Narron! Get in here!

How on God’s green earth does Jerry Narron expect to win with a lineup of bench players (Norris Hopper and Juan Castro) while sitting his better hitters?  If he has seven players (Freel, Hamilton, Griffey, Dunn, Encarnacion, Conine and Hatteberg) for 5 slots (1B, 3B, LF, CF, RF) aren’t they getting enough rest as it is?

If it is to make sure that Hopper and Castro feel wanted/welcome/fresh, well, I guess I view it as that’s just too d*mn bad, because the Reds are offensively challenged as it is and Castro hits worse than most pitchers (although he’s fine as a defensive replacement) and Hopper is a nice pinch-running option.

Seeing Narron put an inferior team on the field on any given night just infuriates me.

Josh Hamilton conundrum

Josh Hamilton is already forcing his way into the lineup.  It is still way way too early to tell if he is going to hit .400 with 70 home runs and 180 rbis this year, but to hear folks in Cincinnati, that’s where the current expectations sit.  He’ll play as long as he is hitting–and right now he is.  What happens when he slumps–no one knows for sure.

What we *do* know is that Edwin Encarnacion is getting to sit because of it.  Encarnacion is supposed to be the Reds 3B of the future.  He has to be given more of a chance to get out of his current slump if that is the case.  He has far more ability and potential than others who are currently playing every day.  It is hard to fathom why Narron feels free to screw with Encarnacion–even benching him over a lack of hustle on one play–when he lets Brandon Phillips and Ken Griffey and plenty of others get away with those things.  It is apparent to casual observers that Narron has it in for Encarnacion–but it is not apparent why.

The fact is that Narron should be putting the best team that he can on the field every night.  In a perfect world, we would actually know how good Hamilton really is, as opposed to supposing that he is on a bit of a hot streak and that he will cool off.  Not knowing makes it harder.

Is Encarnacion really the least of those threats among the Reds every day players?  I sure don’t think so.

Brantley

Marty and Thom are pretty fun to listen to.  There is only one Nuxie.  I could listen to these guys all day long–and I do as often as I can.

I don’t know what to think about Jeff Brantley.  He says a lot of dopey stuff.  For example, he insisted that Dustin Hermanson would be the closer just the day before Hermanson was cut.  Good grief.

random thoughts as spring training winds down

Eric Milton.  I have to ask what everyone is asking–is he *really* going to be in the rotation over some of these other guys who clearly outperform him?  I’m not so drastic as to recommend that the Reds cut him, but it seems that he could be better used in mop up until he works out whatever problems he has.  Truth be told, it seems to me that the fastball and curveball are coming to hitters without much difference in velocity because he is like batting practice out there.  It’s ugly.

Josh Hamilton.  Are you kidding me?  I just hope that the raised expectations are not so unrealistic that his rough patches become a problem.  Everyone should try to keep a level head and remember that he is a Rule 5 guy who simply does not have a lot of innings under his belt, understanding that his tools are off the charts and that he will make some spectacular plays or timely hits more than some.  Anything useful should be considered a bonus, and it honestly is a crying shame that he doesn’t get regular ABs in AA this year.

Dustin Hermanson.  Ok, if he is really the closer, then why did other teams sniff around him and then refuse to even sign him to a minor league deal?  I worry about this choice–not that the Reds have a lot to pick from, but I think Todd Coffey has looked pretty good and really he was very good (but unlucky with hit rate in the second half) last year.  I don’t see Hermanson lasting past May 31.

Adam Dunn.  How can someone this good go under the radar all spring?  He has been tremendous and could be back on track after going off the rails last season in the second half.  Credit Brook Jacoby, at least in part.

Spring Training–so far

First note: A lot going on, been to S.T. and back and have to say that even though Josh Hamilton is really turning heads, we should not get ahead of ourselves.  It is still only March 14 and it is still less than 30 at-bats.  He’s made the team–that’s good–but folks who expect him to step in and contribute like a regular expect far too much from him.

Second note–glad to see that Homer Bailey is going to get some more minor league time.  No sense in rushing him.  He’s going to be tremendous, but starting the clock on his service time makes little sense and he has some work to do before he is ready for prime time.

Third note: Has anyone else noticed how much the catchers have stunk this spring?  Ay carumba!

Fourth note: Matt Belisle has emerged as a favorite for the fifth slot in the rotation–maybe–but Paul Wilson is also in the running and as the season wears on, there may be a revolving door in that slot.  Still, Belisle has done everything the Reds could ask and he is probably better than $9 mil albatross Eric Milton to boot.  To my mind, if Krivsky has to eat some money to unload Milton, that would still be a smart move.  Given the offseason signings (Marquis and Meche most notably), someone will be interested in Milton.

Fifth note: This time last year, Edwin Encarnacion was the toast of spring training.  I think 2007 is going to be his breakout season–lots of offense coming–hopefully from the 4 slot in the lineup.

Sixth note:  Speaking of lineups, Alex Gonzalez better not ever be higher in the lineup than 8th.  Perhaps some pitchers can outhit Gonzalez  . . .

Seventh note: Adam Dunn looks refreshed and renewed.  NL teams better watch out.

Eighth note:  All we hear is how David Weathers is the closer, Mike Stanton may get some shots, and Dustin Hermanson is a candidate as well.  I don’t see how there is room on the team for everyone involved, when you also count Rheal Cormier, Bill Bray, Todd Coffey, Gary Majewski and Kirk Saarloos.  Here’s betting that Hermanson stays in extended spring training, that Majewski starts the year on the DL, and that Coffey and Bray outpitch Weathers, yet Weathers remains the ersatz closer anyway.

Ninth note: speaking of Kirk Saarloos, what are the Reds going to do with all of their fifth starters?  Saarloos, Belisle, Wilson, and Livingston all looking at one slot on the team?  Something has to give—hopefully the Reds can keep some of this depth.

Final note: less than three weeks away from the Opening Day celebrations in Cincinnati–no matter how the team is projected to perform, that is one of the best days of every year.

Harang and Arroyo contracts

Congratulations to the Reds–very very good contracts in 2007 dollars and they will look even smarter in 2008, 2009 and 2010.

Beats spending that same money to bring in some deadbeat pitcher for short-term who isn’t much above replacement level, if at all above replacement level–which is what other teams appear to have done.

Never thought I’d say this during this offseason, but kudos to you and your staff, Mr. Krivsky.

Bellhorn and Saarloos

First, let me just say that I consider Shafer highly expendable and probably traded at his highest value point–he is not going to help the Reds, despite what his AA numbers from last year might tell you.  This is a salary dump for Oakland, plain and simple.

But Saarloos might be useful as a replacement for Ryan Franklin.  I know, I know, Franklin was not brilliant for the Reds last year, but he was very flexible and useful in August and actually pulled the Reds out in some games with long relief stints.  I like the pickup.

As for Bellhorn, he costs nothing and is just coming to camp to see if there is something left in the tank.  Not exactly Rich Aurilia, but he just may beat out Jeff Keppinger for that 2B/3B bench slot (and he should, since Keppinger can’t hit at all and Castro can do all of the extra glove work that the team needs).  Of course, Bellhorn has to bring *some* value–he’ll have to hit a lot better than he did last year for San Diego.  I like that move too.

Baby steps, but positive ones.