Here's a week's worth of lukewarm sports takes, each of which you get absolutely free.
*Forget the deadline for now. It is a hell of a lot more fun to offer speculation about what the Reds might do near the trading deadline this summer as opposed to any of the previous few years, in particular those in which the Reds did nothing, and given the fact that all five NL Central teams could legitimately be placed in the "buyer" category (here's a good piece on this topic), there's a decent chance that deadline moves could greatly dictate the way the division shakes out.
What Dick Williams will be looking for - players that that can help the club beyond a 2019 playoff push - will not come cheap. The Reds are like most teams in looking for controllable players, and with the trade market not yielding many quality rental bats, there will be a premium on the guys who are under team control after this season.
The Reds could use some offensive help, quite obviously. And there's likely to be just enough quality arms available that an upgrade to the starting staff could be made. Any bullpen is a work in progress, and I believe another lefty reliever could help as well.
Frankly though, I'm more interested in the way the Reds as currently constructed play across the next 19 games leading up to the deadline, 13 of which will be against NL Central opponents. The landscape of the division and the approach at the deadline could both change a lot - for better or worse - between now and then. The Reds might make a move around July 31st, but starting on - checks calendar - July 12th, they need to make one of the non-transactional variety. The kind where you slide upward in the standings, eventually showing a win total that outnumbers the losses.
The Reds, as currently constructed, need to play better for what they do at the end of the month to matter all that much, especially if every other team in the division is in buy mode. It's been rare over the first 87 games of the season that everything for this club has come together at once, something that's imperative in the very, very short-term if what happens at the deadline is going to matter all that much.
That's right. Egger says the Reds need to play better and win more. What insight!
*My fear, aside from snakes. The Reds wasted first half filled with great starting pitching and mostly good fortune with their health. I'm left with the nagging sense that those two things will catch up to them in the second half. A mildly pessimistic view, yes, but if I'm supposed to tell you how I feel, then well, I just did.
*Here's an odd idea that you'll shoot down. Billy Hamilton had no use on a going-nowhere team that was employing him as a starter. On a psuedo-contender that plays in a ton of close games, has a hard time manufacturing runs, and could use some defensive help in the later innings, he has value. The Royals are a jillion games out of first, Hamilton's deal with them is up at the end of the season, and he wouldn't cost any team looking to make a deal all that much since, you know, he can't hit.
Maybe there's no room here, especially since the Reds carry just four bench guys, but a team that has a spot for a guy that can be inserted in games simply to run the bases and run down fly balls could do worse than making a call to Kansas City in the coming weeks.
*Here are my nearly week-old Women's World Cup takes....
1) I think, when it comes to a soccer, which is a sport I'm still very, very new to, I prefer the women's game to the men's. Seems like there's less diving, and a little more precision.
2) In life, I believe you get paid a combination of what you're worth and what you're willing to fight for. When you're at a negotiating table, use that time wisely.
*The baseball fix Rob Manfred doesn't want: Put more control in the hands of players, which is what the NBA has done, and which the NBA is benefiting greatly from. The amount of player movement and storyline-creating dwarfs anything that happens while baseball's hot stove remains cold. Find a way to get players to free agency sooner, sending more players into the pool of available, in-their-prime talent, allow them to exercise leverage in ways that basketball players have mastered, and watch as storylines unfold. The owners won't do this of course, not without serious concessions from the MLBPA, but this would go a hell of a lot further to advance the game and get people talking about it than instituting unnecessary on-field rule changes.
*I could make the case for like 11 different teams to play in the NBA Finals. This league is on fire right now, and this is coming from someone who roots for the franchise that stockpiles power forwards the way my wife stockpiles shoes. The Russ/Harden experiment is going to be fascinating. I love that there are dueling contenders in LA. I love how the Brooklyn Nets have unintentionally made everyone re-think tanking. And I still have Jazz v. Sixers playing each other next June.
*When I was a kid, my mom made me pick five books to read every summer. They could be about any subject, and so I would usually pick five sports books, with baseball being the go-to. I chose Ball Four by Jim Bouton when I was ten, not really knowing who the author was or what the book was really about.
It remains not only my favorite sports book, but the book I've read the most, probably 25 or 30 times over the last three decades. If you haven't read it, or even if you don't like baseball, you owe it to yourself.
Radio Show: I'm off today. Looking forward to returning on Monday morning on ESPN Radio, and in the afternoon on ESPN1530.
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