I don’t think any of us are in the mood for a post-mortem examination of the season just ended. The 2009 season, of course, marked the ninth straight losing season for the Reds and there’s good reason to believe that the tenth in a row is imminent.

There were, however, some good things to come out of this season: primarily, the emergence of Joey Votto as a legitimate star in the National League and very positive signs from Homer Bailey and Johnny Cueto. Also, the Reds finished in fourth place after looking like they were headed for 100 losses. That’s something.

That’s just about all I want to discuss about 2009 at this time, but John Fay had some very interesting items. Among them:

–No winter ball for Johnny Cueto!

–No guitar for Bronson Arroyo!

Then, there’s this:

The Reds drew 1,747,119 for the season, an average of the 21,579. was It their lowest total since 1986 and more than 300,000 fewer than last year.

Wow. I’d call that a referendum on lousy management and lousy baseball on the field.

Anyway, here’s the question I want to ask: do the Reds have more questions to answer about the club now than they did last off-season?

66 Responses

  1. jason1972

    I think the Reds have the parts to be competitive next year. They did not even have the parts at the end of last year. They could even be a contender if they added a big bat in LF or a better hitting SS. (They could leave Janish and his great Defense at SS if they get that number 4 hitter for LF). But without one of those, they could still be an above .500 team next year.

    The question is whether or not they have the coaching staff to make the right decisions.

  2. jason1972

    I think the formula for this team to win is pretty simple, we’re not ‘a few players away’. We are one player away. DFA and eat the Taveras contract and go after Jason Bay to man LF.

    Show the fans you are committed to winning, even if it means you risk operating in the red for 2010. After next year, lots of salaries go away that were eating into this team’s payroll. And if you even make this team competitive towards the playoffs, meaning they are still alive the last 3 weeks of the season, it pays off in better attendance.

  3. Dan

    I disagree w/ trying to sign Bay or Holliday to a huge free agent contract. Most big contracts are like an albatross at some point, and you just want to dump them.

    We need clever moves — find the right guys to “buy low” on — rather than just wading into the Bay or Holliday markets and paying market value. That would be “buying high” and that rarely works out well.

    Plus, I think we’d need to wildly OVERpay to get either of those guys here — what reason do they have to want to be in Cincinnati? — which would make it even worse.

  4. Sultan of Swaff

    If the Cardinals would’ve showed up this weekend, we might’ve snuck into 3rd, but alas, 78 wins IS a step in the right direction—mainly because we got there down the stretch on the backs of our legit young guys like Votto, Bailey, Stubbs, and Bruce. That’s meaningful. Put another way–besides ST. Louis, which franchise in the division has the highest chances of success over the next few seasons? Looking around, it’s gotta be the Reds. It’s not much to look forward to, but it’s more than we’ve had.

  5. Sultan of Swaff

    Aside from the Taveras and Gonzo fiasco, management was careless with their assets–namely Cueto and Volquez. It’s insane they didn’t monitor their workload in the offseason, and they got burned for it. You put those two healthy bodies out there and our fortunes and our ability to move contracts to fill needs changes dramatically.

  6. pinson343

    jason1972: I think the Reds have the parts to be competitive next year…. They could leave Janish and his great Defense at SS if they get that number 4 hitter for LF.

    I agree with this. With a good enough offense, we can have a SS who’s there for his defense. And we’re a cleanup hitter away from a consistently productive offense.

  7. pinson343

    I like 4th place better than 5th place, it feels good to finish ahead of the Astros. And as has been pointed out, we could easily have finished ahead of the Brewers.

    This division will remain very winnable over the next few years, the time to win is now (i.e., 2010 thru whatever).

    78 wins isn’t bad, considering a number of factors which I won’t mention, above all that we were 20 below going into the final quarter of the season, and then went 27-13.

  8. pinson343

    Speaking of 78 wins, I recall a post (by Chad, I think) during the All Star break, asking us to predict the Reds final record for 2009. I think I predicted 77 wins but, more importantly, I’m quite sure someone predicted 78.

    Should we dig that out and congratulate that blogger ?

    Similarly, was there a pre-season prediction post ? We might have a winner there too.

  9. pinson343

    Even when we were 20 games under .500 and in last place, a couple of bloggers said there was no way we would finish behind the Pirates or the Astros.
    I don’t know how they knew the Astros part, I’m impressed.

  10. brublejr

    I am glad that Cueto is shut down from winter ball. That is a very good thing. There are many positives coming from the end of this season. The biggest offseason move the Reds can make is to DNF Taveras.

  11. Steve Price

    1) I think we desperately need one BIGTIME SLUGGER to play LF for this time to be in contention. There’s a chance Alonso can become this, but he won’t be that guy next year…and every year we wait, there’s one less year in the narrow window this group of guys has together.

    I think we need to sign, not trade, for a big hitter…not a chance on a hitter working out, but pay for a big hitter, even if it’s a one year contract. In fact, the shorter the better, in my opinion, which means we’d have to pay more for him.

    2) Reading Fay’s article, Dusty may have intentionally pitched Cueto to get to 170 innings. I would rather have had properly managed than have him go to the winter leagues and pitch somewhat beyond Reds’ management control.

  12. brublejr

    Steve, I don’t think signing a bigtime slugger is going to be an option, especially after the Rolen trade unless they unload two of the three pitchers that make over $10 mil per. I just can’t see them with the attendance they had this year, pick up another big contract. The best they would be able to do would be a Jermaine Dye type player who is well past his prime and can’t hardly play in the field.

    I also wondered if that was why Cueto was not shut down earlier after I read about that clause in his contract.

  13. Dan

    As an aside… aren’t we glad we didn’t trade Homer Bailey for Jermaine Dye this past spring? That would’ve been BAD.

  14. brublejr

    Dan: As an aside… aren’t we glad we didn’t trade Homer Bailey for Jermaine Dye this past spring? That would’ve been BAD.

    Oh yeah, I didn’t like the idea at the time either, I am just really glad Homer turned it around this year.

  15. Drew Nelson

    Dave Duncan. Dave Duncan. Dave Duncan. Spend whatever it takes, think what he can do with Homer and Johnny C and say Burton. Sign his son if that is what it takes. Duncan has proven he is worth the money and coaching doesn’t diminish with age…..

  16. brublejr

    Another thing to note. I think Janish has to be the SS next year as well. His hitting is not up to par but there is NO one in the FA market that can come close to his defense that is any better at the plate. I would hate to see a bad signing (ie Bobby Crosby) than give Janish a chance when he is so good in the field.

  17. EKyRedsFan

    I thought we had a legit shot at 3rd place and at one point, a very very outside shot at .500. Had we salvaged a .500 record, t-shirts would have had to have been made.

  18. EKyRedsFan

    I’m curious to see what the Reds are going to do with Jonny Gomes. He can hit, there’s no doubt about it. I’m very impressed with the numbers he put up given the amount (or lack) of play time he was given. If they want to get a slugger for LF, that’s fine. But keeping Gomes as DEPTH (which is what this club desperately needed this year) would be a great idea. See ya Laynce Nix and Willy Taveras.

    This club may be one guy away from contending. If that’s what they feel, then acquire that one man, but then acquire DEPTH!

  19. Sultan of Swaff

    I’d sit tight on LF as well. You gotta think that a combination of Gomes, Francisco, Balentein, and Dickerson will get the job done. Let’s face it, after seeing the attendance numbers, we’re stuck with what we have. As much as a good starter is important, we found out that depth is a key component also. Heck, we haven’t even entertained the prospect of putting Votto there. Alonso is going to be a stud (his peripherals are awesome). By mid-season I expect the team on the field will be our core for the next 4 seasons.

  20. taoistlumberjak

    Ok, this might be unpopular due to its inherent negativity, but

    We do this every season.
    Every season, a group of young guys come in and rescue a season sent down the tubes by a group of under-performing veterans. We have hope for the future, for next season, and we sit around our hot stoves waiting for the pitchers and catchers to mosey on down to Sarasota, or that other place they’re at next season.

    Then the next season begins, and it’s a whole new group of under-performing veterans, and our kids are left to marinate in the minors for another season, until they give up on our organization, or until the inevitable mid-season failure that leaves us with little option but to play those kids, when the entire cycle begins anew.

    I’m sorry guys, but I’m not going to be hopeful for next season. I can’t do this every year.

  21. Dan

    brublejr: Another thing to note.I think Janish has to be the SS next year as well.His hitting is not up to par but there is NO one in the FA market that can come close to his defense that is any better at the plate.I would hate to see a bad signing (ie Bobby Crosby) than give Janish a chance when he is so good in the field.

    “Nothing” and “sign a free agent” are not the only 2 options. The best moves are often trades for guys who haven’t put it all together yet, but are about to. The trick is to know who are the right ones to target.

    Krivsky was the master of this w/ his deals for Phillips, Hamilton, and (to a lesser extent) Arroyo.

    The only move remotely like this (a well-timed “buy low”) that Jocketty has pulled here was the signing of Gomes.

  22. brublejr

    @Dan: Agreed, if he can find a nice buy low option, but with so many teams under financial restriants they are a little harder to find right now. I thought Balentien was a nice buy low attempt also, eventhough I’m not real sure if he is going to help the team or not (we gave up basically nothing for him).

  23. David

    I wouldn’t use imminent to describe the team’s chances at winning 82 games next year. The Reds have improved, albeit marginally, each of the past three seasons i.e. 72 wins in ’07, 74 wins in ’08 and 78 wins in ’09.

    To me there are fewer questions than last season. Last year we began with problems up the middle at CF, SS, and C. We also wanted the big bat in LF. What we got from within are solutions to all of those problems. Stubbs and Dickerson each showed they could handle playing CF. Janish played impressive defensively and if batting 8th, would be fine at SS. Hannigan showed that he is capable of playing solidly all-around at the C spot. While he wore down, I would expect him to make strides there next season. Gomes played terrific showing he can hit righties and he can be a big bat in the lineup. With Francisco hitting well and able to play 3B and LF, I think it is certainly possible to continue what we saw at the end of the year.

    The only question mark is in the rotation. Who will be the 1-5? My guess would be Harang, Arroyo, Cueto, Bailey and Lehr. I’d like to see them go after someone there.

  24. preach

    taoistlumberjak: Ok, this might be unpopular due to its inherent negativity, butWe do this every season.Every season, a group of young guys come in and rescue a season sent down the tubes by a group of under-performing veterans. We have hope for the future, for next season, and we sit around our hot stoves waiting for the pitchers and catchers to mosey on down to Sarasota, or that other place they’re at next season.Then the next season begins, and it’s a whole new group of under-performing veterans, and our kids are left to marinate in the minors for another season, until they give up on our organization, or until the inevitable mid-season failure that leaves us with little option but to play those kids, when the entire cycle begins anew.I’m sorry guys, but I’m not going to be hopeful for next season. I can’t do this every year.

    Yeah, kinda has the ol’ Bengals feel to it….win a couple games in December and the media starts talking about turning the corner. Then September rolls around and they are 0-4….Yes, the Bengals season is a little different this year, but how long do we have to wait.

    I guess I’m just a jaded Cincinnati fan. But by the time spring training opens I will be the eternal optimist, ready to get my feelings crushed again. sigh.

  25. Dan

    One thing is clear to me, and this is a very general statement…

    The Reds don’t have the payroll level or the overall talent to just do things by the book, just like everyone else does them, and expect to win. Let’s just take it for granted that, until something MAJOR changes, we will be operating with less talent than some teams out there (maybe less talent than a lot of teams).

    Because of that, we need to do SOMETHING different than everyone else! More clever trades, better drafting, more in the international market, better coaching, better video analysis, better work on staying healthy, better defense, better power, better OBP… SOMETHING has to set us apart if we’re going to win with inferior talent.

    That’s the part that worries me, b/c my impression is that the Reds are among the most by-the-book, close-to-the-vest, risk-averse, conservative organizations in baseball.

    And to me, that is a recipe for exactly what we’ve had — slightly below average payrolls ($70-75 million or whatever), and slightly below average results (75 wins or so).

    What are they going to change? They don’t have to announce some big change, but I want to see a plan and a level of cleverness and savvy and forward-thinkingness that I have never seen out of the Reds in the past 30 years.

    End of rant… hope this makes sense…

  26. Dan

    @Dan: And as followup on my own statement… I’m not at all confident that we will ever see this until Dusty, Walt, and Castellini are all gone from this team.

  27. mike

    baseball-prospectus is all about the Reds today

    not sure you can see this is you are not a subscriber
    http://www.baseballprospectus.com/article.php?articleid=9612

    some of the quotes that stuck out
    from Buster Olney

    Biggest puzzler on the drawing board: Simply put, how do they get better given their budget dynamics? The Reds opened the 2009 season with a payroll of $73 million, and presumably Bob Castellini is not going to go all Steinbrenner and pump in another $20-25 million. The Reds already have enormous obligations to four veterans: Francisco Cordero ($12 million), Aaron Harang ($12.5 million), Bronson Arroyo ($11 million), and Scott Rolen ($11 million). That’s $46.5 million to players who are not presently high-impact types, which leaves little wiggle room for the Reds as far as next year’s budge. Their best chance for improvement might be in the powerful right arm of Homer Bailey, who had a tremendous year of progress in ’09, getting better and better; he went 3-1 with a 2.41 ERA in the month of September. Maybe he could be what Volquez was supposed to be. “I think they might be as far away from seriously contending as the Pirates, or maybe even farther,” said one scout who watched Cincinnati as it closed out its season.

    from BP


    Key stat: .245 AVG/.301 OBP/.354 SLG

    That’s the combined showing of all Reds batting in the top two lineup spots, constituting 24 percent of the team’s total plate appearances and proving that Baker’s ideas about what make an offense work are completely out of touch with reality. During a ghastly stretch in which the team lost 45 out of 68 games, Taveras batted an appalling .216/.230/.243, and the lineup’s production shriveled to 3.6 runs per game. Once Taveras mercifully went on the disabled list with a quad strain in mid-August, Baker reacted by locking rookie Drew Stubbs (.260/.313/.438 overall) in the leadoff hole and weak-hitting shortstop Paul Janish (.215/.297/.308 overall) in the second slot. Despite this rather appalling second act of managerial malfeasance, the Reds have gone 26-15 since Taveras went down, though that performance has more to do with a pitching staff that’s held opponents to 3.8 runs per game via strong finishes from Arroyo, Bailey, and Cueto.—Jay Jaffe, Baseball Prospectus

    and the painful thing we all know
    Alas, Baker’s work this year shows that he may be the biggest obstacle to the team’s success, and with one more year on his deal, he’s not going anywhere.

  28. jeff75

    @Drew Nelson: Duncan is surgically attached to LaRussa’s hip. They can’t be separated.

  29. Glenn

    I think the Reds should do whatever they can to keep this team intact. I never thought I’d be saying that but once key players started coming back off the DL, the team started winning.

  30. RedinFla

    Lots of good ideas – great to end the season on the “smilin’ side” 8)

    I’d still hesitate to sink a lot of money, trades, focus, or whatever into “one big bat”. This could help, but also would be one torn hamstring or “off” year away from a huge waste.
    With just the changes that were obvious to us here at the Nation (Willy and Gonzo, Ed. E somewhat), a stinking offense improved greatly and a primo defense emerged.

    A fresh perspective on coaching the pitching staff, defense that doesn’t force those pitchers to live on strikeouts alone, and good seasons from the lineup we already have sounds like a good formula to me.

  31. Behind in the Count

    Leadership is something more important than a player who is a big swatter. Look at us at third base; we replaced Edwin with Rolen and instantly had a player who provided us with play by play reliability. Even though Edwin showed periods of potential he never brought the daily consistency needed. Who knows how much this team will improve with a steady Rolen at third and Taveras gone into the sunset. The moves Dusty makes kills this team. I don’t understand why some players can respect Dusty with the way he plays those who don’t deserve to be on the field.

  32. RC

    I admit it. I’m a sap. I will have pretty high hopes for next season, just like I have every season previous. And I think most baseball fans are like that.

    But the thing is, after two years of Dusty Baker, there will be a little black cloud floating around up there for me on Opening Day. And if this team gets off to a poor start, it will become a very big cloud very quickly.

    I’ve got a feeling my fuse is gonna be pretty short for the 2010 Reds. And that’s not like me.

  33. Dan

    You know what would be great to come up with? A great (OK, very good) hitting catcher.

    There just aren’t many of those. We could have some mediocrity elsewhere in the lineup, but if we come up with a McCann-type hitter who holds his own behind the plate, we’d be WAY ahead of the game.

    Oh Mickey Tettleton, where are you now?? 😉

  34. KY Chip

    On pitching, I’m holding out hope that Walt Jocketty somehow manages to convince Dave Duncan to come to Cincy. Putting him with our current pitching staff could yield some great things for next year, even if Volquez is stuck on the shelf.

    As for our hitting, I think the 2010 Reds will have another stop-gap measure in LF (a combo of Balentein, Dickerson, maybe Gomes), instead of pursuing a high-priced FA. And I fear the return of Willy T. to the CF and lead-off positions — after all, he is fast and he plays CF, and Dusty will still be managing this team in April. At least with Votto, Philips, Rolen, and Bruce, we should have some good offensive potential.

    All in all, I think the 2010 Reds may look a lot like the 2009 Reds, except with (hopefully) better pitching.

  35. Dan

    We might need a picture of Jonny Gomes taking a long winter siesta.

  36. preach

    “All in all, I think the 2010 Reds may look a lot like the 2009 Reds, except with (hopefully) better pitching.”

    Who would have thought that would be possible with volquez on the shelf next year?

  37. mike

    my season end awards

    MVP: Votto (runner up: Phillips)

    Most Valuable Hitter: Votto (runner up: Phillips)

    Most Valuable Defender: Janish (runner up: Bruce)

    Most Valuable Starter: Arroyo (runner up: Cueto and Harang)

    Most Valuable Reliever: Cordero (runner up: Masset)

    ROY Position Player: Dickerson (runner up: Stubbs)

    ROY Pitcher: Herrera (runner up: Fisher)

    NL Central Hitting All-Stars
    1B: Pujols (Stl)
    2B: Phillips (CIN)
    SS: Tejada (Hou)
    3B: Mcgehee (Mil)
    LF: Braun (Mil)
    CF: McCutchen (Pit)
    RF: G Gones (Pit)
    C: Molina (Stl)

    NL Central Gold Gloves
    1B: Lee (Chc)
    2B: PHILLIPS (CIN)
    SS: Ryan (Stl)
    3B: Hall (Mil)
    LF: Morgan (Pit)
    CF: Cameron (Mil)
    RF: BRUCE (CIN)
    C: Hill (Chc) I really don’t know enough about catcher defense to stand by my pick

    Central Positional MVPs
    1B: Pujols (Stl)
    2B: PHILLIPS (CIN)
    SS: Ryan (Stl)
    3B: Ramirez (Chc)
    LF: Braun (Mil)
    CF: Cameron (Mil)
    RF: Pence (Hou)
    C: Molina (Stl)

    Central Starting Pitcher MVP
    Wainwright (Stl)
    Carpenter (Stl)
    Rodriguez (Hou)
    ARROYO (CIN)
    Lilly (Chc)

    Central Reliever MVP
    Franklin (Stl)
    Marmol (Chc)
    Hoffman (Mil)

    Best Team Offense: Milwaukee (worst: REDS)
    Best Team Defense: Chicago (worst: Houston)
    Best Team Rotation: St Louis (worst: Milwaukee)
    Best Team Bullpen: REDS (worst: Pittsburgh)

  38. mike

    Dan: You know what would be great to come up with? A great (OK, very good) hitting catcher.

    There just aren’t many of those.

    there really aren’t many at all
    the only very good hitting catchers in baseball season were
    Mauer, V Martinez, Posada, McCann, Napoli and Montero

    Ruiz, Hundley, Iannetta, Zaun, Blanco, Shoppach, Buck, Paulino, Baker and Wieters were all better than average hitting catchers

    Hanigan was a dead on average hitting catcher.

  39. Dan

    Why the hell did we release David Ross last year? Would he not have been just as good as Ramon Hernandez, and for less money?

    Ross averaged .227/.324/.457 for the Reds (similar to his career numbers).

    This year, Ross batted .273/.380/.508 (only 151 PA) and threw out 48% of base-stealers for the Braves.

    And we just straight-up released him last August. I really don’t get that.

  40. JasonL

    Because I’m a nerd like everyone else here, I’m starting to put together an analysis of how I think they will do next season, but my guess is that I’ll end up thinking they should trade for JJ Hardy (if they can get him), DFA Taverable and otherwise stand pat. Maybe add a reliable bench guy or two, but the free agent class is weak this year and there isn’t a lot of money, and the system does SEEM to be producing, so why mess with it?

  41. Dan

    Jorge Cantu, Cody Ross, and David Ross are 3 guys who are decent players who we let get away for literally NOTHING. (OK, actually it looks like we sold Cody Ross to Florida, but we didn’t get any players.)

    I’m not saying they’re great players, but I am saying they could’ve still been here, and not for too much money. That’s some pretty good right-handed pop there.

    We released Cantu to make room for the worst Rule V draft pick in the history of the sport, as I recall.

  42. Steve Price

    Folks…

    You have to spend money to make money….

    If they play within the budget restraints, we won’t win next year.

    Yes, Baker’s salary is not a “player’s salary”, but it still comes off the bottom line.

    In 1999, the Reds needed one bat, and we went and got a leader and a bat in one person–Greg Vaughan. Whether you like Marty Brennaman or not, he said the other day that Vaughan was the greatest leader he’s ever seen on the Reds. That every REd was afraid to underperform or Vaughn would challenge them on the spot…right there in the dugout. We didn’t have the money for him that year either and we knocked on the playoff door.

    Now, there’s different kinds of leaders…Larkin is said to have led by example, or would take care of “clubhouse issues” if requested by management. Griffey was a player’s friend. It’s said that Rolen doesn’t speak, but everyone says he leads by example.

    The Big Red Machine leaders all had different “roles” of leadership on the team.

    Leadership is grand…but you still have to have talent. The left field hopefuls are too old to be prospects, and too unskilled to be proven. With shortstop destined to be a non-hitting position, and Bruce AND Stubbs still developing, we MUST have another bat to contend. Otherwise, hopefulness gets you unfulfilled dreams.

    I don’t want to mortgage the future…well, I’d trade Francisco, but he’s not getting that much yet…I’d sign Dye for one year myself…and give Francisco and Alonso another year to develop.

    The players have already seen the market decline…

  43. Steve Price

    If I recall, Ross said something to someone of importance that wasn’t appreciated…and he was released.

    I don’t know the details; I apologize if wrong…anyone remember?

  44. Dan

    I think this team would’ve cost about the same as the current team did… maybe less if it includes no Willy.

    CF Dickerson
    2B Phillips
    1B Votto
    3B Cantu
    RF Bruce
    LF C. Ross/Gomes
    C D. Ross/Hanigan
    SS Janish

    It’s worse defense at 3B, but besides that, that has to be a better team than we saw out there this year, doesn’t it? It’s still a bit OBP-challenged, but it’s not NEARLY as bad as this year’s actual Reds.

  45. pinson343

    The statement by one scout that the “Reds might be further from contention than the Pirates” was already published weeks ago, and in any case it’s a stupid statement.

    A good observation was made above about how a lack of organizational depth caused the Reds to collapse after the All Star break. Actually, some of the depth was already there (e.g., Janish and Stubbs), it just wasn’t used.

    Getting a big bat seems like a good idea to me, but will depend on what Castellini is willing to spend, so most likely it won’t happen.

    I agree with those who argue we can have a winning record next year with essentially what we already have in the organization, but it would require intelligent decisions about what to do with what we already have. (DFA Taveras is the obvious start, but Dusty has already said “we need all 3” – Stubbs, Dickerson, Taveras. WJ HAS to overrule on that.)

    And based on what took place in 2009, how can we feel confident about intelligent decisions by management ?

    But I’m optimistic about 2010 anyway. I’m once again a sucker for the strong finish.

  46. al

    i can’t believe how many people are still a maybe on gomes. what does a guy have to do around here?

    a big bat for lf, well, we have a guy who hit 20 hr in half a season with a decent obp. that seems like a good enough bat for me. what’s bay going to put up? .267/.338/.541 vs .267/.384/.337, that isn’t worth giving bay a big contract.

    with the lefties we have i think gomes will be fine more or less fulltime.

    to me, the best value we could add would be another starting pitcher. we have harang and arroyo coming off the books at the end of next year, and this is a pretty strong fa class for pitchers (and it’s weak for hitters).

    here’s a short(ish) list of free agent starters:

    Doug Davis ARZ (B)
    Kelvim Escobar LAA
    Jon Garland * LAD (B)
    Rich Harden CHC (A)
    Tim Hudson * ATL
    John Lackey LAA (A)
    Braden Looper * MIL (B)
    Carl Pavano MIN
    Joel Pineiro STL (B)
    Brandon Webb * ARZ (B)
    Randy Wolf (A)

    go get a rich harden, and you have a rotation of harden, arroyo, bailey, harang, cueto that starts to seem pretty dangerous.

    then the next year you have harden, bailey, cueto, volquez and a bunch of cash to bring someone else in.

    as they point out in BP, the reason the reds finished so strong was their starteing pitching was better. lehr and maloney are not the answer.

  47. earl

    I think the Reds could have had a winning season, not enough to win a playoff spot, but they could have ended up with 84 or 85 wins if they would have used their players better and not waited so long to pull the trigger on making some improvements. I’ve got to think even using the same guys, just putting the better hitters at the top would have gotten a few more runs and might have picked up a game or two.

    Gomes has earned his stripes with me. The Reds are not going to get a big bat, so Gomes is the guy they should keep. The Reds cannot afford to get anyone. We can afford Gomes and maybe the Reds get lucky and he could hit 30 homers in a full season. I think the guy is perfect at least to match-up platoon (not straight lefty/righty) with one of the other lefties outfielders like Dickerson or Nix. Gomes might end up sliding back, but I think the guy is going to give you all he’s got. I’d much rather have a guy like that than a dude like Taveras who often seems pretty lackadaisical in the field.

    The only way that the Reds are going to win is that Jay Bruce is going to have to turn into an All Star caliber power hitter and Joey Votto is going to have to continue to improve. Those are the big bats and just like this year, it is all on them taking their game to that big time level. Votto is pretty much there, he did his job, even missing a month. Jay Bruce is going to have to become a guy hitting 40 homers and driving in runs, as the Reds cannot afford to bring in the big bat.

    They are not going to get Rich Harden, Hudson, Lackey or any name starter either, they can’t afford them. I’d actually kind of think a sinker baller like Jon Garland is the type of starter that the Reds could use, but the free agent market is so sparse, dudes that can throw innings are going to get insane money.

    The Reds salary is pretty much set, they might be able to get a reliever or catcher on a low end deal like what Rhodes got last year, but that is about it.

    I’m cool with standing pat. They would have been better of not signing Taveras, so I think they should just stay young and roll the dice. We might get lucky and everyone hits their stride at the same time.

    If they get a vet catcher, I like Gregg Zaun even though he is old as dirt because he is a switch hitter and his name makes me think of General Zod in the Superman movies. I’d get some laughs just on his name COME KNEEL BEFORE ZAUN.

    If the millionaires want to buy us a playoff spot, they can go out and get Rich Harden, Marco Scutaro, Victor Martinez and Matt Holiday. Have at it, it would probably work, but it won’t happen.

  48. broadwaydave

    this probably won’t go over well, but i believe had joey votto not missed all the time he did the reds would have been competitive this year. you can mark the downfall from the time he went out.

  49. al

    i’d also consider trading a guy like alonso, heisey, or francisco to bring in another starter.

  50. mike

    al: i’d also consider trading a guy like alonso, heisey, or francisco to bring in another starter.

    I’m with you al.
    I think one serious option for the Reds instead of moving Votto to LF to make room for Alonso would be to keep the great hitting Votto at 1B and deal Alonso.

  51. Matt WI

    @broadwaydave: Votto was in the line-up in when they went 3-16 from July 16 to August 4. Three and sixteen! While they had fallen out of serious conetention by then, they could have a least finished over .500 if not for that awful swoon.

  52. Dave

    Francisco if he can play left field adequately would be my choice. He is a run producer big time. Dickerson could caddy for him in the late innings……..

  53. pinson343

    WJ is already saying that no big move will be made for a free agent.

    I finally got caught up on what happened the last game of the season. I knew about Homer, didn’t know that Joey got his average all the way up to .322, what a monster finish. Three hits by Stubbs, 3 RBIs by Phillips, who with a tiny little single with the bases loaded could have gotten his 100 RBIs.

    We do have a lot of pieces …

  54. pinson343

    @Steve Price:

    Nice statement on leadership. I heard the radio discussion Marty had with Hal McCoy, who said that the 1999 team was his favorite Reds team, and they both launched into stories
    about how Greg Vaughn led by scaring the sh*t out of players.
    Pinning Brett Tomko to the wall, sounds like a good idea.

    The ’99 team isn’t close to my favorite but they overperformed more than any Reds team I can recall.
    Lots of career years.

  55. pinson343

    I wouldn’t trade Alonso or Francisco or Heisey right now, we wouldn’t get much in return. 1 or 2 of the 3 might become impact players.

    But with our overload of young 1B/OF types, some decisions about them have to be made in 2010.

  56. Dan

    @pinson343: Interesting comment from Hal about the 1999 team. I’d never heard that.

    That was a fun team, in hindsight — so unexpectedly good!

    The “Greg Vaughn as leader” story has really caught on, and maybe it’s true — I don’t know — but I’ll admit to being a bit of a skeptic about the effect of leadership. I generally think winning comes from having great players!

    And to that effect, check out some of the players on that 1999 Reds team. I’d forgotten how good they were:

    –A catcher who batted .311/.354/.521 and hit 21 HR (Taubensee)
    –A 1B who had his best season at .332/.399/.529 (Casey)
    –A 2B who won a Gold Glove and had his best year at .285/.330/.417 (Pokey)
    –A SS who played every day and batted .293/.390/.420 (Larkin)
    –An adequate 3B at .280/.330/.445 (Boone)
    –A slugging LF who had 45 HR, 118 RBI, and batted .245/.347/.535 (Vaughn)
    –A fantastic defensive CF who batted .256/.357/.469 with 21 HR and 38 SB (Cameron)
    –Three pretty good options for RF – Tucker (.253/.338/.426), Dmitri (.300/.352/.504), and Hammonds (.279/.347/.523)

    Look that over… out of the players who got 200 or more AB’s, the WORST OBP is .330, and the WORST slugging is .417. And five different guys slugged over .500.

    Pitching-wise, there were no studs in the rotation, but there were no weak links. Harnisch led the way (16-10, 3.68 ERA, 1.25 WHIP), Steve Parris had his best year (11-4, 3.50 ERA in 128 IP), we traded for Juan Guzman at the deadline (6-3, 3.03 ERA in 77 IP).

    We also had 3 studs in the bullpen (Graves, Sullivan, Williamson), who pitched a total of more than 300 IP with a combined ERA under 3.00, a combined WHIP under 1.2, and less than 7 hits per 9 innings.

    The pitching staff as a whole gave up 8.1 hits per 9 innings — best in the NL.

    And the defense (based on “team defensive efficiency”) was the best in baseball.

    Vaughn may have been a great guy and a great leader, but there were also just flat out some great players on that team, who had good years at the same time. (Was that due to Vaughn? I don’t know.)

    Compare all of this, by the way, to the 2009 team…

  57. Dan

    Sadly though, that 1999 Reds team still holds the record for most wins (since the switch to 3 divisions per league) without making the playoffs — 96 wins. Just terrible luck. Houston won 97, Atlanta won 103, Arizona won 100, and the Mets won 97 (including that one-game playoff in Riverfront).

  58. Dan

    96 wins would’ve gotten you in the playoffs in every other year, in both leagues, except for in the NL in 1999.

    In fact, 96 wins in 2009 would’ve made you the best team in the NL.

    Really really rotten luck…

    Throw that in with the 1981 split-season debacle… ugh.

  59. Matt WI

    @Dan: But you know, I think all we can really ask is to have a team that wins and is in position for the playoffs. I’ll take a team designed to win 90 games, no questions asked. It’d make for a fun season.

  60. pinson343

    Our not getting into the playoffs in ’99 wasn’t just a matter of bad luck. I’ve told this story before, so I’ll keep it short, but Dave Johnson was managing the Dodgers then and in their final 2 games of the season – against Houston – he let a red hot Gary Sheffield (who’d beaten the Astros on Friday nite) go home for the season and also let Kevin Brown opt out of his last start.

    If Brown had won his previous start, BTW, that would have given him 19 wins and he would have made that final start against the Astros. And if the Astros lose either of the final two games, they’re tied with us, and our playoff game would have been against them instead of a hot Mets team.

    But the Reds losing their first 2 games of the final weekend to a bad Brewers team did not help matters. In the Friday nite loss, a tired Scott Williamson blew an 8th inning lead, that was the heartbreaker.

  61. pinson343

    Dan: 96 wins would’ve gotten you in the playoffs in every other year, in both leagues, except for in the NL in 1999.In fact, 96 wins in 2009 would’ve made you the best team in the NL.Really really rotten luck…Throw that in with the 1981 split-season debacle… ugh.

    Dan, Yes since I’ve been a Reds fan, our heartbreak years were 1964, 1981, and 1999. Plus of course 1994, when we had a very good team and led the NL Central.

  62. pinson343

    1981 was even a bigger debacle than most remember or knew. The Dodgers has no business being awarded a postseason berth based on their fast half as opposed to ours – we had an equal number of losses, and they had one more win. That has otherwise never settled who won a race.

    And about 2 weeks before the strike started, we led the Giants something like 7-0 in the 4th inning. Then the rains came, and the game was washed out. If the rain had waited about 30 minutes, then our “first half” record would have been identical with the Dodgers.

  63. pinson343

    @Dan:
    Nice post, I remember that team very well.

    Regarding leadership, the question is: Do Jack McKeon (and Vaughn) get any credit for so many players on the team having career years ?

    Taubensee, Pokey Reese, and Parris definitely had career years. Sean Casey had one of his best years, and Scott Williamson, as a rookie, had arguably his best year.

    A young Graves and Scott were cp-closers.
    Scott pitched stuck out 107 batters and allowed only 54 hits in 97 innings. He pitched 3 innings in a number of games and, as reported above, the down side was that his arm was dead by the end of the season.