Krivsky was a front runner for the job last time around when they gave it to Dan O’Brien. If Krivsky is even remotely responsible for what Minnesota’s done the last few years, this is a solid pickup. The Twins have done quite a bit on a shoestring budget. They failed to make the playoffs last year, but won the AL Central the previous three seasons.
Although it looks Krivsky is going to have an easy job to start off. Payroll is staying pat and all he really has to do is take care of Adam Dunn’s arbitration hearing. If he want’s to make an immediate impact, he should be pushing to sign Dunn to a long term deal.
By Thaq Diesel (email@example.com)
Freewheeling Aries and noted Reds Fan
There are a lot of names being bandied about for the Reds GM vacancy. Most of the GM interviewees I’ve never heard of before, and I suspect 99% of Reds fans haven’t heard of them either. Regardless, below is a list of job responsibilities any new Reds GM must have. I’ll defer to the new ownership on exactly who carries them out (although in the case of Frank Wren, anybody with an Atlanta Brave pedigree looks like a great pick, esp. with regard to building any kind of pitching staff):
1. Find an identity for this team. Is it a power club or is it based on small ball? Smack Jerry Narron if he claims that the Reds are a fundamentally sound ballclub, then proceeds to manage for the long ball. The Reds are stacked with power hitters, they lack many contact hitters, they have little speed outside of Ryan Freel and play in a home run hitters ballpark. Maybe the Reds should move to the American league?
2. Please, please, please, please, please, please make a long-term commitment in terms of staffing and dollars to the Reds farm system.
2a. Find pitching coaches in the minors who teach techniques that DON’T eventually lead to Tommy John surgery.
2b. If you have to, trade for minor league pitching prospects so we don’t have to wait 10 years for the above two to happen.
3. If you have already decided to bring sweet Mary Lou Pinella back next year (sorry, that’s the nickname I gave him back in the 90’s and I just never got rid of it. Oddly, I don’t even know why I named him that. Perhaps his thighs remind me of the former Olympic gymnast??), treat Jerry Narron like he’s still a manager this year and give him the benefit of the doubt. For example, don’t yell “Dead Man Walking” each day when he enters the clubhouse.
4. Find some additional bullpen arms. Middle relievers are going to be screaming bloody murder come June. Hopefully the top secret project to clone Scott Sullivan has been successful.
5. Get creative with the pitching staff. Quality free agent pitchers are hard to come by even if you were willing to throw the money at them, pitching is still the weak spot in an otherwise talented team and Great American Ballpark is Coors Field without the altitude. A starting point is to look for low ball pitchers, but guys throwing junk (The Frank Tanana prototype) could produce just as well as, say, a gas-throwing Ramon Ortiz. Hell, invest in super padding for LaRue and Valentin and put three knuckle ballers out there – what can it hurt?
I’m ready for some baseball; let’s get on with it!
Here’s a nice column on Paul Wilson and how his rehab is going on his shoulder. Wilson had surgery last June that ended his 2005 season and now he’s hoping to come back strong in 2006.
Paul Wilson led the Reds in ERA in 2003 and 2004, although you’re talking about two pretty bad pitching staffs. Both finished 15th in the National League in ERA in front of only the Rockies. So you can compare him to the Aaron Harang of the 2005 Reds. Solid starter, but he’s probably never going to win a Cy Young.
Having a healthy Wilson will go a long way towards, well, maybe the Reds getting their ERA below 5.00 for the first time since 2002. But I wish him the best. We need all the arms that we can take.
The Reds inked Felipe Lopez to one year, $2.7 million dollar and the Reds and Lopez will avoid arbitration. The Reds are getting a bargain here if Felipe Lopez does as well as he did in 2005. .291/.352/.486 isn’t too shabby, and he did it over 580 at bats. The Reds were looking to pay him $2.15 million while Lopez’s arbitration claim was for $3 million.
That leaves the future Hall of Famer, Adam Dunn, as the sole remaining arbitration case. Dunn is asking for $8.95 million and the Reds are looking to give him $7.1 million, so they’re pretty far apart.
The Reds also signed reliever Rick White this week. Another cheap arm in the pen, White will make $600k this season. This is one those “blah, WTF” signings. White managed a decent ERA, but his batting average against was a whopping .308, which isn’t what you want to see when you’re trying to strand inherited runners. His strikeout rate has also been in a state of decline.
Top Eight Riverfront Stadium Memories (Part 2)
By Thaq Diesel
4. I remember sitting the left field bleachers to watch Hideo Nomo and the Dodgers get beat by the Reds in 1995 NLDS. In fact, it was the last time the Reds won a post-season series. What I remember most about this game, however, was my friend Avi handing me binoculars he brought. I scanned the pressbox to find Marty and Joe. I remember actually being shocked to see Nuxhall drinking a beer in the booth. Ah, to be young and naive again.
3. It’s strange, but one of my favorite memories was the low-tech scoreboard advertisement that took place in the early innings. The umpire trying to make the call, “Yer a Big Red Smokie!!!! Yer a hot dog!!!!” with organ music playing during this sequence. It was total cheese, but these are the kinds of things that capture and hold your attention when you’re a kid. It set, I don’t know, an ATMOSPHERE of baseball. I looked forward to this sequence every time I attended a Reds home game. (Honorable mention – the lame ghost that warned “Walks will haunt” when the opposing pitcher walked the leadoff batter.)
2. I snuck down for a weeknight game. It was cold and windy and the Reds were losing in the early innings. A young Reggie Sanders smacks a pitch opposite field down the right field line. He gets a great jump and is closing on second base. The right fielder is trying to chase down the pinballing baseball. I realize as he passes second that Reggie is going for an inside the park HR try. I got goosebumps and I simply found this to be one of the most exciting sports moments I could recall. I yelled and cheered like crazy. The right fielder (who I believe was none other than Reds killer Mark Whiten) threw a rope to the cutoff man. Reggie slid headfirst into the catcher and was called out on a close play at the plate, though I think the catcher blocked the plate and Sanders never actually touched it. As exciting as this potential inside-the-park try was, the aftermath was equally as depressing. Reggie was down at home for a few minutes before slowly getting up and walking off. He was handed his glove and headed out to left field, but spent most of the time with his hands on his knees. Larkin spent the whole inning looking at Reggie between pitches. Luck would have it that no balls were hit to left, which was fortunate since Reggie left the game after that half inning to be admitted to the hospital with a collapsed lung. That ten seconds of excitement for me, though, were only exceeded in Riverfront by one other event.
1. Eric Davis was in his tobacco-chewing prime. His defense and power had won over the city who were just getting used to this new talent. Whoever was pitching for the Reds that game had already given up a run in the first inning and had a runner on third with no outs. The hitter smacks a long fly ball to deep left center. The crowd exudes that slowly rising nervous roar it makes when an opposing team hits a potential homerun. Davis tracks the ball and at the last minute skys upward and puts his glove over the wall. The entire stadium is silent for a full second. Davis comes down with the ball and throws it into the infield. Riverfront explodes with a roar unlike any I’ve ever heard. It was an amazing play by a talented player in his prime and I had goosebumps. Of course, the runner tagged from third and scored, but the stadium didn’t care and cheered Davis for the next two innings straight, every person saying to the stranger next to them, “Did you see THAT?” I don’t even remember if the Reds won that game and it didn’t matter. Moments like Davis’ over-the-wall catch are the things you see once in a lifetime, if you’re lucky.
Not too shabby. While you have to question Adam Dunn wanting to play most of the season with a hair line fracture in his right hand, you also have to be impressed with his production. It might also explain why his batting average dropped off this year.
The hand was checked this week and while the doctor wanted to put a splint on the hand, Adam Dunn eloquently said “The heck with that.”
Dunn’s going to hit 50 this year. You heard it here first. Although I’ve been saying that for the last four years, so go figure.
The Akron Beacon Journal is reporting that the Indians are trying to work a trade that would send Jake Westbrook to the Reds in exchange for Austin Kearns. Thanks to Lee Sinins’ ATM report for the scoop.
Not sure how I feel about that deal. I just KNOW that as soon as we let Kearns go, he’ll turn into the player everyone thought he’d be. Kearns played in only 110 games last year, and that was a three year high. And while he hit only .240 and ended up getting sent to Louisville, he did paste 18 homeruns in only 387 at bats. With Adam Dunn probably moving to first base, that means right field is free and clear for Kearns this year. No four outfield shuffle.
And Westbrook is good but not great. I’m not sure how much he’d help this year, and honestly I don’t know his contract situation. He has been in the league for six years, so he might be set to become a free agent next season or at least after the 2007 season. He also doesn’t strike out a ton of guys and he pitched in a pitchers park last year.
So on the face of things, it looks like a good trade, but I do think it will come back to bite us in the you know what if we let if happen.
Top Eight Riverfront Stadium Memories (Part 1)
By Thaq Diesel
This list contains events that were witnessed in person at the late, great Riverfront stadium. Again, they only span my experiences with the Reds, so they won’t cover the Big Red Machine or Pete Rose’s record-breaking single. I also lament that I never personally saw Schottzie or Schottzie #2 take a dump on the worn astroturf. If I had asked her, I’m sure Marge would have said something to me like, “You know what honey, it wasn’t all that exciting. She does it every day…”
At this point, I have a confession to make: I have yet to make a trip to the Great American Ballpark. Life events (grad school, children, increasing job responsibilities) have simply precluded a trip to Cincy to make it happen. It will happen this season (the subject of a future article, in fact). I’m told balls fly out of there faster than at the Las Vegas adult video awards show. But I digress – on with the list:
8. I witnessed my first live triple play. Runners were on second and third, one-hop hard shot to Sabo who fielded the ball with his feet already on the bag at third. Boom – a 5-4-3 triple play. It happened so fast, I had to think for a minute about what I had just witnessed. I saved the scorecard for as long as I could, but alas, my wife eventually threw such “trash” away not long after we were married.
7. It was Griffey’s first (half) season with the Reds. I travelled to the ‘natti to see him live only to find he was under the weather and not starting. It was the seventh inning I believe, Reds down by 1 with two on. Griffey comes up to pinch hit. I would witness a classic Griffey at-bat that demonstrates in one stroke his incredible cockiness and unmatched raw talent. He takes two pitches; strikes down the heart of the plate. Griffey then does his patented two-strike step out of the box to call time just as the pitcher is getting ready to start his motion. (I promise, despite my bitching, that I really do love the guy. But come on! If I was a pitcher, I’d probably bean him or throw over his head if he was doing that to me; it’s so disprespectful) Still, this was the honeymoon period and this quirk was new to me. Griffey then takes three balls, never moving the bat from his shoulder. With the 3-2 count, he takes his first lazy swing and summarily deposits the ball in the right field bleachers directly in front of me. I remember feeling both awe and giddiness that we had ten more years of such greatness in front of us… (which of course would later be laid bare by a consistent barrage of freak injuries)
6. It was the magical 70 homerun season for McGuire. I went to Riverfront late in the season to see if Mac would hit a homerun, and it became one of the few sellout crowds I was actually a part of. Almost everyone was in their seats for batting practice. MacGuire gets in the cage and lays down a bunt on the first pitch(which, had people been paying attention, every single Cardinal had done to that point). People booed him mercilessly. The second batting practice pitch was a monster, I mean MONSTER 512 ft. homerun into the Reds seats in left. He absolutely destroyed that ball. He was walked most of the game so that was the lone highlight of the day. It didn’t show up in the box score, but that moonshot was still very memorable
5. I was watching the Reds play Pittsburgh and Barry Bonds in 1993 (this was the skinny, but still incredibly-talented-as-long-as-it-wasn’t-the-postseason Barry Bonds, mind you). I didn’t like him then and during the game (where he had to that point posted an 0-fer) I had deluded myself into believing that he was really not very talented at all. Barry cured me of this when, in the top of the 9th and down two runs with two outs, he smacks a two-strike bases-clearing triple. I remember thinking to myself, “Okay, we’re probably going to lose this game, (which the Reds did, in fact, do.) but I have to acknowledge that was a moment of greatness. “
Maybe this Castellini guy isn’t so bad after all. He fired Dan O’Brien today. While it’s hard to say who’s more to blame for the Reds recent woes, O’Brien or Jim Bowden, O’Brien is to definitely the cause for some of the more recent problems. Namely the worst pitching staff in the National League. He’s also to blame for not locking up a guy like Adam Dunn to a long term deal while holding on to Ken Griffey, Jr. for probably a bit too long.
Looks like a lot of the usual suspects are on the list of guys who will be brought in to interview. Jim Beattie seems to have the inside scoop because he’s pals with Red Sox president Larry Lucchino. Lucchino pegged Beattie as the team’s GM before the Sox decided to go to a GM by committee system.
Castellini also continues to kiss Lou Pinella’s ass. This isn’t neccesarily a bad thing as Lou’s out of a job and he is the last guy to lead the Reds to promised land.
So while little will change this year, maybe by the trade deadline we’ll have a handle where the team is going. Not that we should automatically assume we’re sellers, but we’re talking about having practically the same team as we did last year.
I just hope Castellini is the real deal. It’s sad when you long for the days of Marge Schott, but at least she brought us a World Series.
One last thing, there’s a new Cardinals blog that’s showing Brian up by about nine years. He’s going all the way back to 1926 to do his diary and that should be really cool. And Cardinals’ fans and Reds’ fans have one common bond. The last two times the Tigers made it to the World Series and lost were 1940 and 1934, when they lost to the Reds and Cardinals respectively.
The Reds new owner didn’t waste much time shuffling things around. It’s hard to tell whether Dan O’Brien will have more power or not but he’s reporting directly to the owner now.
Castellini also promised a championship. Doesn’t look like it’ll be this year though, because he told the crowd that the payroll is pretty much set at $60-65 million. He’s also promised to be hands on, which again, could go either way.
So it probably won’t be until 2007 that we see what kind of changes are in store for the team.