By Jim Morris
First, it should be said that homes for the aged are generally good places for old folks to go.
But Major League Baseball teams shouldn't be places to fulfill those needs.
The Cincinnati Reds Geriatric Home for Washed-up Hurlers might serve as a good place to go if you are a pitcher who is out of gas and still in need of a big-league salary, but it is out of place on a baseball team that otherwise seems to be moving forward with new management.
In recent years, Reds fans have become accustomed to having their team sign has-beens, going back to Jim Bowden's salvage system and carrying through Carl Lindner's budget for broken-down, barely breathing bargain-basement bums.
That might have been fine for filling out rosters on teams going nowhere, but the 2006 Reds are contenders.
The Reds, for a change, have good starting pitching, but a bullpen in need of a TV makeover program.
In some cases, age might not be a factor. But when you run these guys out there night after night and either watch them get bombed or hold your breath until they wiggle out of a jam, it's time for changes.
When you have Chris Hammond (40) 5.61 ERA, Kent Mercker (38) 6.19 ERA and David Weathers (36) 5.57 ERA, that's not good.
So where do you go for effective replacements?
Gee, how about Class AAA Louisville? The Reds have no fewer than seven pitchers toiling for the Bats with ERAs near 3.00 or better.
Perhaps there are technical reasons for not promoting some of them, but certainly not all. And since the current trio of old timers (and toss in the ineffective Esteban Yan) have proven they can't get the job done, why not try younger arms?
The Reds showed an inkling of a positive trend when they dumped Rick White (37, 6.26 ERA) last week. They could continue by dropping a tired, old arm when Matt Belisle returns from rehab, instead of a youngster.
And go from there.