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The defining week of this Cincinnati Reds season

This is it.

Pittsburgh Pirates v. Cincinnati Reds Photo by Alex Trautwig/MLB via Getty Images

Five games under .500.

Fourth place in the division.

Joey Votto rehabbing a busted thumb in AAA, Mike Moustakas and Nick Senzel still weeks away, and no news of note on Michael Lorenzen.

Seven straight games against a pair of teams with sights on the postseason, including four on the road against the team that’s haunted this franchise for years.

I’d say it’s just about time we discovered exactly what this iteration of the Cincinnati Reds is going to be. After all, we know it’s owned and operated by a group of folks who clearly put their pocketbooks as top billing the last chance they had, with an offseason dedicated to shedding salary in any and all manners possible. Are we really to believe that anything that’s happened in the handful of months since that disaster of an offseason has changed in terms of priorities? If winning games is already second priority to profits and it becomes increasingly clear this group isn’t going to do much winning, doesn’t that mean the clock’s inching ever closer to making sure the most profits are locked in for this season?

At 24-29, the Reds have 53 games in the books, and after the 4 in St. Louis this weekend and the 3 against Milwaukee to begin next week, they’ll have crossed the 60 game threshold. They’re already a full 7.0 games back of the Chicago Cubs, and anything less than a rousing miracle in the next week will see them buried even further in the standings. Knowing how itchy the finger on the button is at the top, it’s pretty well make or break time for this team as currently constituted.

They’ve got some good trade chips, after all. That several of them are making good money at the moment might seem like a hindrance on the surface, but with this club it’s probably the inverse - it might mean they might not bring back a ton in return, but it also might mean the desire to move them is more fervent. Nick Castellanos is having an MVP-caliber season after all, and might end up a free agent at season’s end as a result of that and the opt-out clause in his contract. Wade Miley has already tossed a no-hitter this year, while Sonny Gray pretty consistently shows he’s capable of leading most any staff in the game.

What are the odds a team that’s, say, 7 games under .500 in mid-June is going to hang on to them all, especially with the most recent moves mandated by this owner?

That’s where this club is right now. That’s the week ahead, one that once again might decide whether our focus can be on the roster on the field for the rest of the season or if we must set our sights again on the future to envision any sort of success again.

It all begins tonight with rookie Vladimir Gutierrez on the mound in Busch III.