2011 All-Star Voting v. 1

The primary voting results are in, and while Albert Pujols leads all National League vote getters, it’s a story of the good, the bad and the ugly if you ask me.

First, the good. Brandon Phillips leads all National League second baseman in votes, almost doubling Rickie Weeks and Chase Utley. One would assume that his participation on twitter along with a steady season that has him around the .300 mark probably have a lot to do with that.

The bad (yet predictable) is that Albert Pujols leads all NL vote-getters and is ahead of more deserving candidates to start the game in Joey Votto, Prince Fielder, and Ryan Howard.

The ugly? Jay Bruce is 13th in Outfield vote-getters behind the likes of Ryan Braun (971,809), Matt Holliday (927,778), Lance Berkman (872,434), Andre Ethier (776,971), and Matt Kemp (549,215) among a bunch of other guys who come nowhere close to deserving it as much as Bruce does.

I know the fans are supposed to get who they want, but I think Major League Baseball should select the starters and the fans should select a few reserves or something so that this collection of shit doesn’t happen.

If Bruce isn’t present at the All-Star game in Arizona, I’ll never waste my time with another vote, and I’ll probably never watch another All-Star game. I can’t deal with the politics that happen in Major League Baseball. It’s unbelievable. That said, I have a ton of faith in Bruce Bochy to make good decisions on the reserves, but still. I plead to the fans of baseball: how can you not vote for the best guys when it’s so painfully obvious?

Rays Have Chance, Need Tweaks to Make World Series

In 2008, the Tampa Bay Rays were the surprise team of the year. Having finished the 2007 season with the worst record in Major League Baseball little was expected of them in 2008. However, during the off-season, the Rays made some changes. Most profoundly they changed their name from the Devil Rays to the Rays. They also changed their uniforms, which can now be found on online stores such as HomeRunMonkey, added some key free agents, and added one great prospect to their roster. Very few fans or baseball insiders predicted much success that season but the team surprised everyone by winning the American League Eastern Division and the American League pennant.

Although the Rays won the AL East again in 2010 and made the playoffs in 2011 they have not made it back to the World Series since 2008. Can the 2012 team make it back?

The pitching staff is the strongest part of the 2012 team, just as it was in 2008. Led by ace James Shields, who was an important part of the staff in 2008, the Rays pitching staff currently has the third most strikeouts and the fifth best ERA in the American League. They’ve kept their homerun stats low as well, with the fifth lowest number of home runs given up. However, it is the bullpen that is really starring on this pitching staff. Newly acquired closer Fernando Rodney, whose gear can be found on HomeRunMonkey, has had a resurgence in Tampa and is 14 for 16 in save opportunities, the best save percentage in all Major League Baseball.

Offensively the Rays are a middle of the pack team just as they were in 2008. With injuries to two of their best hitters, All-Star Evan Longoria and outfielder Desmond Jennings, Tampa’s run production and team batting average are suffering. Defense has been a hallmark of Rays’ teams the past few years, but in 2012 this team has the 12th lowest fielding percentage in the American League. There are only 2 teams worse in the AL at this point.

At 24-14, the 2012 Tampa Bay Rays are off to a great start, even with a listless offense and uncharacteristically bad defense. The return of veterans from the DL will be a big jolt offensively, and manager Joe Maddon is known for demanding good defense so that should also turn around. If these things gel around the already great pitching staff the Tampa Bay Rays should find themselves playing again in late October.

Memorial Day Weekend Wrap

I apologize for being so AWOL all weekend. That said, it was Memorial Day weekend, it happens. The Reds went 2-2 on the weekend. Sandwiching in a 12-ining loss and a 2-1 loss on Sunday Night baseball between two big victories. Jay Bruce continued to go completely off this weekend.

If you want to know my thoughts in a nutshell, huge effort from Mike Leake on Friday night and I wasn’t that surprised that he pitched well. I thought Janish was safe at home plate, but I was a bit inebriated at the time, and Bruce’s blast off Jair Jurrjens was an absolute bomb was it not?

Bruce is absolutely killing right now. Look at the leaderboards I posted above. He’s hitting everything. Outside, inside, high, low, fastball, offspeed, balls are leaving the yard like crazy. This is the month of his life and we want to see it continue for as long as possible. Last night he tripled, homered again, and hit a rocket single through the shift to go 3 for 4 with three more RBI and two more runs scored. He’s got to be the player of the month in the National League for May one would think. His 12 home runs this month are the most by a Cincinnati Reds player since Eric Davis hit 12 in May of 1987.

Other than that, we hope you had a few beers and got to go to the opening of your pool like we did. We love Memorial Day. And summer is officially here. The Reds began a 9-game homestand last evening, and it’s one of the most important homestands in recent memory for the Reds. They’re four games back in the standings after last night’s win. Honestly if they can just keep things around that point until they get their pitching healthy I won’t complain. There’s 109 games left to be played. A lot can happen. Just get the pitching healthy and don’t kill the bullpen. They’ll find a way to scrape runs. I’ll stop complaining about the lineup, or at least attempt to and realize we have it pretty good with Dusty Baker.

In other news, how about the offense yesterday? For all the complaining I do about offense being down in baseball–a lot of this due to fantasy baseball, I used to have 5 and 6 home run nights all the time and now I never do–bats were blowing up yesterday. If you owned Miguel Montero, Bruce, Brian McCann, Aaron Hill, Andre Ethier, Bobby Abreu or Clayton Kershaw this past weekend I would expect that you climbed in your league standings like I did.

Now that Memorial Day has came and gone, the stats you are seeing surprise guys put up are for real. It’s officially a bonafide break-out. And teams like the Diamondbacks (first place in the NL West) and the Cleveland Indians must be taken seriously.

It’s a great time to be a baseball fan. We hope everyone had a nice and safe holiday weekend, and we’ll grind it out this week and get through as much as we possibly can.

Jim Bowden weighs in on breakout players

How does this guy keep getting chances with XM Satellite Radio, ESPN, and Major League franchises? Anyways, if you care what old Leatherpants has to say about who he thinks are break out players, you’ll like this link. Aparently, ESPN has afforded Bowden with a new outlet to air his madness in a blog called The GM’s Office. Thing is, I’m about as qualified to write for the damn blog as Jim friggin’ Bowden is.

Nonetheless, everyone can appreciate the #2 player on his list. Although his explanation leading up to it is quite stupid. Does Bowden realize that Jay Bruce outplayed guys like Starlin Castro and Mike Stanton last year? Maybe in next week’s goody-bag will be about how he thought Wily Mo Pena and Austin Kearns were going to be future Hall of Fame players. [The GM’s Office]

Game 51, 2011: Phillies 10, Reds 4

[Box Score]

[Cincinnati.com]

Observations:

Remember Daryl Thompson? One of the last times we saw him at the big league level was at Old Yankee Stadium. He got the win that day. We never really figured that he would re-surface at the big league level with the Reds. He did, and yesterday he recorded some counting stats that counted for the wrong values.

The Reds fought back valiantly from a 4-0 hole against Cliff Lee–and when you hang 10 hits on Cliff Lee it should be good enough to win–only so Daryl Thompson could allow 5 walks and 5 earned runs and factor in as the loser.

Homer Bailey also gave up four runs in four innings before leaving the game due to a shoulder spasm. This was just a horrible ending to another horrible series in Philadelphia. It always ends badly when the Reds play the Phillies and to think that Shane Victorino wasn’t even part of this series.

The way the Reds bats hit the last two days against Roy Halladay and Cliff Lee is honestly a pretty big testament as to how good of hitters they are as a team. No one gets to Lee and Halladay like that. Miguel Cairo had three hits in the clean-up spot for goodness sakes. But the Reds pitching staff as a whole is in shambles. This is not the way it was drawn up.

The Reds need some big time heroics or something that changes things up and they need it now. Calling up Todd Frazier for one at-bat to begin the Phillies series wasn’t the jab in the arm they needed to remedy this losing bug. Something big needs to happen; whether that is the release of a veteran or something in the way of a trade. They cannot afford to wait until July. Things might be out of reach by then.

I find it irony that the Reds are wasting the greatest hot stretch of Jay Bruce’s career by going 1-8. This has the feel of 2002-2009 to it. It wasn’t supposed to be this way. They’re a game over .500 now and heading to Atlanta for three. They’re in third place. It’s time to circle the wagons boys.

Top Plays:

Bruce’s 14th homer off Cliff Lee ties the game at 4-4

Cliff Lee’s two-run double

Paul Janish gets a big hit, thanks to some high socks

Homer Bailey, hurt again

It’s Jay Bruce Day, Something Special is on it’s way

Today, and every May 27th from now until forever is Jay Bruce Day. As hard as it might be to believe, as hot as Jay Bruce has been at the plate all month long; what if we told you that he was just gearing up for Jay Bruce day? Something special is bound to happen tonight if you tune into the game.

A quick recap of what Jay Bruce has done on past Jay Bruce Days:

2008 – 3 for 3, 2 walks, stolen base in MLB Debut
2009 – 3 for 4, 2 HR, 3B, 4 RBI
2010 -2 for 4, HR, 2B

The Reds are an unblemished 3-0 on Jay Bruce days of the past. Tonight should be a good night to start a win streak in Atlanta.

Bruce carries an 8-game hitting streak into the game, and the numbers he has put up over this span remind us so much of his first week in the big leagues. He is currently 17 for 35 with 6 home runs and 14 RBI over that span. He’s OPS’d at over an 1.600 clip. It is similar in the fact that it simply hasn’t mattered if it’s been Cliff Lee, Roy Halladay, lefty, righty, in, out, up in the zone, down in the zone; there simply is no good way to get him out. Ride the wave as long as you can because Bruce has been as hot as any player in baseball for most of the month.

It has been a fun three years watch Bruce play ball in the Queen City, as we knew it would be. Sure, there are times of frustration along with the times that he has sat on top of the mountain but those times only frustrate us because we knew all along how truly special of a player Jay Bruce could be in this league. It’s been on display all month. This is what we expected to happen. A player like Paul Janish or Jonny Gomes, you don’t get as frustrated with. They have no ceiling like this. They are not capable of going bananas and putting a team on their back for an entire month stretch. You expect 5 for 50 slides out of them. Bruce is in a different category.

We predict that this month is looked back on as the month Jay Bruce became a bright shining star. This is the month that the flowers bloomed. This is the month that baby Bruce grew into Bruce-zilla. Or Jay-VP as we called him on twitter. This is what we’ve all been waiting for.

Happy Jay Bruce day everybody.

Buster Posey’s season is over: when will MLB Clubs learn?

How many times have I said it?

You don’t put the best player on your team–your future especially or a franchise cornerstone–behind the dish to catch so they can get beaten and abused like a worthless piece of tarp.

I would love to the talk to the genius MLB personnel member of the Giants to get them to explain exactly why they thought this was a good idea. It’s not. They would probably end up saying ‘well someone has to catch’. And I would tell them that’s why guys like Greg Zaun and Ryan Hanigan were born. You don’t build your team around those guys. They don’t put butts in the seats.

Carlos Santana, Joe Mauer, and now Buster Posey. That’s just in the past year. There are more examples. The Giants had a perfect blueprint of why not to do this. I don’t feel sorry for them.

Never choose a catcher as your favorite player kids. They aren’t long for the league. It doesn’t matter how well they can hit. What is truly more baffling to me about this is that Posey was a guy who coming out of college could play about six other positions just fine. He didn’t have to be a catcher.

If the Giants bring back Posey as a catcher next year, they should be boycotted by any fan in baseball. Way to ruin a nice 24-year old player. And one of my most important fantasy baseball seasons along with it.

Thom Brennaman is driving people batshit crazy

The first text I got immediately after the Reds loss in the 19th inning last night read like this:

“Thom trashing on Redlegs just like his papa.”

I didn’t find out until this morning that what he said was this:

“This will go down as truly one of the more embarrassing losses – for a good Reds team – in a LONG time.”

Maybe Thom has a point, but I think it’s an understatement to say that Thom is getting under the skin of 90% of the Reds fan base and generally annoying the shit out of them.

Call me crazy–but I generally don’t mind Thom. In fact–when the Reds are losing–he becomes a filtered, PG or PG-13 rated version of what I want to say. And he’s on air. You know one thing about Thommy and his papa Marty is you can hear when they want to strangle someone on the Reds during a loss. I actually like that. I can definitely empathize. I cannot fault his passion or the fact that he feels like he is a prominent part of the organization.

But a simple review of twitter, any Reds message board, or the amount of texts I’ve been getting from buddies indicates that Thom’s behavior on-air is spiraling out of control.

Another Reds fan writes:

I don’t know when Jay Bruce is going to stop hitting, but I’m sure that Thom Brennaman will be the first to all tell us it’s happened. Not to mention that everything with him has to happen “RIGHT HERE AND RIGHT NOW”. I’m really getting sick of that phrase.

One thing about Thommy Gun, is that like his papa he probably won’t subscribe to much change in his style. He’s gonna continue to want to maim guys like Gomes, Janish and even Bruce at times and he’ll have steam coming out of his ears whenever Volquez gets called back up and starts giving up 1st inning bombs again. It’s inevitable. And we don’t mind it.

But we have never seen Reds fans become so increasingly frustrated with a play by play guy before. Not even Paul Keels. Not even with the ever surly Hall of Famer Senior Brennaman up in the booth beating on these guys verbally on a nightly basis.

The Reds better start winning and doing it in a sound fashion. Or they’ll continue to feel the wrath of the ‘Thommy Gun’. And no one will be safe.

Game 50, 2011: Phillies 5, Reds 4 (19 innings)

[Box Score]

[ESPN SweetSpot] [Cincinnati.com] [The Good Phight] [Hal McCoy]

This game. Oh man what a game. This surely is an instant classic, and it’s a game that Reds fans will never forget. It is a game that went 6 hours and 11 minutes into the night. A position player ended up getting the win; the first time this happened since August 22nd, 2000 (Brent Mayne).

This post should have been about the continued heroics of Jay Bruce, who had two more huge hits in this one. He tied the game at 3-3 with a two run, two-out single off of Roy Halladay and then later homered off of nasty lefty Antonio Bastardo in the 10th inning. Instead, Coco Cordero blew the save and we all watched a 2nd ballgame and then some.

I have so many questions. It was also obvious to me that the Reds were going to lose this game on a couple fronts. It’s like they began to press, swing at a ton of pitches and hurriedly waste at-bats in extra frames. They allowed Danys Baez to shut them down for four innings. By the time Wilson Valdez came around in the top of the 19th, it was a foregone conclusion. But why did Dusty Baker trot out an obviously tired Carlos Fisher in the bottom of the 19th with two guys in the pen that were somewhat fresh in Sam Lecure and Matt Maloney sitting down in the pen? It makes no sense, no matter what the Reds manager will say.

As well–the umpires increasingly screwed the Reds as the game went on. They pushed this game in favor of the Phillies until the bitter end, which ended with me having to listen to MLB radio because Time Warner cable froze (and we were at a friends house).

This was the best game I’ve seen in over a decade, and probably the best I’ve ever seen in my life with all things considered. It was well played, had a ton of dramatic moments, and had everything you want in a ballgame. It’s the kind of game that I can only dream that someday I’ll be present for. The only thing it missed was a nice finish where the Reds scraped out a ‘W’. That would have made it all worth it. It just wasn’t in the cards.

Top Plays:

Brandon Phillips picked of while grab-assing

Bruce’s game-tying single

Jay Bruce’s go-ahead home run (#13)

Ryan Howard’s game-tying blast in the 10th

“14th inning stretch”

Wilson Valdez on the bump. My gosh.

The inevitable, heartbreaking losing play

Potpourri:

-FanGraphs has a post detailing Jay Bruce’s May surge.

-I actually missed seeing this play, but heard on the radio and from a few fellow Reds fans via text how bad of a mistake Brandon Phillips made. Looks like he owned up to it.

The Cincinnati Reds should still play The Boys Are Back in Town after home runs

I heard this song at lunch today and the thought occurred to me: do you guys realize it’s been a while since the Reds played this song at Great American Ballpark after a Reds player homers?

I want this brought back immediately. It’s just one of those traditions that I enjoyed that came with an era and I wasn’t ready to let it go. Tell me someone remembers this?

*And as a footnote, of all places that I could have heard this classic jam, I was at Skyline Chilli. Now I must return to work and hate myself for the remaining hours here at my desk. It is impossible to eat Skyline Chilli and feel good about yourself for the next day or two. It’s so great for about 15 minutes that you’re indulging yourself, immediately followed by self-pity.

Nonetheless Reds, please get this song back on the loud speaks at GABP after Reds players hit bombs.

Brian Fuentes should shut his mouth and continue to ERA at a 4.50 clip

Our buddy MTD over at Off Base had a pretty good take on Brian Fuentes (5.06 ERA currently) and his recent whining of being mis-communicated with by manager Bob Geren and being brought in for too many high pressure situations. You must check it out.

“Fuentes has to be frustrated that he’s on pace to lose over 20 games but to blame his pitching woes on a lack of communication seems like scapegoating to me. You are a relief pitcher. After being used in tie-game situations recently, perhaps it should cross your mind that you might be called upon during a 1-1 game instead of just mentally preparing yourself to pitch with a 3-run lead in the 9th.” [Off Base Percentage]

Game 49, 2011: Reds 6, Phillies 3

[Box Score]

[Cincinnati.com] [The Good Phight]

Big, big win for the Reds last night in Philadelphia. It was a win I just had the feeling they were going to go out and get. Somehow, some way, I just sensed that the Reds knew they had to take this one after losing six in a row and before facing Roy Halladay and Cliff Lee.

When Jay Bruce doubled off Ryan Madson with the bases juiced and sent all those fraudulent, wannabe tough-guys in Philly to an early exit at Citizens Bank Ballpark I was over-joyed.

Not only is Bruce getting hits that an MVP would get, but he got it off Madson; a guy who has been so tough this year. The thing I noticed about Madson is although he was throwing 95 on the gun, he was leaving pitches up in the zone. Bruce had a rough night against Vance Worley among others but he got a pitch that was up and out over the plate and the Reds winning streak was only something in the history books after one swing that sent a ball off the right-centerfield wall in Philly.

Props go out to Johnny Cueto for battling for six innings, and also to the bullpen guys like Billy Bray and Logan Ondrusek for keeping this game in a 3-3 tie until the Reds could load the bases and win the game.

Top Plays:

Bruce’s huge hit

Drew Stubbs’ gun from center field

Madson mis-plays Stubbs’ bunt

Joey Votto’s leather-work

Potpourri:

-The Reds face Roy Halladay on ESPN tonight for the first time since his NLDS no-hitter. I have a funny feeling that the Reds will find a way to win tonight. They might not hang a loss on Halladay, but I think they’ll want to extract some revenge and they’ll come out with a nice gameplan of attack against the man with 18 different pitches.

-Here’s an article on Adam Dunn’s slump. Adam, you’re right. The slump is ridiculous. Thanks for making me look like a rookie in Fantasy Baseball.

10 Questions for Reds Manager Dusty Baker

If I was sitting at a Jazz club with Dusty Baker, and I was buying the drinks; here’s 10 things I would ask the skipper of Cincinnati Reds right now. Some of these might turn into a two for one type deal, but please bear with me:

1. What is your reasoning behind putting Paul Janish in the 2-hole? You realize Janish is an asset for his defense if he’s hitting 8th, but hitting 2nd you’re costing Joey Votto RBI chances on a nightly basis.

2. Why are you so reluctant to hit Jay Bruce 2nd or even in the clean-up spot, yet you have always been prone to letting Jonny Gomes hit in the clean-up spot (7 times last year, 7 times this year) and even as recently as this past Friday night, had Gomes hitting 2nd.

3. Do you realize that not putting lefties back to back in the lineup is a silly move (especially against a right-handed starting pitcher) because it is a match-up that might occur once over the course of a 9 inning ballgame, of which the game could already be decided by the point that we would even see a LOOGY out of the pen to face back to back lefties like Votto and Bruce.

4. Doesn’t Sam Lecure (3.18 ERA in 34 IP, 25 H, 8 BB) deserve a crack at the starting rotation over Mike Leake (5.70 ERA in 36.1, 37 H)? Be honest with me, the organization; and maybe even you to a point doesn’t want a first round pick like Leake to look like a failure. So you’re going to run him out there no matter what for the next several years regardless of guys that were unheralded flat out looking better?

5. Have you looked at Jay Bruce’s OPS against left-handed pitching the last year plus? Oh you have? Someone has referenced it, you say. Well why is it when someone does need to sit against a run of the mill left-hander, it’s the guy with the highest OPS of all your outfielders against left-handed pitching?

6. What does Yonder Alonso (5 HR, 23 RBI, .323/.387/.525 in AAA Louisville) have to do to get called up? There’s not a position for him? So you’re saying Jonny Gomes can play left field better than Alonso? Do you really believe that?

7. Be honest with me on this one: how much does Scott Rolen have left in the tank? Is he trying to hit back-side because he can’t turn on pitches anymore? At what point does a beautiful piece of hitting the other way become all a guy can do?

8. Billy Bray has filled the role of 2010 Arthur Rhodes, at least it appears. Can we just start making Aroldis Chapman a starter now? If not, why? Have you seen how the Yankees screwed up Joba Chamberlain? And lets be honest, Dusty; Chapman becoming a #1 starter is the only chance you’ve got at winning a short playoff series with a Philadelphia, a San Francisco or even a St. Louis. We don’t need a 7th inning guy who throws smoke. We need a #1 or at the very least a #2 starter.

9. Why the reliance on such small sample sizes in some cases; you know like yesterday you hit Janish 2nd in the order because he was 3 for 7 lifetime against Cole Hamels; but you ignore such large sample sizes when it suits you?

10. What is it with you and guys who defy logic and overall just hurt a ballclub? Every year you get a fascination with somebody who is the albatross around the neck of us winning games. Ken Griffey Jr., Corey Patterson, Wily Taveras, Jonny Gomes. I’ll give you Junior, because he was Junior; though he had no business hitting 3rd until the day he was traded from the Reds. But what the Hell is your deal with these guys. I mean, I am shocked you did not derail last season to play Gary Matthews Jr. more. That really must of killed you.

What are your questions for Reds manager, Dusty Baker?

Game 48, 2011: Phillies 10, Reds 3

[Box Score]

[Cincinnati.com] [Hal Mccoy] [Redleg Nation]

Observations:

These guys are absolutely brutal right now. Things just aren’t going well. And when things aren’t going well, you don’t want to see Cole Hamels and the Phillies. In my opinion, the result of last night’s game was very easy money.

The Reds have lost six straight ballgames. They’re about to get Roy Halladay and Cliff Lee to close out this series before heading to Milwaukee. This coincides with a period in which the Cardinals cannot lose since being swept by the Reds, and the Reds now find themselves 3.5 back.

Heading into Memorial Day Weekend, the one thing that keeps me from worrying is this lineup is still good with the players the Reds can run out every night. Even if Dusty Baker insists on doing stupid things like hitting Paul Janish second and Jay Bruce 6th.

Even then, you’ve got Bruce (who is officially now on fire), Drew Stubbs, Joey Votto, Brandon Phillips and the Reds haven’t even gotten production from Johnny Gomes, Scott Rolen, or the shortstop position to this point. That will need to change if they’re going to win the division title, I think. Someone will have to hit in left field and someone will have to produce runs down at third base.

I think the pitching will be right where it was last season. Homer Bailey and Johnny Cueto will be better than they were. Bronson Arroyo–despite his problems last night and right now–will end up around his career norm. I do think that Sam Lecure should be given a few starts, but I think when you look in the bullpen guys like Billy Bray and Logan Ondrusek are going to be fine and Nick Masset appears to be getting it together.

This team is a lot like 2010. It’s not time to panic yet. Let the season play out, and hopefully the Reds get a much-needed win tonight to snap this streak. But man is it tough for them to log wins in Philly.

Video:

Jay Bruce hits home run #12 off the foul pole (and off Cole Hamels)

Todd Frazier’s first career at-bat

Drew Stubbs losing-effort leatherwork

Potpourri:

-75 votes for all Reds this morning (most notably Bruce & Phillips, they deserve them most) except for Johnny Gomes. Even Paul Janish got 75 votes. Do your part. Vote here.

-FanGraphs asks if it’s time to panic. I have to admit, something is telling me to stay calm because of how many times last season I jumped the gun. But the Reds have to come up with some type of unexpected wins here in the next six games. At the very least, a 3-3 or 4-2 over the next six is a must. No matter how you have to get it.

-Then there’s this from the FanGraphs post, I knew I wasn’t crazy:

All told, there’s little reason to worry in Cincinnati. Despite the losing streak, the Reds are only 3.5 games out of first place. Since we know not to overreact to small samples, we should expect the Reds to turn things around soon. The temporary loss of Volquez shouldn’t alter our expectations, as the Reds were able to win the division with a minimal contribution from him last season. This current version of the Reds is much like the team we saw last season. Their pitching is good enough to keep them in games, but their offense (and defense) is what will ultimately propel them to a division crown. The Reds may appear more vulnerable than they did last week, but in reality little has changed.