Seems like not long ago the talk among Cincinnati Reds fans were about the possibilities that 2008 could hold. In recent years, the pitching staff has been the big achilles heel to the Reds. We had hitting, and tons of it. Dunn, Kearns, Casey, Griffey, Lopez...scoring wasn't the problem for the Reds; staying healthy and, oh yes, pitching were the mainstay of problems. A transition came about, though...
In 2006, with the Reds leading the NL central for much of the first half of the season, then slipped to second, but still leading for the wildcard, GM Wayne Krivsky made his move. The ever-debated trade that sent Austin Kearns, Felipe Lopez, and Ryan Wagner to Washington for Royce Clayton, Gary Majewski, Bill Bray, Brandon Harris, and Daryl Thompson. Not a very popular deal at the time. Still not real popular to some now, but it's at least more accepted; Daryl Thompson could still pan out, Bill Bray is still young, and it's not like Kearns, Lopez, or Wagner are helping the Nats get out of the cellar of the NL East anytime soon. There was also the emergence of Aaron Harang being one of the top pitchers in the NL. Bronson Arroyo was the Reds lone All-Star. The starting rotation started coming around, but the bullpen was a run-giving machine. With a miserable west coast trip, the 2006 playoff hopes sunk fast.
2007 came around and gave the Reds little to be hopeful about. This time, the Reds started off slow and just dragged their feet all the way to October. The bullpen woes continued, however somewhat improved. David Weathers held down the closer role as well as anyone could expect an aging career middle reliever could, and Jared Burton emerged as a clear cut set-up man. Harang was once again steady, Arroyo was inconsistent but at times still showed signs of brilliance. Bobby Livingston had an impressive stint before coming down with a torn labrum. Homer Bailey made his major league debut in 2007. He showed he has impressive stuff, but needs polishing before he will be consistently effective at the major league level. Wait a minute...am I talking about the Reds pitching? What about the hitting? Dunn had another 40HR/100RBI, Brandon Phillips joined the 30/30 club, Hatteberg, Norris Hopper, and Jeff Keppinger all hit over .300. Of course, Hopper and Keppinger didn't join the club till mid-season from AAA. Joey Votto hit .321 after coming up in September. Griffey hit 30HR's and played 144 games. And Edwin Encarnacion hit a nice .289 and showed a slow improvement with his glove. So, "wait till next year"... again. This time, we meant it!
With a new manager hire on the horizon, we Reds fans had a lot of hope for 2008. Shame on us. We signed Francisco Cordero to nail down the closer role. That was a good thing. We signed Dusty Baker as our manager. This signing was kinda like taking your second choice to the prom; hoping for one thing, and then you're not really sure what to think once the real deal went down. But, that was just the beginning....I'll just fast forward to present day: we all know the debacles and don't need to be reminded what an incredible disappointment the 2008 season has been, what with Patterson and Bako playing, Bruce getting shafted off the opening day roster, Harang getting hurt, and the list continues.
With all that said...there' always next year...again. We've lived the last 13 playoff-less seasons and survived, I guess we can survive another season or two...depending on how long we decide to let Baker ruin this team.