Congrats to the Reds for this hard fought 4-2 win tonight on the road in Colorado. I was struck by the hard choices Jerry Narron has to make as manager of this team, so short in many areas. Let's look at it:
He gets a wonderful performance from his 5th starter, a waiver wire pickup, pitching for the 1st time in Coors Field. He gets well into the 7th inning and turns over a 4-0 lead to the bullpen. Jerry says all right, let's see if Salmon can do more than mop up duty. Salmon rewards Narron's confidence by being all over the board. He throws almost no strikes while walking both hitters. Then to Jerry's credit he removes him and he does not go to the comfortable veteran, Mike Stanton. He goes with Coutlangus. He throws well but the SS acquired to solidify the defense boots a ball he's paid to field. A run goes on the board.
Fast forward to the 8th nning. Coutlangus runs out of gas and Narron has to go to his closer. Weathers gets the batter to hit a soft fly ball to RF but Griffey has cement in his shoes and lets it drop. The inning ends with Narron's defensive replacement making a play that Adam Dunn likely would not have.
Thankfully the Reds won the game but it was nip and tuck because of what Narron had to work with. Middle relief and defense have doomed this team all year and tonight we saw a microcosm of that. With the exception of Coutlangus, Jerry has no one to go to in order to get to Weathers who really is a set up man doing the job of a closer. His bench consists of the likes of Wise, Castro and Moehler.
I think he made a lot of nice choices tonight but I feel for him. He doesn't have much to work with. So for all you Narron critics out there I ask you, "what's Narron to do"?
If I'm WK, I can't tolerate a performance like Salmon's. I send him out and bring in Marcus McBeth. If he can't do it, I send him back and I bring in Calvin Medlock from AA. If he fails Saarloos may be ready to give it another try. There are plenty of minor league candidates in this organization to fill the 7th/8th inning roles on this staff. There's no excuse not to try them out and continually run guys like Coffey and Salmon out there.