John Fay writes a pretty darn good article in this AM’s Enquirer on why the Reds have the basis for a solid young team.

So are the Reds better than they were a year ago?

Yes, very much so.

That said, they will go into the offseason with the same huge question mark about starting pitching they had after last season. Additionally, they have to find an answer at closer.

First, let’s look at why they’re better than they were last year.

Look at the left side of the infield. A year ago, the Reds had no long-range solution at shortstop or third base. Now, they have a 25-year-old All-Star in Felipe Lopez at shortstop and a 22-year-old All-Star prospect in Edwin Encarnacion at third base.

The year Lopez has had clearly has been the biggest and best news of this season. He could be a consistent All-Star at SS and there is no reason to believe that Encarnacion isn’t the “real deal”.

But he also points out that the main problem that is left (starting pitching) won’t be easy to solve.

But unless the starting pitching improves, the Reds will be in the same position in ’06 as they are now – looking up from the bottom of the National League Central.

It’s not an easy problem to fix, largely because the Reds owe so much money to Eric Milton and Paul Wilson.

Unless Milton finds his old form and Wilson gets healthy, there’s no readily apparent solution.

Aaron Harang is solid most every start. Brandon Claussen is developing into a reliable No. 4 or 5 starter.

No one is sure who the real Luke Hudson is – the guy who was dominant last year, or the guy who has been dominated this year?

To turn the club into a contender, the Reds have to find a way to get a No. 1 guy to lead the rotation.

If that’s going to happen, it’s going to have to happen through a trade. Ownership isn’t likely to pony up for a free agent after the way the Milton signing turned out.

The best chip the Reds have for a trade is a young outfielder. That they were so reluctant to move one at the deadline tells me they want to trade Wily Mo Peña in the offseason.

Peña, unlike Dunn, has little value to contending teams because he’s streaky. But a rebuilding club might want him for next year because of his potential.

Exactly. The only thing I would add is that the reason for Pena’s inconsistency is his lack of selectivity at the plate. He’s the one you trade for pitching, but he isn’t going to bring a #1 starter. You’re going to have to package him with other players.

You have to hope that Harang and Claussen continue to develop, Hudson regains his ’04 form and that other answers can be found. I just don’t see them being able to bring in a #1 starter.

2 Responses

  1. Glenn

    As hard as it has been to watch the Reds this year, I don’t think they are that far away from being a contender. Its probably no more than 3-4 competent pitchers. Two reliable starters and two reliable relief pitchers and this team would be competitive.
    I don’t forsee Wilson ever recovering to be the #3 starter he should have been. He never really was talented enough to be a #1. I think Milton’s done in Cincy. I think the Reds will eat a good bit of his salary and trade him back to the American League in the off season.

  2. Steve Checkosky

    It’s too bad something couldn’t have been worked out for Sergio Mitre. He’s been inconsistent for the Cubs but has a live arm and one of the most extreme “ground ball” profiles in MLB. A perfect fit for GABP and a possible project for Ruhle. He’s going nowhere with the Cubs.