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From news of the day to news of the weird, John Fay provides a glimpse of what it’s like to cover the Cincinnati Reds

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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Thursday, May 24, 2007

Nationals 4, Reds 3

The cold, hard fact is the Reds have the worst record in the National League and are tied with the Texas Rangers for the worst record in the baseball.

Ouch. I don't see a quick fix. I know that's going to prompt 23 "Fire Narron!" comments. But do you honestly think that would help?

“The Nationals just took the series from us,” losing pitcher Matt Belisle said. “That's hard to take. But Pittsburgh’s coming in. There’s no time to sulk.”

The Reds are on pace to lose 102 games. There has only been one 100-loss season in franchise history.

It was an odd loss, i.e, the crucial play was 4-5-1 double play.

The Reds went to eighth inning trailing 4-1. David Ross led off with laser shot off third baseman Ryan Zimmerman’s glove for a hit. Norris Hopper followed with a bunt for a single. Ryan Freel hit a liner right at second baseman Felipe Lopez. Lopez threw wildly to second trying to double off Ross. Ross broke for second when the ball got away. Zimmerman ran it down and threw to pitcher Mike Bacsik at third to get Ross.

“Right now, our guys are trying so hard and trying to make something happen,” Reds manager Jerry Narron said. “I’m sure (Ross) looked up and nobody was at third and took off.”

I buy that. But once the spiral down starts, it's hard to stop.


at 11:04 PM Anonymous Anonymous said...

John - I enjoy your columns...been a Reds' fan for many years and wonder what the Reds strategy is, or if they have one?

Are they thinking they can "fix" the current team or is there discussion of selling off pieces at the trade deadline and starting a major rebuilding program?

Would appreciate your thoughts.

at 11:28 PM Anonymous Anonymous said...

The simple answer to your question is that firing Narron and Krivsky would help immensely. Tear up the blueprint and start from scratch. The Reds' fans are rightly fed up with: (1) players getting picked off of bases (read: Ryan Freel), (2) players who can't make routine plays (Encarnacion, Gonzalez, Ross, etc.), (3) players who don't hustle, (4) relief pitchers who don't throw strikes, and (5) GM's, managers, coaches and players who constantly make excuses for each other and believe Reds' fans will continue to purchase tickets on the foolish belief things will get better. They won't anytime soon with this regime.

The bottom line is that Krivsky has made one horrible personnel move after another. Joe Mays, Kyle Lohse, etc. Jerry Narron isn't the reason the bullpen is horrible -- Krivksy is. Jerry Narron isn't the reason the Reds' offense and defense are horrible --Krivsky is, for failing to resign arguably his best player, Rich Aurilia, and for trading two terrific young starters with high ceilings for two relief pitchers with questionable ceilings and major health problems who have yet to play this year. Narron is to blame, however, for establishing an environment in which players are not held accountable for failing to play the game the right way. They don't hustle, they don't have a clue how to bunt, they get picked off of bases by pitchers (e.g. Paul Bird) who are known to have good pick off moves, and their relief pitchers don't throw strikes (like Coutlangus the other night).

It's broke. To fix it, Bob Castellini has to shake things up because Wayne Krivsky has made clear he's content with the status quo.

I was a fairly average player as a kid, but I assure you that I could take a handful of McCauley students who have never played baseball or softball and teach them how to bunt. Narron can't get teach a bunch of major leaguers making millions to do so.

Maybe no one in Cincinnati follows the Cubs or the White Sox, but when any of their players make bonehead plays or mail it in, Ozzie and Lou rip them a new one or ship them out. When Sox GM Ken Williams team started 21-19, he called the team's play "embarrassing," and threatened to "shuffle the deck" if things didn't improve. What do the Reds do under far worse conditions? DL Eric Milton for questionable reasons, and give seemingly everyone this side of Bernie Stowe a shot at the #5 starters job.

Reds' fans are not as demanding as Cubs or Sox fans, but they're not idiots either. Bob Castellini needs to put up or shut up. Fire Krivsky or put him on notice that his tenure is in jeopardy. Fire Narron and replace him with someone steeped in fundamentals with a fiery temperament. Designate Milton and Stanton for assignment, trade Dunn for a #1 starter and a prospect, call up Homer Bailey and Bobby Livingston or Phil Dumatrait, and tell the fans the truth -- this year's a bust and we're going with youth.
At least then we could all sit back and wait for football season to start.

at 11:32 PM Anonymous Anonymous said...

what a sorry-ass excuse for a professional baseball team. i don't know why people are saying the reds are better than their record-they're horrible. they just lost 3 of 4 to a terrible baseball team. i live in DC and am from cincinnati, and i'm embarassed to say i'm a reds fan. it's amazing to see a team blow games a different way, night after night.

absolutely pathetic. i hope these guys are ashamed of themselves b/c they're stealing money right now. none of them deserve the money they're making.

at 11:53 PM Blogger Zach said...

Firing Narron won't save the season. It's lost. However, it's painfully obvious he has no business being a part of the future of this franchise. Same can be said for Dunn, Griffey, Conine, Hatteberg, etc. How embarrassing is it that we've sunk to this level with a veteran squad? Reds fans could handle taking their lumps if this was something like last year's Marlins squad. So why not inject some life into the fanbase and call this half-assed attempt at fielding a competitive team a failed experiment. Time to cut bait. Fire Narron, hire a coach from outside the organization, not promote Bucky Dent. Bring up some youngsters, give us something to get excited about. Enough of this boring, inspired garbagefest.

at 1:11 AM Blogger George said...

Yes, of course, we are all knee-jerk fire Narron types. C'mon John. If you count the Reds slide last year, the Reds have been playing awful baseball for a nearly a season. Firing Narron isn't the solution--but it is the beginning of it.

at 1:27 AM Blogger KevinFtMyers said...


at 1:27 AM Anonymous Anonymous said...

Jamie Says....Oh Boy...Soon the fire sale will begin. Do you get the feeling that other MLB teams view Reds fire sales like when you use to trade baseball cards with that young, naive neighbor? We get *blank* and *blank* who are can't miss players. But, do you get the feeling the teams giving us prospects are always snickering? Granted...We did get Aaron Harang via fire sale. But we need the guy who runs the Florida Marlins fire sales in Cincy. Have you seen the guys they've got during there many fire sales? Hanley Ramirez from Boston? Teams like the Twins grab Liriano and Nathan for Pierzinski. Reds..can we please get some REAL prospects? Also, can we please sign a Stud 3B? I can't live with Willie Green, Brandon Larson, or Eddie Enc any more. The CANT MISS PROSPECTS AT 3b.

at 1:35 AM Blogger Redsheart said...

I want to know whether Krivsky has a mind to do something for the team.

Against lefty, defense, offense, the bullpen...

This situation might not be Narron's fault. But if Krivsky were very capable as a GM, we wouldn't be in last place. It couldn't be more obvious, not the result of bad luck.

at 2:20 AM Blogger daniel said...

John, I hate to throw this out there, but is now the time to sell high on Ken Griffey Jr.?

at 8:17 AM Blogger Don said...

I am not opposed to a firesale as it seems to be the most logical approach at this point, but based on history, I am not sure that in the long run it will matter. The Reds sold off Guillen, Williamson, Boone, etc. last time around and haven't broken the .500 mark since. This trend of this organization for the better party of this decade is to achieve mediocrity, crash and burn, sell off the pieces, achieve mediocrity, etc. This is especially true if ownership isn't willing to pony up more money.

When O' Brien was here he said taking this organization back to where it once was was going to take five years or so. Krivsky is learning this the hard way. I just wish management/ownership would quit trying to polish this turd and recognize this team for what it is right now. It is an insult to any Reds fan to listen to Castellini talking about not overreacting or to hear Krivksy talk about there being so much time left in the baseball season when the Reds own the worst record in the NL as we approach June. It is clear to everyone this team has imploded. It seems to me Krivksy and Castellini have too much pride to admit that their plan failed. I hope their pride doesn't get in the way of moving this organization forward. I hope their long term plan is a lot better than their short term plan.

at 8:31 AM Anonymous mikec said...

The 4-5-1 double play was crucial. Just as crucial: Dunn's idiotic attempt at a dive for Dmitri's ball. He missed that ball by four feet and it allowed Kearns to scored what ended up being the game-winner.

at 8:33 AM Anonymous BobtheRedsFan said...

If Bob Castellini doesn't want to be this town's next Mike Brown (over a decade of horrible), he had better be looking for a new general manager very soon.

Everyone knows that current GM Krivsky was stuck with Griffey's huge contract with Cincinnati when he arrived, but he was the one who made Dunn, a very limited ballplayer, the current highest paid Red. And he is the one who has put together a bullpen that has only two quality starters. And the relievers are best described as slow, slower, and slowest. David Weathers may pitch with heart, but he is certainly no closer. And the lack of pinch hitters and clubhouse leadership on this team is appalling.

Firing Narron, who can only use the players he has, would be reminiscent of David Shula, Bruce Coslett, Dick Lebeau, et al. If you can not understand and acquire talent, you can not succeed as a GM. And clearly the talent on the Reds is not getting better.

at 8:38 AM Anonymous Anonymous said...

First of all... this team isn't going to lose 100 games! There is about 115 games left and they will get better because they do have talent.
Majewski looked good and is going to help if he goes after hitters like he did last night. I'm more concerned with their offense. A trade might be in the wind to improve our obp.

at 8:43 AM Blogger Wayward said...

I agree that firing Jerry Narron isn't going to fix anything for this year, but I definitely don't want him around for next year. And since it's time to start preparing the move needs to be made. He has never been a winner and never will be. I realize that this isn't all his fault, but he doesn't help himself based on his moves.

at 8:50 AM Blogger BK said...

It all comes down to pitching. The offense is slightly better than average, but even if they had a higher powered offense it wouldn't matter because their pitching continues to struggle so much. Giving up 24 runs to the mostly-punchless Nationals is inexcusable.

I say it's time to clean house -- mainly, trade Adam Dunn to a contender (probably to an American League team) for the best pitching prospects available. Bring Homer Baily up and get him experience.

at 8:52 AM Anonymous mikec said...

Any insight as to whether Conine attempted to bunt on his own or if Narron ordered it?

at 9:47 AM Anonymous Anonymous said...

You're right, John. Firing Narron will solve nothing. There's no manager out there that will make the team play better defense, hit in the clutch or pitch well in relief. There's only one answer.

Please, please, PLEASE blow up this team, go young and rebuild. They've been trying to tinker and add little pieces since 2000. Does anyone remember when 2003 was supposed to be the year we challenged for the pennant? I do. That was four years ago.

As I write this, the Reds are the WORST TEAM IN BASEBALL. The Royals are better. This team is not a few players away from contention. A middle reliever, closer and right-handed bat will not make this a 90-win team. They're terrible, top to bottom.

Keep young players with promise like Philips and Hamilton, keep what few good pitchers you DO have, but sell everyone else to the highest bidder. Dunn, Griff, Conine, Hatteberg, whoever. Dunn drives in a lot of runs, Griff is on a tear. That, to me, is not a reason to keep them. It's a reason to "sell high" and "buy low."


at 9:54 AM Anonymous Ed Meier said...

It's time to disband the team. The days of firing the manager because the team won't win are over. It's time we put the blame where it belongs. This team has a poor attitude. They don't think they need to win to keep their jobs. If they want to be losers, let's trade them to a team where they can drag down that team.

While I think Jerry Narron isn't the a hall of fame manager, my understanding is that a good manager will only win you four of five games. Jerry, indeed all managers, deserve a chance to show what he can do with a bunch of winners.

It's time to put the blame where it lies. The players are losing the games. They don't want to win, or they have poor chemistry. Let's trade them to the winds for the best players we can get and let it be known across Major League Baseball that "losers need not apply" to play in Cincinnati.

Ed Meier
Springfield, OH

at 9:58 AM Blogger Shawn said...

I don't know that firing the manager is the way to go, as Narron (in my opinion) is a competent major league manager, but it may come down to that being the last thing left to try. This team is bogged down and needs a change.

I don;t blame Ross for getting thrown out at third last night. He made a heads-up play. The problem was that Baczik did too.

at 10:26 AM Blogger Firefly said...

There has to be something wrong in the clubhouse. What I see is nine heroes out on the the field. I don't see any sign of a team. Fix the clubhouse and I think you fix some of the problems.

at 10:29 AM Blogger Scott in NC said...

Anon 10:04 hit on the question we all want to know. All we can do is guess. My guess is that the performance of the team is making it easy for Reds management to quit trying to fix and proceed with a "total makeover".

The makeover would be built around Phillips, Hamilton, Harang, Arroyo, and Bailey. Anyone else can be had for the right price.

I really wouldn't be surprised to see Junior traded in the near future. The way he is playing this year he has got to be being noticed by several contending teams.

It's a shame that Reds ownership has not been able to put a team around him to get him a chance at a world series ring but that's just the way it is. I wish him the best and hope that we get a couple of great prospects for him.

at 10:46 AM Blogger RedZeppelin said...

I've been a Reds fan for over 30 years, and while I have seen some pretty pathetic Reds teams, I've never seen a team with this much talent play this poorly. What is wrong with those guys?

at 11:06 AM Anonymous Ticket out of here. said...

When you can't beat the worst team in baseball...You are the worst team in baseball. Embarrassing. I can't even fathom going to a game let alone watching this on TV any longer.

I told myself to be optimistic until the end of June but I can't even do that, this team sucks. If I want baseball, I'll go to the Florence Freedom game, at least those guys are playing with some heart.

There's only one bright side to this season and it's seeing Griffey be the Griffey we all know he can be..and is that even sustainable.

at 11:22 AM Blogger John Fay said...

Some of you have mentioned a fire sale. I think it's inevitable -- barring a 12-game winning streak that starts tonight -- I'd wait until atleast mid-June. Teams are willing to pay more as it gets later. But I'd listening to every offer right now.

at 11:40 AM Blogger Palm Dry Gum On said...

Someone smarter than me said the worst thing that happened to the Reds last year was finishing just below the .500 mark. It set up unrealistic expectations for this season.

If you watched last night's game and saw the Dunn play and the Ross baserunning error, I thought it looked like they were trying too hard. They want to win so badly that they just end up making stupid mistakes and not playing the right way. That isn't Narron's fault and I find it hard to blame either Dunn or Ross for wanting to win. Itwas just unfortunate for both of them last night.

We aren't nearly as bad as what we have shown but we have a myriad of problems. Our starting pitching isn't good. Harang has and ERA close to 5, Arroyo's is above 3 with only 2 wins to show, Lohse's is over 5, Belisle is over 4. I think a lot of the problems with the bullpen can be attributed to injuries. And our offense is not good enough to carry this team day in and day out. And the last few days have shown how much we really, really miss having another bat (Josh Hamilton) in this lineup.

Narron isn't the problem. You fire him now and you're on the hook for paying out his salary. You bring in someone new and hope that he does better than Narron. I doubt he would. And when he doesn't succeed you fire him and bring in someone new. It's the never ending cycle that can do no good. The talent isn't available for this team to be 500.

A lot of people have overvalued Dunn. I don't know if we could get a #1 starter out of him -- I doubt it. We might be able to get a couple good prospects and an everyday role player. I think we just have to stick with what we have, the team will turn things around. They have no place to go but up. I hope they figure out their starting pitching soon because I think that is one area that is despatately in need of a fix right now -- more so than any other part on this team.

at 11:47 AM Anonymous Anonymous said...

I believe Narron has two very weak characteristics:

1) he does not handle the bullpen well. I believe he is the biggest problem with the pen and not the components in the pen. Let a guy have one good outing and then he is pitched every game until he has a melt down.

2) he does not handle young players well. He is too VETERAN oriented. Ya need a mix of both.

at 12:12 PM Anonymous bob said...

there is no quick fix.we are looking at a min.of 5 years to right this team. both o'brien and krivsky were left with one of the worse minor league systems in baseball.there are only a handfull of minor leaguers in the system who can or will contribute in the 5 year period.
start now by attemptng to trade dunn to the dodgers. that is a team crying for a power hitter. billingsley and kemp would be welcome additions. good young pitcher and power left field prospect.
do not believe there is a team in baseball stupid enough to trade for loshe,milton,stanton or encarncion.
firing krivsky and nerron makes no sense. the reds need stability to build for the future.
i do believe castallini needs to exert his authority to insist that krivsky begin to make moves NOW and not wait until the end of july.
some of the writers have to get real. who other than dunn can bring ANY value?
castallini is a good business man he understyands that no rear ends in seats is going to happen very soon if the reds make no moves and do not get younger.

at 12:13 PM Blogger Aaron said...

I see people are deflecting blame from Narron to Krivsky. The GM works to get players his manager think will produce for him. A perfect example that no one seems to bring up is Royce Clayton. He was a kep player in THE TRADE because that was narron's boy from their days on the Rangers. Narron was delighted he got reunited with Clayton. The rest of the baseball world checkled heartily at Narron's fascination with mediocrity. He immediately batted Clayton 2nd in the lineup. This is a guy who struggles witha career OBP around .300 at the twilight of his playing days being injected into the heart of the order. If that is not horrible managing I don't know what is. And you know for sure Narron put in the good word for Clayton when that trade was being negotiated. So who is handicapping who I am not sure, but it is clear to me Narron has no idea how to evaluate his own talent. He has trotted Milton out there time and time again to get bombed when there are better options EVERYWHERE. How does Livingston get demoted after his lights out spring? How does he get demoted after a pretty decent start last week? Then we find ourselves short a starter and basically concede a game to the Nationals by pitching Lohse who was practically dying. They conceded a game in front of 40,000 fans that cost them the worst record in all of baseball! The same day they get a lecture from the owner. If that doesn't scream to you loud and clear that things around here are BROKEN beyond repair then I must conclude that happy gas must be leaking in GABP's media conference room and clubhouse. Heads need to roll. Narron has shown his true colors. He will never take us to the playoffs. Axe him for a legendary former Reds player that we can all rally around. Let him learn the job the rest of the year and evaluate the talent. Bring up the youngsters and get them battle tested. There is always next year but it must start this year. Krivsky has done enough good (Arroyo, Ross, Gonzalez...) that I think he desrves more time and we'll see if a new manager changes his perspective.

at 12:31 PM Blogger Pat said...

Swap Krivsky and Narron to the Yankees for Cashman and Torre. Of course, the Yankees will continue to win 90 games a year and the Reds will continue to finish in 3rd place or worse.

The truth is it's the system that needs correcting. Every year you'll see 80% of the top teams are paying out 100 million for their teams and the Reds can only do $70 mil. It's not the Reds fault they play in a small city, with a small tv contract and small crowds. The big market teams have to share with the small markets or it will never be an equal playing field.

One solution is to have the AL consist of big market teams and the NL consist of the bottom 16 markets. Only then will cities like Cincinnati, Kansas City, Pittsburgh and Milwaukee have a chance to compete regularly.

And don't say the brew crew have a great record this year. It's just their time in the sun before they have to sell off the great players that their market can't afford.

The Reds don't own Josh Hamilton, Homer Bailey or even Edwin Encarnacion. If, and when they blossom as big leaguers they will either be traded or leave to follow the money.

The money ain't in Cincinnati.

at 12:32 PM Anonymous Rick from Chicago said...

John, you mentioned Jay Bruce tearing it up in High Class A earlier this week (or was it last?) How close is he really to the Majors?

Also, Joey Votto is going gangbusters in May due to getting contact lenses. Do the Reds need to trade Hatteberg or Conine before Votto will join the Reds? While neither player is going to return much in a trade they do have value to a contender and would open a spot for Votto.

People should give Krivsky a break. He has brought in Arroyo, Philips, Hamilton, and some very serviceable players during the last 1.5 years. Not every player is going to work out and the minor league system is really rebounding.

at 12:33 PM Anonymous Larry said...


I have mailed in comments before - starting last year when the Krivsky threw away Kearns and Lopez for virtually - undoubtedly one of the worst trades in the history of baseball.

How can the team possibly get younger at this point when its best young outfielder is now playing for the Nationals? Lopez might be a different story because of his poor defense - but, Kearns has a good future - once he moves into a ballpark which is not so pitcher friendly, he will have a long and productive career.

How can anyone justify trading two starters for middle relief? Especially two starters with a positive future? I am fairly sure that the league is just laughing about this terrible trade now - unfortunately we are stuck with the result.

Pitching aside, the Reds began to fail last year when the rest of the league figured out that when they do not hit home runs they lose. Plain and simple, they do not hit well with men on base, they do not hit well situationally and they do not hit fundamentally because they are in love with the home run - consequently, they try to pull every pitch and that leads to easy ground outs or fly balls and a lack of base runners.

This was the pattern last year and it remains the pattern.

What can be done?

Can the Reds get younger?

I do not see how.

Contracts are locked in, players are there and this team is going no where.

Really bad personnel decisions do come home to roost after all.

I am very sorry to say it - but last half of 2006 is just continuing into first half 2007.

Very predictable.

at 12:43 PM Anonymous Can You Hear Me Now said...

I agree with Daniel - trade Junior while his stock is high before he gets injured for a couple of prospects. Then it's fire sale time like the Marlins have done and they're building a good team with the smallest payroll in baseball. A team built with veterans is going to work hard to reach .500 and this year's Reds are not going to be near that.

at 1:10 PM Anonymous Anonymous said...

'Do you honestly think that will help?'

I honestly think sports writers develop 'relationships' with managers that blind them to the facts.

Fire Narron.

at 2:09 PM Anonymous Anonymous said...

we can beef all we want to but Castellini is the owner and he will do what he wants. I hope he wants a GM that will make transactions that benefit the team. I hope he wants a field manager that has good baseball instincts and will get the players attention. If he thinks Krivsky and Narron fit the bill all these blogs are a waste.

at 4:30 PM Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am so sick of this town still complaining about the Lopez/Kearns trade. It’s done with, Get over it! People also forget that the trade had to do a lot with money, They were both due big contracts.

Pitching is more valuable that position players. I also read people saying trade Dunn for a #1 starter. There is no way any team would trade their #1 starter for Dunn. The same reasons why everybody wants to get rid of Dunn and Jr is the same reasons most teams are not interested in them.

at 8:33 PM Anonymous Anonymous said...

You want the Reds to compete? I'll tell you who you need. David Stern. Inside of two weeks, Donald Fehr will disappear under mysterious circumstances and MLB will have an effective salary cap like basketball and football. It's called parity, look into it.

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