The 2011 Cincinnati Reds are a mediocre ballclub. Some days, they look good. Other times, they look bad. Add it all up and you have a team that’s barely above .500 (42-40) exactly one game past the midpoint of the season.
In recent years, that would have been considered a productive first half. However, coming off a 2010 NL Central division championship, expectations were high entering the 2011 campaign.
Inconsistent starting pitching (pretty much everyone except Johnny Cueto and Mike Leake has been an “adventure a minute” as Marty Brennaman likes to say) and poor production from the shortstop position have been the biggest culprits for the Redlegs this year. (With poor production from left field in the “others receiving votes” category.)
For some unconscionable reason, the Reds have not called up 25-year-old Zack Cozart from Triple-A Louisville yet, despite the fact that Paul Janish has been a disaster at the plate.
Janish’s batting average of .225 is bad enough, but what really pushes him over the edge as a certified offensive black hole is that he doesn’t even know how to take a walk. In 222 at-bats this season, he’s walked just seven times. Therefore, his on-base percentage (.251) is nearly as bad as his batting average). I just don’t know how much longer the Reds can continue to run him out there.
As for the starting pitching, at least the Reds have Cueto and Leake — who are looking like they will be a nice 1-2 punch at the top of the rotation for years to come. The question is what kind of production the club will get from the 3-5 spots that are currently manned by Bronson Arroyo, Edinson Volquez and Homer Bailey. Volquez got the win in the rubber game against the Rays on Wednesday, but he’s still a complete mystery and is not someone the Reds can count on to be consistent. I do think the starting pitching will be better in the second half, but let’s be honest: There really is nowhere to go but up.
Boxberger finally promoted
The man who is perhaps the Reds’ closer-of the-future was promoted to Triple-A Louisville on Tuesday.
Brad Boxberger, who the Reds drafted in 2009 out of USC in the “compensatory A round” (between the first and second rounds) was lights-out at Double-A Carolina this season and is now just one step away from the show.
While pitching for the Mudcats, Boxberger was 1-2 with a 1.31 ERA with four saves in 30 appearances. The saves total is misleading since Carolina is having an awful year and very rarely gave Boxberger a chance to close out a game in a save situation.
Looking deeper at the numbers, in 34.1 innings pitched, Boxberger gave up just 16 hits and 13 walks, while striking out a whopping 57 batters. Let those stats sink in for a moment.
Yes, the Reds might really have something here. It will be interesting to see how he performs at Louisville.
With Francisco Cordero’s contract expiring after this season – presuming the Reds don’t pick up his $12 million club option for 2012 – Boxberger could be Cincinnati’s closer as soon as next season if he pitches well for the Bats the remainder of this year. And wow is that 2009 draft looking good – namely the first three picks of Leake, Boxberger and Single-A shortstop Billy Hamilton (who leads all of professional baseball with 55 steals and has his average up to .240 with the Dayton Dragons).