The Cincinnati Reds are 4.5 games ahead of the last-place Chicago Cubs. By and large the Reds are coming to the stadium just to finish the season. The Cubs are playing with the enthusiasm of possibly finishing out of last place for the first time since the Houston Astros joined the American League and out of fifth place for the first time since 2010. It should be fun to watch — for Cubs fans.
Chicago’s general manager Theo Epstein will go down as one of the biggest baseball brains in the history of the game. By 2016, Epstein will have amassed enough Cubs talent to challenge for a playoff spot. Their minor league system is stacked with high-level, near MLB-ready sticks: third baseman Kris Bryant, shortstop Addison Russell and outfielders Jorge Soler and Albert Almora.
Reds GM Walt Jocketty is, in comparison, comatose. For those unfortunate enough to be Cincinnati fans, it’s a dead horse hardly worth beating. The 2014 Reds had so many minor — but important — fixes that went totally unaddressed.
How difficult is it to snag a couple of decent middle relievers to replace a few of the current bullpen stiffs? How tough can it possibly be to gather inexpensive depth at key positions? Skip Schumaker, Chris Heisey, Ramon Santiago, Jack Hannahan — seriously? Jocketty proves drug testing general managers should be no different than it is for players.
Chicago is coming to Cincinnati for a three-game series on Tuesday. The teams hook up again in Wrigley after September’s roster expansion. While the Cubbies will be showcasing their consensus No. 1 farm system, the Reds lineup will be littered with lemons like Neftali Soto, Donald Lutz and Jake Elmore. The series is absolute must-see-TV — for Cubs fans.