Saturday, September 30, 2006
The 2006 Cincinnati Reds: A Tribute Post
In this time of the year where we usually start breaking down who deserved what and who will win in the baseball postseason, I'd like to extend a heartfelt thank you to the Cincinnati Reds for making this season such a joy to behold.
The Reds rode an 18-8 April and 7 straight wins to begin June, and turned them into a ride that saw them playing meaningful baseball 160 games into the season. The bulk of the Reds problems were projected onto the widely derided Austin Kearns deal, which replaced everyday solid offensive contributors Kearns (.274/.351/.492), and Felipe Lopez (.268/.356/.394) with Royce Clayton (.236/.292/.331 with highly overrated defense) and Chris Denorfia (.283/.355/.364 before getting replaced by Todd Hollandsworth). With Majewski injured almost immediately after coming over (and Wayne Krivsky pissed, leading to one of the more bizarre sagas in baseball this year), the only real benefit from the trade was left-handed reliever Bill Bray, who put up a 4.23 ERA out in the pen over 27 2/3rds innings. The fact that no real help came from the trade really underlines how foolish it was, because the trade was really made due to a hiccup in the Reds bullpen. From June 27 to the All-Star Break, the Reds went 4-10, with three of those wins coming against the Royals; of the losses, five of them were charged to the bullpen, including four of five games from July 2-6th.
Krivsky’s move was no doubt a panic move, nevertheless, it seemed to right the ship. The Reds won their first four games after the trade, suggesting that maybe everyone who criticized the trade should take a step back; they even got out of the rest of July following that streak with a .500 record. They made it down to the wire going only three games under .500 in August and exactly .500 in September. The bullpen pitched adequately down the stretch, losing only eight games the rest of the year (and three of those were by Majewski and Bray). However, the damage had already been done.
Todd Coffey was off to a phenomenal start for the Reds, putting up a 0.6 ERA in April and a 1.8 ERA in May. However, either by injuries, fatigue, or better scouting reports, he stopped striking people out. He struck out only 32 and walked 18 in 45 innings after May, which led to monthly ERA’s of 5.84, 5.59, 5.79, and 2.7 (2-8 bb/k). You certainly can see the Reds motivation towards bolstering their bullpen, but the fact that they gave up so much to get it done in that deal, as opposed to the Eddie Guardado deal, which cost them only Travis Chick, is a bit of a head-scratcher.
But this post isn’t a eulogy, this post is a celebration. This post is about Rich Aurilia, who hit more homers than Scott Rolen this year. Edwin Encarnacion, who despite injuries put up a .834 OPS. This is about how fun it is to watch Adam Dunn play every goddamn day and either hit the ball a ton or strikeout. This is about Brandon Phillips being one of three players this year to steal 25 or more bases and only get caught twice (with Ichiro and Chris Duffy). This is about David Ross and Will’s David Ross Fan Club, and his 21 homers in 241 AB’s while Jason LaRue hit .194. This is about Aaron Harang striking out 216 batters this year for some reason. This post is about a team who seriously used Chris Michalak as a starting pitcher in a pennant race.
Kudos, Cincinnati Reds, You made baseball interesting.