The trade deadline came and went yesterday afternoon, and despite rumors here and there surrounding the Cincinnati Reds, general manager Walt Jocketty didn’t make any moves. While that may not have been such a bad tactic given the Reds’ recent slide, the fact is that this team was poised as a legitimate contender less than a month ago and yet received no help from the front office when injuries and slumps struck in the second half of July.
With the 2014 season entering the stretch run and the Reds standing on the sidelines, now is a good time to see how various members of the team were affected by Jocketty’s inactivity. While much of the baseball world is assessing hits and misses on a larger level, here are our trade deadline winners and losers, Cincinnati Reds edition.
Winner: Ryan Ludwick
The Reds made big “news” on the morning of July 31 when they announced that Ludwick was available on the trade market. The problem, of course, is that Ludwick’s lack of production has been a major stumbling block for Cincinnati this season, and the proclamation of his availability was met with yawns and derision. If he had somehow been dealt, chances are he would have been relegated to a bench role, or worse, for his new team. Ludwick’s best chance at redemption is to continue accruing regular playing time for the banged up Reds and hope he can turn up his power in the last two months. Looks like he’ll get his opportunity.
Winner: Brandon Phillips
During the course of July, the Reds were mentioned as suitors for Ben Zobrist and Daniel Murphy, and the presence of either could have spelled trouble for Phillips’ status when he eventually returns from injury. As it stands now, though, Phillips just needs to brush aside the straw men that have filled in for him and continue his decline phase in peace.
Loser: Alfredo Simon
Simon is enjoying a career year and has been a revelation as a starter. Given that he is 33 years old and has never had success in the rotation before, it’s quite possible that his is a lightning-in-a-bottle story. Alas, by finding himself still on the Reds’ roster this morning, Simon may have to face the fact that his best chance to contribute substantially to a true contender has evaporated.
Loser: Bryan Price
With a duct-taped lineup and an upstart rotation, rookie manager Bryan Price was drawing hushed rave reviews at the All-Star break, and several pundits had him pegged as a Manager of the Year front-runner. Now that the Reds will likely battle the Chicago Cubs for rights to the NL Central Division cellar, Price will be the forgotten man, and might even find himself taking a bit of heat courtesy of our next guy.
Loser: Walt Jocketty
It’s hard to find much good in Jocketty’s milquetoast July. It has been evident for months that the Reds’ offense would be a liability to their strong pitching staff this season, yet Jocketty has consistently taken a wait-and-see approach. By early July, all that waiting and seeing made us even firmer believers that Cincinnati needed some bats, and the time was right to grab some help. The candidates were numerous, and we discussed most of them here at one time or another: Adam Dunn, Dayan Viciedo, Ben Zobrist, Marlon Byrd, Alfonso Soriano, etc., so forth, ad infinitum.
Those guys represent a variety of price points, and you have to think that at least ONE of them would have fit into the Reds’ well-publicized hefty budget. Apparently, Jocketty thought otherwise, and nothing happened.
By the beginning of this week, the 2014 season all but over for the Reds, so Jocketty had the opportunity to upgrade for the future by trading current producers for decent prospects. Chief among the candidates were Simon, Mat Latos, maybe even Johnny Cueto or Aroldis Chapman. Again, though, there were crickets coming from the front office, and the Reds stood pat.
Aside from Ruben Amaro, Jr., it’s hard to think of a general manager who stirred more rumbling among local fans by doing nothing in 2014 than Walt Jocketty. If the 2015 Reds don’t come out of the gate smoking, buth Jocketty and Price could find their seats getting pretty warm before the All-Star game descends on Great American Ball Park.
TBD: 2015 Cincinnati Reds
On the plus side, Jocketty didn’t do anything silly like trading top prospects for Marlon Byrd in an ill-fated attempt to reach the playoffs this season. On the minus side, Jocketty didn’t sell high on any of his trade chips (Alfredo Simon, Mat Latos, maybe Devin Mesoraco) to enhance a a farm system that features a dearth of young hitters. The 2015 Reds will probably look a lot like the early-2014 Reds, except they will be older and recovering from pretty hefty injuries.