Can the Reds make a deal?
I suppose it’s pretty easy for folks to get pessimistic when their favorite club is swept in three games, a lackluster .500 Yankees team no less, coming out of the All-Star break. The Reds looked pretty poor in just about every facet of the game in New York.
Six runs with four solo homers, 31 strike outs to four walks, some sub-par defense and zero quality starts certainly isn’t going to get it done for the Reds.
Yet, they are still very much in the NL Central race – even from fourth place. They entered Monday only 2 1/2 games behind the first-place Brewers and Cardinals. With 64 games to go, that’s not really an intimidating distance.
It may seem like eons ago but Cincinnati cut a seven-game deficit to 1 1/2 games in just over a week. I know in the current era of Twitter/social media, the sky sure looks like it’s perpetually falling. I’ve seen the season declared over by followers and in the comments, it seems, numerous times.
Is it over? Nope. Of course not. Does that mean the Reds should stand pat and change nothing as July 31 approaches?
Nope. Of course not.
This is a team in need of some veteran reinforcement, namely a bat. No longer can it afford to let offense dry up in patches for extended periods like it has this season. The starting pitching has prevented long losing streaks but as the season gets later and arms are less fresh, that will be harder to do — even for a Reds rotation that’s one of the NL’s best.
The Reds know they will be challenged as a small market club to keep the window of contending open as long as possible. Short of moving Robert Stephenson, Michael Lorenzen and Jesse Winker, all of whom should be untouchable, it’s time to explore trades that provide both short and long-term solutions.
Ben Zobrist would be a nice addition but the Rays are surging and aren’t out of contention yet. While Tampa Bay remains six games out for the AL Wild Card, there are still 17 teams that are within three games of a playoff spot around the league. 17. That makes deal making harder than ever, but as July 31 gets closer, teams will be making moves. The Reds don’t have a big track record of making Deadline deals (Scott Rolen in 2009 and Jonathan Broxton in 2012) but this should be the year that bucks their trend.
The Reds can also help themselves from within. They’ve often said they go as Billy Hamilton goes. Hamilton was 1-for-12 in New York. Jay Bruce was 0-for-11 as his funk returned. If those guys can turn it around here in Milwaukee and the Reds can win a series, things likely won’t seem so pessimistic.