Reds Must Go Rebuild, Not Rambo

The Reds are just close enough in the wild card race to consider going for it. To make that choice, however, would be all kinds of crazy. Here’s why.

The Cincinnati Reds are four games under .500 and would be just six games out of first place if they played in the National League East. But they play alongside baseball’s Super Saiyan and sit 12.5 back, so far out of first place that the St. Louis Cardinals have likely forgotten the rivalry. The wild card isn’t far fetched, not nearly in the same realm as catching the Cardinals. But they’re six games back behind six teams in line for the wild card.

What the Reds should do seems obvious. It has to, if you’re a reasonable person. Two of the three teams they would have to catch have owned them this year. The Cardinals have beat them like a drum at 5-1 and they’re 2-7 against the Cubs. The Reds are 5-1 against the Pittsburgh Pirates, but the Pirates are nine games above .500, sitting in the home wild card spot and probably not caring. And then there are the San Francisco Giants, or the Dodgers, whomever loses that battle.

23 May 2015:  Cleveland Indians Shortstop Jose Ramirez (11) [9522] checks on Cincinnati Reds Center field Billy Hamilton (6) [7291] after Hamilton injured his arm stealing second base during the game between the Cincinnati Reds and Cleveland Indians at Progressive Field in Cleveland, OH.  Cleveland defeated Cincinnati 2-1.

The Reds simply have too many teams ahead of them to make a real run.

At full strength, they might be in the mix, but certainly not better than the aforementioned teams. Signing Johnny Cueto seems beyond realistic, and with brand new elbow speculation circulating following his delayed start on Tuesday, you’d think the strategy would shift to getting maximum value for the ace, which of course would signal the beginning of what could be a rebuild.

And that’s fine. With what the Reds young starting pitching is accomplishing and what’s cooking in Double-A, it’s reasonable to believe any Reds rebuild wouldn’t take very long. The Cubs have made the long rebuild suddenly sexy, but the Reds aren’t nearly as bad as the team they blew up at Wrigley. They could decide to trade every single asset and build baseball’s best farm, but they don’t have to.

They do have to create some financial flexibility. Right? Isn’t that why Jason Marquis and Kevin Gregg were signed? With respect, those just aren’t the names you add when you’re really going for it, and the message was clear the entire offseason, they were really going for it. A bunch of injuries later, the Reds are in a hole and it’s as good a time to sell as ever. Is it reasonable to suggest there are several whose stock may never be higher?

Can this lineup of bus riders and back-ups really chase down the caliber of teams in front of them? To go for it right now, considering the assets they have, considering the hole they’re in and the talent they’ve lost for the season, would be absolutely crazy. And then there’s this.

I have zero insight as to what teams are asking f0r and how offensive they are or aren’t. But if any offer is serious, and the reluctance is a willingness to compete, that’s not just any crazy. It’s a Rambo-level of crazy. Bob Castellini would officially be going Rambo. And I’ll explain why.

Word association suddenly makes you think about Sylvester Stallone in a jungle blowing stuff up. But that’s not really the story of Rambo. I mean it is, but it’s not how he was introduced to the world. Before liberating POW camps and ending wars, he was a drifter, walking through a town in Hope, Washington he wasn’t welcome in.

And I get it. The sheriff was being a total ass. But all John Rambo had to do was keep walking. That’s all it took, and every single thing that John Rambo did from there doesn’t happen because Colonel Trautman never finds him post being arrested. He just needs to keep walking – the sheriff actually gives him a ride through the town. Yes, the sheriff has some brisk words for Rambo but that’s minor compared to what happens from there.

Tuesday, June 16, 2015: Cincinnati Reds manager Bryan Price watches the Reds take on the Detroit Tigers from the Reds dugout, Tuesday night, at Comerica Park in Detroit.

Bryan Price’s team knows how many teams they’d have to take on to get into the playoff picture.

Because what happens from there defines a new level of insanity that can only be described by the man himself. And it all begins from a choice to directly challenge a sheriff, in the 60’s at that. Rambo endures the most ridiculous series of events because of his refusal to leave the sheriff’s town. He even admits it in the movie. “All I wanted was something to eat,” which by the way, was acknowledged by the sheriff in the previously mentioned ride through the the town when he named nearby diners. Again, jerk move, but that can’t be worth the levels of hell Rambo rains down on that town.

Reds fans will mentally endure everything Stallone did if they decide to bunker down and go for it. Because when you’re watching a disassembled team arranging its future, the losses are easier to swallow. When the product you’re selling as a contender is getting buried, it’s mentally no different than what Stallone endured. It’s mentally being blasted with a firehose in the basement of an old police station, naked and humiliated. It’s mentally being beaten by multiple batons at once. It’s being beaten so bad, people my age have flashbacks of ‘nam.

It’s not humiliating? Personally agree. Embarrassing at times sure, when your team’s playing a competitor and they’re supposed to be one. But it’s not like the Reds are ten games under .500. Still, who doesn’t know someone who has said the Reds humiliate them? Who hasn’t read that in the creepy corners of internet comment sections?

Chasing the teams in front of them, at their strength, is actually the equivalent of one man taking on an entire police station. And guess what? Despite virtually blowing up the entire town and half the police department roster, he goes down in cuffs. Rambo goes down, and that’s the first Rambo. That’s the level of crazy going for it right now would be. Those are the kind of odds staring at Jocketty’s bullet-riddled product right now. And the young arms currently dazzling are on a timer.

They’ll be capped. Then what happens? If the Reds miss out on huge additions to the future, can they point to the 2015 campaign as productive and meaningful?

It would be fruitless. Small gains for a remarkably painful experience, not different than what John Rambo originally accomplished.


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