- By Marcus Hartman
The Cincinnati Reds are really working hard to erase all the positives they established in the first half of the season.
OK, that’s probably overstating it a bit. Maybe.
As things stand, they still have proven they have solid-or-better players at all eight every-day positions with Jesse Winker still a wild card and Nick Senzel on the way.
The overburdened bullpen has had some ups and downs, but there are key pieces in place (unless those need to join the rotation in the future).
But the starting rotation has been a disaster of unimaginable proportions.
That is not hyperbole. I literally could not have envisioned things being this bad before actually seeing it.
Hopes were not high for the rotation entering spring training, but reality has fallen short of even the lowest expectations.
It was reasonable to expect the Reds to have a rotation of Anthony DeSclafani, Homer Bailey, Brandon Finnegan, Scott Feldman and any one of a few youngsters who could hopefully show more good than bad.
Feldman has been pretty much exactly as advertised — soaking up innings while pitching slightly better than any random replacement might be — and Bailey has been all over the place.
OK, those things can be dealt with, but getting almost literally nothing from DeSclafani and Finnegan is half of a story that is very distressing for the future.
There is no guarantee either of those guys will be healthy in the future insofar as they are A) Pitchers, but more importantly B) Reds pitchers.
There could be a silver lining to their missing time in what would have likely been a lost season anyway…. but none of the youngsters in the spring training mix to be that fifth starter has done anything positive this season.
Even with a bunch of extra innings up for grabs because of those injuries almost nothing has been accomplished as far as building a rotation for the future.
Luis Castillo, who began the season in Double-A, is the obvious exception. He looks like a potential ace, but the number of questions lingering into this point in the season is still alarmingly high.
So Lance McCallister was probably on to something last night when he opened his show on WLW talking about having to make some moves to fix this situation.
And in that case, there is some good news because the Reds have assets to move if they decide to go that route.
They have a surplus of outfielders, so they could try to move a Scott Schebler for another Feldman-type or maybe get bolder and trade Winker for someone who is more like Castillo.
Since I looked at potential trade chips around the trade deadline, Eugenio Suarez has upped his game, passing Adam Duvall and Zack Cozart to trail only Joey Votto among the team’s leaders in WAR (wins above replacement).
Does that make Suarez an even more enticing trade chip or convince the organization to make him a pillar of the future?
There is probably no wrong answer to that question.
So I guess I did screw around and find a positive by the time I was done with this little activity.
A silver lining of sorts, though not the shiniest one.
Since looking more in-depth into the Cubs’ rebuild last year, I have become more and more convinced trying to draft a major-league rotation is a fools’ errand.
The floor is just too low for elite young pitching prospects. The likelihood a team ends up getting nothing for its investment is too high.
That they could acquire a talent like Castillo, who was already four years into his development, for a waiver-wire pickup on his fourth major-league team furthers this theory.
I know the Reds are not going to suddenly turn into a team that can buy free-agent pitchers, but the idea of stockpiling young arms for use in the majors and potentially trade for more prospects has been a massive failure for the second time in the last 20 years.
They went through a similar run of futility drafting pitchers from 1999-2007...
Remember Eric Winston’s puzzling comments about the future of the NFL?
Include former players Seth Joyner and Eric Davis (not that Eric Davis) to the list of people not impressed with the president of NFLPA’s perspective on this.
Will be interesting to see if anything else comes from this...
Meanwhile, the third preseason game is typically the most interesting anyway, but all indications are some key Bengals will be making their debuts Sunday.
Which do you want to see the most?...
Lastly, need another indicator college football season is here?
Kirk Herbstreit took questions for 40 minutes yesterday about the 2017 season.
But first the high school football teams will take the field, including a slew of programs with new leaders.