But as referenced yesterday in the wake of Cincinnati's seven-game winning streak and a four-game sweep of the Cubs, there's an overall feeling that water is finding level with this team, too.
This was potentially a .500-ish team that is now playing about .500 ball since Riggleman replaced Bryan Price.
It’s not necessarily something to build on unless finishing around .500 is the goal every year.
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Why is it great? Because winning is better than losing, obviously, and you need to give fans something to feel good about before the base erodes any more.
Why is it important? Because the team needs to have at least some success to build on — and know who to build around — moving forward.
It does seem like Riggleman has done something to improve the esprit de corps since taking over.
Moving Scott Schebler to the leadoff spot has had a positive effect. (And if memory serves, the manager said he had no reason for doing that other than something needed to be done, so it’s not exactly a sign of genius.)
Bullpen usage has been good late, but it’s easier when you have four or five guys pitching well there.
(I started making notes for this before he was outmaneuvered twice in crucial situations by Braves manager Brian Snitker last night. First he removed lefty Kyle Crockett only to see righty David Hernandez walk Kurt Suzuki then give up a game-tying double to lefty Danny Santana. Then he had Scooter Gennett bunt with two on and no one out in the 10th inning, allowing the Braves to walk Eugenio Suarez and pitch to Jesse Winker and Jose Peraza instead. This is problematic because they aren’t as good as Gennett or Suarez.)
Riggleman’s quick hook for starters has had its share of detractors. I don’t know if that is his call or direction from on high to protect young arms, but regardless some of the starters are coming around now.
(Plus there doesn’t seem to be much evidence pitch counts actually prevent injury, but there is a general consensus a lot of young pitchers don’t know how to pitch through problems.)
Most noteworthy: The Reds still make frequent mistakes on the base paths and in the field, mental errors that have to fall back on the manager.
In short: I wouldn’t close the door on Riggleman, but I want to know who else is out there before I make a move.