|05-08-2007, 03:19 AM||#1|
Join Date: Dec 2001
Location: Portland, Or
Sunday's Post article on Narron's woes with the bullpen...
If you haven't read it, here it is: .....amazing how Monday just repeated itself....again. But, you know, I'm not trying to look for a positive light, but we've solved the hardest thing to solve for winning a World Series. We have an ACE, a solid #2, and some depth in starting pitching after that.
Anyway, here's the article from Sunday:
Managing bullpen sure way to turn gray
Column by The Post's Lonnie Wheeler
So you're a manager. The Reds' manager. What do you do? What can you do?
Your starting pitcher has worked seven manly innings and leads, say, 3-1. He assures you he can go on. They all assure you they can go on. But the pitch counter reads 119, and 39 of them came in the seventh, when the other guys loaded the bases and scored their only run and got in some good licks besides.
It's an obvious bullpen situation, but the thing is, yours, of late, has held together like an episode of "Sabrina the Teenage Witch." Eighth innings have looked like Freddie Krueger movies.
So when the question was posed Sunday to Jerry Narron - "The way your bullpen has struggled lately, does it make you rethink your usual strategy, make you maybe leave guys in longer than you would otherwise?" - the Reds' skipper took a deep breath, paused a moment, tilted his head back and then brought it down again with a wry smile and a resounding, "Yes!
"I'm going to be honest with you. That's something I've got to be very, very careful of, trying not to overextend a starter."
A couple hours later, it came up just that way, more or less, in the sixth inning. Bronson Arroyo had held the Colorado Rockies hitless through three innings and scoreless through five, by which time the Reds led 5-0; but in the sixth the plot picked up. So did Arroyo's pitch count. His 48th of the inning, and 121st of the afternoon, was ball four to Brad Hawpe, loading the bases. The Rockies had already scored twice.
And here came Narron, knowing full well that, largely because of the bullpen, Arroyo had already been deprived this year of winning a game in which he gave up two runs, and deprived of winning another when he gave up two runs, and deprived of winning another when he gave up just one. All told, he had registered but a single victory in spite of a 2.73 earned run average.
But it's a long season, and 121 is a lot of pitches, and 48 in an inning suggests to a manager that your guy isn't going so well. So Narron trudged out to the mound like he had thumbtacks in his socks, and he took the ball from his tiring starter, and then he gave it to Kirk Saarloos. And Saarloos - here we go again - promptly walked in a run.
After that, all was uncommonly well, owing largely to the amazing, miraculous, super-spectacular Josh Hamilton, who probably should be the object of today's column except that he could be the object of every day's column. Hamilton added to the Cincinnati lead with his second home run of the day, and preserved it with a fabulous catch and an even better throw. He's the kind of guy who makes a bullpen better, to say nothing of a team. And a sport.
Anyway, Saarloos got out of the sixth and fared well in the seventh. He's not bad, actually. Unfortunately, that sort of makes him the exception in the Reds' pen.
Brought over from Oakland in January, Saarloos is one of four current Cincinnati relievers whom general manager Wayne Krivsky has acquired in his less than two years here. The others are Victor Santos, Mike Stanton and Jon Coutlangus.
Then there's the 18 who aren't here. You want the whole list? In no particular order, it's Mike Burns Joe Mays Chris Hammond Eddie Guardado Ryan Franklin Jake Robbins Rheal Cormier Ricky Stone Esteban Yan Jason Johnson Bill Bray Gary Majewski Scott Schoeneweis Sun-woo Kim Jared Burton Kerry Ligtenberg Dustin Hermanson and I'm counting Marcus McBeth, who's in Louisville after being picked up recently in a trade for Chris Denorfia but might be good enough to make it up here before the summer's out.
See, this bullpen thing has been a problem since before Krivsky took the job, and he knows it, and he's done all he can think to do, including trading everyday starters Felipe Lopez and Austin Kearns for Bray and Majewski, more or less. If he had Kearns and Lopez back and there were a couple young, good-looking, major-league relievers who could be had for them, he'd probably do it again.
As it stands, meanwhile, the bullpen is bound to be better if/when Guardado is fully recovered from his elbow surgery and Bray's finger heals up and Majewski returns to the pitcher he was in Washington. It's bound to be better, also, for one iron-clad, unassailable reason: It can't possibly be as bad as the last few weeks have suggested.
It wasn't that bad Sunday, when Stanton and Weathers made it through the eighth and ninth relatively uneventfully and the Reds broke their four-game losing streak. Nor was it that bad at the season's beginning, when it started off with 14-plus scoreless and pretty provocative innings. Oh, those halcyon days of last month ...
"Every guy in the bullpen is very capable of getting outs," Narron continued. "They showed that early. When you run out 14 straight scoreless innings, you know it's out there."
Then there's the possibility of Brad Salmon graduating to the back to the bullpen, and Todd Coffey getting it together and, well, I hate to even bring it up. In fact, never mind.
It's just that Hamilton was a pitcher in high school.
Rob Neyer: "Any writer who says he'd be a better manager than the worst manager is either 1) lying (i.e. 'using poetic license') or 2) patently delusional. Which isn't to say managers don't do stupid things that you or I wouldn't."