Status quo can't persist
Narron may take fall, but bullpen is the culprit
BY JOHN FAY | JFAY@ENQUIRER.COM
I've got a feeling something big is going to happen on the Reds front soon.
Monday is an off day - a perfect time to have a press conference.
No one has told me anything definitive. But I know this much: There have been a lot of high-level meetings going on lately.
The most obvious thing for a team in the Reds' position to do is to fire the manager.
When a club loses 50 games in the first half, the manager's job security is slim, heading quickly toward none.
"I'm not going to talk about that," general manager Wayne Krivsky said when asked about Jerry Narron's job status.
Read into that what you will. It's different than saying a firing is "not on the radar," which is what Krivsky said when the subject of Narron's job came up in May.
Firing Narron is what John Q. Fan wants. I don't think Narron deserves it. He's an honorable man. He works hard. And he takes losing harder than his stoic exterior reveals.
Watching Friday's eighth-inning bullpen meltdown unfold, I felt nothing but sympathy for Narron. The three bullpen rookies - Marcus McBeth, Jon Coutlangus and Brad Salmon - were called upon to protect a one-run lead against the St. Louis Cardinals.
You know what happened.
Nothing can make a manager look worse than a leaky bullpen. The Reds' bullpen is a sieve.
"We haven't had the bullpen we planned in the winter all year," Krivsky said.
Gary Majewski and Bill Bray, the right- and left-hander the Reds got in the trade with the Nationals, haven't quite worked out like Krivsky envisioned.
Majewski was hurt, then so ineffective that he was sent back to Triple-A Louisville. Bray's been on rehab all year.
Rheal Cormier was so ineffective that the Reds cut him, even though it cost more than $2 million to do it.
Todd Coffey hasn't been what he was last year.
Kirk Saarloos, who started the year as a top setup man, has been banished to Triple-A.
Left-hander Mike Stanton is on the DL.
So six of the seven pitchers who came into spring with the club basically have been hurt, ineffective or both.
The bullpen isn't the only problem the Reds have. Bronson Arroyo is 2-9. Kyle Lohse is 4-10.
The offense comes and goes.
But the bullpen has cost this team 10 games. Win those 10 and this team is .500.
That's not how it works, of course.
"The record is what it is," Krivsky said. "Times like this test you. It's gut check time. Everyone from the GM to the players and coaches to Jerry has to chip in to turn this thing around."
But when it becomes clear the team cannot be turned around, the manager usually goes.
That's the way it works - no matter how bad the bullpen is pitching.
Narron is not blameless.
He's made some moves that have hurt him in the clubhouse. He benched Edwin Encarnacion for not running out a ball in April. But when Josh Hamilton did the same thing in June, it went unpunished. But not unnoticed by the players.
Those kinds of things are easy to ignore when the team is winning. But the Reds are 31-50.
If the Reds should make a move with Narron, first base coach Billy Hatcher is the best choice to manage in the interim. Hatcher doesn't have managerial experience.
But he has the best relationship with Ken Griffey Jr. and Adam Dunn, the players with the most influence among the position players.
Again, there's a chance nothing happens Monday. There's a chance that the shakeup doesn't involve Narron.
But I've got a feeling that's not the case.