Pitchers in minors can't replace Claussen
By Hal McCoy / Dayton Daily News
CINCINNATI | Hal McCoy, the hall-of-fame baseball writer for the Dayton Daily News, knows a thing or two about America's pastime. If you want to tap into that knowledge, send him an e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org
Q The Reds are last in defense, while manager Jerry Narron consistently preaches fundamental baseball. Sparky Anderson's credo was defense up the middle, and aren't the Reds abysmal there? — Dave, Miamisburg/Centerville/Beavercreek
A The standings don't list teams in order of defense, and, the last time I checked, the Reds were in first place. Physical errors have nothing to do with fundamental baseball, so let's not get on Narron's case. Besides, your wife told me you couldn't catch a watermelon dropped in your lap. Yes, the three-headed catching position is iffy and shortstop Felipe Lopez sometimes bruises patrons behind first base with throws, but Brandon Phillips might be the best defensive second baseman for the Reds since Bret Boone, and Ken Griffey Jr. still covers ground like the U.S. Infantry.
Q Was the car owned by Ryan Freel that was burglarized the car he bought from Ken Griffey Jr., and is there maybe a jinx in the clubhouse? — Brian, Oakwood
A There is plenty of hi-jinx in the clubhouse, but no jinx. Isn't it strange that a guy who thrives on stealing (bases) gets stuff stolen from his car? And, no, it wasn't the car Freel bought from Griffey. He doesn't take it out in the rain so it doesn't get dirty, but fortunately he loves to play in the rain so he can muddy his uniform.
Q What does the organization think about Phil Dumatrait, Abe Woody and Sam Lacure, and could a couple of them step into the rotation if Brandon Claussen and Dave Williams continue to struggle? — Mark, Lexington, Ky.
A Dumatrait is in Double-A, while Woody and Lacure are in Single-A, a big step for Dumatrait and a giant step for Woody and Lacure that nobody takes in one leap. And their numbers aren't eye-popping enough to even consider something that drastic. Not even Wayne Krivsky is that bold or, to put it bluntly, that stupid.
Q Chris Machalak, a left-hander with big-league experience, is having a good year at Class AA Chattanooga and will pitch in the Hall of Fame game Monday for the Reds. Wouldn't you like to see the Reds give him a chance in place of Brandon Claussen, who is not all that good? — Ray, San Bernardino, Calif.
A With Ken Griffey Jr. finally off the DL, this week is Stomp on Brandon Claussen Week. Claussen has pitched a couple of good ones, so he isn't Ken-L-Ration yet. Machalak is 4-0 with a 2.89 ERA, but a guy with big-league experience who is any good should dominate in Double-A. And he may or may not pitch in Cooperstown. He will be with the team, but so will several pitchers and Eric Milton will start and pitch three to five innings (or 100 pitches).
Q Don't you think the Reds should give up on potential and give up on Adam Dunn, a one-dimensional player (power) who is a joke on defense? Maybe we can find a stupid general manager who will trade a good starting pitcher? — Ed, Bellbrook
A Say what? Potential? As of Friday, Dunn had for his career 592 hits, 400 RBIs and 171 homers and the guy is only 26. Some major-leaguers don't reach those numbers in their careers. If GM Wayne Krivsky said he would trade Dunn, 29 other GMs would be on speed dial in 10 seconds. His defense in left field? Hey, Wily Mo Pena almost was the left fielder and he makes Dunn look like Roberto Clemente.
Q Are you sticking with your prediction of last place for the Reds? — Carol, Tucson, Ariz.
A Every time I read the standings I feel as if I'm reading the paper upside down. I could say it's early, but it's not. Unless the Pittsburgh Pirates secede from the National League Central, no, the Reds won't finish last. Yes, they definitely can win the division and I'll give you three names as to why: Bob Castellini, Wayne Krivsky, Jerry Narron. The team thoroughly believes in the owner, GM and manager and a happy team with talent is a dangerous team.
Q What is the procedure for measuring the distance for home runs? — Gene, Dayton
A With Adam Dunn's home runs, you need a satellite. Actually, the footage is estimated by the team's media relations department. Every ball park has an architect's measurements as to how far it is to nearly every point in each ball park, and it is charted. When Ken Griffey Jr.'s game-winning home run landed in the seats Thursday night, a chart was checked to see the approximate distance to the seat Griffey hit and the announcement was made, "Estimated distance on Griffey's home run, 413 feet." But when Dunn clears the stands and the ball lands on Mehring Way, it is anybody's guess, but it is always a fur piece.
Q Why didn't manager Jerry Narron use Chris Denorfia in center field when Ken Griffey Jr. was out? Denorfia was tearing it up in Triple-A and is a strong fielder. He sat on the bench while Ryan Freel contributed nothing. — Jim, Dayton
A Denorfia once again is contributing mightily in Louisville. I'll wager you were one of the millions screaming that Freel must play every day, no ifs, ands or anythings. Yeah, Freel went into a nose-dive on a trip to Denver and Phoenix, but when he started the season like Ty Cobb, everybody said, "See, we told you." Freel is a good defensive player, wherever he plays, and we all know the disruption he causes on the basepaths, to say nothing of the clubhouse with his cacophonous cackle.
Q What moves do you see the Reds making when pitchers Paul Wilson and Eric Milton are ready to go? — Scot, Dayton
A Wilson and his ouchy shoulder probably are not close, maybe not before the All-Star break, if then, so it is a moot point. As hard as he works, as bad as he wants it, he isn't close and anybody who knows Wilson, the classiest man you'll ever meet, bleeds for him. Milton probably will be ready to pitch this weekend in Detroit. Who goes? Most likely it will be Elizardo Ramirez, Milton's stand-in after he underwent knee surgery.
Q I am amazed that you have time to put together so many articles. Do you spend every waking moment working? — BRF, Middletown
A My wife, Nadine, thinks so. But she always asks, "When are you going to get a real job?" Exactly. This isn't a job. It is a privilege and I'm lucky enough to get paid for it.