I rolled into work last Wednesday around 8 am. To my surprise, the Reds were hosting one of their tryout camps on the field that the company I work for owns. As I pulled up, I joked with a few people that I was going to dust off my bat and glove and show the scouts what I had to offer (which isn’t much). One of the guys I was chatting with replied “can’t be any worse than what the Reds have right now”.
I thought about it for a second and laughed it off. A little later, it hit me that some people out there still have the perception that the Reds are a bad baseball team. I get that a lot of people don’t pay attention to the Reds as close as us here at Redleg Nation do, but after so many BAD years and uninspiring teams, this year’s 2019 version is a departure from the recent standard – and that counts for something.
No, the Reds aren’t leading the division and no; they don’t even have a winning record – but do we realize how far this team has come? At this point last year the Reds were 21-41 and 16 games back of first place. Fast forward to June 5th 2019 and the Reds are currently 28-32 and 5.5 games back of first place – hardly out of it. This is all without one of their best offensive players from last year.
The Reds currently have the second best team ERA in the NL. They just placed second in the NL in runs scored for the month of May and had a team OPS of .771 (top 5 in the NL). They have really good, fun, young players. A lot of organizations would kill for a youngish, cheap core made up of Nick Senzel, Joey Votto, Eugenio Suarez, Jesse Winker, Luis Castillo and Sonny Gray.
Sometimes we (including myself) get caught up and lose perspective about what this season was supposed to be. Many of us are craving a 10 game win streak and a first place take over. That in itself is a departure from the recent norm and something to be satisfied about. It means that this team isn’t completely out of it by the start of June. It means that this Reds team is better than Reds teams of recent past. No, it’s not complacency – it’s a step in the right direction.
I went into this season looking to use it as a measuring stick to affirm the rebuild was over. I wanted to see a better team and a team that competed with other good teams. That may sound like an over simplification, but the Reds have completely delivered on that notion so far this year.
The Reds may not win the division or make the playoffs this year, but this season is proving to be a step to get there. Some of you may say with bullheaded narrow-mindedness that “the goal every year should be to win a World Series”. That’s just not realistic with how this league is setup anymore.
You may remember when the Reds hovered around .500 for a couple years before their breakout 90 win season in 2010. This season kind of feels like 2008-2009 all over again – a team with a young core that isn’t quite seasoned enough. It took a couple years for that team to get its footing in place. You can kind of see the same thing going on with this 2019 team.
You may be worried about all the one year players leaving at the end of this year, but the fact remains: most of the good players on this team are in it for the long haul. Yes, one year players like Jose Iglesias, Tanner Roark, and other bullpen pieces have contributed. The Reds are more than capable of bringing those players back beyond 2019, though. Other than those players, are the Reds really going to miss Yasiel Puig and his below average play? If anything they could upgrade. Alex Wood hasn’t even stepped on the field. The argument that the window is somehow closed after this year is a narrow minded one.
So, the next time you get frustrated over the Reds winning a game and then losing a game…and then winning two games and losing two games – remember what it was like losing 10 games in a row just a year ago. Remember what it was like running guys like Tim Adleman, Sal Romano, and Scott Feldman out there every fifth day.
The Reds have a front office we can now trust, a good-young core, and a solid coaching staff. They are further away from the start and closer to the finish line. The Reds are finally better.