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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, September 24, 2007

Winding down

Six games to go. Yesterday when we were talking to Brandon Phillips about his day off, I reminded him of a similar session last year. Remember, the brief experiment with him at shortstop? After Jerry Narron said they were going to do that, we talked to Phillips about it.

As we were wrapping up, someone asked if Phillips might play Winter Ball to get some time at short.

His response: "My ass is tired."

He laughed when I reminded him of it. "Well, my ass is tired again," he said.

The season is grind, particularly when you're out of contention.

I've got to grind out my off day piece. (Red-eye flights are great when you sleep through them. I didn't.) I'm writing about Jared Burton. He's had a remarkable second half. His ERA is a hair over 1.00 over his last 26 games. You can make a strong case that he was the more valuable Rule 5 pick-up.


23 Comments:

at 5:39 PM Anonymous Anonymous said...

John,
How do you spend the off-season?

 
at 6:00 PM Anonymous Anonymous said...

Between the A's and Devil Rays, the Reds should just wait for next years Rule 5 to pick up a stud starting pitcher. :)

Everyone can talk about the 'bad management' of the Reds that I don't believe is there but take a look at Tampa. Cantu and Hamilton?!? They could of built a franchise around these two. Because of them and Burton the Reds can deal from a position of strength looking for a veteran #2-3 SP for next year.

Shout out to Krisky...

Adrian

 
at 6:16 PM Blogger flard said...

Burton was a great pick-up and so was Hamilton. These two alone are enough reason to keep Krivsky.

 
at 6:54 PM Blogger John Fay said...

I'll be doing a lot of Reds stuff. This team has a lot of decisions to make: Manager, options on Dunn, Hatteberg, Guardado. Plus the usual array of offseason moves. I'll do a weekly Reds insider for the paper.

The last couple of years, I've filled in on UC football trips. My guess is this year, Bill Koch will stick with football and I'll fill in on basketball, if needed.

 
at 10:01 PM Anonymous Anonymous said...

Great to hear what you are planning for the off-season. Should be pretty interesting time for the Reds. At least the Bearcats are developing to an suprising good read.

You wouldn't believe how much some of us look foward to the sunday paper in the off-season!
Thanks for answering my question

Guy that left the ANON @ 4:39

 
at 9:00 AM Blogger Laura said...

Do you see Burton as the closer of the future? He reminds me a little bit of (the good part of) Scott Williamson.

 
at 10:14 AM Anonymous CHEVIOT SPORTS AUTHORITY said...

Bottom Line: 74-75 wins this season, even worse than last year.

Yes, the K-man did a wonderful job!

Why wasn't Lou Piniella offered the Reds job? Oh, never mind me, I forgot , we had Jerry Narron locked up.

Now we have Pete McKrivsky, no need to look much farther than that.

 
at 10:27 AM Blogger John Fay said...

burton will be the closer -- it's a matter of when.

I think lou was offered a job in '06. He wanted to take a year off.

 
at 10:39 AM Anonymous Anonymous said...

No one is building a franchise around Hamilton and Cantu. This team will stink again next year. The Reds are not going to compete well against even the top 3 in the central, unless the Cards lose half their team to injury again, let alone the wild card teams from the West, and Philly/Atlanta/Mets.

Hopefully Cantu and Hamilton will have great careers here. But we have plenty of offense even without those two. The problem is pitching pitching and pitching.

Enough of it to compete is not going to come cheap or easy.

 
at 5:45 PM Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ya, this teams record is as bad as it was before Krivsky took over; by all means, let's keep him!!!

Tampa could have built a franchise around Hamilton and Cantu?? Are you kidding me?? They had Cantu, maybe you should look at his numbers his last couple of years there.

And what's he done here that's been so spectacular?

Burton - no risk move.
Hamilton - no risk move.
Phillips - no risk move.

Kearns - risky move - failed.
Lopez - risky move - failed.
Stanton - 2 years - risky move - failed.
Cormier - risky move - failed.
Ross - 2 years - risky move - failed.
Majewski - failed.
Narron - his right hand lackey - failed.
Drew Stubbs over Tim Lincecum - failed.
Moeller - "I've always been a Chad Moeller fan" - failed.
Germano - failed.
Brandon Harris to Tampa for nothing - failed.

Sitting on Hatteberg in July because he thought Votto was a AAAA player who couldn't play defense -failed.

Buck Coats instead of Jay Bruce - failed.

 
at 6:31 PM Blogger Mr. Redlegs said...

I'd gladly list the 10-years failings of Jim Bowden but the Federal Trade Commission has a limit on Internet bilage.

I'd also gladly list the grand accomplishments of Dan O'Brien, the biggest do-nothing in recent baseball history, but why bother with just one sentence?

 
at 9:41 PM Blogger Jim said...

Mr.RedLegs

Wayne Krivsky has now been on the job just about the same amount of time that Dan O'Brien was. The results are not markedly different. For all of his faults, Dan O'Brien did draft the 2 top prospects in this organization. Your responses to criticism of Wayne Krivsky consist of, "you don't know anything about baseball" and "oh yeah, don't get me started on O'Brien". But rest assured, it looks like Mr Castellini will be bringing Wayne back for another go around and you've got 12 months to think of reasons why a losing record in 08 isn't really his fault.

 
at 12:40 AM Blogger Mr. Redlegs said...

Please tell us of an MLB general manager in history who in less than two years on the job has turned around a fifth-place team with one of the five worst minor league systems.

Oh, that's right, fantasy league players don't know anything about real baseball. I keep forgetting. . . .

 
at 2:05 PM Anonymous Anonymous said...

Mr RedLegs

You just proved the point the previous post made about you. Instead of telling us why Dan O'Brien was so bad in his 2 losing seasons but Wayne Krivsky can't be expected to win in 2 seasons, you go right to the "you don't know anything about baseball" line. By referring to others as "fantasy" baseball players you seem to infer that you have played the game at a high level. If so, please enlighten us.

 
at 3:37 PM Blogger Mr. Redlegs said...

What did Dan O'Brien do to make the Reds better? What moves? None. He was too cautious, too scared, and when he was fired the team and upper end of the organization were in awful shape.

You do realize the 2006 squad Krivsky inherited was not only a last-place team in the making, but likely second-worst in the National League. Krivsky made three near-immediate moves reticent O'Brien would have never pulled--Arroyo, Ross and Phillips.

The '06 team doesn't come close to competing without those three.

For those who like to cite Krivsky's failings at finding pitching, gee, every team in baseball is looking for pitching. They'll come and look in the trunk of your car if there's a possibility a live arm will be there. One year, under Bowden the Reds invited 37--count 'em, 37!--pitchers to spring training.

Besides, what move has Krivsky made that was worse than giving Milton $25 million?

Shall we go back and look at some of the retreads O'Brien also brought through the Reds? Nah, that's what teams do. They keep searching and hoping, searching and hoping. When the Reds were close in the race in '06 and desperately needing bullpen help, Krivsky made deals--one not so good, and others of minimal risk--in hopes of finding someone who could do the job in the second half.

Would O'Brien have done any of that? Not likely. And what did the Reds really give up? Lopez, Kearns and who else of any consequence. Where would either Lopez or Kearns fit today? What have they done to justify the huge salaries--$22 million combined with Lopez up for arbitration again--they got in Washington?

Okay, wanna say Krivsky blew it with Germano? Great. Love that argument. Phillies also gave up on him too after they, like the Reds, figured out he was an awful fit for their bandbox park. And after the league saw Germano a second time in that barnyard park in San Diego, he has pitched true to expectations of scouts: allowing 170 baserunners in just 130-plus innings.

What has Krivsky done to upgrade the Reds' pitching depth? Rule V, minor-league free agents, little deals here and there for younger arms. Taking minimal risks.

You wanna mention Stanton? Great, love that argument, too. When spring training opened this year who was the closer? No one in his right senses would have predicted Weathers would have over 30 saves. The theory was simple: Get two veteran relievers, one lefty and one righty, who won't break the bank and have a track history of reliability. Let them share duties according to game situation.

Thus Stanton. A lot of contending teams were after Stanton but in order for the Reds to get him they had to add a second year to the deal. That's the price small-market teams have to pay for getting free agents. We know now Stanton has sucked, but he pitched great last year for the Nationals and Giants and his recent track is what you base him on, not 20/20 hindsight.

Still, two years at $5 million is $3 million less than the MLB average salary.

And I love the argument how O'Brien has stocked the system. Homer Bailey and Jay Bruce. Then, Krivsky drafted Drew Stubbs with his first pick in '06.

What do these picks have in common?

They are from Texas.

Who was the regional scout in charge of Texas during those three drafts?

Brian Wilson.

He died of a heart attack late last season. Wilson, not O'Brien, spearheaded the scouting and recommendations to Terry Reynolds, director of player development, to the GMs for those picks.

So before you start making Dan O'Brien the next Pat Gillick and Wayne Krivsky the next Dave Littlefield, maybe this helps you understand something about how the real machinations of professional baseball works.

I've been a sports writer for top 10 newspapers and (now for a national publication) covering MLB since 1977 and the NFL since the late '80s. I'm a member of the BBWAA, covered three work stoppages, the Pete Rose saga and more over the years.

The Reds became my team when the Senators left my hometown of Washington, D.C., in 1971.

Enlightened?

 
at 5:23 PM Anonymous Anonymous said...

Jim hit the ball out of the park with his comments! God Bless Mr.Redlegs. He constantly berates
everyone elses opinion. Please remember that we all have our own ideas about what might make the Reds better. Your ideas are no better and no worse than anyone elses. Just YOUR ideas. As a former pro player (minor league) I happen to believe that if the Reds are to get better in 2008 many management changes from the top down need to be made. But that is just my opinion. Good luck in the off-season Mr.Fay you do a GREAT job and I really appreciate your blog. Have a great Fall and Winter and I look forward to your comments and articles next Spring.

 
at 5:32 PM Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wow, it's all so clear now. Wayne Krivsky is a genius, misunderstood by the great unwashed masses. The baseball fools who didn't understand the Coffey contract extension. The Freel extension. The sheer genius of carrying 3 catchers. The give away of Brendan Harris, the non interest in Ryan Franklin or multi year contracts for 40+ relievers. We should consider ourselves lucky. Without Wayne we'd be looking at 95 losses instead of 90. And all of you bloggers out there. You've never written about the game. How could you possibly know anything.

 
at 7:18 PM Blogger Mr. Redlegs said...

Anon 4:23, it's fine that you have your opinons on how to make the Reds better. But, honestly, no team listens to their fans on these things. You are paying customers, and you have the right on whether to extend your entertainment dollars to the club. That's about it.

The Reds just changed ownership and the front office from top to bottom (a work still in progress) 21 months ago. If you expected a complete turn-around of this sad-sack organization--suffered by two pathetic ownerships over 10-15 years-- in that time you have no concept of the situation the Reds were in as an organization and the extreme limitations of a small market like Cincinnati.

Understand where the Reds are now as an organization, compared to spring training 2006, and how difficult it is to lure players and agents to a team with limited payroll and outside revenues (radio/TV) and not being competitive for eight seasons and also a city not exactly with the best reputation.

But fans never think of those things. The real issues. They just think the GM is an idiot.

 
at 7:42 PM Blogger Mr. Redlegs said...

Anon 4:32, thanks for answering your own rant: "How could you possibly know anything."

Coffey Extension: If he progresses in 2007 as he did in 2006 his "peer group" for salary structure would have leaped far beyond his $925,000. The average reliever salary is $1.4 million. That's why you lock him up. Sorry you don't understand Baseball Economics 102 and these little tyrants known as "agents."

Freel Extension: A very important and versatile player who is now expendable because of the surprising play of career minor-leaguers Hopper and Keppinger.

What does Freel make? Just $3 million over 2008-09. Peanuts when the MLB average is $4 million.

What does this mean for the Reds? Freel will be one of their most attractive trade pieces. Why? The cheap, friendly contract that keeps Freel out of arbitration or free agency until 2010. Duh.

Three Catchers: The issue is one catcher (Valentin) is below average defensively but terrific offensively. I don't agree with the three-catcher prong but understand the logic. It's based on the individual players, not something written in stone. Look around: Catchers are in short, short supply.

Brendan Harris: Also love this argument. He's so bad defensively he can't catch his dog. A mere toss-in as part of "The Trade." Look at it this way: the Reds stole Hamilton from Tampa Bay in the most shrewd offseason deal in the game. Harris was never going to play for the Reds, or a National League team, so why bitch about him?

Hamilton or Harris, take your pick?

Harris or Keppinger, take your pick?

Ryan Franklin: Pitched awful and didn't deserve to be tendered. Odd, no one complained about this move at the time it happened. Nice hindsight.

40-Year-Old Relievers: Read comments above about trying to get free agents to Cincinnati and what these veterans' contracts actually pay compared to their "peer" group.

Here's Weathers' contract: $2.25 mil this year, $2.75 mil in 2008, $800,000 performance bonus (earned). Where would this team be without him?

Now here's a sampling of last year's reliever free agent contracts: Danys Báez (3 years, $19 mil), Chad Bradford (3 years, $10.5 mil), Justin Speier (4 years, $18 mil) and Scott Schoeneweis. You remember him, right? Had two good months for the Reds after doing zero in his career, refused a contract and got 3 years for $10.8 mil from the Mets.

So all of you bloggers out there, especially those addicted to sportalk radio garbage, you've never written about the game. But now you know something.

 
at 10:15 PM Anonymous Anonymous said...

Mr RedLegs

Todd Coffey extension: I'd be willing to go into an arbitration hearing with a guy who had a 6.19 ERA, given up 68 hits in 48 Innings Pitched with an opposition batting average of .332. His peer group is either putting up better numbers than that or their in AAA.

Ryan Freel extension: On a team overloaded with outfielders why extend him? Dunn is in all likeliehood going to have his option picked up. Griffey is untradeable. Hamilton is young, cheap and a potential all star. Bruce is waiting in the wings and Norris Hopper is a better hitter and just as good defensively. Keppinger can be your super utility at a fraction of the cost. On a team with a limited budget, $3 million for Ryan Freel is a waste.

3 catchers - I could almost see your point if Chad Moeller was able to hit his weight. The man played in 30 games for the Reds and had 8 hits. Sure his defense was better than Valentins but he's not exactly Johnny Bench back there either.

Brendan Harris - the man with the terrible defense has a .972 Fielding percentage this year. Alex Gonzales has a fielding percentage of .973 this year.

Relievers - Weathers worked out well. Stanton not so much. You can be 40+ and still pitch in the majors, but you might want to stay in shape. This guys lugging around a beer gut that would make Norm from Cheers jealous. Why should he care though. He's gonna draw a fat paycheck in 2008 regardless. My goodness, he's so out of shape he pulled a muscle trying to run to first base.

The bullpen has been awful for 2 years now. You threw out some examples of relievers who were free agent busts. You didn't mention guys like Aaron Fultz, Darren Oliver, David Riske, JC Romero, Alan Embree or Russ Springer. They're all cheaper and younger than Mike Stanton and have far better numbers. Would any of these guys singed here, I don't know. Were they even approached by the GM?

Finally, we're arguing baseball. It's not religion, the war or the death penalty. Try not to take it too seriously, you'll live longer.

 
at 12:17 AM Blogger Mr. Redlegs said...

Anon 9:15, to answer . . .

Coffey was/is not eligible for arbitration. This is about escalatingl raises until the time the player is eligible. Meanwhile, players like him fall into a "peer" group. I'm not in the mood to look up his group since tonight the hottest babe on "Dancing With the Stars" was eliminated in the first week, but if Coffey repeated his 2006 he would have been slotted higher than $925,000 for '08.

Again, you're arguing about a player's salary in hindsight. Smart teams lock up their young players for salary control.

If you would rather have Harris at SS than Gonzalez then you're a.) not physically watching the two players perform; b.) only reading a stat; and c.) drunk.

Go back and look at Gonzlez's errors. Look at them individually. See how many runs he cost the Reds. I believe those errors, most of them on throws, led to 15 unearned runs and cost the Reds exactly one game, in late April.

His positioning, ability to turn the double play and arm are so superior to Harris (whose body and feet have all the mobility of cement blocks) that the donkey on "Hee-Haw" just fell over laughing at the comp.

Gonzalez did not have his best year and many around the game believe it's greatly due to the illness of his child. That's understandable on every level. But even the thought of Keppinger over Gonzalez defensively is preposterous.

Just ask the pitching staff.

Why extend Freel? That was done early as he was reaching arbitration eligibility. Are you serious? He was the Opening Day center fielder, only thing close to a lead-off, and can play five positions. He signed for just $1.5 mil a year. That's nothing, even for a small market team. He's a commodity, for reasons stated above an dmany more And you have to remember that when he was extended Hamilton, Hopper and Bruce are no where near the Reds' long-time plans.

Again, hindsight.

As for the relievers you mentioned, Embree signs with Oakland for 2 years, $5.5 mil, or Stanton money. Who's best better recently and for their career? Fultz got $1.5 mil, has been hurt most of the year, has bounced around and allowed a whopping 173 more baserunners than innings pitched for his career.

Springer, at $1.75 mil, has a long history of arm troubles; Riske is a flyball pitcher (0.95 GB/FB career ratio), not what you want in GABP. He's also eligible to be a free agent after having a nice year and should get Justin Speier money; did you see Romero's numbers for the Angels last year, in one of the league's best-hitting parks?

Darren Oliver would have been an interesting pickup but, again, he's been erratic and went to a contender.

What do all of these pitchers have in common? Situational relievers. Where would they have fit? Remember, you're making these signings last winter, not after they have had a few good months or a decent season.

If Bray and Majewski are healthy in the spring and Coffey pitches as expected, none of those pitchers you mentioned is better than those three.

Remember: hindsight can't drive the way you build your roster. You are dealing with the now.

 
at 2:02 AM Anonymous Anonymous said...

Mr RedLegs

Sign a guy who hits about .273 and drives in 25 runs a year to multi year contract at about $3.5 million a year to make him more tradeable? Logic like that is why Wayne Krivsky has been voted by YOUR peers one of the bottom 5 GM's om MLB>

 
at 3:11 AM Blogger Mr. Redlegs said...

I stand corrected on the Freel contract--$3 mil in '08 and $4 mil in 2009. That's still under MLB average and less than he'd get at arbitration.

Freel is what he is--a utility guy who runs, plays nice defense and plays six positions. He's a plugger, and they're very valuable pieces because, ya know, in real baseball the starting eight rarely makes it through an entire season without injury. Depth is an asset.

Odd, the only best and worst list of general managers I recall was an online poll by ESPN.com. That's not my peers.

You act like these salaries are a burden to you personally. Really, the owner is obviously willing to pay the sums or the players wouldn't be signed.

Yet somehow people like you bitch about payroll. Why is it your worry? Afraid the $1 hot dogs will go up to $1.50?

 
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