CINCINNATI — With the non-waivers trade deadline a day away, the question in Cincinnati Reds country is: "Buyers or sellers?"
Using one of manager Bryan Price’s favorite sayings, "The Reds are kicking the tires."
To some, the 2014 season seems a lost cause because the Reds are in fourth place in the National League Central. But they are only five games out of first place and with two wild card spots available there is still a carrot to nibble.
General manager Walt Jocketty has been conspicuous by his ghostly appearances and when there is a sighting he has his cell phone plastered against his ear.
Now whether he is talking to other general managers or ordering new socks is inconclusive, but it is expected that he is chatting up possible trades.
Manager Bryan Price says Jocketty is talking to other GMs and working toward improving the current team to make a run for the money.
"The great thing about baseball this time of year is that it is always exciting (about the trade talk)," said Price. "If you are not in contention, you are wondering if you can find some pieces for your future. If you are in contention, you see if there is something out there that can help your club for the last two months."
"We’re looking to get better, no question about that," he said. "I don’t see us as a team looking to 2015. The way we’ve played and battled and stayed competitive through the year and stayed in this thing? Knowing there is a chance we’ll get Brandon Phillips and Joey Votto back and we have a bunch of guys who are battlers and gamers? There is no reason to lose optimism that we can’t stay in this thing and move toward the top."
Of Jocketty, Price said, "He is working the phones, I know that. He is trying to get us better. It usually boils down to the last 24 to 48 hours (before the deadline) before things fire up. Sometimes the end of July is a big bang and sometimes more of a thud."
Jocketty not only plays it close to the vest, the vest is made of Kevlar. When he makes a trade it usually comes not only out of left field, but over the left field wall. Rumors seldom leak from his office about who the Reds might acquire and who might be traded. He makes trades nobody expected.
When it was mentioned that getting Phillips and Votto back is almost like aquiring players without making a trade, Price agreed. But neither is expected back soon and the Reds need help now, especially on the offensive side. Since the All-Star break, they’ve lost nine of 11 and both victories were via shutouts, 1-0 and 3-0. Not once in those 11 games have they scored more than three runs. They’ve scored 20 runs in those 11 games.
"That’s true about Phillips and Votto, but until we are able to get them back, well, if this is our team we’ve proved we can stay in competition in this division. We can also get better (waiver deals) toward the end of August and into early September," said Price.
"We’ll see what happens. I have no insight into what will happen between now and the deadline but I do know we’re very excited about our possibilities of being in the postseason," Price added.
Nobody on the Reds roster is asking the media, "Do you hear anything, am I going to get traded?" And nobody is asking, "Are we going to make any trades to help us?" That often happens at the trade deadline, but there isn’t even a whisper in the clubhouse, no anxiety attacks.
"Sometimes you’ll hear a player’s name about the possibly of being traded and that can create some anxiety," said Price. "But I haven’t heard names or any buzz about any of our guys being on the block. So I don’t see any added anxiety with our players."
So time marches on and the watch on Jocketty’s wrist moves toward the deadline. So, stay tuned.