Heading into the All-Star break, the Cincinnati Reds had reasons to be optimistic about the rest of the season even without stars Brandon Phillips and Joey Votto. They were seven games over .500 and just 1.5 games off the pace in the NL Central.
Then the front wheels fell off.
The injury-plagued Reds lost seven straight after the break without Phillips and Votto. By the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline, the Reds were at .500 and left with a sinking feeling that would only grow after Homer Bailey pitched his last game Aug. 7 due to a forearm injury.
In retrospect, the Reds needed to anticipate they would need a significant bat or two and at least one reliever worthy of complementing Jonathan Broxton and Aroldis Chapman. That would’ve meant dealing prospects the front office probably didn’t want to deal, and it also most likely would’ve meant adding payroll that the overspent team probably didn’t have.
Still, the decision to stand pat cost the Reds and their fanbase the 2014 season. GM Walt Jocketty might have been hamstrung by ownership in terms of his parameters to trade, but if he wasn’t, Jocketty failed the Reds and their fans this year.
Unlike larger market teams that can try to buy their way into the postseason every year by adding significant payroll before every trade deadline, the Reds do not enjoy such a luxury. But given their small-market stature, the Reds should have been all in for 2014 because their window to win will be significantly diminished after next season when all their starting pitchers except for Bailey are set for free agency.
Now that the undermanned Reds have lost eight of their last nine games, it’s too late to overcome their botched approach to this year’s trade deadline.