Reds’ officials not planning to give up on season yet

Published 1:10 am Friday, July 24, 2009

Fans might or might not be ready to give up on the Cincinnati Reds’ playoff chances. Count team CEO Bob Castellini as one of those who remains hopeful.

Despite a 2-5 record since the All-Star break including three straight losses at Los Angeles, and trailing Central Division leading St. Louis by five and one-half games, Castellini isn’t about to engage in any fire sale similar to last season when he shipped off power hitters Ken Griffey Jr. and Adam Dunn.

“Nothing’s changed. We’re still trying to improve the club,” said Castellini.

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The Reds are 44-50 that keeps their hopes alive of ending a franchise record of eight straight losing seasons. Even if the Reds don’t make the playoffs, Castellini would like nothing better than to post a winning record.

General manager Walt Jocketty agrees with Castellini that the Reds are close to turning the corner.

“Even though we’ve struggle, we’re still close,” said Jocketty.

Although Castellini and Jocketty say they’re fixed on keeping the team in tact, rumors swirled in Los Angeles that the Dodgers were eyeing Reds’ bullpen pitchers Francisco Cordero, David Weathers and Arthur Rhodes.

Rhodes is the most attractive with a $2 million salary. Weathers does not have a no-trade clause but has a salary of $3.5 million. Cordero has 21 saves, but he is the Reds’ highest paid player at $12.125 million per season.

Catcher Ramon Hernandez could be on the trade block but a knee injury will sideline him four-to-six weeks. Hernandez makes $8.5 million and is hitting .249 with five home runs and 36 runs batted in.

Ryan Hanigan, who has played in 55 games or 22 less than Hernandez, has been outstanding throwing out runners and is hitting .313 with a home run and just eight RBI.

Starting pitchers Aaron Harang and Bronson Arroyo have been mentioned in the rumor mill. Harang is 5-10 and is 0-6 since May 25. Arroyo has an earned run average that’s creeping toward four digits, but he has posted a 17-6 record previously in September and October.

Harang is the second highest-paid player at $11 million and Arroyo third at $10.125 million. Jocketty claims team payroll will have nothing to do with any moves.

“We’re trying to improve the club the best we can,” said Jocketty. “I don’t want to get stuck talking about contracts.”

The Reds’ offense continues to struggle. It is ranked 14th among the National League’s 16 teams. Jocketty said last year he was interested in bringing back Dunn who was a free agent in the off-season and Dunn is rumored to be on the trading block.

San Francisco is the most interested in obtaining Dunn who is among the league leaders in home runs and RBIs.

“We need someone to help pick up the pace and pick up the production,” said Jocketty.

The Reds can’t afford another series in Chicago this weekend like they had in Los Angeles. The Cubs are second in the division, just one game back.

Harang goes Friday against Randy Wells. On Saturday, Johnny Cueto (8-6) will get the start and Micah Owings (6-10) takes the mound on Sunday. The Reds return home to face San Diego on Monday with struggling Homer Bailey expected to get the start.