E-mailers in Sarasota aren't happy. The following missive is representative.
Q, from Larry in Sarasota: Sarasota fans are very unhappy with Bob Boone. In Thursday's game against the Pirates at Sarasota, Boone used all Double-A and Triple-A pitchers and the fans had to suffer through boring long counts and nine walks. Boone had played his regular pitchers in a morning minor-league game on the practice field.
Last week, on a split-squad day, he took five of seven available starting position players to Fort Myers and left the Sarasota paying fans with only two.
And twice before that, on split-squad days, he left the home fans with far less talent than he took to the away game, including one day when Ken Griffey Jr. traveled to Bradenton and hit three homers, and didn't play in the Sarasota home game. Boone goes far beyond MLB requirements for road games.
A: Let's address each situation separately. For the Pirates game Thursday, Boone didn't want to use his regular pitcher because the Reds play Pittsburgh in the first series of the year. For the Fort Myers game, the players who went there were the ones who didn't have to go to Fort Lauderdale. By going to Bradenton, Griffey got to see the Pirates' Opening Day starter, Kris Benson.
Q, from Dave: This is in response to a question from Tony published in your column last Sunday. I'm amazed at the negativity directed toward Ken Griffey Jr. I saw the article about Griffey hitting three home runs in a game, and how he drove to the game that day with Jason LaRue, who also hit two home runs. Instead of being happy about that, Tony writes about how Griffey is failing to "foster team spirit" because he didn't ride the team bus (no mention of LaRue failing to foster team spirit, however), even though many players drive on their own. No matter what Griffey does, there's always someone trying to tear him down.
A: Three home runs do wonders for team spirit.
Q, from Gale in Columbus: Why doesn't Jim Bowden use Sean Casey as trade bait so that the bullpen (the obvious strength of the team) can stay together?
I would rather have Gabe White and Scott Sullivan to use as a bridge to get to the ninth and Scott Williamson. The starting pitching, with the exception of Ryan Dempster, will be lucky to get in six innings a game.
The team could platoon Wily Mo Pena and Russell Branyan at first and save $4 million in the process. If Pena doesn't hit, put Reggie Taylor in left and move (Adam) Dunn to first.
Casey is a weakness in the lineup as an average singles/doubles hitter with no speed at one of the power positions. His average plummets each year as teams figure out that pitching Sean up and in exposes a huge hole in his swing. With Casey gone, the Reds could make a bigger splash in free agency next year, looking for real starting pitching. This probably will not happen because it makes too much sense. The Reds make too many front office decisions based upon emotion, i.e. Sean Casey's popularity.
A: Casey's trade value isn't very high because he's coming off an injury and makes $5.6 million. When last healthy, he hit .310 and drove in 89 runs.
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