Thanks to the fine folks over at Chris Sabo's Goggles for helping us out in previewing the series against the Reds that starts today! Check them out for anything Reds related, it's a fun and refreshing look into the mind of a Reds fan to say the least. With that, here's our sit down with them:
TBB: Cincy was a pre-season favorite to take the division but it hasn't exactly been a blockbuster start with the Reds hovering around the .500 mark. Are you worried about this team challenging the Cards yet and why or why not?
CSG: From the perspective of the 2012 season, I'm not worried (because there are still a lot of games left), but I am concerned why we're almost at mid-May and the Reds' bats have been pretty quiet. Starting pitching was always the biggest question mark for this team, but we all hoped the bats would rescue the Reds from some of the poorly-pitched games. Unfortunately, poorly-pitched games have come at the same time as poorly-hit games. When both of those things happen at the same time, it's tough to win.
But to answer your question: ask me in early June how worried I am. Right now I'm just perplexed.
TBB: It appears that other than Jonny Cueto and Bronson Arroyo the starting pitching hasn't exactly set the world on fire, what gives?
CSG: Truthfully, Cueto was the only guy we felt comfortable with going into the season, so the fact that Arroyo has pitched well is just an added bonus. With the exception of Drew Stubbs, no player divides Reds fans as much as Homer Bailey. He's had some pretty bad games, and some pretty average games where he lucked out of getting the blame (Marmol's latest 9th inning implosion was a game where Bailey gave up three solo homers). Mike Leake has just been terrible--there's nothing else you can say about the guy. Mat Latos has pitched poorly on the road and poorly at home, with very few positives in between. Considering the Reds gave up half of their farm system to get him, it would be nice if he improved on that 5.97 ERA (going into Sunday's game).
In other words, I think the Reds' rotation is made up of one ace (Cueto) and four average/below average pitchers.
TBB: How awesome is Aroldis Chapman and how soon before he gets a starting gig?
CCSG: He's been sensational in whatever-you-call-that-role he's playing in the bullpen right now. Ondrusek, Chapman and Marshall are about as dominant as you can get from a 1-2-3 punch out of the bullpen. Nobody knows what Chapman can do in the starting rotation, but I'd love to see the Reds find out, because he's making way too much money to continue in the role he's in now. One more bad out from Leake and I think you see the Reds fast-track Chapman into the rotation.
Let me qualify that last statement by saying it would make sense if the Reds did that, but the Reds have done very little with Chapman that's made sense so far, so it's anyone's guess.
TBB: Offensively this team has been pretty average as a whole, who's been the most surprising and most disappointing with the bat so far?
CSG: The most surprising has been Jay Bruce, if only because we're over a month into the season and the guy's batting over .300. That could all change in a week (and it usually does with Bruce), but it seems that his stretches of inactivity are getting shorter, while his stretches of productivity are getting longer. Joey Votto has been striking out a lot, and he's not hitting for power, but it's hard to use the word "disappointing" with Votto. I'd say the most disappointing is either Rolen or Stubbs. We've waited a long time for Stubbs to improve as an offensive player, but unfortunately I think we've seen all we're going to get out of the guy. Rolen appears to be healthy, he's just not getting any hits.
TBB: Coming off the series with the Pirares & facing Milwaukee next how important to the season is this stretch of games if you want to contend in the division? (I know it's May but divisions can be lost in May, just not won)
CSG: The longer the Reds hover around .500, the harder it's going to be to convince Reds fans that "there's still time." The Cardinals are a far too consistent team to allow them to coast through the season a 3 or 4 game lead. The Reds need to get hot for a prolonged period of time, and separate themselves from the rest of the division before they get buried in the mix of mediocrity that currently sits in the middle of the NL Central. That being said, if the Reds are going to continue to struggle against teams like the Cubs and Pirates, why should we believe they'll be to handle the good teams?
TBB: Series prediction?
- Arroyo vs. Gallardo
- Bailey vs. Estrada
- Cueto vs. Greinke