The Reds enter the All-Star break with ten fewer wins than losses, they got off to an historically poor start that led to their dismissal of their manager, and a fifth consecutive dark October at Great American Ballpark is almost guaranteed.
And yet I'd call the first half of the season a success.
Not a smashing, overwhelming success, mind you, but with everything that happened across the season's first three and a half months, an examination of this team that's independent of its win/loss record would reveal far, far, more positives than negatives.
The makings of next year's rotation is starting to come into focus.
The bullpen is a strength.
The starting infield has been one of the most productive in baseball.
They're getting promising returns from the youngest of their two outfielders, and the two older guys have contributed enough to enhance trade value.
They head toward the deadline with a number of intriguing potential trade chips.
They flipped broken down Devin Mesoraco for now-useful Matt Harvey.
Scooter Gennett has gone from fluke-y flash-in-the-pan to potential piece of the future.
Eugenio Suarez has put up MVP-level numbers, and the team's decision to pay him before the season looks very, very smart given what he could've asked for this coming offseason.
Their free agent acquisitions, Jared Hughes and David Hernandez, have paid off.
Amir Garrett emerged as a legit big league pitchers.
I'm no longer getting Tweets about the Reds' medical staff.
The farm system has gotten to a very good place.
They'll approach the deadline with a number of potential trade chips that could make them better.
Was it the easiest first half as a fan? No. Does the last month really, really make you wonder what-if when you think about the season's first five or six weeks? Are there still some rough times ahead? Almost undoubtedly.
But are the Reds in a better place than they were months ago, and has the good outweighed the bad - despite the losses outweighing the wins - since the season began?
Here's some stuff....
Jim Riggleman, you've gotta challenge this, my man...
Slowed this down with @FOX19Jeremy and this really looks like a grand slam. Appears the ball ricochets off the foul pole before hitting the back wall. It was called foul and not reviewed. #Reds pic.twitter.com/CpcvOEbMEV— Joe Danneman (@FOX19Joe) July 15, 2018
The risk/reward formula demands that this is given a closer look. The reward is possibly four runs. The risk is you lose a challenge. No. Brainer.
I believe there are five reasons why Scooter Gennett won't be traded.
They think they stand a better chance of winning with him next season than they do without him.
They can spend more on the team next season if they draw more for their remaining home games this season. They can draw more if they keep Scooter. (There's a good blog post on this topic here.)
They feel like they can negotiate a reasonably-priced long-term deal.
They believe he's central to the team's chemistry.
And finally, there's not much of a market for second basemen, and there's not much that's going to be offered in return.
Eugenio Suarez, MVP candidate?
He's in the NL's top seven in batting average, homers, RBI, slugging, OPS, and WAR. He put up those numbers despite missing two and a half weeks. His candidacy benefits from guys like Bryce Harper, Joey Votto, and Kris Bryant not posting huge numbers, but his stats so far projected over a full season could make him a candidate, especially since voters don't seem to hold it against a player for his team not winning.
Will he win? Doubt it. Even with his numbers, if the voting took place today, he'd probably be on the fringes of the conversation. But the point is that he'd be in the conversation, a few years after the Reds got him for essentially nothing, reflecting what a great move it was to obtain him, and what a better move it was to sign him for what he signed for.
Here's what I liked about the World Cup Final...
It had goals. It had controversy. And after France scored its third goal, I could look at my wife and tell her that we'd be leaving to go to lunch at 12:55.
I also liked back-to-back sporting events, the men's final at Wimbledon and the World Cup final, both starting in the morning. It was a taste of what living on the west coast is like, which as a sports fan I've always been a little envious of.
Here's some other stuff....
Radio Show: Adam Dunn is with us at 5:00. We have like seven billion things to discuss before and after, starting at 3:05 on ESPN1530.
(Photo: Getty Images)