Rob Neyer:

Richard Grijalva: How does a manager not immediately get fired for giving the starting second-base job to a player coming off an OBP season of .276 and a career OBP of .316, instead of the one coming off a .372 season with a career average of .369? Ryan Freel does everything Tony Womack does, but gets on base way more. I just don’t get it.

Rob: I don’t, either. And I wouldn’t blame just the manager.

The Reds did one thing right this spring: They finally committed themselves to playing Austin Kearns in right field every day. It should have happened a year or so ago, but better late than never. Anyway, that was the old general manager, and there’s a new sheriff in town.

Problem is, the new sheriff ain’t exactly Cleavon Little in Blazing Saddles. When Wayne Krivsky took over as Reds general manager, he inherited a team that scored more runs in 2005 than any other National League team. That’s not likely to happen again. But with a couple of tweaks and a little bit of luck, the Reds figure to feature one of the league’s top hitting attacks again.

Keep Freel at second base, move Adam Dunn to first base, send young Chris Denorfia to left field, and watch the numbers pile up on the scoreboard. Any baseball fan with a functioning cortex and a passing familiarity with Bill James would have passed this test.

Krivsky failed. He not only signed Scott Hatteberg and Womack — both of whom essentially washed out of the American League last year — he actually gave them everyday jobs, which pushed Freel to a utility role, Dunn to left field, and Denorfia to the bench. There are only eight non-pitching jobs in the lineup. It’s pretty hard to screw up three of them within a few months. Yet Krivsky seems to have managed exactly that. It’s early, and maybe he’s a quick study. But if this is really the way things are going to be, I wouldn’t want to be a Reds fan for the next few years.

Well, when you put it that way….

9 Responses

  1. Cary

    One factual inaccuracy in those comments is that O’Brien traded for Womack, not Krivsky. However, Krivsky is now culpable for not cutting Womack and allowing Narron to have the opportunity to play him.

  2. al

    saying this does go against my own grain a little but…

    womack and hatteberg haven’t done anything to hurt the reds yet, and at a certain point all of this “on paper” criticism has to give way to the current situation.

    Yes i have more faith in players neyer mentioned than the ones who narron/krivsky have played, but at this point i’m willing to see if narron can handle it the way he wants to.

    so far the only people who are stuggling offensively are lopez and EdE (and ross i guess who still doesn’t make any sense) and i don’t think anyone wants those two guys pulled from the lineup.

    so if people want the benefit of the doubt for the young guys who are flailing, it seems reasonable to give it to the manager and GM when they are playing guys who are getting a big hits and taking walks and doing pretty much everything right.

  3. al

    fine, then it’s ridiculous. but to me, the on-paper debates can only go so far and are better sutied for building a team in the offseason than running one in the season.

    see the redsox game last night and who closed it out. Is papelbon a proven closer? no. is keith foulke? yes. Tito went with paps because foulke wasn’t throwing well, and it worked. Should he be critisized for that because he didn’t use his closer?

    we’re not in the clubhouse, and i’m sure that there is a lot more going on than we know about in getting people playing time. so far narron’s thoughts have worked offensively, and i’m willing to let him play the hot hand until the positions become a little more established.

    As for how many games equals what, jeez lighten up, does everything have to have a metric? Call it a couple. If womack (or whoever) goes 0 for 5 for a couple of games, and freel (or whoever) stays on the bench, then it will be clear that there is a management problem. Right now i don’t see one, since freel, womack, aurilia, and hatteberg have all played and all done well.

    and there’s no guarantee that EdE will ever hit at the major league level, and no guarantee that lopez won’t fall off a cliff, even if it’s what you really really want.

    there are people right now calling for EdE to be sent down. I’m not one of them by any means, but in a month and a half if he’s still hitting .125 and womack has a .400+ obp, is narron going to look worse for playing EdE everyday or womack. that’s why the on paper debates only go so far.

  4. al

    what i meant by “on paper” was historical stats rather than current observable performance, is that better?

    and like i said, i’m no fan of womack on this team and never have been, but i’m just not arrogant enough to claim that i absolutely know more about this team than narron or krivsky. I think there’s a chance that what i might suggest (based only on numbers) is better than what they are doing, but until there’s actually something to complain about, i’m willing to give them the benefit of the doubt.

    last year for instance, when rich aurilia was playing everyday and doing nothing and felo was playing here and there and kiling the ball. Reds fans everywhere were right to ask “what the hell is going on here,” same with d’angelo and freel.

    but all i’ve seen so far is narron playing some matchups and coming out looking pretty good.

    i think in the end we are probably all going to agree on this, if people start playing to their averages and it seems like narron isn’t puting the best team on the field. I guess i’m just willing to wait to complain until the players in question aren’t leading my team’s offense.

    i like to think that you generally throw a players stats out when the new year starts and let them put up this year’s numbers. Sure, i know people usually don’t stray that far from their averages, i’m just not going to condemn someone before they play the games, in the same way that it doesn’t mean anything to me that a computer simulation says the reds are going to finish last. The best team “on paper” (translation: that team with the players whose cumulative historical stats project to having the largest positive run scoring differential) doesn’t always win, and players can always surprise you.

    Have you seen tony womack in person? do you know him? Do you hang out with him? Do you know whether he’s changed his approach at the plate, or whether he’s dedicated himself like never before, or build up the muscle he lost when he got off roids last year (i kid), or any of the dozens of other reasons he could drastically improve, however unlikely they may be?

    I don’t, so i’ll wait and see.

  5. Bill Hansing

    How does a manager not immediately get fired for giving the starting second-base job to a player coming off an OBP season of .276 and a career OBP of .316, instead of the one coming off a .372 season with a career average of .369? Ryan Freel does everything Tony Womack does, but gets on base way more. I just don’t get it.

    Maybe the manager is watching to see if the guy with the higher OBP really does have the “monkey off his back”

  6. Bill Hansing

    How does a manager not immediately get fired for giving the lead-off job to a player with an OBP season of .362, instead of the one with a .417 season — with career OBP and speed that is so much more disruptive? Joe Morgan does everythiong that pete Rose does and more. Sparky Anderson should be fired.

  7. Pinski

    hahaha, So I guess Ryan Freel and Tony Womack are going to be Hall of Famers by that logic.

    And 362 v. 417 IS NOT THE SAME as 316 v. 369. Thats just a ridiculous comparison. Not to mention the power differences between Morgan and Rose which would lead a sane person to bat Morgan 2nd.

  8. Bill Hansing

    hahaha, So I guess Ryan Freel and Tony Womack are going to be Hall of Famers by that logic.

    And 362 v. 417 IS NOT THE SAME as 316 v. 369. Thats just a ridiculous comparison.

    Both are about 50 points apart — Sparky should have been fired for that decision. Morgan’s lifetime OBP; his disruptive speed; his keen eye at the plate — Sparky must have been an idiot — you should write him and tell him.

  9. Darren

    This is just a dumb argument. I don’t think it matters what Tony Womack does, you people are gonna hate him no matter what. I really like Ryan Freel too, but this is the start of the season. Give the Reds some more games before you make a decision about who should be where. As long as the Reds win, you can start Billy Hatcher at second for all I care!