View Full Version : Opening Day articles, previews
04-01-2007, 10:45 AM
Since the Enquirer and DDN have so many articles today, I'll just make one thread where we post Opening Day coverage in it as opposed to starting 20 different threads with only articles.
The Boss & the Boss' Boss
AUTHORITY FIGURES: WAYNE KRIVSKY & JERRY NARRON
BY JOHN FAY | JFAY@ENQUIRER.COM
Baseball lifers Jerry Narron and Wayne Krivsky, who spent a good part of their careers with the Texas Rangers, had never met before Krivsky got the job as Reds general manager.
He inherited Narron as manager, but Krivsky was confident the two would mesh.
"I had a good feeling," Krivsky said. "People who knew him and knew me said we'd get along well."
They have. In Narron's and Krivsky's first year together, the club had its best season since 2000. The Reds, picked by many to finish last in the National League Central, were in the race until the second-to-last day of the season.
The GM-field manager relationship is arguably the most important in an organization. The GM puts together the team. The manager drives it.
Narron and Krivsky think alike: They emphasize pitching and defense and players who play the game the right way.
"We're both baseball guys," Narron said. "We're both grinders. We both put in a lot of time. I think there's a great deal of respect on both parts. I'm sure he doesn't agree with everything I do, and I don't agree with everything he does."
But they agree on what has to be done to end the streak of losing seasons for the franchise, which is now at six - the worst such streak since 1945-55.
"But we're definitely on the same page as far as getting this thing moving in the right direction - that is with baseball players, that is guys who play the game the right way, that is with guys who will bust their rear ends, that is about guys who want to be with the Cincinnati Reds first and foremost," Narron said. "When you take care of that, everything else will take care of itself."
To which Krivsky says: Ditto.
"We don't disagree on things very often - if at all," Krivsky said.
But they know their work is not done. Krivsky has turned over the roster heavily - obtaining 48 players in a little over a year on the job. Most of the players have been Narron's kind of players.
This year, we'll find out a lot more about whether the Narron-Krivsky philosophy works.
NUMBERS 2 KNOW: GENERAL KNOWLEDGE
Since 1900, the Reds have had 15 general managers and 48 managers. We're not sure how GM Garry Herrman (1902-27) and manager Jack Hendricks (1924-29) meshed, but here's a look at successful and not-so-successful combos from the free agency era:
REDS MANAGER-GM COMBOS THAT WORKED
Bob Howsam-Sparky Anderson: Back-to-back World Series titles. Hall of Fame players. The Joe Morgan trade. Need we say more?
Bob Quinn-Lou Piniella: Quinn hired Piniella and then gave him the pieces to lead a team that finished second in the division four times under Pete Rose to the World Series title.
Jim Bowden-Davey Johnson: Bowden's hire of Johnson put the Tony Perez firing fiasco behind the club.
REDS MANAGER-GM COMBOS THAT DIDN'T WORK
Dick Wagner-Sparky Anderson: Wagner fired Anderson after a 92-victory season.
Jim Bowden-Tony Perez: You don't fire a legend after 44 games.
Dan O'Brien-Dave Miley: Neither was really at fault here. They were thrust together in the last days of the Carl Lindner ownership. Their personalities were too different to work well together.
04-01-2007, 10:49 AM
DOUBLE-PLAY COMBO: BRANDON PHILLIPS & ALEX GONZALEZ
BY KEVIN KELLY | KKELLY@ENQUIRER.COM
The last time the Gold Glove Award went to a Reds shortstop and second baseman in the same season was 1977.
Dave Concepcion and Joe Morgan were two of four Reds chosen for Gold Gloves that year.
The offseason signing of veteran shortstop Alex Gonzalez to a multi-year contract strengthened the Reds at both middle infield positions for the next few years. The team had been contemplating moving second baseman Brandon Phillips to shortstop.
But with Gonzalez and Phillips now up the middle, one of the majors' worst defensive teams last season believes it has assembled something special.
"Two Gold Glove-caliber middle infielders," Reds manager Jerry Narron said. "Defensively, they're going to be as good a combination as anyone in baseball."
Last season alone, Reds shortstops committed 43 errors.
In contrast, Gonzalez committed a career-low seven over 111 games with Boston last season and enters this season as one of only four major-league shortstops - David Eckstein, Derek Jeter and Jimmy Rollins are the others - to make fewer than 17 errors in at least 100 starts the past four seasons.
His stretch of 57 consecutive errorless games from April 11 to June 30 last season and .985 overall fielding percentage established new Red Sox records.
Phillips committed 16 errors at second base last season, and his .977 fielding percentage ranked ninth among qualifying National League second basemen.
The last Reds player to win a Gold Glove at second base was Pokey Reese in 1999 and 2000.
2 MINUTES WITH BRANDON PHILLIPS
Who was your defensive role model? "Does it have to be a second baseman? To tell you the truth, the only person I really looked to was Barry Larkin. That was basically it. I know a lot of people that can catch the ball, but I don't really look at them as role models."
What are the traits of a good second baseman? "I'm still learning. There are some second basemen that can catch the ball, but can't hit. There are some second basemen out there that can hit, but can't catch. There are some second basemen that can do both. In my mind, catching the ball, I think that's the No. 1 thing a second baseman has got to do. Everybody wants to be complete. I try my best to be complete."
What makes a good double-play combination? "Communication."
Can you give us a scouting report on Alex Gonzalez? "What's my scouting report on him? I'm not going to tell everybody what my scouting report is. I'm not going to answer that. I can't give away his goods."
Do you use the same glove every season? "My leather is so soft. That's all I've got to say. My leather is so soft. But it just depends. If the form is still there, then yes."
2 MINUTES WITH ALEX GONZALEZ
What was your first major purchase after you signed your first pro contract? "I did not sign for a lot of money. You signed to keep playing. I didn't think about TVs or cars. I just wanted to keep going and keep going to move up. For me, the big money doesn't make the player."
Who was your defensive role model? "There are a lot of shortstops from Venezuela that I liked - Dave Concepcion, Ozzie Guillen. I saw (Luis) Aparicio play a little bit. Omar Vizquel. I followed all those guys."
What makes a good double-play combination? "Working together every day. Just work every day, try to know your partner at second base. And talk, talk, talk. How do you want the ball? How would you like me to throw it? The shortstop and second baseman need to talk every day and every play to make a good combination.'
Can you give us a scouting report on Brandon Phillips? "I've gotten comfortable with Brandon. I talk to him almost every day about how he wants the ball ... When we're taking groundballs, we're talking."
Do you use the same glove every season? "It depends. This is the second year with the glove I'm using. A glove will last me two years, at least. I only use it during the games, and I have one for practices."
20 years of Reds Opening Day DP combos
Year Shortstop Second base
2007 Alex Gonzalez Brandon Phillips
2006 Felipe Lopez Tony Womack
2005 Rich Aurilia D'Angelo Jimenez
2004 Barry Larkin D'Angelo Jimenez
2003 Barry Larkin Aaron Boone
2002 Barry Larkin Todd Walker
2001 Barry Larkin Pokey Reese
2000 Barry Larkin Pokey Reese
1999 Barry Larkin Pokey Reese
1998 Pokey Reese Bret Boone
1997 Barry Larkin Bret Boone
1996 Barry Larkin Eric Owens
1995 Barry Larkin Bret Boone
1994 Barry Larkin Bret Boone
1993 Barry Larkin Bip Roberts
1992 Barry Larkin Bip Roberts
1991 Barry Larkin Mariano Duncan
1990 Barry Larkin Mariano Duncan
1989 Barry Larkin Ron Oester
1988 Barry Larkin Dave Concepcion
04-01-2007, 10:52 AM
The family business
ON THE AIR: THOM & MARTY BRENNAMAN
BY JOHN ERARDI | JERARDI@ENQUIRER.COM
Based on the early returns, the only problem Reds radio listeners may have this season is not caring who's winning or losing. The teaming of mainstay Marty Brennaman with son, Thom, and former Reds closer Jeff Brantley, was so insightful and easy on the ears in spring training that the outcome of the games hardly seemed to matter.
That should change with Opening Day, however, when the games begin to count.
The Reds already have a broadcasting tradition second to none. Red Barber, Waite Hoyt, Al Michaels and Marty Brennaman all got their major-league starts in radio play-by-play here. And "Marty and Joe," the latter being Nuxhall, of course, the former pitcher, is a revered pairing that will be reprised on occasion this year.
But, mostly, it's a new era in Reds radio as Marty appears totally recharged with the thought of being paired with Thom, and both are excited at the prospect of working with Brantley, who has a voice made for radio and a pacing made for the national pastime.
Cincinnati, long known as a radio town, could be in for a treat this season if the baseball proves to be as good as the announcers describing it.
2 (OR MORE) MINUTES WITH MARTY BRENNAMAN
What has taken getting used to on air with your new partner? "Amazingly, nothing. I've been pleasantly surprised ... I think it's just natural. And it has almost nothing to do with us being father and son. We're more like two brothers, 20 years apart."
Why is that? "Well, when Thom got into the business in 1989, we had something in common. Not to be too graphic about it, but we say a lot of things to each other a lot of fathers and sons might not say. But, still, there's a lot of love and respect there like with other fathers and sons, too. He's my only son. I'm so proud of how successful he's been in the profession that I went into 42 years ago. And I didn't put any pressure on him to go into it."
What is the greatest game you ever did on air - not necessarily the biggest call, such as Pete Rose's hit or Tom Browning's perfect game, but the greatest game? "Actually, that would be Game 6 of the 1975 World Series. It had everything you could hope to have in a game - even though it didn't turn out in (the Reds') favor. I was broadcasting the game on radio (for NBC), and (with the Reds up 5-3 after seven innings), they said, 'We need you to go down to the Reds clubhouse for the celebration.' That's where I was when (ex-Red) Bernie Carbo hit the three-run homer off (Rawly) Eastwick to tie it at 6. (Four innings later - after a great tag play at home by Johnny Bench and a great play in right field by Boston's Dwight Evans - the Red Sox won the game on Carlton Fisk's home run off Pat Darcy in the 12th inning.)
What is the best thing about your job, and why? "I love the challenge of broadcasting a baseball game every day. Baseball's the hardest sport to do play-by-play. So, I love coming to the ballpark every day and seeing if I'm up to the challenge of doing that. Plus, being around the players keeps you young. I feel like I'm a young 64."
Yes, but you play golf, so it's a wash. Golf ages you: "Yeah, but golf has greatly expanded my vocabulary."
Who is your all-time favorite Red and why? "Well, Joe Morgan's the greatest player I ever saw when he won those back-to-back MVPs (in 1975 and 1976), but Pete Rose is my (favorite). He's certainly the best interview (on a regular basis) that I ever did. And as a young broadcaster in the '70s, it was great for me to have guys like Pete and Joe that I could relate to. I'd socialize with those two ... Pete was the kind of guy (back then) that would never big-time anybody."
Give us a scouting report on your new partner, Thom: "Knowledgeable, a pro's pro, witty, has the ability to laugh at himself as well as at others. And even though the majority of his (previous broadcast) work has been on TV, he's an outstanding, immensely talented (radio) play-by-play (announcer). Bob Castellini couldn't have picked a better partner to work with (and to succeed) me. When Bob first came to me with the idea of trying to hire Thom (away from the Arizona Diamondbacks), I said, 'It's a good idea, but you'll never pull it off.' And he pulled it off. I don't think the previous ownership group would have foreseen how big a (coup) it would be and how much it would mean (to the Reds' future on the air after Marty cuts back from doing every game, to have Thom replace him). I credit Bob for foreseeing it. And then when I said, 'you'll never pull it off,' I guess that's all he needed."
2 MINUTES WITH THOM BRENNAMAN
What has taken some getting used to with your new partner? "It has more to do with getting used to not being the primary play-by-play guy than it is has to do with getting used to working with my dad ... I'm not a former player, and there really is a lot a former player can bring (to a broadcast). I'm comfortable talking about what a manager might do now, or three or four batters from now. But I've never fielded a ball in left-center, turned a double play or faced a guy throwing 94 miles an hour. So, I have to (compensate) for that. When you're the second play-by-play guy, you just have to be more analytical. That, by far, is the biggest adjustment I've had to make."
What is the greatest game you've ever watched on air? "Game 7 of the 2001 World Series, not even close. Because of what was going on in the world right after 9/11, and, from a baseball standpoint, that it had future Hall of Famer Rogers Clemens on the mound against Curt Schilling, the best big-game pitcher of the last 25-30 years. And then to have the game down to Mariano Rivera and the final swing of the bat ... it was as good as it gets."
What is the greatest thing about your job and why? "To love sports and get to cover sports every single day is a hard to beat."
Who is your all-time favorite Red, and why? "It's a tie - Davey Concepcion and Eric Davis. It's hard to pick out just one guy from that Big Red Machine team because of the way they made a 10-year-old kid feel, but I pick Davey because he was such a warm guy, and still is. And I loved the way he played. Also, Eric Davis because he was there when I started (doing the broadcasts) and because he was so gifted. Eric Davis, for all that he has accomplished and overcome. He is a person of great character."
Give a scouting report on your new partner: "The best play-by-play broadcaster breathing, bar none. I say this not because I'm his son, but because it's true. He's the best there is."
MARTY BRENNAMAN & JOE NUXHALL: YOU DIDN'T THINK WE WOULD FORGET THE GREATEST BROADCAST PAIRING IN REDS HISTORY, DID YOU?
As good as Marty and Thom Brennaman already are together in the Reds' radio booth, there will never be another "Marty & Joe."
The beauty of it is that Thom knows it - having been around "Marty & Joe" from the early days when Marty and former Reds pitcher Joe Nuxhall first hooked up in the radio booth in 1974. Thom feels no need to try to match it.
Why even try?
Thom knows how special "Marty & Joe" was - and is.
And, of course, so does Marty.
He doesn't sugarcoat the old with the new.
"Having Thom here certainly softens it (getting to do only a handful of games with Joe this year)," Marty said. "The day Joe stepped down, I knew it would never quite be the same again. Given time, hopefully we (Marty & Thom) will have the success that I had with Joe. I will always treasure the time I had with Joe and the love that we developed over the years."
Marty won't even think about trying to reprise "Marty & Joe."
Simply put, "Marty & Thom" is totally different.
Nobody in the history of baseball play-by-play has gone from such a magical pairing to such a mystical pairing - all in one lifetime.
"I'm blessed," Marty said. "I'm absolutely blessed. I couldn't have scripted this any better. Joe was already here when I got here in 1974. Bob (Castellini) and John (Allen, the Reds chief operating officer) made this happen with Thom. They went out and got him. My only regret is that I only get to do 45 games with Thom."
04-01-2007, 10:55 AM
HEALTHY HUSTLING: RYAN FREEL & TRAINER MARK MANN
BY KEVIN KELLY | KKELLY@ENQUIRER.COM
A strained right quadriceps forced Ryan Freel out of a mid-August game against the Cubs during the 2005 season.
The Reds' utility player extraordinaire woke up hurting the next day, but the culprit was not the muscle strain.
"I couldn't walk because of my knee," Freel said of a different injury, suffered earlier. "I was so embarrassed."
For someone who plays each game as if it is his last - and bears the scars to prove it - Freel said he had never felt worse physically than he did that day.
Freel limped into the trainer's room and closed the door of trainer Mark Mann's office behind him.
"I couldn't even walk straight. It hurt so bad taking each step," Freel said. "I went straight into his office and shut the door and was like, 'Mark, my knee hurts. I can't walk.' He was like, 'What happened to your knee?' 'Well, I didn't want to say anything because my quad was hurt.'
"It turned out to be pretty funny after the fact, but it wasn't at the time."
He underwent arthroscopic surgery one week later to remove torn cartilage in his right knee.
A career minor-leaguer when the Reds signed him as a minor-league free agent in November 2002, Freel, with his all-out style, quickly endeared himself to Reds fans. That style continually worries the training staff.
"He loves to play the game, has a lot of fun playing the game, and he's one of those guys who was never supposed to be here," said Mann, the Reds' head athletic trainer. "So he appreciates the opportunity that he's had and tries to make the most of it. That's very obvious with his style of play."
Freel missed the last 10 games last season because of a hairline fracture in his left thumb suffered when he tried to make a diving catch in the first inning of a game at Minute Maid Park in Houston. He stayed in the game and started the next day before aggravating the injury diving into first base.
The toll it might take on his body never enters Freel's mind when he's diving to catch a fly ball or sliding hard into a base.
"I've never played like that," he said. "I've never thought about it when I've been running into a wall."
2 MINUTES WITH MARK MANN
What does it take to keep Freel up and running throughout the season? "When he first joined us, he had a history of hamstring problems. He had his fair share with us the first couple of years. But we made quite a few adjustments to his daily program. As always, with Ryan, every day can be a challenge just because of his style of play."
What is the trainer's room like when Freel is in there? "Loud. You never know what he's going to say or what he's going to do. He keeps it fun." Do you cringe when you see him crash into a wall or leap into the stands? "Oh, yeah. That's the thing: You really have to be on your toes whenever he's playing because you never know what he's going to do. It's nothing for him to dive head-first into the stands or head-first into the wall, to go all out in left-center field that you think maybe Adam Dunn is going to freight-train him and you're going to have to go out there and pick up the pieces. Ryan always keeps you sharp."
Has he ever been reluctant to visit the trainer's room? "Yeah, when we first got him, he hated to come in because he was one of those bubble guys. He still had (minor-league) options left. He wanted to stay as far away from us as he possibly could, but because of his hamstring problems, he didn't have much of a choice."
What has he done to show his gratitude for your work? "Last year, we were in Milwaukee, and he took (assistant trainer) Steve Bauman and I to Cold Stone Creamery. The thing about it, the closest Cold Stone was 15 miles away. So it ended up costing him $25 each way in a cab. So, for three ice creams it ended up costing like $75."
2 MINUTES WITH RYAN FREEL
What does it take to keep you up and running throughout the season? "Mark Mann said Steve (Baumann, assistant trainer) got the job two years ago because he was my personal certified psychiatrist. It's a lot more mental than it is physical."
What is the trainer's room like when you're in there? "I go in there to get myself mentally right. When I see Mark Mann and I see Steve, good things start coming into my head. I start thinking a lot of positive things. As a matter of fact, I told Mark Mann just yesterday that I love him. He's my favorite trainer I've ever had."
Do you think the trainers cringe when they see you crashing into a wall or leaping into the stands? "Maybe. If I was a trainer, I wouldn't want my player to get hurt. I'd probably cringe myself. Yeah, I'd say for the most part, they might. I think they would."
Have you ever been reluctant to visit the trainer's room? "Yeah. Trying to get on the team, you don't want to go in that place. That won't get you anywhere."
What have you done to show your gratitude for the work the trainers do a daily basis? "I give them more hugs than they know what to do with. I think that's more important than anything to me. I hug them all the time. And, occasionally, I'll give them a peck on the neck. But they don't really like all that. They like the hugs, but they can care less about the kisses. That's enough. That's all they need. I also take them Cold Stone ice cream, too. They love Cold Stone."
04-01-2007, 10:59 AM
A pair of aces
BY JOHN FAY | JFAY@ENQUIRER.COM
When the Reds decided to invest $61.5 million in new money to keep Aaron Harang and Bronson Arroyo in the fold through at least 2010, they were confident they were getting quality and quantity.
When it comes to pitching - particularly starting pitching - quantity is important.
"Innings," Reds manager Jerry Narron said. "Innings. That's No. 1. You get 470 some innings from two guys on your starting staff, that's pretty good."
Arroyo led the major leagues with 240 2/3 innings pitched. Harang finished third in the National League with 234 1/3 innings.
The Reds' fortunes this year are tied directly to the right arms of Arroyo and Harang.
That's why the Reds made the big investment in them. If Harang and Arroyo can do what they did last year - combine to win 30 games - the Reds have a chance to contend.
The Reds have long been an organization starved for starting pitching, so when Harang and Arroyo emerged as top-flight starters last year, the Reds rewarded them.
"Getting them signed will have a very positive impact on the franchise," CEO Bob Castellini said.
Again, it comes down to innings. Putting up all those innings saves the bullpen. It also means you're getting close to seven good innings in 70 games. Arroyo averaged 6.85 innings per start over 35 starts; Harang averaged 6.68 over 35.
On most nights, those were quality innings. When you go to the bullpen, especially early in the game, you're never sure what you're going to get.
"Every club in baseball, their goal every night is to get to the bullpen as quick as they can," Narron said. "The quicker you get to bullpen, the better chance you have of winning that game."
The Reds haven't had a pair of starters do what Harang and Arroyo did in 2006 since the early 1990s.
Harang went 16-11 with a 3.76 ERA. He led the NL in strikeouts with 216. Arroyo went 14-11 with a 3.29 ERA.
"When they go out there, you feel like you have a chance to win," Narron said. "That's huge. It gives the whole team confidence."
They became the first Reds duo to win at least 14 games apiece since Tim Belcher and Jose Rijo won 15 each in 1992.
Harang and Arroyo are different types of pitchers. Harang, a 6-foot-7, 254-pounder (down from 275), is more of a power pitcher. His fastball tops out at 93 mph. He'll give a hitter a steady diet of fastballs and sliders.
Arroyo, at 6-5 and 194 pounds, is more of a finesse pitcher. His fastball tops out at 90. He throws a variety of breaking pitches from a variety of angles.
Both came to the Reds in trades.
Harang was obtained from Oakland in the Jose Guillen trade in the fire sale of July 2003. The trade was made by acting general manager Brad Kullman.
The Reds put him in the rotation in '03. He has been there since. His ERA has dropped, and his win total has gone up each of the last three years. He was 10-9 with a 4.86 ERA in '04, 11-13 with a 3.83 in '05 and 16-11 with a 3.76 last year.
That was a major factor in the Reds' decision to sign Harang to a four-year, $36.5 million extension.
Arroyo came from the Boston Red Sox on March 20, 2006, for Wily Mo Peņa. It was GM Wayne Krivsky's first trade. It signaled a change in direction in the organization away from power toward pitching, and it went a long way toward turning the Reds into a contender last year.
Last season was the third straight that Arroyo reached double figures in wins. His innings have gone from 178 2/3 to 205 1/3 to 240 2/3 over last three years.
That's why the Reds pledged $25 million in new money to extend his contract until 2010. The move came just two days after Harang's extension.
Neither pitcher knew the other was about to sign. But Arroyo was glad it turned out to be a semi-package deal.
"I didn't know Aaron was signing until the day before he did," Arroyo said.
"I'm glad they locked him up. It's nice to have another guy to lean on. You don't want to carry the whole load."
2 MINUTES WITH AARON HARANG
When you got the big contract this offseason, did you splurge and buy anything? "No. I actually bought a new car before that, an Escalade. It wasn't related to that."
Describe counterpart Bronson Arroyo as a pitcher: "He's going to keep you off balance by throwing all kinds of pitches at you. It's not going to be a certain pitch. He throws his breaking ball a lot, but it's coming from different arm slots, different angles. He throws his whole arsenal at you."
Would you rather throw 200 innings or have a sub-3.50 ERA? "200 innings."
Toughest hitter to face: "Probably Albert Pujols or Barry Bonds. They're going to hit your mistake. You can't make a mistake."
Give us a scouting report on yourself as a hitter: "Bad. It's pretty simple."
Fans' 2 cents
From Cincinnati.Com online Reds' fans survey:
"One of the most important members of this team. If he and Arroyo repeat last year's (totals), look for the Reds to be in the playoffs.
"Should have gotten more recognition last year."
"Very consistent. Great delivery. ... The next two years are his prime.
"This is a big year for him. He's shown improvement every year and needs to continue. If he is to truly be the ace of the staff - at least until Homer Bailey is ready - Harang has to again win 15-18 games, and come up big in big games."
2 MINUTES WITH BRONSON ARROYO
When you got the big contract extension this offseason, did you splurge and buy anything big? "Yeah, I guess I did. I went down one day and bought a boat - a 48-footer."
Describe counterpart Aaron Harang as a pitcher: "He's going to come right at you with fastballs, sliders at the knees. Nothing fancy. He's just aggressive in the zone."
Would you rather pitch 200 innings or have a sub-3.50 ERA? "Definitely 200 innings."
Toughest hitter to face: "Probably Albert Pujols" (right).
Give us a scouting report on yourself as a hitter: "Throw him anything other than a fastball, and you're going to get him out."
Fans' 2 cents
From Cincinnati.Com online Reds' fans survey:
"Get him some run support and defense and he will do fine."
"Motivated, dependable, and can HIT."
"Great innings-eater and the kind of guy Cincy needs in the clubhouse. Cincy no longer has the weakest pitching thanks to him."
"I hope he can duplicate last year, but I'm skeptical."
"Overachieved last year, can't overpower when needed (and) will slip this year."
"This season he has to show that he is the real deal."
04-01-2007, 11:01 AM
John Erardi is a great writer. I really enjoy his work.
A tale of twos city
A LOOK BACK: DAZZLING DUOS IN REDS HISTORY
BY JOHN ERARDI | JERARDI@ENQUIRER.COM
If the keys to the Reds' 2007 season come in twos, it won't be unusual. The history of the franchise is filled with wild, wonderful and wacky pairs.
PAUL DERRINGER & BUCKY WALTERS: A PAIR OF ACES FOR THE AGES
For 15 years, Reds fans have been waiting for a No. 1 starter as dominant as Jose Rijo in 1990.
Would you believe that in 1939 the Reds had the best two pitchers in the league in Bucky Walters and Paul Derringer, respectively; and that in 1940, they had the first and third best, respectively (again, Walters and Derringer)? This, according to baseball author-guru Bill James, in his acclaimed book, "Win Shares." There hasn't been a 1-2 punch as good as Walters and Derringer on back-to-back pennant-winning teams in the National League in the 67 years since "Bucky and Paul" each won two games in the 1940 World Series to lead the Reds to the World Series title.
In 1939, Walters, 30, and Derringer, 33, won a total of 52 games, and a pennant. In 1940, they won 42 games.
And it wasn't as though the league was knee-deep in tandems like that back then.
When Walters and Derringer came along in 1939-40, it had been 30 years since there was a 1-2 punch that good on back-to-back pennant-winning teams. (In 1911-12, it was Christy Mathewson and Rube Marquard; in 1913-14, it was Mathewson and Jeff Tesreau, all for the New York Giants, but the Giants lost all three World Series from 1911-13.)
In 1939-40, the Reds won a total of 196 games - Walters and Derringer won 94 of them. Although together they had won 10 more games in 1939 than 1940, the 1940 World Series sealed their legacies. Walters, who had been converted from third base only five years earlier (he hit .325 as a pitcher in 1939), won Game 2 with a three-hitter, and Game 6 with a clutch (the Reds were down 3 games to 2) five-hit shutout and hit a home run. Derringer won Game 4, then beat the Detroit Tigers 2-1 with a complete game in Game 7 - still the only time in their history the Reds have clinched the World Series at home.
So - if the Reds' brass is interested - honoring Walters and Derringer is due. There's still plenty of room for side-by-side statues in Crosley Terrace out in front of Great American Ball Park. No single Reds player or pair of players from the Crosley Field era (1912-70) is as deserving. Statues of "Bucky and Paul" also would serve to remind Reds fans of something worth cherishing: There was a time when this organization played in the World Series largely because of pitching and defense.
NUMBERS 2 KNOW: THE MAGICAL 1939-40 SEASONS
W L G GS CG IP H SO ERA
Paul Derringer 45 19 75 72 54 597 2/3 601 243 2.99
Bucky Walters 49 21 75 72 60 624 491 252 2.38
VADA PINSON & FRANK ROBINSON: BEST OFFENSIVE DUO
In 1962, good friends and outstanding hitters Frank Robinson and Vada Pinson shouldered more of the load of the Reds' offense than had occurred before. It's an explosive pairing that has never been topped.
Together that season, Robinson and Pinson accounted for 415 runs (236 RBI plus 241 runs scored minus 62 home runs), which was more than 50 percent of the Reds' 802 runs. In their seven seasons together as starters, Robinson and Pinson averaged 210 runs, 198 RBI and 52 home runs.
Johnny Bench and Tony Perez were almost as prolific. In their nine starting seasons together, they averaged 166 runs scored, 206 RBI and 54 homers.
NUMBERS 2 KNOW: TWO BIG BASHERS
Here are the stats for Frank Robinson and Vada Pinson during the seven seasons they played together as regulars for the Reds:
Year G AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI SB
1959 146 540 106 168 31 4 36 125 18
1960 139 464 86 138 33 6 31 83 13
1961 153 545 117 176 32 7 37 124 22
1962 162 609 134 208 51 2 39 136 18
1963 140 482 79 125 19 3 21 91 26
1964 156 568 103 174 38 6 29 96 23
1965 156 582 109 172 33 5 33 113 13
Year G AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI SB
1959 154 648 131 205 47 9 20 84 21
1960 154 652 107 187 37 12 20 61 32
1961 154 607 101 208 34 8 16 87 23
1962 155 619 107 181 31 7 23 100 26
1963 162 652 96 204 37 14 22 106 27
1964 156 625 99 166 23 11 23 84 8
1965 159 669 97 204 34 10 22 94 21
JOHNNY BENCH & TOM SEAVER: GREATEST STAR-POWER DUO
If you were a hitter who could think along with the Reds battery from 1977 through 1980, you were a baseball Phi Beta Kappa. Seaver and Bench were not only bright, they were pretty good. They are No. 1 and No. 9, respectively, among the all-time vote-getters for the National Baseball Hall of Fame, collecting 98.84 percent and 96.42 percent on their first-ballot elections.
NUMBERS 2 KNOW: AWARD-WINNING BATTERY
Just a few of the top honors won by Johnny Bench and Tom Seaver in their careers:
Bench: NL Rookie of the Year (1968); NL MVP 1970, '72; Gold Glove catcher 1968-77
Seaver: NL Rookie of the Year (1967); NL Cy Young Award (1969, '73, '75)
JOHNNY BENCH & GARY NOLAN: PHENOM BATTERY DUO
Back in the days when "rushing kids to the majors" - and working them over once there - was not an issue, there were 18- and 19-year-old Reds named Gary Nolan and Johnny Bench, respectively, who made their debuts in 1967. Right-handed pitcher Nolan, who turned 19 in late May, went 14-8 that season, was fourth in the league in ERA (2.58), struck out 206 batters in 226 innings and was second to Tom Seaver in the National League Rookie of the Year voting. Once Bench got into the lineup for good in 1968, nobody would let him out - he caught 154 games. ("Fifty-four days in a row through one stretch," Bench recalled a few years ago, "without a day off.") He smacked 40 doubles and 15 home runs and drove in 82 runs. Two years later, Nolan (18-7) and Bench (45 HR, 148 RBI, MVP) had the Reds in the World Series. They were all of 22 years old.
JOE NUXHALL & WALLY POST: GREATEST PLAYER-FRIENDS DUO
There have been some great, inseparable combinations of Reds players in and out of the clubhouse over the years, but it's tough to top "Nux and Wally," not the least of which because their friendship survived Wally's death from cancer at age 52 in 1982. After Post's death, Nuxhall regularly hosted the annual Post golf outing in St. Henry to benefit the local cancer society. During the offseasons of their playing days, Post and his wife, Pat, would drive the 115 miles down to Cincinnati from their home in St. Henry to stay with Nuxhall and his wife, Donzetta, then pick up Gus Bell and his wife to attend sports banquets. In turn, the Nuxhalls would drive up to St. Henry and go to dances with Wally and Pat. On Sunday afternoons, Nux and Wally would play in charity basketball games at the St. Henry High School gym. "Just an easy-going, regular guy," Nuxhall once said of Post, who hit 40 and 36 home runs for the slugging Reds of 1956-57. Many of those homers soared over the Siebler suit sign atop the laundry beyond the left field wall at Crosley Field, thereby earning Post yet another free suit.
ROB DIBBLE & LOU PINIELLA: MOST VOLATILE REDS DUO
Reds manager Lou Piniella stood up for what he believed - and wouldn't hesitate to knock down any player who questioned him. If any player ever thought otherwise, those doubts ended the night of Sept. 17, 1992. Piniella had used reliever Steve Foster to close out a 3-2 Reds victory in Cincinnati over the Atlanta Braves because - Piniella told reporters - Dibble had a tight shoulder. Dibble, however, told reporters his shoulder was fine. The manager and player exchanged words in the Reds' clubhouse, and then Piniella rushed Dibble, knocking him off a chair and strong-arming him to the floor. Three weeks later, Piniella resigned as Reds skipper, though it had nothing to do with the skirmish.
PETE ROSE & MARGE SCHOTT: OWNER-PLAYER/MGR. SHOWTIME DUO
Together, the Reds' most outgoing pair put fans back in the seats following Schott's purchase of the club in December 1984. Schott often claimed she was the one who brought Rose back to town, but that wasn't true; Reds president Bob Howsam is the man responsible, four months earlier. But Schott was right when she called it "The Pete and Marge Show." Player-manager Rose sold tickets by reputation and style of play; Schott did it with her free-spending approach to player payroll that helped lead the Reds to three straight second-place finishes from 1985 to 1988, and ultimately to a World Series title in 1990, after Rose was suspended in 1989 for his involvement in gambling.
04-01-2007, 11:23 AM
Manager: Don't look for Griffey to play every day
By Hal McCoy
Dayton Daily News
Sunday, April 01, 2007
Reds manager Jerry Narron leaned against a wall down the right-field line in Ed Smith Stadium in Sarasota, Fla., late last week, surveying the guys taking batting practice who will wear the new Cincinnati Reds uniforms this season.
Are they good? Are they improved? Will they play the game the right way — something of which Narron insists?
Narron and Dayton Daily News baseball writer Hal McCoy discussed the major issues surrounding the 2007 Reds. Here are McCoy's questions, and Narron's answers:
Q Where has this team improved the most?
A "I love our defense, really love it. We improved defensively in the middle of the field. When you add (shortstop) Alex Gonzalez, that's tremendous. With Brandon Phillips at second, we're going to catch the ball in the infield. And Ryan Freel is going to cover a lot of ground in center field."
Q Have you seen improvement in the team's situational hitting and hitting with runners in scoring position?
A "We are trying our best to do that. We've talked to different guys in different ways. New hitting coach Brook Jacoby mentioned situational hitting during his interview. Any time you have a team that strikes out a lot, it makes you look like a poor situational team. We have to put the ball in play. The West Coast trip last year (1-8), if we put the ball in play on the ground a couple of times, we would have won a couple more games and that might have put us in the playoffs."
Q Will outfielder Josh Hamilton, as the fourth outfielder, get a lot of playing time?
A "At the first of the season, I don't know. But as the season progresses and runs its course, he'll get more and more just with the history we have here (of injuries) to Ryan Freel and Ken Griffey Jr., trying to keep them rested and healthy."
Q What is the key for this team to compete in the National League Central?
A "Health, no. 1, without question. The other thing is (Springfield's) Dustin Hermanson at the end of the game (as the closer). Kyle Lohse in the no. 3 spot is big. And we have to get years as good or better than we got a year ago from the guys who were here. Then we have a chance."
Q How important is Ken Griffey Jr. playing right field and batting fourth to this team's success?
A "There is no doubt in my mind that if Griffey could play 140 to 150 games, he would hit 45 home runs. The big thing is getting him on the field and keeping him healthy. He doesn't have to play 150 games to help us. He probably won't be out there for more than 110 and that's why we want him in right, to keep him healthy and productive."
Q Have you seen all-around hitting improvement from Adam Dunn, more than the home run swing?
A "I have seen it, although some people may have not. I know how hard he has worked this spring from the time Brook Jacoby showed up in Texas this winter and worked with him. And they worked together every day here. I know how much he wants to have a complete season, not just five months. I've seen him approach more toward hitting the ball the other way and I know what Brook's approach is. If he'll stick with him and keep grinding it out with Brook, he'll have a real big year."
Q Have you seen defensive improvement from third baseman Edwin Encarnacion?
A "His throws are much better, his major problem. We know if he sets his feet, he throws better, and if he keeps his glove up he throws better. If he does that, he is mechanically sound and his throws are fine. And he works on it. That gives him a chance."
Q Are you comfortable with the pitching?
A "With Mike Stanton and David Weathers, two veteran guys, at the back of our bullpen, guys who have done everything, I'm absolutely comfortable with that. Our big key is Dustin Hermanson (closer) and we all have confidence in him because he knows how to pitch, pitched in big situations and relishes the ninth inning. Lohse has a great arm and will give us some great games and we just have to get him to be more consistent. (Matt) Belisle has looked outstanding this spring and deserves this chance (to be the fifth starter). We have to get some improvement from Eric Milton.
"He has the arm to get people out and he just has to make some adjustments to where he pitches backward more — use his change-up and off-speed stuff more. If he does that and keeps the ball down, he has a chance."
04-01-2007, 11:28 AM
Find out what Reds players like about Cincy
What do you like most about Cincinnati, baseball-related or off the field?
By Hal McCoy
Sunday, April 01, 2007
'Kings Island. I love amusement parks and that place is great. I go four or five times a year. I loved it when Barry Larkin was here and when he'd say, "I'm taking my kids to Kings Island." I'd say, "I'll go.'' ' Adam Dunn
'Mount Adams (an upscale, eclectic area of restaurants and bars east of downtown). The thing is, you can almost roll down the hill right into the ball park. You can put your car in neutral and roll in the stadium parking lot.' Bronson Arroyo
'The ballpark (Great American Ball Park). I love that stadium and particularly our clubhouse. We have an indoor pool, so how big is that? Most of my career I've played in such crap places (Oakland, Boston).' Scott Hatteberg
'The small-town feel of Cincinnati is right for me, being from a small town (Bainbridge, Ga.). The people in Cincinnati are genuine and down to earth, just nice folks and it reminds me of home.' David Ross
'The countryside, wide-open spaces. I like how you can get out of Cincinnati quickly and feel like you are out in the country, because I'm a big ol' country boy. You cross the river into Kentucky or take a short drive to Mason and you see trees, lots of trees.' Matt Belisle
04-01-2007, 11:33 AM
Narron makes Freel center of attention
By Hal McCoy
Sunday, April 01, 2007
Bucky Dent is living legendary proof that wood speaks louder than leather, that a bat makes more noise than the pop of a fielder's mitt.
As a shortstop for the New York Yankees in the late 1970s, Dent was the prototypical, "good field, no hit." His reputation was not as a hit man but as a glove man, a slick-fielder more likely to steal away a hit than produce one.
But one swing of the bat made his reputation — a home run into the screen above the Green Monster in 1978, during a one-game playoff that pushed the Yankees past the Boston Red Sox for the division championship.
And that is for what he is forever remembered.
Dent understands the process, the reason people downgrade defense in its importance to winning baseball games.
"Nobody misses defense until you don't have it," said Dent. "It's kind of like the last thing anybody thinks about, because everybody is into home runs and offense."
The Reds didn't have it last year. Games were frittered away because a play wasn't made that should have been made — botched double plays, errant throws, baseballs raining into the gaps.
It isn't glamorous, but defense is what general manager Wayne Krivsky addressed most in the off-season, signing Krazy Glue-fingered free agent shortstop Alex Gonzalez. Moving Ken Griffey Jr. from center field to right field was part of the grand defensive plan, putting Ryan Freel in center field, "making us very strong up the middle," said manager Jerry Narron.
"When played right, defense is a beautiful thing to watch," said Dent. "Double plays, guys making great plays. Look at the play Freel made this week. That was a tremendous play."
Told to take a calm and sane approach the last week of spring training, Freel fled to the wall against the Philadelphia Phillies and Aaron Rowand on Tuesday and made a diving catch, ramming the wall.
"Just a great, tremendous catch," said left fielder Adam Dunn.
"Yeah, it was," said catcher Chad Moeller. "But he is an inch shorter today."
That's the stuff that saves games, and Freel is a master at it.
"When the defense plays well, it improves the pitching — and that's something else fans don't think about," Dent said. "It makes pitchers better because they know they don't have to strike everybody out. They can make 'em hit it on the ground and they know they'll make the plays."
04-01-2007, 04:34 PM
Nice pics on the Enquirer's website...:)
04-02-2007, 12:49 AM
The quote about Milton from Narron was telling..... "must show improvement."
04-02-2007, 12:51 AM
Stickied to prevent the many future duplicate threads.
04-02-2007, 05:01 PM
Gotta love this from the McCoy interview:
The other thing is (Springfield's) Dustin Hermanson at the end of the game (as the closer).
That cut must have been quite sudden...
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