For many Cincinnati Reds fans, including me, the team’s 0-6 plummet and continued parade of injuries since the All-Star break has taken much of the luster off a season that seemed to hold much of promise less than a month ago. In fact, I’m read for general manager Walt Jocketty to go stand in the “sellers” line as the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline approaches. ESPN’s Jayson Stark has a different take, though, and in his latest Rumblings & Grumblings, Stark opines that Cincinnati’s recent struggles make Jocketty more likely to pull the trigger on a deal for either Marlon Byrd or Ben Zobrist.
Even if Stark is correct about Jocketty’s intentions, the ESPN scribe points out that there would be hurdles to overcome before either deal could actually be executed. While the Reds are often mentioned along with the Seattle Mariners and Kansas City Royals as the top suitors for Byrd, the Philadelphia Phillies likely would want the acquiring team to take on the $3 million owed Byrd for the rest of this season, and that would put the Reds in a financial bind. The Mariners and Royals, meanwhile, just happen to be two of the four teams to whom Byrd can block a trade. Ruben Amaro (Jr.) must be pulling his hair out.
Meanwhile, the Tampa Bay Rays have sorta kinda clawed back into the playoff race in the American League, so they are playing their trade intentions close to the vest. There is a decent chance, says Stark, that the Rays will not let go of either Zobrist (Mr. Versatile) or David Price (Mr. Ace). Targeting a player who is not available would be a nice diversion for Jocketty, I suppose, but not too productive in the long run. At least he could say he made an effort.
With the Reds playoff hopes slimming faster than a “Biggest Loser” contestant, a two-month rental at the price of prospects seems silly and maybe reckless. To me, that means Byrd should be off the table for the Reds, and Zobrist should only be there if they really think he is part of their mid-range future. That seems unlikely, too, given that so many of the teams “stars” are injured or underperforming and are expected to bounce back.
Maybe Jocketty should take the battery out of his cell phone and head out for a nice wilderness retreat, just to avoid temptation.