Please make all this “what if we hadn’t traded Josh Hamilton” talk stop. What if Napoleon had B-52 bombers? What if the sun explodes and we all live off solar energy for three days and then die? “What ifs” are for people who can’t deal with reality….
Here’s the reality: the Reds bought low and sold high on Hamilton. They needed pitching after the 2008 season. Period. Joey Votto had already arrived and Jay Bruce and Drew Stubbs weren’t far behind them. Adam Dunn was consistently hitting 40 home runs and driving in over 100 runs a season. Ken Griffey, Jr. was untradeable. I think this team was well stocked with outfield talent. The catchers on the roster were pedestrian. The infield had Brandon Phillips and Aaron Boone. That’s it. And is it really necessary to get into what made Hamilton available to the Reds in the first place?
Pitching? It was Aaron Harang and Bronson Arroyo and a lot of guys named Kirk Sarloos.
Here’s a headline, breaking news: You need pitching to win in Major League Baseball. Hamilton was the only real piece that could be dealt to bring in a decent starting pitcher, which, I might add, Edinson Volquez was for his first season here. He was an All Star, remember?
This is what happens when you don’t develop your own starting pitching. You have to make trades that, far too often, don’t happen. The cause of all of this was former Reds General Manager, Jim Bowden and his crew’s inability to develop pitching. Period. Their strategy was apparently to draft any sore arm gasoline can they could find and then watch the Tommy John surgeries begin. Ty Howington, Richie Gardner, Ryan Wagner, shall I go on? They even drafted a pitcher they knew full well they couldn’t get the money to sign (Jeremy Sowers) and selected him anyway. THAT’s why the Reds had to make a deal in 2007 to unload Hamilton for pitching.
And it simply worked out better for the other guy, the Texas Rangers, than it did for the Reds. The moral of this story is NEVER put yourself in a position to have to trade for pitching. You draft wisely and develop pitching and, if you must, trade for everyday players.
Don’t know about you, but I think Mike Leake needs to show a pulse tonight…
Next person who tell you “the Reds CAN’T put Aroldis Chapman in the starting rotation because the Reds bullpen is sooooo good”, ask them this: Is Chapman one of their top five pitchers? Is he one of their top two pitchers?
Chapman can’t start a game now. He has to build up the arm strength to start (which ironically he had done all through spring training until they sent him to the bullpen). But he could be ready inside of three weeks. You wouldn’t have to take him out of the ‘pen to get that done. All you need to do is pitch him gradually longer each time out for the next three weeks.
And when somebody tells you “the Reds CAN’T take Chapman out of the bullpen because they have lost Bill Bray indefinitely”, ask them this: How tough do you think it is to find a left handed reliever? You may not find one as electrifying as Chapman, nor as effective. But you can find a quality major league bullpen arm, left or right, just about anywhere. And do you mean to tell me the Reds ‘smart guys’ got all the way to the end of spring training without a contingency plan, not involving Chapman, in the event that Bray wasn’t ready? He was in danger of missing significant time in early March when I was in Arizona. Where were the ‘smart guys’ all winter long?
And when somebody tells you “the Reds CAN’T take Chapman out of the bullpen and make him a starting pitcher NOW because he’ll surpass his 150 inning team imposed limit in August”, ask them this: What happens if you ride with Leake and a shaky Homer Bailey until then? The Reds could be out of it by August. Here’s an idea: you worry about August when you get to August.
Or as Stevie Wonder would sing….
RIP Chuck Brown, the genius behind the funk “Go Go” music genre. He died today at the age of 75 from complications from pneumonia. When I lived in DC, Brown was big, huge. He influenced an entire generation of musicians and you could trace the origins of ‘hip hop’ right to Brown’s doorstep. No doubt, heaven is “Bustin’ Loose” tonight. But it was far too early for that celebration to begin.