Just noticed this on the front of SportingNews.com
Meet the new Reds -- they're definitely not the same as the old Reds. In fact, they're not the same as the last week Reds. Even the players have trouble keeping track of the changes.
David Weathers, one of three relievers to survive a season-long bullpen overhaul, showed up for work last week and did a double-take when glancing at a nearby locker. "I walk in, and there's a new guy. I'm like, 'Oh well, we've got another one,' " Weathers says, referring to the acquisition of righthander Ryan Franklin. "I told (Reds media relations director) Rob Butcher that he's running out of ink doing all these bios."
Though the club has added five relievers since July, replaced two-fifths of its rotation and is starting three position players not in the opening day lineup, the new Reds are about more than new players. There's new ownership that, unlike the past regime, has added payroll since the season began. There's a new general manager, former Twins assistant Wayne Krivsky, who has burned more cell phone minutes than a gossipy teen since he was hired shortly before spring training. The old Reds were reluctant to make moves, but Krivsky has been as aggressive as a hitter who always swings at the first pitch. At last count, 26 players have made their Reds debuts this season.
Given all the changes, it's no coincidence the biggest difference in the new Reds is this: They're winning. When they split a four-game series against the N.L. Central-leading Cardinals last week, the Reds were playing their most meaningful series in August at Great American Ball Park since it opened in 2001. The Reds are poised for a run at their first postseason berth since 1995. They entered the week -- and their last series of the season against the Cardinals -- with a half-game lead in the wild-card standings and trailing the N.L. Central leaders by 1 1⁄2 games.
"We've already surprised a lot of people because they picked us last or close to it," center fielder Ken Griffey says. "Now we just have to play consistent baseball. We don't have to be great, just consistent. Our job has been to force (ownership) to add pieces to the puzzle as we've needed. We've done that, and so have they."
Though Krivsky shows no signs of slowing in his efforts to improve his roster, his early moves set the stage for success. His first task was keeping one of the club's mainstays happy, which he did by signing slugger Adam Dunn to a two-year contract and avoiding an arbitration hearing. "That was huge," Krivsky says. "It allowed me to pack for spring training without a coat and tie."
It also gave him more time to make moves. The day after re-upping Dunn, Krivsky signed free agent Scott Hatteberg, a first baseman he had long admired. Hatteberg has not disappointed the G.M.; he began the week hitting .328 and leads the Reds in average and on-base percentage. With Hatteberg on board, Dunn was able to stay in left and the Reds -- after years of considering it -- traded one of their surplus outfielders for a starting pitcher.
"I had no idea Bronson Arroyo would be available," Krivsky says. He was, for the price of young slugger Wily Mo Pena, and Arroyo quickly paid dividends. He won nine of his first 11 decisions and made his first All-Star team. Even after a 10-start winless streak, he ranks among N.L. leaders with a 3.54 ERA. Arroyo's arrival also has been a factor in helping improve the rotation's ERA ranking from last in the N.L. in 2005 to 12th.
Before the season was a week old, Krivsky had made two more moves that would prove profitable. He acquired Brandon Phillips, an infielder the Indians had given up on, and picked up catcher David Ross in a trade with the Padres. Phillips hit .349 in April, remains close to .300 and has provided a defensive upgrade at second base. Ross has contributed 14 homers, including a walk-off blast against Cardinals closer Jason Isringhausen in Game 3 of the series in Cincinnati.
Krivsky's moves of late have focused on fixing a bullpen that has struggled all season with ineffectiveness and injuries. He acquired Eddie Guardado in early July to stabilize the closer role. Guardado had lost that job with the Mariners, but he converted saves in seven of his first eight chances with the Reds.
"After the (Mariners) pulled me, I was lost," Guardado says. "Getting a clean start has really helped."
Krivsky next made a trade that was criticized at the time and has become even more controversial since. He sent two regulars, right fielder Austin Kearns and shortstop Felipe Lopez, to the Nationals for relievers Gary Majewski and Bill Bray and shortstop Royce Clayton.
Clayton has settled in as Lopez's replacement, and the lefthanded Bray has pitched well enough to assume some closing responsibilities when Guardado isn't available. Majewski, however, was dreadful.
Majewski has pitched in 136 games since the start of the '05 season, and he says he has had season-long shoulder fatigue. He also revealed he had received a cortisone shot shortly before the trade. His arm trouble was news to the Reds, who put him on the disabled list. Krivsky spent much of last week pondering possible recourse against the Nationals.
Hanging with the Cardinals, however, has allowed the Reds to rise above the Majewski mess. Unfortunately for Arroyo, a new look failed to immediately turn around his fortunes as he remained stuck on nine wins. As he had done in 2004 when he was struggling, Arroyo had cornrows put into his long locks. "I was trying to avoid it this year. I kept going, 'I can beat it. I can beat karma,' " Arroyo says.
In '04, he kept the cornrows all the way through the Red Sox's victory in the World Series. If the Reds somehow pull off that stunner in October, manager Jerry Narron says he'll adopt the style.
Now that certainly would bring a new look to the new Reds.