite solid regulars, while Joey Votto has returned from the injured list with some much needed thunder. Tyler Naquin has proven to be a bargain-bin revelation backing the indubitable top of the order, and even Luis Castillo has begun to show glimpses he may have the ability to finish this season the way we’d wished he’d been pitching all along, something that would dovetail wonderfully with the mix of starters they’ve lined up - rookies and all.
Still, this team needs some help. All good teams need help, that’s why there’s a damn trade deadline every year in the first place. This particular Reds club, you’ll recall, was actually once an ambitious project, one that splashed record cash in free agency on Moose and Nick and Wade Miley and Shogo Akiyama, one that swung deals to add Trevor Bauer and Archie Bradley to try to win games once upon a very, very recent time. The question, though, is whether this most recent run of form - a run that was vital just to even be able to begin to ask if this team might consider being buyers at the deadline - is enough to prompt the team’s frugal owners to find it in their
hearts wallets to try to make this even more special.
Or, will this just be another stand-pat special from this club? Will they settle for the allure of ‘not being sellers’ to be enough to lift the spirits of what fans remain? I do suppose we didn’t give up even though we were outnumbered and surrounded and 5.0 games back in the Central is a feather in the cap to some, even if reinforcements were just around the corner for a fee.
What I do know is that this very, very flawed team has some very, very talented performers, and an already-tapped supplement of youth that’s showing itself capable of providing much-needed spark. Vlad Gutierrez and Tony Santillan have stepped right into dazzling the way their upside said they’d do on occasion, though there will still be enough bumps on their roads that they, too, need reinforcing. The bullpen...the bullpen, man, needs four fresh tires and an oil change twice before the end of this race, and that’s precisely where a team with any intentions of making noise this season should be shopping.
Anyway, the week that could’ve sent the Reds entire season splashing into the toilet has come and gone, and they played their asses off in that time. They won big games, they beat up on a bad team, they did most all of the things a team that needs to be fighting for its season should do. Now, they just need what all other good teams need over the course of the grueling six-month regular season - help from their roster overlords to get through it. They’ve showed they’re worthy of help, damnit, and it’d be nice to see them get that.