Each Monday morning, we’ll ask a few of our authors and friends of the site to answer an important question concerning the Reds. The comments section is for your answers.
Question: “How worried should we be?”
Jordan Barhorst: We shouldn’t be worried…yet. There are troubling occurrences that have started to evolve into troubling patterns. The offense has been bad, and rightfully earned the headlines. But unless they’re historically bad (they aren’t), the bats will turn around. If I’m picking something to be worried about right now, it’s the bullpen. What seemed to be somewhat of a strength heading into the season has been anything but. The whole group seems to be struggling. Whether David Bell and the front office decide to try to stick it out with the current crop of relievers, or start tapping names like Cody Reed and Sal Romano from AAA Louisville will be an interesting story to keep tabs on.
Ashley Davis: We should be cautiously worried. I’m not worried about the bats. Every baseball team has slumps — the Reds just seem to be going through one now. It is a little weird that the whole team seems to be slumping at the same time, but as we saw Saturday and Sunday, hitting is contagious. What is a little worrisome is how far the Reds have already fallen back in the NL Central. This team is rapidly losing casual fans’ interest, and another season with a 3-18 start is disastrous for building momentum toward the rest of the season. Most fans picked the Reds to finish around .500, and it could still happen. But not even the 150th anniversary year-long celebration will help toward rebuilding fan interest if the team is 20 games out in June.
Mary Beth Ellis: As a person who’s spent significant chunks of time in and out of therapy and pharmacies, I am perhaps the most qualified Redleg Nation writer to respond on the topic of worry. Here’s some controlled substances talking: When you’re outscored by the city’s soccer team, you’d think you should worry. When my favorite moment from the season thus far is Tucker Barnhart getting dragged across the infield by a tenuous grasp on Yasiel Puig’s ankle, you’d think you should worry. When the pitching buckles a few miles down the road from where the offense lays, you’d think you should worry.
As Josh Bell doubled off Hernandez to push Pirates across the plate on Sunday, I flinched, as though it were a physical blow. Then I glanced at the outdoor thermometer to see a temperature above 70.
Ah. Better. If you’re worried about a baseball team, you’re doing both baseball and worry wrong.
Grant Freking: On a scale of 1 to 10, around a 5. I empathize with the frustration. The scars of five 90-loss seasons in a row cut deep, as do the sky-is-falling feelings of last year’s 3-18 season-ruining beginning. None of the newcomers would admit this publicly, but I’m guessing at least a few of them are feeling the pressure of performing of not only for a new team, but a new team that’s expects to win for the first time since (depending on your point of view) 2014 or 2015. The same could be said for returnees trying to lock down starting positions or high-leverage roles. Or it all could be blind bad luck. Or it could be a mix of both. So, I wouldn’t panic — yet. It’s still too early to utter, “it’s getting late early.” I picked the Reds to win 79 games. That’s still reasonable, as is the possibility of finishing a handful of wins over .500, though admittedly the latter seems a tad foolhardy now. [Grant used to write for Redleg Nation. Check out his work covering FCCincinnati at Cincinnati Magazine.]
Steve Mancuso: It depends on what you were looking for. If you were expecting the Reds to contend for the postseason, you should worry. But that wasn’t realistic anyhow. If you were expecting the Reds to take a meaningful step forward this year, this early disappointing start is nothing to worry about. I understand the frustration and temptation to howl into the wind. But a bunch of one-run losses attributable to (1) a freakish offense blackout, (2) a mediocre-at-best bullpen, (3) bad luck, is not a reflection on the overall trajectory of the organization. It isn’t reason to question David Bell, his coaches or his method. The quick fixes haven’t worked, yet. But it’s important to keep in mind that the underlying improvements that *have* taken place take time to show results. The dumbest thing for the organization to do would be a knee-jerk reaction.