I was in San Diego for a four day weekend so, fortunately, I missed most of the carnage, as the Reds were swept twice on their six game road trip. The Cubs series was particularly painful (and not just because most of the guys I was in S.D. with are Cubs fans) because the sweep vaulted them into first place. The Cubs are now 51-45. If they go .500 the rest of the way, the Reds would have to go 40-25 to tie them. That's .615 baseball. We haven't seen anything from the Reds to indicate that it's even possible for them to finish that strong. And that doesn't even consider the other three teams inbetween the Cubs and Reds. (I posted earlier that I thought the Cards would win the division.)
So, what to do? Even though I still have a lot of tickets for games late in the season, I think the Reds should be actively selling off their high-priced talent. Harang and Arroyo are perfectly serviceable pitchers and their contracts are not outrageous (Harang gets $12.5 mil. in '10, with an '11 club option/buyout, Arroyo gets $11 mil. in '10 with an '11 club option/buyout), but they certainly have more value to the Reds as trade bait right now than as pitchers for the rest of this year and next. One factor here might be the confidence level the Reds have that Volquez can come back. A 2010 rotation of Volquez, Cueto, Owings, and Bailey isn't as bad as one without Volquez. But I would make every effort to trade those guys. I would also try to move Cordero. He's having a great season, but he's owed $24 mil. over the next two years. I'm sure a contending team could use his services. (The Tigers come to mind; so does Texas.)
Finally, I would unload as many of the offensive players as they can who are free agents next year or just plain old. I don't know what they could get, but I would shop Taveras, Gonzalez, Hairston, Gomes, and Nix. I'd also shop Weathers and Rhodes. Those guys are having good seasons and might bring something back in trade. The offensive guys probably won't bring anything, but they're not helping an '09 team that won't win, and probably won't be around for the next decent team.
I've been saying that a .500 record is the first step, but this team can't even play .500 ball. I think the fans would rather see the older guys shipped out in favor of the future than a .500 record in '09.