Well the Reds managed to hang around until nearly August. Not bad. Usually June is the last month to care about the team but this time they managed to make it a little longer. While still only 5.5 games back, they sit in 5th place. They would need 4 teams to tank worse then they have already and that ain't happening. Not long ago I wrote that the easy part of the schedule was over and they would need to pick it up or be left in the dust. That was before Albert Pujols ended the Reds season with one swing of the bat. Since he hit that grand slam, the Reds are 5-12. Barring a 6 game winning streak, the Reds will once again be sellers at the July 31st trading deadline. Maybe next year.
If they are trading players, here is who they should get rid of:
David Weathers-He has been above-average since joining the team which is better then most thought. His last 4 seasons with the Reds he has put up an ERA+ of 132, 130, 139, 149. Would be a nice get for any contending team looking for an extra arm in the bullpen. I wouldn't mind keeping him around but he is a free agent at the end of the year so we might as well get something for him now.
Arthur Rhodes-Has an amazing 264 ERA+ and 0.99 WHIP. Left handers are hitting a ridiculous .118/.193/.137 for an OPS+ of -5. That is unbelievable. Any team needing a LH reliever would be hard pressed to find one better then Arthur. Should fetch some nice prospects.
Bronson Arroyo-Always thrown around in trade talks, his recent scoreless streak has certainly helped. Any team needing a reliable starter would want him. You know what you are getting and he does have postseason experience. The only hangup could be his salary which has 2 more years at 10 million per. A big market team wouldn't flinch but mid to small market teams can't add that money. Depends on how desperate teams get.
Aaron Harang-I keep hearing his name but I don't think it will actually happen. He is a staple here in Cincinnati and is making a nice chunk of change at 12 million per year. It would take a strong offer to make a deal and I don't see any team that desperate right now.
As for the rest, Cordero makes too much money at 12 million per year and none of our position players are good and available. Maybe Hernandez before he got hurt but not now. I imagine the Reds will move one of the relievers by July 31 and maybe Arroyo after. You have to remember the July 31st deadline is a mirage. Players can be traded until August 31st if they clear waivers and with this economy, most non-superstar players will clear. Dunn and Griffey were both traded after July 31st last season. Look for more movement in August. Until then, let's whip the Cubs this weekend just to shove it those obnoxious fans' faces.
Finally that month is over. The Reds limped through it. Now they face a pretty daunting July and unless the offense improves, it will be the nail in the coffin.
Thanks to a crappy division, the season isn't over yet. The Reds are only 2 games behind the Cardinals for second and 4 behind the Brewers for first. Somehow they are still leading the Cubs by half a game. Shows how bad they have been. Let me show you the gory June stats first, then I will show that the upcoming schedule makes it likely that the Reds will plummet if they continue at this pace.
-As a team, the Reds went .229/.300/.349/.649 for an OPS+ of 78 and good enough for dead last in the majors. Let me repeat. DEAD LAST IN ALL OF BASEBALL. To put it in perspective, Alex Gonzalez has a career OPS+ of 78. The entire team was a weak hitting SS for an entire month. Wily Taveras had an OPS of .375. That should be is on base percentage, NOT his on base percentage PLUS slugging. Alex Gonzalez was .488. Hariston was .537. Hernandez was .597. You get the picture. Those are Corey Patterson numbers and loyal readers know how I feel about Corey.
-How did they go 11-15 in June? I wondered the same thing. It wasn't really the starting pitching either. Their ERA was at the bottom of the pack at 13th in the NL and WHIP was 15th. Arroyo had a 6.82 ERA and the Maloney/Volquez/Bailey combo was about 6.00. The relief pitchers were certainly an asset, posting the 2nd best WHIP and 4th best ERA in the NL. That has been the strength for the past few years. Another big factor, defense. According to UZR (Ultimate Zone Rating) the Reds are the 5th best defensive team in baseball(#2 in the NL). Last season they were 27(#15 in NL). But defense can only go so far in one month. What is the real reason? It all came down to the schedule. The teams they played just weren't good. Cleveland, Washington, and Atlanta are pretty bad. The best team they faced were the 4 games over .500 Blue Jays. Unfortunatly, those easy days are over.
-The Reds have 2 more games against lowly Arizona. Need to win those because it may be a while until the Reds get another one. The final 10 games before the All-Star break are home for 3 with STL, 4 @Phi, 3@NYM. All 3 of those teams are over .500. After the break, the Reds host Mil for 4, go for 3 @LAD, then 3 @ CHC. Those teams are a combined 25 games over .500. The last games of the month consist of 4 at home to the Padres, the team that swept the Reds in May and one against the surging Rockies. WOW. If the team from June plays those 27 games as they did the previous 26, they won't go 11-15. They will go 2-25.
-the only reason for optimism is this: Votto is back and rounding into form. Edwin is on the brink of a return any day now. Volquez is back throwing after a setback and could rejoin after the All-Star game. Also, could they really hit any worse? I don't know if it is possible and I shutter to think what it would look like if they did. The easy part is over for the Reds and the made-or-break month is upon us. Let's get the starting pitchers back on track and the bats on fire. Otherwise, it turns into "Wait till next year."