Reds need more life on offense

Published 10:37 pm Saturday, June 25, 2011

Somebody call the EMS, preferably one with baseball experience.

The Cincinnati Reds’ offense needs some type of defibulator that works on baseball bats.

Right now the Reds could use one for Brandon Phillips. And Joey Votto. And Scott Rolen and Jay Bruce and Drew Stubbs and …

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You name the player, we’ll look for a pulse.

Jonny Gomes was red-hot for about 10 games to start season only to have his bat go comatose. Just recently Gomes has started to find his swing again including a home run Saturday night.

Votto was challenging for the National League batting lead but has fallen from the .340-range to about .314 during the month of June. Even with two home runs on Saturday his long-ball production has been down from last year.

Votto is probably deserving of the start at first base in the All-Star Game, much as Phillips is at second base. Phillips has been a magician defensively, but his batting average has done a disappearing act by dropping from the .300-range down to .283.

Jay Bruce was the hottest hitter in the game during May. But during June there are times when fans aren’t sure he’s even in the lineup despite seeing him standing out there in right field.

Pitching was the key for the Reds last season and it has been the lifeblood this year even with all the injuries.

Sure, the Reds have an offense that leads the National League in runs scored, but that total can be misleading. As the old saying goes, figures don’t lie but liars figure.

The Reds will score 10 runs in one game, then one or two the next couple of games. The offense has lacked consistency much the way it did last year.

There’s no doubt the Reds’ offense has potential, but I was once told that potential is the French word for “ain’t done it yet.”

For instance, Stubbs has outstanding speed and the ability to lead the league in stolen bases. The problem is, you can’t steal first base. Stubbs does a great job of hitting the ball the opposite way, he just doesn’t do a good job of hitting the ball most of the time as his 103 strikeouts in 309 at-bats suggest going into Saturday’s game at Baltimore.

Playing at the American League team’s ballpark during interleague sessions doesn’t necessarily mean more offense for the Reds, especially when pitchers Bronson Arroyo and Mike Leake are more of an offensive threat than some position players.

Don’t develop a doom-and-gloom feeling, though. As I said, this team has a lot of potential. A lot of the players are young and inexperienced players tend to be inconsistent and prone to mistakes.

The good thing is that young players who are playing every day get experience and become better players and better hitters.

Cincinnati has good pitching both in its starters and the bullpen. The defense has been excellent for the most part, even left field. Of course, much of that is due to Fred Lewis and Chris Heisey playing there instead of Gomes.

Even with all their recent offensive struggles, the Reds are only three games out of first place in the Central Division and that’s with Milwaukee and St. Louis playing well.

Without Albert Pujols in the St. Louis lineup, the Cardinals are vulnerable to a slump of their own. As for the Brewers, the Reds have virtually owned them the past two years.

For now, someone make sure Dusty Baker has the number for 911.

Jim Walker is sports editor of The Ironton Tribune.