I know it's been something like a month since I've written here, and even more since I've written anything worth while (if ever), but I've been relatively busy. That is, relative to a person who does nothing. The summer's made me lazy, but I'm over it and I'll be around more. Anyway, shifting the blame off myself, you have to admit, the Reds haven't been the most interesting ball club lately. Of course Votto's back, and as of yesterday afternoon we're 2 games out of first with a big opportunity to pull ahead this weekend against the Cardinals, but other than that, there hasn't been much to get worked up about, good or bad.
It looks like Homer could be back for a prolonged stay, but I don't really care too much about that. His command has been off in his limited appearances, but even if he does get it together, I think the Reds are going to need lots of offense (a tall order) to pull off a victory anytime he's on the mound. There's also the Dickerson v. Taveras debate. Dickerson obviously has the numbers advantage so far, not to mention his amazing defense in centerfield (Baseball Tonight couldn't get enough of Dickerson when he got those few starts awhile ago), but it doesn't look like Baker or the front office are going to change their minds for the long term. Sure, Dickerson will get his playing time, either in center or left, but money is money and orders are orders, so just let Taveras play and work himself out of his slump, which he is slowly but surely doing.
Votto's return prompts the question of when Ryan Hanigan will get any significant amount of playing time. He certainly proved himself in Votto's absence, as did Jonny Gomes from the DH spot in interleague play. Finding playing time for these players and good offensive combinations that can actually score runs are two huge problems looming over the second half of the season. But this problem isn't really a problem. Better to have too many people than too few.
Hopefully the Reds will be able to continue beating the Cardinals at home this weekend and occupy one of those spots at the top of the division. Once there, I think the Reds will be rejuvenated after the All Star break, then slowly extend that division lead into the fall. Of course there are some problems, but things are starting to fall into place: the bench players are contributing, the first baseman is an MVP candidate, and the starting rotation should be back to normal sometime after the All Star break. Granted, there's a big road trip before the break, but it's in the east against the Phillies and the ailing Mets. My 7-man baseball team with no uniforms and little to none athletic ability could beat the Mets right now, and the Reds played the Phillies hard back in May. This is a scrapping baseball team with lots of upside, but consistency is key to winning and the Reds haven't exactly proven to be consistent just yet. Even so, they've been contending all season long and will continue to do so, but from the 1st and 2nd place positions.