Marty did a chat with the Enquirer yestserday.

Some of his comments:

I think they will contribute tremendously for a couple reasons: One, I think both these guys can still play. At 33 years old, there’s no doubt Aurilia can come back and have a good year. Randa, he has the kind of steady game that no one has seen here in a few years. I think he’ll hit .280 or better, probably hit 15 home runs, and be good for around 75 RBI. But on top of all that, both of them are quality people; when you’re together for seven months, it is really important to have quality people on your ballclub, and these two guys are quality people.

That’s that “veteran leadership” we’re hearing about and I’d be curious as to why we should believe that Aurila will “come back” and not continue his downward slide?

edog (Mar 29, 2005 12:12:54 PM)
Hello Marty, I keep reading about all the positives coming out of this years camp..veteran signing, pitching, confidence, but was curious, have there been many negatives? if so, what is going to be our toughest to overcome and still contend this year?

Marty Brennaman (Mar 29, 2005 12:12:54 PM)
Two things concern me: One, the defense. I don’t think this club is real strong up the middle, with all due respect to Jason LaRue and D’Angelo Jimenez and Rich Aurilia, guys that don’t have a lot of range; and then with Griffey, he’s obviously on the downside of his career in terms of the ground he can cover in center. But another thing that concerns me is that so little was done to improve the bench. Wily Mo is capable of breaking open a game in the eighth inning, but he’s also capable of striking out. I’m concerned that they didn’t pay more attention to the bench. Keith Hernandez once told me, “You cannot win a division in this game without a good bench,” and I believe him. So I’m concerned about the defense and the productivity from the bench.

How many teams with a reasonable payroll have a great bench these days?

Guest (Mar 29, 2005 12:14:07 PM)
What is going to be the X-Factor for the Reds this season that most people don’t know about?

Marty Brennaman (Mar 29, 2005 12:14:07 PM)
If I had to guess, I would say the bullpen. Most people would readily agree that at least on paper, with the additions of Mercker, Weber and Weathers, it’s an improved bullpen. But they HAD to improve, because that was about as bad a bullpen as I’ve ever seen last year.

Wish you could ask a followup for these…like, could we have gotten as effective relief pitchers for less money?

bata (Mar 29, 2005 12:17:18 PM)
In your opinion is D’Angelo Jiminez the right person to start at 2nd?

Marty Brennaman (Mar 29, 2005 12:17:18 PM)
I think Ryan Freel hurt himself by getting hurt. That really took some pressure off this club, because up until he went down, he was clearly the guy who was best suited to start at second base. I’ve said before, this is a better team when Ryan Freel is playing second base and leading off. That in no way is a negative reflection on D’Angelo Jimenez, but Freel is the one guy who will give you the potential of stealing 40 or more bases IF he’s in the lineup on a regular basis.

ommy (Mar 29, 2005 12:45:25 PM)
Marty do you think that Ryan Freel will eventually take the second base job away from Jiminez?

Marty Brennaman (Mar 29, 2005 12:45:25 PM)
I think it’s very possible. Again, like it or not, people have to understand that when you invest $2.8 million or whatever they signed Jimenez for, there is going to be a reluctance to sit that guy on the bench, whether it’s justified or not. Now that they have Jimenez under a contract approaching $3 million, you’re going to want that guy to play. It’s human nature want to justify your investment and not admit that you may have made a mistake by giving someone who’s not as good at a particular position, all that money.

That’s what he should have said to the first question…they signed Jimenez for $2.8M, when Freel only makes $400K. Smart signing? Probably not, but once they spent the money, Jimenz was the starter.

Zeek01 (Mar 29, 2005 12:28:45 PM)
I think Bobby Estalella is great. He hits a ton and he throws runners out. What do you think his chances are of making the team? We know that Jason LaRue is the main catcher but what about Javier Valentine? Are they going to keep Valentine just because he can play 1st as well as catcher?

Marty Brennaman (Mar 29, 2005 12:28:45 PM)
I think Valentin is definitely on the ballclub. Part of that is he’s a switch-hitter and the best side for him is as a lefthanded hitter. Does Bobby Estalella deserve to be on the club? You cannot ask a person to do any more than Bobby Estalella has done in this camp. If you’re going to base it on performance, right now it would appear to be between Jacob Cruz and Bobby Estalella. Cruz has the advantage of having been here last year, but he’s going to strike out a lot. Who know how this will manifest itself once the season begin. If I were making the decisions, I’d have to give the nod to Bobby Estalella.

So, Valentin stinks, but he’s a LH stinker so he makes the team.

redskinalum02 (Mar 29, 2005 12:31:51 PM)
Marty, yet another Adam Dunn strikes out too much question. I have read countless articles discussing how he’s changing his approach somewhat and not letting himself get to two strikes, but just the other night you commented that he continues to take too many close pitches. I know changing his approach will take some time (right, wrong or indifferent), but have you noticed any improvement over the course of the spring?

Marty Brennaman (Mar 29, 2005 12:31:51 PM)
Yes, I have. I think his first 26 at-bats he had struck out only three times, and the strikeouts have been more numerous since then. I know he’s working hard to make better contact. Adam Dunn, even though he struck out 195 times last year, he walked over 100 times last year, so he has a great eye. I’m thrilled to death that he walks that much, but he’s not paid to do that. The most shocking stat of my 31-year career was last year, in 568 at-bats, he did not have one sacrifice fly. If he cut his strikeouts down by 40 or 50, he could probably challenge 60 home runs, that’s how talented he is.

Of course this is before they decided to hit him 2nd. Does this change what “he’s paid to do”? And I’ve heard this sac fly comment so often it makes me want to puke, who cares?

difab4 (Mar 29, 2005 1:00:26 PM)
With the plethera of young talent and veteren leadership we have, who do you think has the best chance of having a breakout year or revitalization of a veteran career?

Marty Brennaman (Mar 29, 2005 1:00:26 PM)
Austin Kearns. And Junior. Assuming, of course, that both of them stay healthy. I don’t think we’ve seen Kearns show us the kind of offensive ability that he has. And I think if Junior stays healthy, he’s capable, as I said before, of re-establishing himself as one of the best players in the game. If Kearns and Griffey both have outstanding years, it’ll be interesting to see where this club is in the standings come the end of the season.

If Kearns and Junior both stay healthy, this team could win 90 games, IMO.