The Cincinnati Reds head into the All-Star break on a two-game winning streak.
They are also in last place in the National League Central.
Cincinnati is 9.5 games back in the division, which is noteworthy mostly because they were never more than seven games back until a little more than two weeks ago.
I have been highly skeptical of both the Brewers’ success and the Cubs’ struggles so far this season, but it’s starting to look like both are for real.
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This casts a different light on the last 10 days in which the Reds have gotten markedly better starting pitching than they did almost all of April, May and June. Not just better than that train wreck but, like, actually good starting pitching for the most part.
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They have gone 6-4 but lost two games in the standings to Milwaukee, so whatever ammunition we had for talking ourselves into the possibility they could go on an amazing run here in the second half seems to be running out fast.
I bring all this up thinking about one of the more comment-inducing stories on our Reds Facebook page over the last few days. It was in regards to a report the Washington Nationals are “interested” in Raisel Iglesias.
Note the wording of the initial report: Of course a team looking to load up for the postseason is “interested” in adding a great young player. I’m sure the Reds are interested in Bryce Harper, too.
This gives little or no indication the Reds would actually like to trade their newest Cuban super pitcher, though of course it does not rule it out, either.
As was reported last winter, they are likely willing to listen to offers for just about anyone. Anything else would be irresponsible for a team that is on the upswing but still has plenty of needs.
If they get something like the Yankees did when they traded Andrew Miller to the Indians last year (or for that matter what they got for sending Aroldis Chapman to the Cubs)? OK, now we’re talking.
Short of that, I'd keep Iglesias. He's a useful piece who isn't expensive.
Unlike a lot of the pitchers on the Reds’ 40-man roster, Iglesias actually has talent he knows how to use consistently in the big leagues.
I’d say the general reaction on our Facebook page was strongly against moving him, which is interesting because it says to me more people are worried about getting back to good as soon as possible than maximizing future rosters.
Given where the Reds are — we’ve been asking all year where they would be in the standings if they were getting even decent starting pitching, but it looks like if it is coming around, it will be too late — I would say it’s time to keep more assets than move them.
It’s also worth noting the Yankees could afford to buy back Chapman on the open market, something the Reds are much less likely to do.
I understand a general manager shouldn’t run a team like a fan would, but I have always felt there is real value in building brand loyalty. You’ve got to give people something to believe in over time.
As evidenced by the fact the Reds are still drawing more fans this season than the first-place, defending AL pennant champion Cleveland Indians, it’s fairly important to have fans ready to come back when you’re good again.
And if you move too many guys who can still be built around now for the sake of the future, you run the risk of becoming the 2000s Pirates, who seemed to frequently bring up a couple of good players only to send them out because they couldn’t put it all together at the same time.
Then it’s hard to blame fans for tuning out and finding something else to do no matter how nice your riverfront ballpark is.
At some point, you’ve got to draw a line in the sand and say you’re not rebuilding anymore, which I think the Reds have already done.
Will they keep acting like it?
In a not-unrelated development, the Reds signed first-round pick Hunter Greene on Friday afternoon, and not a moment too soon apparently.
They had to come to a deal before 5, and social media was freaking out waiting for confirmation he would join the Cincinnati organization rather than end up at UCLA next season.
I’m sure not all the people I saw posting some version of, “If they lose him, I’m finished with the Reds!” were going to follow through, but I couldn’t blame anyone for losing hope if something hadn’t gotten done.
I guess there was some dollar amount that was too much to give Greene at this point in his life, but I’m not sure what it would have been.
In many ways, the Reds could not afford NOT to sign Greene given the potential he has and the excitement drafting him has generated already...
Meanwhile, there was good news for Ohio State basketball over the weekend.
No doubt after reading my column about potential problems with the 2018 recruiting class, new coach Chris Holtmann fooled us all by signing another four-star for 2017.
Bloomington, Ind., guard Musa Jallow picked Ohio State over Indiana and gives Holtmann a much-needed talent who could contribute early in Columbus.
The signing has the dual-effect of making the Buckeyes better immediately and lessening the pressure to hit a home run with the next class...
Yesterday, Tom Archdeacon had a fascinating look at the sports history at the Montgomery County fairgrounds.
The Dayton Flyers once called the Fairgrounds Colisseum home, and it is not hard for the mind to wander if you walk into that old building.
Got any old stories from the colosseum or the fairgrounds? Let me know at firstname.lastname@example.org...
As for the current Flyers, Anthony Grant shared his thoughts on the returning players with Dave Jablonski.
It will be fascinating to see how Grant puts together the various interesting pieces he has inherited from Archie Miller, including a large junior class, five incoming freshmen and Kostas Antetokounmpo, the redshirt frosh who sat out last year but has intriguing size and talent.