At the time of this writing the Reds are nine games out of first place, pending what the Milwaukee Brewers do later. They have just lost the series to the upstart Chicago Cubs and try (I hope) to avoid a sweep tomorrow afternoon.

When your ace blows up you know it is not your day. That is what happened today to Johnny Cueto. After looking like one of the best pitchers in all of baseball, he was shelled for seven hits and five earned runs in less than four innings.

The Cubs who are on a seven-game win streak looked anything but doormats for the rest of the NL Central Division. Carlos Zambrano, (9-6) picked up the win and belted a home run in the 11-4 trouncing of the defending Divisional Champions.

The only bright spot I saw in the game was the continued hot heating of Yonder Alonso who hit his first MLB dinger today, becoming the 17th Reds player to hit their inaugural home run in Wrigley Field.

As for Alonso, if anybody was ever made to be a designated hitter it is he. He absolutely looked pitiful in left field today, but the entire team looked like a comedy of errors. Todd Frazier, Edgar Renteria and Alonso all made errors in what certainly looked like a team just finishing out the year.

All-Star second baseman Brandon Phillips left the game in the fourth inning after spraining his right ankle in a collision with outfielder Drew Stubbs.

The S.O.S. Stubbs continued to disappoint striking out twice, and looking nothing like the defensive player he is.

The game smelled like September, with so many different players at positions they are not normally seen. Miguel Cairo had to spell Phillips, Frazier played third, and Alonso was in left field.

It is hard to imagine how this team could possibly bounce back and become a factor in the division. Even if they became white hot, they would have to depend upon the Brew Crew to grow tired of winning in order to climb the latter.

They have just lost a series to both teams lower in the standings than themselves. That will not get the job done. It would be hard to imagine that Dusty Baker and GM, Walt Jocketty aren’t having some back office meetings.

There is so much wrong that it becomes difficult to see where the malignancy actually started. Guys are having problems pitching, guys can’t hit and strikeout in crucial situations, and now the injury bug is starting to creep in.

With so much wrong on a team widely seen as very talented, the trigger could be pulled at the top, with Baker looking for a new gig or sliding back into the booth at ESPN. I haven’t heard any winds but the timing would be right.

You may feel free to continue in hopeful bliss, but this writer has seen enough to call it a year. I think it is time for a fire sale. The Reds should start playing people they expect to start in 2012, seeing what deals can be made with dead weight players like Coco Cordero and Edinson Volquez.

They should throw Aroldis Chapman into the deep end of the pool. If he swims, praise the Lord. If he doesn’t then he becomes fodder for the trade mill. Either let him start games now or mold him into a closer. Middle relief is where pitchers go to die.

There is always next year, but hey let us at least see what we have on the farm. Is something wrong that Billy Hamilton can’t be promoted? He is playing a tad over high school ball in Dayton. Low Single A, come on, if he is an untouchable start implementing him into the system.

It is time for all of us to cinch up the old apple sacks and face reality. It’s over.

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