Beat writers are always behind the fans when it comes to the frustration curve. They’re less personally invested than we are, first and foremost. And while we’ve all watched the same number of games (162 a year), they likely feel they’ve “seen it all,” to some degree. And maybe there’s an element of relationship preservation going on with their sources.

That said, this season, the summer heat, and the overall goofiness surrounding this organization, has finally gotten to the beat writers. John Fay has an excellent column in today’s Enquirer, about the Reds split personality (trade veteran Weathers, add veteran Rolen; play Laynce Nix, while Wladimir Balentien rides pine and Drew Stubbs marinates in Louisville).

I thought Balentien would be in the lineup every day for the rest of the year. He’s 25. He was a big-time prospect at one time. He seemed worth an extended look with a Reds on a slow train to nowhere.

“He’s playing tomorrow,” Reds manager Dusty Baker said before Saturday’s game. “You can’t play everybody.”

Baker went into an explanation about how left-handed hitters hit Washington’s starter J.D. Martin better than right-handers like Balentien. Laynce Nix got the start.

That, to me, is a microcosm of the Reds’ problem. They can never give up completely on a season, or even a game, for a chance to be better in the future.

This philosophy comes right from the top. That’s why the Reds traded for third baseman Scott Rolen. That move told you that CEO Bob Castellini thinks the club can win in 2010.

The Reds added a high-priced veteran at the deadline, but they’ve since traded away David Weathers and Alex Gonzalez.

That’s a bit of a mixed message.

But when you’re 14 games out on Aug. 15, it’s time to look to the future.
After Gonzalez was traded away, they brought up Kevin Barker from Louisville. Barker was having a good year. But he’s 34.

Drew Stubbs, one of the Reds’ top prospects, remains at Louisville.

Hal McCoy isn’t pulling punches, either. Here’s his blog on the same Balentin conversation. It’s a little unclear, but it’s evident that he’s had it with Baker’s above-it-all attitude and goofy non-answers:

“I talk to the players about all this, but as manager I don’t have to talk to anybody about anything,” Baker said. “It’s just I’ve always done as a manager. As a player you always like to know why things were done.:

Uh, well, OK. Is it really that complicated. I’m no manager (my card expired in 1982), but it just doesn’t seem THAT complicated, especially when you’re 156 games under .500 and 14 games out of first place on August 15.

McCoy is fed up. On Wednesday, he referred to Matt Holliday’s drive “that Willy Taveras should have caught but played circle-the-wagons while chasing it and missed it.” Most of Thursday’s gamer was devoted to Mark Berry’s malpractice in sending Harang home. Last night’s was just a list of idiocy. His in-game blog (linked above) refers to Taveras as “thankfully not leading off,” then says:

Personally, I can’t recall a Reds team in recent history that is as fundamentally self-destructive as this Reds team. If there is one way they can mess things up, then that’s the way it gets messed up.

I’m beginning to think this team couldn’t spell fundamentals if you spotted it the fun, which it certainly isn’t having these days.

Welcome to the club, gents. It’s been this way all summer.