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View Full Version : Can Kearns fulfull potential?



savafan
03-04-2006, 01:34 PM
http://news.enquirer.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20060304/COL03/603040355/1071/SPT04

SARASOTA, Fla. - Austin Kearns is dead center between All-Star and Almost. There comes a time in a baseball player's career when potential turns from a blessing to a noose. Kearns is there.

He has been hurt, overweight, platooned and demoted. Three years ago, he was considered the Reds' best young player. Now he's nearly 26, approaching baseball middle age, and no one is saying that anymore.

He's at a crossroads. Kearns doesn't like that term. Neither does Reds general manager Wayne Krivsky. The closest manager Jerry Narron comes to labeling the situation as such is to say it's important for Kearns to stay healthy and play well.

But how else would you describe a career that peaked nearly three years ago? On May 21, 2003, the day after his 23rd birthday, Kearns crashed into Atlanta pitcher Ray King and ripped his shoulder. Since then, he has been a hope, an enigma and two-legged bad luck.

This is the year to make or break those perceptions. Kearns is healthy. He shed 15 pounds and former Reds GM Dan O'Brien, who was not his best friend. He won't be traded to Cleveland for pitcher Jake Westbrook, he won't be sharing time in right field with Wily Mo Peņa. This is the year we find out about Austin Kearns.

"At-bats take care of a lot of things," Kearns said. "In the minor leagues and the first couple years here, I played every day. Then I found out how tough it is when you don't play every day.

"It's tough looking over your shoulder. It wears on you sometimes. You get in there, you know you'd better produce. It's easy to press. I press enough as it is."

Kearns said Friday he almost welcomed his five-week demotion to Triple-A Louisville last June, a trip O'Brien laid partly on Kearns' weight.

"It put my mind at ease. I was so mad at the whole situation" in Cincinnati, said Kearns. "It was probably good to get away from what was going on. It was a mental rest. I play better when I'm having fun, laughing and joking around. Last year was the total opposite."

When you ask him about the weight issue, Kearns shrugs. The team wanted him to lose weight, so he did. He doesn't know what effect it will have this year. Last year, he thought the team used it as an excuse to demote him to

Triple-A.

"They didn't say one word about it in spring training, when I had a good spring. Don't make a big deal about it (in June)," Kearns said. "I was struggling. I got off to a bad start. Nothing more than that."

It's instructive to compare Kearns to his friend Adam Dunn. Their careers have followed the same path, but their trajectories have been radically different. Between 1998 and 2001, Kearns and Dunn traveled the same Billings-Dayton-Chattanooga minor-league road. Dunn started the '02 season in Cincinnati; Kearns was called up June 25. Dunn is six months older than Kearns.

Dunn averaged 35 homers over the past four years and played in at least 158 games in three of them. Kearns in those years has totaled 55 homers and averaged 91 games.

Dunn just signed a two-year contract with an option for a third. He'll make $7 million this year and $10.5 million in '07. Kearns will earn $1.85 million this season.

When the Reds signed first baseman Scott Hatteberg, a free agent, last month, the first reaction wasn't "Oh, great, veteran depth in the infield." It was "Now they'll trade Kearns or Wily Mo Peņa for pitching and move Dunn back to left field."

O'Brien wanted to trade Kearns but feared Kearns' potential too much to follow through. It is a tribute to that potential that the Reds are still waiting for Kearns.

Kearns knows it's time to give his potential some legs.

Spring training is a time capsule of hope, faith and optimism. Especially optimism. If you can't love life in Florida in March, you might as well check yourself out.

Kearns has a flat stomach and a full-time job. He looks as good as everyone else does down here in March. Cross your fingers for his health, then sit back and see what happens.

"I think if I'm out there and healthy, my numbers will be there," Kearns said.

We're about to find out.

Red in Chicago
03-05-2006, 02:45 PM
this has to be his final make or break year. if it works out, great, if not, move on and stop living off of his "potential". i hope i'm wrong, but i think we've already hung on for too long.

captainmorgan07
03-05-2006, 03:14 PM
i think he can get there if he stays healthy and does the right things healthy is the big key though he has all the tools

pedro
03-05-2006, 04:08 PM
I think Kearns is going to have a huge year.

Falls City Beer
03-05-2006, 04:39 PM
I'll say Kearns does what he always does: gets hurt when things go south. Look for him to stink it up when the team starts to stink it up.

Kearns needs to play on a contender in order for a team to tap his resources. He's the very opposite of a hard slogger.

oneupper
03-05-2006, 04:43 PM
I was a big Kearns supporter until I got to watch him bat everyday on MLB.tv.
He does not have the bat speed to handle the pitches inside.

I think we are going to be sorry we didn't trade him earlier. (Hope not).

pedro
03-05-2006, 04:44 PM
Oh come on. You're smarter than that FCB. Kearns may stink it up, and he may get hurt, and most certainly the Reds will stink it up as a team, but your inference that there is a relationship between the Reds doing poorly and Kearns getting hurt is ludicrous.

Falls City Beer
03-05-2006, 04:47 PM
Oh come on. You're smarter than that FCB. Kearns may stink it up, and he may get hurt, and most certainly the Reds will stink it up as a team, but your inference that there is a relationship between the Reds doing poorly and Kearns getting hurt is ludicrous.

The dude's phoned it in for three seasons. I have no idea what he's capable of, but he's definitely got the JD Drew syndrome of sitting out a hangnail.

If Kearns were a pitcher he'd be mowing lawns for income.

pedro
03-05-2006, 04:55 PM
The dude's phoned it in for three seasons. I have no idea what he's capable of, but he's definitely got the JD Drew syndrome of sitting out a hangnail.

If Kearns were a pitcher he'd be mowing lawns for income.

He was playing well in 2003 up until the point Ray King sat on him. Not sure what you are talking about there. Shoulder injuries are serious. I think it was a much bigger deal than most people realize. As for last year, yeah I thought he was phoning it in before they sent him down. But he really wasn't hurt last year, so I don;t think your point is very valid.

Edd Roush
03-05-2006, 06:15 PM
I for one thought that was a really well-written article.

As for Kearns, I agree with pedro in the thinking he will have a big year. I see no reason outside of a plethora of injuries to regulars for the Reds to not be in the Top 3 in the NL in runs scored. This offense will be flat out filthy this year as long as Tony Womack isn't leading off.

It truly is sad that this offense will need to score 8 runs to be sure of a win.

OnBaseMachine
03-05-2006, 07:24 PM
I think Kearns is going to have a huge year.

Agreed. I'm already on record for predicting Kearns to post an OPS in the .900 area this season.

Falls City Beer
03-05-2006, 07:38 PM
You guys may be right. I've said the same thing for three years. I lost faith.

I do think a trade could jumpstart the guy's career.

But I'll say this: when this team goes into its yearly tailspin, and players are dumped or traded along the way, I wouldn't count on Kearns' stock to stay high. The Reds need to trade this guy....IMMEDIATELY if he starts warm. When I say "immediately," I mean the first deal involving pitching that comes down the pike.

It's just unforgivable that Kearns wasn't traded earlier.

MWM
03-05-2006, 07:58 PM
One thing that bothers me a little about Kearns is that even now he seems to have excuses for not having the success he's capable of having. I'm not saying some of it isn't legit, but it bothers me when people blame everyone but themselves for their struggles. Things like, "In the minor leagues and the first couple years here, I played every day. Then I found out how tough it is when you don't play every day" and "It's tough looking over your shoulder. It wears on you sometimes. You get in there, you know you'd better produce." And then when he was demoted, "They didn't say one word about it in spring training, when I had a good spring. Don't make a big deal about it (in June)."

Again, he's got some legitimate complaints, but at some point the athlete needs to just look in the mirror and say "I didn't get it done and it's my fault and no one else's." Great athletes overcome circumstance, underachievers dwell on the bad breaks that kept them from making it. I hope Kearns doesn't become the latter.

Betterread
03-05-2006, 08:36 PM
What is his potential, currently? - In the first few years in the minors, Kearns and Dunn were considered to have similiar potential -as franchise foundations. Dunn stayed healthy and now is much closer to that potential than Kearns. Kearns has suffered some injuries that he has struggled to overcome, and that has made me re-adjust my expectations of him. I'm no longer under the impression that he will be the offensive beast that he was in his rookie season. I think that if Kearns can stay healthy and play 140 or more games and compile an OPS >.820, I would be satisfied.
Do some of you still believe Kearns can be as strong an offensive player as Dunn?

KronoRed
03-05-2006, 09:37 PM
I think Kearns can have a higher avg then Dunn with less homers and less walks.

But Dunn will always be the superior weapon.

tbball10
03-05-2006, 10:16 PM
i always thought kearns would be the better of the two, and he still may be. he's got all the tools he just needs to put it together this year.
i think his injury caused by the collision with king has hurt him more than his weight, and i hope he can shake that injury and regain his form.

Aronchis
03-05-2006, 10:17 PM
Kearns can go 1 of 3 ways:
1)he becomes a franchise bust and journeyman
2)he becomes a "solid" starter with 280 24hr 90rib type potential
3)he fullfills "franchise" potential with 310 40 120rib numbers

Who knows what he fullfills or where he goes. Maybe Kearns was another great rebuilding era hope that never panned out. Wouldn't be the first flop.

StillFunkyB
03-05-2006, 10:38 PM
I think everyone knows that this is a make or break year for him.

I just hope that doesn't get in his head.

Blimpie
03-06-2006, 10:59 AM
You guys may be right. I've said the same thing for three years. I lost faith.

I do think a trade could jumpstart the guy's career.

But I'll say this: when this team goes into its yearly tailspin, and players are dumped or traded along the way, I wouldn't count on Kearns' stock to stay high. The Reds need to trade this guy....IMMEDIATELY if he starts warm. When I say "immediately," I mean the first deal involving pitching that comes down the pike.

It's just unforgivable that Kearns wasn't traded earlier.By 'earlier' you must mean during the days when he was hurt and/or mailing it in...How exactly do you propose to trade a flawed character such as that?

Can we please just let the guy have a full season where his shoulder isn't hamburger or his thumb isn't an open, oozing mess? After that, if he doesn't repeat his rookie year performance--I'll shut up about him. Promise.

bottom_feeder
03-07-2006, 10:14 PM
You guys may be right. I've said the same thing for three years. I lost faith.

I do think a trade could jumpstart the guy's career.

But I'll say this: when this team goes into its yearly tailspin, and players are dumped or traded along the way, I wouldn't count on Kearns' stock to stay high. The Reds need to trade this guy....IMMEDIATELY if he starts warm. When I say "immediately," I mean the first deal involving pitching that comes down the pike.

It's just unforgivable that Kearns wasn't traded earlier.

I wish Kearns the best this year. But I agree with you. I think we already waited one too many years to trade the guy. Last year, he still had the promise of great potential. This year, he's a guy that's yo-yo-ed the to the minors last year and is arbitration eligible. Even a lot of Reds' fans are not that excited about him anymore. I can't imagine he's worth a whole lot now. He's going to have to have a huge year just to be worth what he was last year. Dan really screwed up.