Five ways to fix the RedsBy Hal McCoy
"ATLANTA — Five things the Cincinnati Reds must do to go from 12-17 in April to 17-12 in May as they open a three-game series against the Braves tonight, May 2:
1) Call it what you want, the big blast, the big bop, the big stroke or simply the big hit, but the Reds must start getting important hits that drive in runs from the guys batting in the Nos. 3, 4 and 5 positions — Ken Griffey Jr., Brandon Phillips and Adam Dunn.Or change the lineup and batting order, even though manager Dusty Baker has tried that and it hasn't worked much.
2) When you pay a guy $46 million, you want to use him. In the first month, closer Francisco Cordero had only four save opportunities and converted all four.
The Reds must get themselves in save situations for their big closer, who didn't do much more in April than be a companion/father confessor for fellow Dominican pitchers Edinson Volquez and Johnny Cueto.
3) When Aaron Harang pitches, the Reds must imagine that Volquez is on the mound. Harang was 1-4 in April with a 2.98 earned run average, which means he could go 6-24 and win the ERA title. The offense averages 3.1 runs when Harang pitches and 7.0 when Volquez pitches, including 27 in his last three starts.
Maybe the Reds can have all starting pitchers wear Volquez's No. 36.
4) Corey Patterson is hitting .214. Ryan Freel is hitting .321. Who should bat leadoff and play center field — even though both seem to need anchors or ankle bracelets when they run the bases?
5) Make trades for Milwaukee's Bill Hall, Houston's Lance Berkman, Chicago's Derek Lee and St. Louis' Rick Ankiel. If they are going to beat you, let them join you.
An April to forget
Highs and lows through the season's first month:
At the plate: The Reds are 10th in the NL in runs (124), eighth in batting average (.256) and on-base percentage (.328).
On the mound: Cincinnati's 4.37 ERA ranks 12th in the NL, and the Reds are tied for last with just four saves.
Biggest downer: Corey Patterson, batting .214 with a .280 on-base percentage.
Best surprise: Edinson Volquez, 4-0, leads NL with 1.23 ERA."
Now, I must say, when I saw the title of the article I thought it would be interesting and insightful, but instead McCoy slipped into his Captain Obvious hat and provided nothing that isn't obvious to even those fans at GABP who have had one too many adult libations. Next thing you know, Hal will be telling us that in order to win more ballgames the Reds need to score more runs than the opponent.
The longer I follow this game, the more I appreciate good media coverage. I've gained a new appreciation for the lowly Royals, who by some cosmic coincidence have some of the best baseball writers and minds in the game among their fans. The cosmic tumblers somehow all clicked into place to make Bill James, Rob Neyer, Rany Jazayerli, and Joe Posnanski all Kansas City Royal fans, writers, or both.
Over the years, the eloquence and insight of these writers have made me really appreciate the Royals. Their ability to make me appreciate the plight of the lowly Royals just reveals the power of the pen, at least when wielded by the right people.
Quality media coverage of professional baseball can enlighten and inspire, but lately it seems the Reds have fallen short in that area. Hal McCoy clearly mailed this one in or maybe his editor slapped the wrong headline on the story. If he had been claiming to do nothing but highlight the problems, then it would've been less grating, though no more insightful.
On the television side, the fans are left with a broadcast crew anchored by a father and son that seem to compete for the honor of Most Negative Broadcaster. I've sang this song before, but the best broadcasters (The late, great Bill King, Vin Scully, Ernie Harwell, Jack Buck, Jon Miller, etc) are the farthest things from homers, but they manage to keep their criticism both objective and constructive. If a play is bad, then they have no hesitation in saying so, but they never attack the player himself. That's the difference. These players are out there doing their best, so what's the point of consistently criticizing them?
I'd like to see the overall quality of media coverage on the Reds improve, but maybe that is a pipe dream in the modern era of journalism, where cut backs are the norm. One wonders how much the public is missing out on due to these cut backs. The media is truly our lens on the world, but lately the Reds fans seem to be left with a lens that focuses only on the negative, attacks players instead of plays, and at times seems to provide nothing of value at all.