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John Fay
John Fay has been the Reds beat writer for the Enquirer since 2001. Prior to that, he served in a variety of roles for the Enquirer: backup Reds writer, UC beat writer, backup Bengals writer and as a general assignment reporter. He is a Cincinnati native and a graduate of Elder High School and the University of Dayton.

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Monday, May 7, 2007

The season's on the brink

In the wake of the latest bullpen meltdown, the Reds have lost five of six, and they've got Eric Milton going Tuesday night. The club is 0-5 in his starts.

It's getting late very early this season.

If I'm in charge, I make a move or two before the game. Wayne Krivsky doesn't like change for change sake. But the bullpen isn't getting it done. The Astros have scored 17 runs in six games in the eighth inning against the Reds.

Some possibilities: Give Todd Coffey a stint in Louisville to get himself straightened out. Bring up Marcus McBeth, the guy they got in the trade from Oakland. Or bring up Phil Dumatrait to pitch in relief. Or try Jason Kershner (17 IP, two runs, eight hits at Louisville). Or dare I day it: Use Homer Bailey in relief as a stopgap. Bailey pitched another gem for the Bats Monday, by the way.

It's still very early, but the bullpen is leaking runs on a nightly basis. It's going to be hard to sell tickets if fans keep seeing the same thing night after night. Coffey's a great guy, a stand-up type. But when the other guys are hitting .339 off him and he's given up four homers in 16 1/3 putting him in a tie game in the eighth is the definition of baseball insanity. Jerry Narron didn't have a lot of other choices Monday. Brad Salmon, perhaps?

So, if I'm in charge, I try to get him some choices before tomorrow night's game.

If it might not help, but doing nothing isn't really instilling a lot of confidence in the fan base.


42 Comments:

at 11:31 PM Anonymous Anonymous said...

Very Well Put. I only wish the communication gap between fans and the front office wasn't so big ! I mean seriously for me it has gotten to the point where i just record the game (since I am in Richmond, Va anyway) and then fast forward through the game cause why watch a game for 3-4 when you know they are going to blow it in the end. Something needs to change like you mentioned or the fan base is going to completely collapse.

 
at 11:33 PM Blogger Mr. Redlegs said...

You are very right about Coffey and making changes in the bullpen, but I think you (time and again) put too much emphasis on "confidence in the fan base." Really, I don't know of any organization in any of the three major sports that run their on-field operations based on the whims of "instilling confidence" from the fan base.

The Yankees and Red Sox only care about beating one another, which fuels that rivalry. Likewise with their front offices. They don't have to worry about attendance so they don't make moves predicated on the fan base. They make moves to beat the other. The fans harp, but their impact is neglible.

The Reds' fan base? Geez, what a group. The team gives away tickets. They bundle them for the family of four. They discount during the week. They do everything but ask what time to start the game.

Yet, the fan base complains. Too expensive. Too much for a hot dog. Too much to park. Too much traffic. Haven't won in 17 years. And my favorite: Still angry about the strike of '94.

Excuses, excuses, excuses.

Either support the team when they are down and rebuilding or don't show up (conveniently) when they start winning. That's not a fan. That's a bandwagoner.

 
at 6:50 AM Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ship out Coffey (contract extention????)and Milton. These are losses that could loom big in September, unless of course, the Reds are the Deads by the all-star break.

Bring up Bailey to fill Milton's spot and work out of the pen when the 5th starter isn't used.

JUST DO SOMETHING.

Let Hamilton pitch. He's got to have better stuff than Coffey.

Narron is our worst manager since Vern Rapp.

 
at 7:18 AM Blogger BubbaFan said...

Stanton pitching five of the last six days is just nuts. Why not Coutlangus or Salmon? They're at least better rested.

And how about Burton? They're going to have to do something with him soon. His "rehab assignment" expires in ten days.

 
at 8:00 AM Anonymous Anonymous said...

The REDS need to allow their starting pitching to stay in the game longer. What is with this pitch count? The REDS pull a brillant pitcher out seven innings into a game and that is when the wheels fall off. Why? If the REDS cannot expect more of their starting pitching, then maybe they don't want to win.

 
at 8:06 AM Blogger Mark said...

Seems to me that somewhere in all this discussion bullpen coach Tom Hume has to be part of the topic. What role does he play in the development and readiness of the pen. I have always had reservations about his ability to add a whole lot to the team.
Here's a question, what's riskier, leaving a starter in the game with a late inning bases jam or bringing in a reliever who will UN-jam the bases by tossing batting practice pitches? I think Narron might want to give his starters a little more rope considering the present state of things.

 
at 8:10 AM Anonymous Anonymous said...

it's hard to believe any major-league bullpen can be this bad. the only thing harder to believe is that Krivsky hasn't done anything yet. Stanton has no place on a major-league roster, even if he is a lefty-he can't get ANYBODY out and is old. at least Coffey is young, but he still sucks. With jusxt a decent bullpen we'd be in first place.

 
at 8:28 AM Anonymous Brendan T. said...

I'm sure that I'm not the only person who begins cursing at the tv whenever Narron decides that Coffey is his top right-handed option out of the pen. Send him to Louisville simply to keep Jerry from making the same mistake again and again.

 
at 8:32 AM Anonymous Brett said...

The definition of 'insanity' is doing the same thing while expecting different results (or something like that). We've seen enough to know that this bullpen is not viable & needs to be rebuilt. At this point, it really doesn't matter what your other options are, does it? You simply cannot continue running these guys out there hoping they turn it around, while the division slips away. Try something, ANYTHING new. The fans aren't going to continue to buy this product. And watching the bullpen blow up on a nightly basis can't be instilling confidence among the team. One final thing...it's often a falacy that people in important positions are better or smarter than the rest of us. Narron, Krivsky & the gang are dead wrong if they don't make changes. And Narron needs to burn the damn book, like Daugherty suggested - use some common sense. This team is so aweful fundamentally, it's sad. Really, Narron needs to go, along with the bullpen.

 
at 8:33 AM Anonymous Brett said...

The definition of 'insanity' is doing the same thing while expecting different results (or something like that). We've seen enough to know that this bullpen is not viable & needs to be rebuilt. At this point, it really doesn't matter what your other options are, does it? You simply cannot continue running these guys out there hoping they turn it around, while the division slips away. Try something, ANYTHING new. The fans aren't going to continue to buy this product. And watching the bullpen blow up on a nightly basis can't be instilling confidence among the team. One final thing...it's often a falacy that people in important positions are better or smarter than the rest of us. Narron, Krivsky & the gang are dead wrong if they don't make changes. And Narron needs to burn the damn book, like Daugherty suggested - use some common sense. This team is so aweful fundamentally, it's sad. Really, Narron needs to go, along with the bullpen.

 
at 8:50 AM Anonymous Anonymous said...

I agree... send Coffey to AAA to work out his problems. I would use Belisle in relief again and call up either Dumatrait or Livingston.
I think Salmon would have been a good choice last night. Coffey is shell shocked right now!

 
at 8:53 AM Anonymous mikec said...

Is anyone else sick of hearing about Reds relievers taking responsibility for blowing the game? Like that makes it better. Get someone out.

 
at 9:07 AM Anonymous Anonymous said...

You can blame the pen, but just as much to blame is Narron. He continues to over manage and acts like he has Sparky's bullpen. The solution is old school. Leave the starters in to pitch to the end. Quit micro-managing. Stop removing your big bats in late innings. The stadium is not built for small ball and the quicker everyone realizes this the quicker the Reds can get to some viable solutions.

 
at 9:15 AM Anonymous Anonymous said...

Todd Coffey is tired. You can't pitch every day and expect good results. The rest of the pen is overused as well. When they're not in the game, they're warming up. You don't need to use every guy every night so that you can try to "take advantage" of lefty/lefty and righty/righy matchups. Poor bullpen management.

 
at 9:43 AM Anonymous Anonymous said...

Fortunately, the Reds are in the worst division in baseball. This is their only saving grace. But they must do something to change their current path of destruction. And sometimes change for change's sake is a good thing. Light a fire under a few seats. Coffey has to be number 1 on the list, the Reds simply cannot afford to keep having him get bombed out there. Nice guy or not, he's batting practice right now. And while they can't do anything with Stanton, they can stop pitching him in key spots. And lastly, Narron has got to be on the hot seat. I like him, but wins are the game, and there is no reason the Reds can't contend in this division. Either win or find a manager who can.

 
at 9:44 AM Anonymous Andy said...

todd coffey is mentally soft. he proved he isn't a reliable closer and now he's proven that he can't handle the pressure of coming into a game with runners on. I don't care how fast he runs out of the bullpen. Until he starts acting like a major league pitcher, he shouldn't be one.

 
at 9:44 AM Anonymous Anonymous said...

PITCH COUNT. What's that?

Sincerely,
Bob Gibson

 
at 9:53 AM Anonymous Anonymous said...

Let's see, the only thing that seems to be working is the starting line-up (finally) and that is different every night, there is no consistency in where a player plays in the field and bats. What isn't working is the bullpen and those guys get put in the same position every night and blow the game. Something needs to be done with the manager and the relief pitchers he has, then this team will contend, there is to0 much talent not to.

As a fan, I'm not buying tickets until this mess is fixed. I cancelled my season tickets I've had for seven years.

 
at 9:54 AM Anonymous Anonymous said...

What's been lost in all of the bullpen's struggles is how well the starters have pitched (by and large) and how the offense has woken up over the last few weeks. With a decent bullpen, the Reds would easily be over .500. According to Baseball Prospectus (http://www.baseballprospectus.com/statistics/standings.php), the Reds are underachieving based on their Runs Scored vs. Runs Allowed, whereas the Brewers are overachieving - the difference, if you ask me, is in the bullpens.

 
at 10:19 AM Blogger RickNMd said...

Oh the irony.

Almost a year ago the bullpen was just as bad as this year's and everyone was screaming DO SOMETHING!

Then Krivsky makes "the trade" and people haven't stopped a different scream: YOU IDIOT!

Nevermind last year's team would have never, ever been as close as they were if not for the many changes in the bullpen. And somehow, almost magically, everyone's favorite goat (Lopez) and everyone's favorite do-nothing (Kearns) became misty eyed lore.

Go figure.

Now, on the back-draft of "the trade" we scream DO SOMETHING about the bullpen, as if almost every team in baseball isn't looking pitching help. Sure, the Reds can waltz into 7-Eleven and pick up relievers from the top shelf and pay with their debit card on their way out the door.

We want tangible help? Someone has to go. Encarnacion? Dunn? Votto? Guevara? Stubbs?

Who?

When you legitimately figure out that "who" by which we won't be screaming the same epitaph as last year and into the last week, then scream our damn heads off. Until then, all these minor leaguers some of you are screaming for are just that, minor leaguers.

We can scream now, or we can scream later.

 
at 10:19 AM Anonymous Anonymous said...

Boom Boom Bullpen...nuff said.

 
at 10:22 AM Blogger docproc said...

John:

On target, as always. And yes, "confidence in the fan base" matters. I'm considering going to the game tonight, but the prospect of Milton starting and then getting relieved in the 4th inning by that godawful bullpen is making me lean toward staying home and watching it on TV--where at least I can change the channel.

It's bad when I'm almost hoping that Milton gets shelled so they finally give up on him.

And I know that Majewski took a family leave, but why is he coming back to Louisville rather than Cincinnati?

 
at 10:50 AM Blogger Brad said...

Fortunately, the Reds are in the worst division in baseball. This is their only saving grace.

Apparently the Brewers didn't get that memo. The Reds have to act now to save the season. It soulds fools to say in the first week of May, but in this case it is true. They are already 8 games out. If they wait until Guardado gets back, they may be 15 out. Send Coffey to AAA, DFA Santos and Stanton. Majewski, Bray (when healthy) and another reliever to fill those spots. Burton is going back to the A's.

 
at 11:12 AM Anonymous jc said...

i agree that today needs to be a day where some changes are made. coffey has not shown the mental makeup to be a closer and his set up skills are suspect. why he got an extension is beyond me. stanton simply cant get anyone out anymore. if krivsky has a downfall with castellini...it will be over eaten contracts.
you have four relievers that need to be absorbed soon. bray, majewski, bruton and the guy from oqkland....why do i keep thinking his name is marty mcfly. coffey needs to find himself somewhere else. bring the new kid up. stanton needs to be getting people out or he needs a new home when bray is healthy.

tonight has to be the big start for milton. we aree beyond the point where just keeping ius in the game will do it. falling behind 3-0 and then holding them for a couple of innings does not work.
livingston is ready and bailey went 7 innings last night. he threw 91 ptches. they are letting him air it out a bit. thats a sure sign.

narron gets the year most likely. who else is there.

 
at 11:32 AM Anonymous al said...

i agree with john that coffey should be sent down for a bit, and i agree with others that narron was not wise bringing him in yesterday.

but as far as blame goes, some has to go to valentin. he called a terrible pitch on the one that went out, and his catcher ERA is 5, a full run and a half over ross's.

 
at 11:39 AM Blogger Chris at Redleg Nation said...

What in the world did those AA relievers do to Wayne Krivsky?

There are 3-4 guys down there who pitched great last year, are pitching great again this year, and yet never get a sniff. It's old retread after old retread. How about trying someone who's having success for a change?

And yeah, Tom Hume's charmed life needs to be questioned at some point. It may be scapegoating, but scapegoating is a part of sports.

 
at 12:17 PM Blogger bogey said...

While some of the bullpen remains the same as last year, much of it is different. I don't believe it will matter one iota to swap pieces in and out of the bullpen. The problem is in the way they are managed.

Nobody can be effective when they are either used or heated up every night. Narron spends entirely too much time trying to be cute with the staff.

Narron is the problem. Changing the working parts is not the solution.

 
at 1:05 PM Anonymous Anonymous said...

Coffey has no confidence in his fast ball so he is not throwing them for strikes. but he has too much confidence in his change-up and the opposing batters know that. Its like batting practice!
If he starts throwing the fast ball for strikes he may get some outs instead of out of the parks.
Don

 
at 1:12 PM Anonymous Anonymous said...

Blame Coffey all you want, but he shouldn't have even been in the game if Stanton had done his job. Turn berkman around and get him out, Walk Lee, and then get Scott.

 
at 1:41 PM Anonymous Anonymous said...

A previous poster noted that the starters (except Milton) are doing extremely well. So, lets use the modern methodology of Billy Beane, et. al., and look at this statistically. It would seem that we have come to the point where a tired starter who is left in for an extra inning beyond what is optimal, might have higher odds of success (or less failure) than bringing in some stiff just because he is fresh. Why does the changing of pitchers have to be managed by some set of unwritten rules that makes no sense? Maximize the odds of success.

 
at 1:47 PM Anonymous Anonymous said...

It's past time that a change is made in the bullpen. The Reds can not continue running out the same guys game after game and getting the same poor results. Our best bet is to release Stanton and send coffey down to Louisville and then bring up a couple young arms and give them a chance to earn a spot in the big leagues. Coffey can work on his pitches down in AAA where it won't be costing the Reds wins and if he gets things back on track they can give him another chance. If some move isn't made then the starters and everday players are going to suffer from the poor bullpen performance as well. How long can we realistically expect these guys to pitch well and play hard every day when you know the bullpen is just going to blow it. For the team chemistry and confidence a move has to be made and made soon. On another note I'm happy to see the hitting coming around some now and our starting pitching has been better than expected. Those guys have done a great job. I'll keep watching but man o man my blood pressure goes up around the 8th inning every game it seems.

 
at 3:43 PM Blogger Brian said...

While I agree that the bullpen is a well, bad, this is the same people who say that the answer to the Bengals D is more DBs - despite the total lack of a pass rush in years.

I don't care if you bring back Dibble, Charlton, and Myers - if we continue to have the worst offense in the NL, we're destined for another season of 75 wins.

If the beat writers would take off their Hamilton-colored goggles and focus on our biggest problem, maybe Mr. Castellini will listen.

 
at 4:09 PM Anonymous J Foltz said...

Awesome team. Just make sure you turn the game off before the 7th inning. I would love to see how many games they have led or have had tied throughout the 6th inning.

I went to the game last night and we sat close to the foul pole. Ryan Freel is crazy. I don't think tv and the highlight films do any justice to how reckless he was when jumping into the stands. However, you cannot complain about a guy that hustles and is aggressive. I wish we had 8 more Freels. I am surprised he is starting tonight.

Send Coffey to Billings!

 
at 4:10 PM Anonymous J Foltz said...

Awesome team. Just make sure you turn the game off before the 7th inning. I would love to see how many games they have led or have had tied throughout the 6th inning.

I went to the game last night and we sat close to the foul pole. Ryan Freel is crazy. I don't think tv and the highlight films do any justice to how reckless he was when jumping into the stands. However, you cannot complain about a guy that hustles and is aggressive. I wish we had 8 more Freels. I am surprised he is starting tonight.

Send Coffey to Billings!

 
at 5:01 PM Blogger HoosierRedsFan said...

Hey RickinMD, all major leaguers(except Hamilton), come through the minor leagues. You act as if anyone called up will play like a career minor leaguer. We're just saying some of these guys down there can't do any worse. As far as Lopez and Kearns go, are you serious? They play bad for a terrible team. They would still suck if they remained here. I knew that all along, others may not have. But I do agree with the others about Narron continuing to bring out the same guys to pitch. He could have brought Salmon in after Stanton didn't do his job(again). He could also have brought in Cooter instead of Stanton to begin with. And finally, yes the bullpen did pitch better once we had Eddie and some fresh meat down there(not counting an injured Majewski). Go Reds!!!

 
at 5:34 PM Blogger John Fay said...

Brian, that's just not true. The Reds aren't the '27 Yankees, but they're not the worst offense in the NL. They're 10th in hitting, 10th in the runs, sixth in slugging and ninth on-base. They've averaged 5.2 runs in their last four losses.

 
at 10:20 PM Anonymous mikec said...

I see three problems with the bullpen (the defense, offense and starters are all doing decent).

1) Narron's mismanagement is wearing guys down at a pretty amazing rate. He micro managers too much and never picks the right guy. He turns to Coffey time and again, wearing him out. Coffey leads the majors with 19 appearances. Stanton and Saarloos both have 17.
2) Every guy is the same. No one except Salmon throws hard. They're all location and movement guys. They all throw 85-92.
3) Walks and bad 0-2 pitches. In other words poor control and pitch selection. Tonight for example, Biggio gets walked before Berkman's two-run homer. Then in the ninth Weathers walks one that comes around to score what proved to be the key run after Phillips' homer.

 
at 10:26 PM Blogger Baby D said...

John - after the game tonight, how long do you think they can legitimately wait until they make a move?

 
at 11:25 PM Anonymous Tom said...

The Reds finally seem to have some decent starting pitching. If the starting pitcher is doing well and he wants to stay in, let him do so. This 'pitch count' business is losing games. If he pitches a complete game there is four days, and maybe five with an off day, to rest up. I doubt Walter Johnson, Bob Feller, Warren Spahn or Bob Gibson had pitch counts thrown at them when they were doing well.

 
at 7:41 AM Anonymous Jeff Korth said...

There is only one solution to solve this problem. Bring Pete Rose back to manage the Reds. In light of what has gone on in this town with the Bengal's players and UC's Basketball players and coaches, Pete's behavior pertaining to betting on his team should be considered heroic. If Chris Henry can suit up after sitting out 8 games this coming year then Pete should be managing in the Reds dugout today. It's time to force a real change with Major League Baseball. The Reds front office needs to drive Pete's re-instatement efforts. Pete Rose is the long term solution to the Reds success on the field. The guy just knows how to win!

 
at 10:46 PM Anonymous Ben D. Straw said...

I think three things need to happen.
1. Kirk Saarloos needs to be released. His comments "I'm not the problem" are weak considering his era is 7.04 and he allows five runs without retiring a batter.Pointing a finger is not being team oriented.
2. Fire Jerry Narron. This guy leads the Reds last season to an suprising 80-82 record last season to being the worst team in the majors this year. Part of a manager's job is to motivate his players. He's not doing that.
3. Trade Ken Griffey Jr. to the White Sox for Javier Vazquez. He is going to turn 31 in July and has a fastball that can go up to 94 mph He can pitch has a starter and reliver. Could be a sneaky trade for the Reds.

 
at 3:45 PM Anonymous Eric S. said...

1. fire jerry narron... he doesn't argue any calls anymore, and when he does he just talks kindly to the umpires. Even though I hate to watch managers like Lou Piniella and Dusty Baker, at least they know how to get it done.

2. Bring up Homer Bailey allready. If we are losing this bad, what will it hurt to bring up a young pitcher to see how he does???

3. Fire Stanton and Milton. Why, oh why we are paying them so much money in the first place, i don't know, but don't keep sending them out there!!! When was the last win by Eric Milton? When was the last time Stanton pitched an entire solid inning?

BOTTOM LINE... DO SOMETHING!!!!!

 
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