In 272 at bats, Drew Stubbs of the Cincinnati Reds has managed to strike out 89 times. While not quite one every three at bats, there's an air of dismalness in the futility that is abounding in the Queen City. Sure, there are 9 home runs, but there are 41 players this year that have more home runs than that and 16 that have as many as him.
Letting Merle swing away doesn't seem to be the answer either. He's a career .260 hitter that is hitting .261 at this point in the game. Last year, he struck out 168 times to finish with 22 home runs. Sure, it helped the Reds get to the playoffs, but it's not like he's Joey Votto piling on the weight.
And for this, we have to look at where the Reds are at this juncture in time: third place - 34 and 32. With the Cards and Brewers fighting for first, the Reds look to figure out what the hell is going on with their pitching staff.
Johnny Cueto's sub 2 ERA looks nice, but Edinson "the former ugliest player in baseball" Volquez is still atrocious over 5.00 (even with the dreads now shaved - a fact that has removed his "ugliest" title - if only temporarily). That said, it appears the minor league demotion helped him (that or the steroid relapse) start coming back to form a little bit. The other youth movement part of the rotation isn't much better. Mike Leake is over 4.00 and Travis Wood is over 5.00. That's not a good sign when the surprise part of your offense, Jay Bruce, is slowing down his home run pace and settling in just below .300.
And other than a few players like Brandon Phillips, the Reds are a platoon team of fragility (Scott Rolen, anyone?).
It happens, and it's never convenient, but at the end of the day, the opporuntities to win versus finish in the afterthought campaign of money spent to end up with a failed campaign are what causes tension, frustration, and a sense of someday for your fanbase (until you make it to the playoffs only to have Roy Halladay annihilate your offensive superiority and sense of self with the 2nd post season no hitter in playoff history).
And if the Reds want to morph into the Red Sox by spreading anti-St. Louis bias (like people loathe St. Louis in the same way that they do the Yankees) to the world, they're going to have to come up closer than they do. They're going to have to make people remember a year that mattered. For most fans, 1990 is a blur of nothingness. Who was even good on that team? Jose Rijo? Barry Larkin is the only name that stands out other than the more memorable moniker of the Nasty Boys (Rob Dibble's ESPN days being the only thing that keeps that memory burning), which lasted longer than their pitching.
The Big Red Machine was a beautiful thing (4 of the 9 Reds World Series appearances and 2 of their 5 wins), and even though it put the nail in the coffin of the 1975 Red Sox, those were teams filled with homegrown stars that went on to do great things. Of course, there was 1939 and 1940, but perhaps the reason that the Reds - save the Pete Rose, Johnny Bench, and Joe Morgan led Big Red Machine that dominated the first half of the seventies in supreme style save an appearance against each of the Orioles and the A's - is so lame in the memory of most baseball fans outside of that part of the Midwest is the fact that they were the beneficiary of the Black Sox throwing the 1919 World Series. Everyone at the time (except for them) knew they were second class, and yet, they are considered the winners of a World Series that was handed to them by a team that wanted to get rich more than they wanted to be champions of the baseball universe - even if (and especially because) it could never be off of Charles Commiskey. Had it not been for gamblers threatening to get medieval on them for trying to win it when it was clear that they weren't going to get rich off of the gambling money either, the White Sox would have come from several games behind and cleaned house on the much lesser Cincinnati team.
But is the 2011 Red team worth mention with any of these teams - to include the Nasty Boys? How long until the team gets dismantled and traded away as it can't compete against St. Louis's pitching and Milwaukee's hitting?
Can Drew Stubbs lead the charge by whiffing as big as he does?