We’re two days from the second half of the season and two weeks from the trading deadline, and the question is: What moves will Reds General Manager Walt Jocketty make?
The more relevant question, though, may be: What can the Reds even do?
Before we get into the possibilities and potential options, let’s first assess what this ballclub needs.
1) Right-handed bat
The Reds really miss Ryan Ludwick — and who would have thought that 2 years ago when Jocketty signed him?
Ryan Ludwick, who knocked in 80 runs in 2012, re-signed in the offseason and promptly tore his shoulder up in the first daggum game of the season…and that has left a gaping hole in the lineup–especially when it comes to right-handed hitters.
John Erardi of the Cincinnati Enquirer sums up the shwagness of Reds right-handed bats so far in 2013:
The Reds’ right-handed bats currently have an OPS (on-base plus slugging percentage) of. 642 compared to .810 for the left-handed bats. (Right-handed hitting Zack Cozart has a .651 OPS – which means that as a group, the Reds’ right-handed batters are hitting like Zack Cozart.)
Team doctors have been intimating that Ludwick should be back some time in the month of August…but, even if he does come back, it’s a shoulder injury–and if you know anything about shoulder injuries, well, they phuck hitters up. Weak shoulders mean weak power–just look at Matt Kemp of the Dodgers. He was Superman to begin 2012, then he hurt his shoulder, and ever since, he has been a shell of himself.
Erardi has an outside-of-the-box idea with how to address this problem: Trade Aroldis Chapman. It’s an interesting idea and it has its merits, but there’s no fuggin’ way in hell that happens. Erardi’s reasoning is that it would likely yield a right-handed power bat for the middle of the order…possibly someone like Giancarlo Stanton from Miami.
Either way, if the Reds ain’t gonna get anything from Ludwick, the offense will continue to struggle to score runs…especially late in games when insurance runs are desperately needed.
2) Bench Help
Even Keri Russell knows that the Reds have a terrible bench.
Let’s not beat around the bush here. The Reds’ bench is pure dogshit. I mean, seriously, which of these potential late-game pinch-hitters would you have faith in?
The answer is “none of the above, and we’re screwed.”
Imagine… the Reds are in that one-game playoff, playing in Pittsburgh. It’s the top of the 9th, the Reds have a man on second with 2 outs, trailing by a run, and Dusty needs a pinch hitter. “Pinch-hitting, number nine, Jack Hannahan.”
Is there any help in the minors? Well, we saw a bit of Donald Lutz in May and June, and it’s clear he’s not quite ready…although I’d rather have his power potential up there than have to rely on any of these fools. Other than Lutz, though, there isn’t much in the way of hitting help in the farm system.
So you gotta make a move, Walt. We need a couple of veterans to bolster the bench. (I’m sure Walt already knows this.)
The bright side? These are really the only two areas of need for the Reds. The starting rotation is fine and the bullpen will be fine.
As far as Walt making any moves, though, here are the issues he’s dealing with:
1) Who’s out there?
Raul Ibanez (Mariners, 24 HR) would be a great guy to get, even though he’s a lefty. Michael Young (.288 avg, .344 obp) of the Phillies could work. Chris Coghlan of Miami (.277 avg in 130 AB) would be an upgrade, although he’s left-handed as well. Would the Padres deal Carlos Quentin (.275, 12 HR)?
The problems here are that A) Tons of other teams will be looking to deal for these guys and B) The teams holding onto these assets may not be quite ready to sell them off just yet.
2) What trading chips do the Reds have?
Jocketty probably won’t deal anyone from the major league roster, because A) Most of those guys are untouchables and B) The ones who aren’t untouchable (Heisey, Ondrusek, Hannahan, Izturis, Manny Parra)…well, nobody would want those lozers anyway.
What about prospects? Of course, every team will ask for OF Billy Hamilton or P Robert Stephenson…but Walt ain’t dealin’ them. The rest of the system is devoid of prospects nearing major league ready…so it would take a team willing to deal for players who may not be big league ready for 3-5 years.
3) Where are all the sellers?
With the advent of that second wild card spot, there are really only a handful of teams now that are truly out of the running for a playoff berth. That means that 85% of major league teams are buyers, and that’s gonna drive the price up for the few available stopgaps on the market.
Right now, you’re probably looking at these teams with which you can trade: Marlins, Cubs, Brewers, Astros (but they have a team of AAA players), Mariners, White Sox, and possibly the Mets.
Walt Jocketty may not have any tricks up his sleeve this year.
What will happen?
The bottom line is this: Save for acquiring a veteran bat for the bench, Jocketty will most likely stand pat. The Reds, despite a rash of key injuries so far this season, have managed to stay afloat and lead that second wild card spot by 4.5 games over the Washington Nationals heading into the final 2.5 months of the season. As long as the starting pitching continues to excel, this team has a chance to get to the playoffs.
You’d rather the Reds win the division than have to go to the one game Wildcard playoff, but there’s only one way that can happen: Beat the fuggin’ Cardinals and Pirates head-to-head. And the only way THAT can happen? Perform better offensively. It’s gonna be up to the current squad to make that happen, because, like I said, there isn’t a whole lot Walt Jocketty can do to change/improve this team.