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.

37 Responses

  1. scotly50

    The Reds start has a familiar feel. They dig themselves into an abysmal pit early in the year. Then, after faltering to a point of no recovery suddenly catch fire.

    My hopes are hanging on the odds that this woeful hitting as a team cannot continue. But the loss of Gennett is huge for the Reds. Arguably their best player since his arrival.

  2. Jim

    I have no worries that the Reds will continue to be the worst team in MLB.
    Why do you think the new guys were let go by their previous teams?
    If you take the crappy starters from last year and make them into crappy relievers this year, what do you expect. The whole lot should be sent back to Billings . Maybe it’s not too late for some one to teach them how to play to the levels expected of a Red’s team.

  3. CFD3000

    I’m a little worried about Matt Kemp. He hasn’t hit at all, and unlike Winker, Schebler, Suarez, Puig and Votto it’s possible he won’t hit again. I hope Bell doesn’t drag that experiment out much longer. I’m a good bit worried about the bullpen. Only Garrett and (really?) Stephenson have looked good so far, with Iglesias, Peralta, and maybe Lorenzen in the fair category and the rest just bad. That’s a much bigger problem that time alone will likely not fix. I’m not worried at all about the offense or, for obvious reasons, the starting pitching. I am, still, optimistic about the team in general.

    • Doc

      How is Peralta only a maybe? You can’t give up fewer than zero runs, or us that now possible with advanced voidoo, I mean metrics.

      • CFD3000

        Doc – You’re right that Peralta has thrown a zero so far, but he’s looked wobbly doing it. That’s a “fair” in my book in terms of reasons to worry, in spite of the “very good” so far in terms of his results. The bullpen needs at least a couple of guys who are high confidence, shut down options. So far I’m not confident that Peralta can sustain his results. I hope he proves me wrong.

    • Michael E

      Kemp will be fine if he gets enough ABs. He has looked “finished” for stretches each of the past 4 years and then rakes for two month stretch. He isn’t the 5 category player of 8 years ago, but he isn’t old enough to be finished.

      Let’s hope the cold weather is part of their issues. A few teams are hitting well in the cold, but the best scoring teams early in the season are in warm weather or domes right now.

  4. Mason Red

    If you thought the Reds would contend for a playoff spot you should be very worried. If you thought the Reds might finish around .500 you should be somewhat worried. But if you thought this year was just another step towards success in the future which includes trading for prospects before the deadline then you should not only be worry free but you should downright giddy.

  5. TR

    Concerned but not worried. The result of ‘The Brawl’ will get the Reds moving toward .500 and the team leaders, which they haven’t had for a while, will be Puig and Dietrich. I agree the positive changes in the offseason will soon become apparent.

  6. Steven Ross

    I agree with Mason Red. That sounds about right for this organization. I am worried about Bell’s lineups. They don’t make sense to me.

  7. Big Ed

    What’s to worry about? They are maybe the slowest team in MLB, with only Peraza being average for his position. Barnhart is the only above-average defender among the regulars. More regulars are at or below the Mendoza line than above it. The team’s only well-pitched games the team have been in cold weather; they have been hit hard in warm-weather games. (As I understand it, there are about 4 months of warm weather yet to play.) They just went 1-5 against the team picked to finish 4th in the division, having been shut-out by a replacement level pitcher. Nick Senzel is the only prospect who can be expected to help this year, and none of the 7 or so free agents can realistically be expected to bring a meaningful return at the trade deadline.

    Yeah, the Reds are right where they want to be.

    As I’ve said, they better hope the Zion Williamson of baseball is a high school junior, because they have a great shot at getting him in the 2020 draft.

    Joey Votto is going to have to take a hard look at that no-trade stance, because he’s getting very close to playing his whole career without winning even one playoff series.

  8. SultanofSwaff

    If they’re 10 under at the end of the month I would open the store for business. Fortunately, the front office positioned the team well to take advantage of either W-L scenario.

    Aside from the next 3 with miami, the schedule is nothing but ‘better’ teams as far as the eye can see. Of course, it’s not who you play but when you play them. I bet no one on this site would trade the Reds roster for the Pirates, but there they are and here we are.

    It’s baseball. There’s plenty of time left but the chipping away has to start with this next very sweepable series.

    • Alexander Mcentire

      They need to blow it up get rid of the whole core of the team and start over. This is embarrassing to watch!
      If management was worried about low attendance they have seen nothing yet.
      They will average around 8,000 fans a night that’s less than the Columbus Crew SMH.

  9. Scott C

    I am with those who aren’t too worried. I never expected this team to go to the post season. I am not worried about the bats. Winker has been hitting the ball consistently, but is experiencing a lot of bad luck or good defensive alignment. Puig and Schebler are coming around.
    My two biggest concerns are Kemp who is certainly not a defensive player and is not hitting. I think the reds to should eat his salary and move on. The other is the bullpen. Hernandez in particular is getting lit up. Hughes isn’t doing much better.
    Igesias pitched well last time for two innings, it was the third that got him. Stephenson has been a pleasant surprise. I would like to see him get more high leverage opportunities.

  10. Don

    The Reds are 1-8 with 25 of the next 35 games on the road. Of those 25 games, 13 are against west coast teams, and the Reds have historically struggled mightily in games out there. A record of 15-20 during that stretch, which is certainly plausible, leaves you at 16-28 in the middle of May. I normally wouldn’t be overly concerned about a 1-8 start, but with the schedule setting up the way it is, it really was imperative to avoid just absolutely laying an egg here. Unfortunately the Reds did just that. I know it is awfully early and it may sound silly, but I believe the Reds are actually at a very critical point in the season already.

  11. Eric Wormus

    I’m not sure at this point what there is to be worried about. Fangraphs projects them at 75-78 the rest of the way which, besides being a minor miracle, leaves them at 76-86. The season was effectively over before they even tipped off the first Final Four game for crying out. loud. The front office and ownership failed spectacularly. We are on, what year 5 of the rebuild? The Reds are starting exactly 0 rookies. Peraza and Winker are the only two 25 or younger and they seem determined to continue yanking Winker’s playing time around for some reason.

    They have exactly 1 player in Louisville that even has a chance to make an impact this year which is just crazy. Five years into a rebuild and the majority of your prospects are at AA or lower. I’m only half kidding when I say I’d rather watch Trammell and Siri in Cincinnati now than whatever the hell it is they are running out there now.

    So worried? No, they are just as dysfunctional as they always have been and always will be as long as Bob is the owner.

    • Eric Wormus

      I think you misunderstand; I don’t say bring these guys up to turn around the team. The season’s over and they’re simply playing out the string at this point. I mean from an entertainment perspective would I rather watch a completely disinterested Matt Kemp, an out of position Scott Schebler, and Puig who, when the Reds are sitting 15 games under .500 in June is going to be more worried with his next contract (justifiably so) than the rest of the season, or young guys like Siri/Trammell/Ervin/Winker who have at lesat a chance of eventually being good? As the ad campaign goes, Let the Kids Play.

    • Big Ed

      Siri has a much, much more booming bat than Hamilton. His inside-the-park homer last night was a liner off the wall in right center. He needs better strike zone command, but he has a very high ceiling.

  12. Streamer88

    I’ll go: if you take it one bite at a time, not very worried at all.

    Votto: warming up
    SP: betting than expected
    Bullpen: suspicious of regression
    Winker: slump/rust
    Rest of lineup: slump/rust

    No one is playing to their projections except Castillo. Taken together, I’m happy they’re not winless.

    They’ll get hot. It’ll just depend on will they get as hot (and get Scooter back, stay healthy) longer than they go cold.

  13. Earl

    Really was not expecting that much from this year, just hoped it would work out and they might be a bit better. Still might. Hope it doesn’t take them til nearly June to figure it out like last year.

    Starting pitching hasn’t been awful, that’s ok.

    Dietrich seems to be able to hit a bit and stand in many positions with a glove, so he was a nice scrap pile pickup.

    So many people not hitting, by odds some of these guys will start hitting.

  14. DB

    Pitching to the brewers 8th place hitter who was 0-13 and the pitcher on deck with first base open was one of Bells Boners allowing Arica to hit a 3 run bomb. Yesterday after Bell was ejected Benavides did the same thing with runners on second and third and first base open and a lefty hitter who was hot and already had hits facing a righty who promptly singled up the middle driving in two was another Boner. Overusing Lorenzen early and other questionable pitching moves have blown up in Bells face. I lay a lot of the blame at his feet. I was never convinced he was the right man for the job. Time will tell. Nepotism reigns supreme in da natti.

  15. Roger Garrett

    Agree and its all about being a pro and playing like one.Hitters slump,pitchers slump,defense and sound fundamentals should never slump but they always will when you have a losing culture.Bell will have to call his players out in the locker room and gets some things straight as to how the game will be played but its being going on for years and its accepted so good luck.The best teams have players that lead by example in all phases of the game which is usually one of your best players but who is that on our team?

  16. Hanawi

    This team is who they were at the beginning of the season. They have probably the worst defense in baseball, a mediocre bullpen that they didn’t even attempt to strengthen, and are relying on a couple of guys that they Dodgers gave away for Homer Bailey. For all the sunshine pumped out to the fans about the off-season, the rebuild has continued to be an abject failure with little semblance of a plan.

    Now they will have better streaks this year, but I can’t see the team as constructed finishing anywhere near .500.

    • Hanawi

      Giving them Josiah Gray is even worse. That’s going to come back to bite the Reds big time

    • DB

      Ex Dodgers on this team…puig kemp Schebler Peraza wood farmer and HC ward. Not to mention the short stay of Connor Joe. Most games there are only two or three homegrown players in the lineup votto winker Barnhart. The rebuild has been a disaster.

    • Jay

      I’m hoping to get back on the bandwagon as well and hope i look like a fool for doubting them. They need a spark. Maybe they can get it done with the Marlins in town.

    • Jay

      I think we all know that this was the FO trying to give us a reason to show up to GABP. Maybe not a winning season, but at least in the area of 75-80 wins. However, even if this is a patchwork team, they should have at least been able to win 3 of the games against the Brewers and Pirates this past week. Its not that impressive, but they’d be staring at 4-5 right now and very much still in the thick of it. 1-8 is way more psychologically damaging, especially when it hits home that they haven’t won since opening day. This is some kind of funk they are in.

  17. Billy Idle

    If I am worried about anything, its what jim is talking alluding to. It seems like their heads just aren’t in it and that, to me, falls to some degree on Bell’s leadership. Votto getting thrown out jogging to third, Barnhart heading to the dugout after only two outs, Suarez walking to first on Ball 3, Schebler not moving runners over. This concerns me much more than the bats or the bullpen. This is just poor, lackadaisical execution, and I hope not a reflection of the attitude in the clubhouse.

    • DB

      The Votto jog to third was gross misconduct. No idea where that guy’s head is at but it sure isn’t in the game. Same with dropping the foul pop up and causing the balk. Or swinging at the first pitch after Schebler just took a walk. Or trying to work a walk when ahead in the count instead of trying to drive the ball.

  18. Mary Beth Ellis

    Thanks for the shout-out 🙂

  19. indydoug

    And yet Dietrich has outperformed his yearly averages over the 1st 9 games.

  20. Jay

    Considering that they had their 2nd win a few days before this point in 2018, i would say pretty worried. There appears to be something fundamentally and systemically wrong with the team right now. They can’t score 2 runs when our pitchers are nailing things down, and pitchers can’t limit the damage when our offense comes alive. I guess the positives from the weekend series were that the bats finally showed signs of life and their “Heart and Soul” came out in that 30 minute brouhaha. I’ll agree with a previous poster that Derek Dietrich and Yasiel Puig displayed great leadership potential which this team has sorely missed since 2013. That being said, its 9 games into the season and Reds are already 6 1/2 games back in the NLC standings. We’ve already established what a competitive division this is and now It suddenly looks like another 3-15 start is not out of the question. Reds could be buried in the standings, and effectively out of the playoff picture before the last week of April if they repeat such a mark. Until i see great strides towards improvement i have to downgrade my final win/loss projection to 70-92. Yes this means the Reds will be sellers come July 31st. Kemp may not even last that long. 2018 looks like it was the last good season he could squeeze out. If his performance continues to decline, they need to be ready to call up Ervin/Senzel and DFA Kemp. If that doesn’t happen i would say the Reds FO is in no real hurry to get better which is a disgrace to the fans. Yeah, it means they would have to eat a huge contract, but whats the point of keeping Kemp if they are getting no offensive production from him?

    • Jay

      Also, Reds should have been shopping Kemp around in Spring Training. One of the AL teams who needed a DH may have bit at a trade offer. Now, no team will want to touch him. He has seemingly struck out more times than i can count with RISP and less than 2 outs. It just looks like he isn’t going to have anywhere near the season he had in 2018. I hope and pray he proves me wrong, i really do.

  21. Jay

    So basically they have to play ~.500 ball the rest of the season just to finish 6 games below .500? Great! Not a tall task at all for an inconsistent pitching staff and one of the leagues worst defenses. I’m almost sold on another 90+ loss season. I hope they change my mind.

  22. Roger Garrett

    Regarding Kemp,he should only play against lefties period.Winker,Schebler and Puig all may be or may not be part of the team next year but Kemp won’t be for sure.Plug those 3 guys in every day and lets see what happens.Dietrich at second and Peraza back to short.Tucker plays 3 games a week and Casali the rest.I never expected Hughes,Hernandez or Duke to do anything and they haven’t and they won’t.Romano and Reed have been tagged as relievers and should be here right now because the guys I mentioned won’t be after this year.Not throwing in the towel but can’t win with this roster as it is constructed.Kemp can’t hit and the old guys in the pen don’t miss any bats.When Senzel and Scooter return they both play.Schebler goes to the bench and Dietrich gets two or three starts a week as the super sub.Money is freed up after this year and then you add some key pieces and go from there.Reds will get better because they are better then last year but the division is really good so they could only win 70 but the future looks bright.

  23. BigRedMike

    One thing that may be a challenge for the Reds is that teams are locking up their players now. The number of free agents will continue to decrease. Granted, the Reds have never been in the market for the elite free agents, but, building a team through free agency will get more difficult.
    The Reds need to build the team through drafting, developing, and trades. Instead, the Reds seem to have an aversion to utilizing young prospects. The offseason moves may help with this season, but, there does not appear to be a lot ready talent in the system.
    As noted, the Reds acquired players that their former teams had no plans for. The acquired players are likely better than last seasons team, but, it shows how poor the rebuild has been.

  24. Indy Red Man

    Worried? No. Resignation would be the proper word. This is the Titantic and the people with the lifeboats took off already.

    the acceptance of something undesirable but inevitable.
    “a shrug of resignation”

    If Senzel comes up and dominates and Scooter comes back by June then they might squeeze by the Pirates for 4th.

    Looking at other teams….look what Seattle found in Domingo Santana! He had a .876 ops at age 24 and now he’s destroying the ball for them at 26. They can build around that guy! Thats what the Reds need. When the Yankees get healthy then make a move for Clint Frazier.