Attending the now-annual RedsFest reinforces the fact that the Cincinnati Reds do a lot of things correctly.
ItÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s in a great venue, there are things for kids to do, and a perfect mix of current Reds and former Reds in attendance. The Reds, especially since Bob Castellini took over, do things like this the right way and are one of the most fan-friendly franchises in baseball.
Now -Ã¢â‚¬â€ that aside -Ã¢â‚¬â€ itÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s been a slow winter in trying to improve on the 2013 Reds team that was one and done in the playoffs and sputtered to the finish line.
But first, RedsFest. My brother and I attended this weekend, and we picked our battles carefully; we didnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t want to get bogged down in the long lines for some of the current players. The longest line we endured was for a photo with the Cuban Missile and that was only about 20 minutes. (In Spanish, I said to Chapman, Ã¢â‚¬Å“Mister 106Ã¢â‚¬Â and he smiled but he was always smiling.)
When the current players were introduced Friday, DatDude got the loudest and longest ovation — not a surprise there. Todd Frazier got the second loudest ovation, followed by Devin Mesoraco and then Joey Votto. Understandably, new manager Bryan Price received a rousing cheer (mostly because of the absence of Dusty Baker?). They were cheers of relief.
I alternately went to and listened to interviews done by the two radio stations there; the ESPN local Cincinnati station and WLW. I was stunned that the ESPN guys asked softball questions to everyone interviewed. Lance McAlister of WLW asked the tougher questions that were on the minds of virtually every Reds fan in attendance so his interviews were much better.
I also asked questions of ten different Reds fans in attendance; guys I was standing in line with, admittedly a very small sample but hereÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s what I asked and what they said. Here’s my completely unscientific poll:
Do you want to see the Joey Votto of 2010 next year or the Joey Votto of 2013?
Nine of ten want to see Joey MVP of 2010, the freer-swinging RBI producing Votto not the selective, OBP-King with 73 RBIÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s.
Chapman: starter or reliever?
Nine of ten want to see Chapman as a starter in 2014; 6 of the 9 want to see J.J. Hoover as the closer. A common quote of the nine was: Ã¢â‚¬Å“He has the best arm on the staff and the fewest innings pitched.Ã¢â‚¬Â
Trade BP for centerfield or leftfield offensive upgrade and free salary to resign Homer Bailey?
Seven of the ten said no. Of the 7, 4 said they would not go to Reds games if BP is traded next season. The 3 who favored a trade said they are tired of BPÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s attitude and drama and say his best days are behind him.
Did they agree with the firing of Dusty Baker?
All ten said he needed to go. This was a loaded question.
Favorite section to watch the game at GABP
Moon Deck (6)
Field Box Seats (2)
Bow-Tie Bar (2)
Back to the Reds: they are not, right now, as good as they were in 2013, simply because they will be losing their leadoff hitter and center fielder to free agency. Losing Bronson Arroyo hurts the starting pitching depth. Getting a healthy Sean Marshall and Jonathan Broxton back helps the bullpen, but unless Chapman is moved to the starting rotation or Price finds a way to boost his innings, the Reds are again stuck in neutral. The loss of Baker is a temporary feel-good thing for most Reds fans, but I suspect Price will be held just as accountable if he makes questionable moves in the sacred batting order
Regarding Brandon Phillips, I have to disagree with that recent article by Paul Daugherty in the Enquirer. Phillips has moved around in the batting order (true), he attends RedsFest and the Caravans (true), and he adds a flair on the field (also true.) But letÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s not forget heÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s paid a handsome sum to do just this and the Reds helped resurrect his career. Sorry his feelings are hurt. But we need him to go out in 2014 and play ball.