View Full Version : Still shaky following shakeup by Lonnie Wheeler (8/4)

08-04-2006, 12:31 PM

Still shaky following shakeup
Column by The Post's Lonnie Wheeler

The presumption was that Wayne Krivsky, having rolled over 44 percent of the Reds' roster in his first six months as GM, had shaken things up quite enough. But, for lack of any better solution, Jerry Narron has taken up where his boss left off at the trading deadline.

After Wednesday's fourth consecutive defeat had pretty much taken care of his team's lead in the nine-car pileup they call the National League wildcard race, Narron decided that sure, he'd be glad to grant Bronson Arroyo's spunky request to move up the ninth attempt at his 10th victory. The manager's reasoning was basically the same that he used Thursday when he dropped Adam Dunn from the second slot in the lineup - where he is batting .347 in his pleasant flowering of the past month - to cleanup, for which the big fellow decidedly looks the part.

"I'm really just trying to mix things up a little bit," Narron said. "Try to get something jump-started. Just trying to get something moving here."

That's not how it was supposed to work. Krivsky's spring machinations had remade the Reds as an apparent postseason contender, which, in the NL, is any club that hasn't been eaten by a roving herd of five-legged dingoes. Then his bold stroke - the trading of Austin Kearns and Felipe Lopez for players not considered nearly as good by traditional thinkers - had aborted the midsummer swoon and readied the roster for its finishing touches.

Those were a couple veteran pitchers, totaling half a dozen that the GM has brought to Cincinnati. There's no ambiguity in the path he has chosen for the Reds. In addition to pitching, there's also a premium on good work with the glove. And the legs.

The price for those commodities has come largely in players that Dan O'Brien, the previous general manager, collected in his two years on the job. O'Brien guys sent away by Krivsky include Justin Germano (traded for Rheal Cormier), Travis Chick (traded for Eddie Guardado), Dave Williams (traded for a minor leaguer), Josh Hancock (released), Allan Simpson (released) and Tony Womack (released).

It's not as it looks, though. It's not an agenda to rid the roster of any remnants of O'Brien's regime. Of the 11 current Reds that Krivsky has acquired, five were purchased with O'Brien capital but five more were bought with Jim Bowden men (Scott Hatteberg was signed as a free agent). Among the remaining Cincinnati players, Eric Milton, Rich Aurilia, Javier Valentin, David Weathers, Jason Standridge, Elizardo Ramirez and Kent Mercker were O'Brien pickups.

"There's no predetermined thing," Krivsky said. "I don't have a list. I hate seeing that reference."

At any rate, the pitching has been improved, balance has been pursued, and the compromise has come in power, which Krivsky realizes and tolerates. It deters him not that balls leave the home stadium faster than self-promotions fly out of Chad Johnson's mouth.

"You just need to have balance," said the longtime scout. "You need some power, you need some speed, you need some defense. I don't think this park is all that unique, like Fenway Park or an AstroTurf field.

"Home runs are sexy, but scoring runs is what I'm more interested in. I want a lineup that can score runs and can play small ball. There are some nights when you're facing good pitching that the home run isn't going to be there. You've got to be able to play that other game."

For a team that continues to lead the league in long balls, the Reds these days offer only two proven practitioners of the home run - Dunn and Ken Griffey Jr. It was probably no coincidence that Dunn's recent surge occurred when he was placed ahead of Griffey in the batting order. Griffey, meanwhile, with no Dunn to back him up, sank into a funk.

Aurilia has acquitted himself well as the holder-down of the four hole, but he wouldn't call himself a cleanup hitter. "Dunn could be that guy," Krivsky submitted. "(Edwin) Encarnacion could grow into that. If Griffey wasn't hitting third, he could be hitting fourth."

After the fifth consecutive defeat - after his club managed no hits in six innings Thursday against Greg Maddux and six in two nights against the Dodgers and fell back to only two games over .500, tied for the wild-card lead with the Diamondbacks and coolly pursued by the mediocre masses - Narron is likely to try anybody anywhere. Maybe Arroyo would volunteer for the middle of the order.
Contact Lonnie Wheeler at lwheeler@cincypost.com.


Jr's Boy
08-04-2006, 02:26 PM
Thats Jerry's problem ''just trying to mix thing's up a bit''rather than leave well enough alone.Are their any other teams that juggle the lineup as much as this one?It's like everyday you get up wondering if you'll work today.Would be great if we all could do that on our jobs,boss calls home and says we don't need you today but we'll still pay you.