John Fay seems to think so:

I’m about to write my year in review for Baseball America, so I was kind going back over the year in my head. It was a lot like the previous seven years. The Reds came in with high hopes, looked good at times but were pretty much out of it by the time summer started.

But the status quo changed over the that 11-day period in which Ken Griffey Jr. and Adam Dunn were traded. In those two moves, the Reds said they were embracing the youth movement. I think fans for the most part bought into it and saw it as a step in the right direction.

What do you think? Are the Reds headed in the right direction?

I hesitate even to answer that question. I’ve tried to be optimistic over the last seven years, and before each season, I would have probably said the Reds were headed in the right direction. I wasn’t right a single time, I guess.

This team has been spiralling downward for the last decade. Is there any reason to believe that the Reds are finally moving in the right direction? Or are we just deluding ourselves to believe that the losing days are about to end?

25 Responses

  1. Phill

    I think the positives are better than they have been in years. I would say the Reds are headed in the right direction but nobody can know. I’ll reserve a realistic judgement of the team until at least spring training is about to begin. Need to see just how Walt handles the first offseason.

  2. Fire Dusty NOW

    Jay Bruce, Joey Votto, Johnny Cueto, Edinson Volquez, Brandon Phillips, Edwin Encarnacion, Ryan Hanigan, and maybe Chris Dickerson.

    When was the last time we had a group of young players with tremendous talent and potential? I sure as hell can’t remember. We definitely are heading in the right direction. I don’t think we’re capable of pulling a Rays type turnaround, but we definitely can contend if we don’t give Baker the chance to misuse the roster like he did all of last year.

  3. Sultan of Swaff

    If you only look at the starting pitching, there’s enough there to be encouraged about. And yet we also have a solid young nucleus of position players (Votto, Bruce, Phillips, money to spend, and a real farm system (uh, right Doug?). All this may not translate into wins, but it does translate into hope.

  4. Mark T

    Frankly, the Griffey-Dunn era had to end – it does free up enough payroll to fill some holes, maybe land some right-handed power. But 2009 – 500 season as a goal? Would be nice.

  5. Y-City Jim

    I’d be more convinced if Baker wasn’t the manager.

    BTW, how his Little League team doing?

  6. justcorbly

    I’m one of those that thinks a manager has minimal inpact on a team’s record, save deciding when to pull the starter. (And that’s almost automatic when you’re counting pitches.)

    The departure of Griffey and Dunn can best be interpreted as the departure of two players whose ablities to produce victories were in no way commensurate with the size of the salary pie they took.

    The Reds are in a market that prohibits paying estabished stars — Griffey and Dunn — hat they can secure elsewhere. They didn’t win with Griffey and Dunn, so the logic of dumping them and spreading the money around seems unassailable.

    Pitcing was better in 2008. A few kids did not disappoint. Progress will continue, slowly.

  7. Glenn

    I definately like the youth movement, but the Reds need at least two bats, preferably from the right side to make this lineup competitive. Lastly, for the love of pete, please can we get a catcher on this roster that can hit his own weight? I’m sick and tired of these “pitch and catch” guys. If you can’t hit, stay in AAA!

  8. Y-City Jim

    Fay writes for Baseball America?

  9. Kevin

    Is John Fay allowed to say otherwise? If the leadership of a team is saying they’re going to be contenders next year, it’s certainly the press’s job to push the idea in order to help with ratings and attendance. That being said, I think that if Jocketty is particularly wily and does an outstanding job this offseason, I think we’ll have a chance. I think defense is a big part of this.

    The increasing consensus on some of the blogs is picking up Beltre. I would think that move would be a good start, and along with a couple of other moves, I think we’d be close. That seems like a good move and a lot of people are saying it…I’d like to see Jocketty outsmart us and do something even better, since he’s a GM and we’re not. Beltre’s 12 million is a little bit of a stinker. But, if he just as smart as the blogosphere and goes for Beltre and Furcal or something like that, I’d be happy.

    That being said, EdE is underrated I think and I want him to stay, albeit in left field. To me he is a vital part of our “youth movement” and it’s a travesty to me that Brandon Phillips gets mentioned as part of our youth movement and EdE keeps getting left off the list. He’s a year younger and is better offensively. He’s one of the last people I want to see traded. I’d get rid of Phillips (overrated) before EdE (underrated).

  10. per14

    Lot of BS in these comments mostly directed at Dunn. Like it was his fault the Reds weren’t winning. Sheish.

    If you take a broad view, they are on the right direction. A lot of young good pitching. Some good young hitters. And it seems, at least, the organization is finally acting with one mind. But trading your most productive player for pennies on the dollar is a serious swerve off the right direction.

    (Note: I didn’t say trading your most productive player; I said trading him FOR pennies on the dollar. It’s the combination that really turned me off to the Reds’ management. Either pay him what he is worth or get rid of him at a time when you can get good return for him.)

    So, yes, they are on the right direction, but they could have been much further down that road had they handled the Dunn situation a lot better.

  11. John of Muncie

    Dunn and Griffey were not the reason why the Reds have had 8 straight losing seasons. It’s a logical fallacy to assume as much.

    The real reason is the organization’s tight-wad approach to building a pitching staff and surrounding those two players with other players who know how to win. You can’t just have Griffey and Dunn in your lineup and put Jimmy Anderson or Paul Wilson or Jimmy Haynes or Dan Serafini or the Mexican League Reclamation Project of the Week on the mound.

    You also can’t look at a team playing .200 ball in May and not make a move, but they’ve done that two years in a row.

    Did Griffey slow down and suffer a numbers drop the last few years? Sure. Did Dunn strike out a lot? Sure.

    But neither of them pitch. That’s been the problem in Cincinnati since the 1990s.

  12. justcorbly

    Kevin, I’m sure Fay and every other sports writer in town would be surprised to learn that they are required to “push” the the notion that the Reds will be contender. Their job is to report and, for some, to write opinion pieces.

    per14: I haven’t noticed anyone bashing Dunn. I took the trade to mean the team is n-o-t going to use an open checkbook to build a contender. Someone decided that the cost of keeping Dunn was too high a price to pay. The Reds aren’t the first team to dump an expensive player because they can’t afford to keep him. They won’t be the last.

    And it will happen almost every time the Reds get a youngster who blossoms into the $15-$20 million range after a few years in town. We all just need to get used to it.

    Teams like the Reds cannot afford to field a starting lineup of players capable of commanding that kind of high salary.

  13. per14

    You’re right: I overreached. Only comments 4 and 6 blamed Dunn for the Reds’ problems. I shouldn’t have made such a blanket statement.

    But I stand by my assertion. The management set the organization back probably a year by mishandling the Dunn situation. They should have either signed him to a long-term deal or traded him last off-season (or the one before, even) and gotten good players back for him.

  14. Aaron B.

    Beltre???? What a friggin bum he is. Nobody who ever saw Beltre as a Dodger is pushing this idea. He’d be a disaster.

  15. NickP

    You obviously don’t value defense, Aaron.

    And the Reds have had one of the worst in the league for a few years in a row now. Maybe that’s why our pitchers look so poor.

  16. justcorbly

    per14: Number 6 is mine. How can that be read as blaming Dunn for the Reds’ problems? I didn’t say anything about the quality of Dunn’s performance. In fact I counted him among the “established stars.”

    I did say that Dunn and Griffey did not produce victories in keeping with their salaries. And that’s a simple fact. The Reds paid Griffey and Dunn all that money and still had terrible records. That’s not a reflection on Dunn or Griffey. It’s a reflection on owners and managers who thought fielding one or two highly paid stars was the ticket to success.

    Unless the Reds start to spend like a wealthy team, they simply can’t achieve success by building a team with players with the market value of Dunn and Griffey. They will lose most successful players sometime after each such player has been with the team for four to six years.

    I agree that the Reds got zip in return for Dunn, but I didn’t expect much more. The trade was a salary dump and everyone knew it.

  17. Josh

    How is Owings and others “nothing”? He’s not Cy Young OR Babe Ruth, but he still has the chance to be a fairly solid contributor for the Reds. Are people pissed he wasn’t traded for Lincecum or Matt Holiday or something?

    Let’s be realistic…the Reds weren’t going to get that much for him even if they traded him in May or after last season. It just wasn’t going to happen. I’m pleased with the guys we got for him…its far more than I expected. Buck was a potential 1st rounder two years ago and now he’s about a year removed from Tommy J surgery. He can still be a great asset in a year or two.

    I’m happy with the direction of the team, not necessarily pleased that we lost Dunner, but I’m pleased in general.

  18. per14

    Owings, besides his ability to hit, is a marginal MLB starter. A number 5, maybe a number 4. The rest of the “haul” is pretty marginal as well.

    I was referencing this: “They didn’t win with Griffey and Dunn, so the logic of dumping them and spreading the money around seems unassailable.”

    I don’t think that logic is unassailable.

    Anyway, I didn’t mean to turn this thread into a re-discussion of Dunn and his trade. Lord knows that’s been discussed enough. I read things that seemed to be a reiteration of the logical fallacies that surrounded past criticisms of Dunn, so I reacted.

    To answer the question: Yes, they are mostly going in the right direction.

  19. Erik

    why the Reds are headed in the right direction: joey votto, jay bruce, johnny cueto, and edinson volquez.

    thats something we havent had the last 7 years.

  20. Matt Steele

    I agree with just about everything that per14 has said in this post

  21. Dan

    Even if Owings is an average 4 or 5 starter, that is a HUGE upgrade for the Reds.

    I forget where I read this, but the Reds 5th starters (I think they used Fogg, Bailey, and Thompson… maybe Belisle too?) combined to go something other-worldly like 3-17 with a 7.61 ERA.

    Even if you change that to, say, 8-12 with a 5.00 ERA, that’s a 5-game improvement right there.

  22. Dan

    And who knows… maybe they “bought low” on Dallas Buck. I do think it’s possible — the timing is about right (about a year removed from TJ surgery).

  23. Dan

    In general, here’s what I for one am looking for:

    I’d like to see the Reds making real attempts to “buy low” on guys (regardless of position… Phillips and Hamilton are the 2 best examples of this from the Krivsky days).

    “Buying low” in some clever trades is the ONLY way to bring in guys who can be really good and also cheap for a little while.

    If the Reds emphasize “proven” players (I hear that word WAY too much out of Castellini), you’re pretty much automatically “buying high.”

    In my opinion, this is the A-number-1 thing to watch for. Buying high on “proven” players is a good way to guarantee long-term mediocrity. The only way to buy high and be a great team is if you have $150-200 million to throw at it, like the Yankees used to be able to do.

  24. daedalus

    Chad, you and I are in the same optimism boat. Mine ran out halfway through last summer, and when Dunn was traded, well, I actually didn’t go to a Reds game for two months because of it. While I still feel the 2009 team could be good, I no longer feel that same sense of optimism I’ve had for the last couple of years.

    Of course, this off season could change that, barring that my soul isn’t irreparable after being torn to shreds over this last season.

  25. preach

    Owings, besides his ability to hit, is a marginal MLB starter. A number 5, maybe a number 4. The rest of the “haul” is pretty marginal as well.

    I think he’s better than that, but even if this statement is true, for many, many seasons that would have made him our opening day starter…..
    His hitting ability makes him a viable 4, or even a possible 3.

    Stack starters.