The Cincinnati Reds have been in quite a freefall since returning from the All-Star break. Losers of four straight games, the Reds find themselves now 3.5 games out of first place in the NL Central. With many calling for the Reds to make acquisitions leading up to the trade deadline, the moment of truth for GM Walt Jocketty and the Reds’ front office is quickly approaching.
However, the outcome might not be what us fans are hoping to see. We have all thrown names around such as Ben Zobrist, Marlon Byrd, Michael Brantley, etc. in hopes of finding someone the Reds might target. Yet there is one major problem staring us in the face: the Reds have consistently stated they have no more money to spend. And if that truly is the case, how can we expect the Reds to add a significant player to the roster?
For the Reds, it’s the same conundrum that seems to happen every year around this time — they speak publicly about the lack of payroll flexibility and regurgitate the same lines about improving when injured players return from the DL. Keep track over the upcoming nine days to see how many times you hear these talking points:
“Joey Votto and Brandon Phillips returning from the DL will be better than any acquisition we could be able to make.”
“We like the team the way it is constructed. Unfortunately, we have had very few games this season where everyone healthy as played together — but when we have, the results have been strong.”
That’s all good and well, but it doesn’t fix anything. Sure, Votto and Phillips will return, but look how well the two of them did in recent years when they returned from their stints on the DL — not well at all. Additionally, who is to say that the two will return to run-producing form?
It is a false hope that the Reds’ front office too often relies on. Remember last year, when they justified not making a move at the deadline because Ryan Ludwick would soon be returning? And how well did that work out? Exactly.
Fans have always been told by the Reds that when attendance grows, so will the payroll. And while payroll has grown in recent years thanks to ballooning contracts, so has attendance. With the Reds surprisingly drawing well this year, the pressure now rests on Bob Castellini and Jocketty to fulfill their promise to the fans: find the money to improve the team.
As the Reds have shown this week, they are unable to maintain success with their current roster of players. The fans have done what they can to ensure the finances reach the pockets of the Reds, now it is up to the front office to make this team better or risk the 2014 season as a whole.
Sadly for fans, if the organization’s track record is to be believed, the July 31 deadline may be boring as usual.