Off day musings

Greetings from downtown Houston where I’m getting my bearings after landing on my flight from Milwaukee. Since I’m supposed to be “off” today, I will pose a few questions to you and hope you respond. Go ahead and sign in so you can comment. I know it’s an extra step but it really doesn’t hurt, trust me.

The Reds are 4-4 after eight games. Are you happy with that?

What’s your biggest surprise and disappointment?

Has anything you’ve seen encouraged or discouraged you about the bulk of the season ahead?

I know that’s a lot to ask for when only eight games have been played.

Some early trends:

The Reds offense is ranked 16th out of 16 NL teams with a .222 team average.

The Reds are fourth in walks with 40 and eighth in team OBP with .333. They are 12th in runs scored.

Joey Votto is hitting very well (.387, 2 HR, 10 RBI, .457 OBP) and Willy Taveras has done a good job of getting on base (.462 OBP) and creating some havoc. Edwin Encarnacion (eight walks) and Brandon Phillips (seven walks) are getting on base a lot. Jay Bruce and Alex Gonzalez haven’t looked good at the plate.

The focus of my off-day story is pitching, namely the rotation. Although counted on to be the biggest strength of the team, it has yet to get into a groove. There have been just two quality starts. It has pitched five innings or fewer four times and into the seventh twice. It came into Thursday ranked 10th out of 16 National League teams with a 4.82 ERA, eighth with 46 2/3 innings pitched and ninth in strikeouts with 37. The staff’s overall ERA is 5.32, also ranked 10th.

Only Aaron Harang has had two decent outings and Bronson Arroyo has had one. Edinson Volquez hasn’t looked good and Johnny Cueto and Micah Owings have had one uneven outing each.

Lastly, the Reds are facing Astros main nemesis Roy Oswalt on Friday. I would love to be a fly on the wall during the coaching staff’s meeting with the advance scout about to handle Oswalt. In 28 games vs. the Reds, including 26 starts, Oswalt is 23-1 with a 2.47 ERA lifetime and was 4-0 last season. How do you like the Reds’ chances with Cueto?

Discuss, please.

5 Comments

23-1?…yikes. he may be 0-2 this year, but he has to love seeing the reds come to town…as for the reds so far this season, im not too surprised with what i have seen. edinson clearly needs to adjust the way he goes at hitters, they seem to know exactly when he is going to throw the change-up. i think everyone thought wed struggle hitting to some degree, but the patience at the plate has been a positive. (especially for EE)…lots of games to be played, reds need to win these games against a not too good astros squad.

The average has been bad so far, but there are signs that once some guys heat up (Bruce, Gonzalez, Hernandez), we could be in better shape than the last several years. There has actually been patience while batting so far. Not something reds fans are used to. I would be surprised if the pitching doesn’t improve. Volquez can’t seem to find the plate, but with a little work, he should be able to improve on that. Owings just actually needs to see the mound at something higher than a Josh Fogg-ish pace. And though Cueto wasn’t great, I don’t think we could realistically expect a quality outing from him every time. I’ll take .500 with all those struggles.

1. Biggest surprise has been the patience at the plate. If Taveras and Phillips stay patient our offense should be good enough this year. The bottom of the order cant be this bad all year.

2. Biggest disappointment has been the middle relief. All four losses have seen the bullpen either lead to the winning run or let the other team blow it open that prevented any kind of comeback. Herrara led to the loss on Opening Day, Lincoln let the game get away in the 9-7 near comeback loss to the Mets and again in the 9th of the Pirates game. Burton let the game get away last night. The starters being more efficient and going deeper into games will help but the bullpen ahead of Rhodes, Weathers and Cordero needs to be better.

Overall the reds have not played well and are still 4-4. In the past I feel like an 8 game stretch with a .222 average and starter era over 5 would have led to 1-7 or 2-6. This team managed to scratch out some wins and thats encouraging.

.500 is a pleasant surprise. Joey Votto is the real deal. I’m pleased Harang has come out so strong. Marty B is already irritated with Ramon Hernandez. Oswalt is like a bull in a bullfight seeing Red. Don’t like their chances Friday but who knows, we’re due, right? And good job on the radio broadcast yesterday, Mark.

1. 4-4… happy? No, but not unhappy.
2. Biggest surprise if the dominance of the back end of the bullpen… biggest disappointment is the overall play of Ramon Hernandez. I really felt like he would be a big key to this team’s success.
3. I am very encouraged by the bullpen play and by the force that is Joey Votto… I am discouraged by the slow start of Jay Bruce. At his young age, he may not know how to pull himself out of the funk quickly.
Observation: For a team that is built on speed and defense, they don’t sacrifice runners over very often. Or at least hit to the side of the field that will advance the runner. This failure has cost us more than one run. Plus, our defense has been average at best.
With that said, the upside of this team is almost limitless. Volquez and Cueto find their groove, Bruce starts hitting and the defense plays like we know they can and it all adds up to a special season, considering we are .500 without these things.

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