Tuesday, June 10, 2003

Who is in charge of the asylum?

Jose Guillen is leading the Reds in hitting and is second in on-base percentage. On Sunday, he had three hits before the game, into the clubhouse wall. You have to love a guy who makes contact.

Guillen is getting his hacks and it's not even time for batting practice. No wonder he's batting .338.

He was in Sunday's lineup, then he wasn't. Manager Bob Boone told him he was playing. Then Boone changed his mind. Which is something Boone knows how to do. Or maybe, as Guillen said, Boone had his mind changed for him.

Guillen said Boone said Reds chief operating officer John Allen said the Sunday lineup should be the same as the Saturday lineup. Got that? In most places, baseball isn't this complicated.

Maybe Allen made that call, maybe he didn't. He said he didn't. He declined to come to the phone Monday. Maybe general manager Jim Bowden made the call. Bowden didn't return a message Monday. Maybe Boone did change his mind, though given Guillen's volatility and insecurity - and Dr. Boone's pride in knowing what makes his players tick - you wonder if the manager would pull Jose's chain that way.

Maybe Guillen was hallucinating.

Probably not.

Believe what you want. Nobody seems to want to take charge in Redsland now. Leadership is a relative term. Who's running things depends on the day. One minute Pete Harnisch is motoring up I-71 from Louisville, to work with Don Gullett, seemingly assured by Bowden of his future employment. The next, he's getting a phone call from player development director Tim Naehring, telling him he's been released. That's a little strange. Also inconsiderate.

But we digress. If Guillen is right, we're dealing with one cynical, manipulative administration here.

A week ago Sunday, Boone sat Junior Griffey, the day after Griffey went 4-for-4 with two home runs. The large walk-up crowd was not pleased, and let the club know about it. Perhaps wanting to avoid a repeat on Sunday, Guillen was taken down for Austin Kearns.

You don't goose the attendance by running out lineups you think the public will pay to see. Hey, let's try Adam Dunn at third tonight. A talk-show caller suggested it. Managing by public opinion is a wonderful way to get fired.

You goose the attendance by winning. If you don't think your manager knows how to win, get someone who does. If people upstairs think they know what's best for the club on the field, perhaps they could band together, pull on some pinstripes and manage by committee.

Who plays and who doesn't is the manager's call. Or ought to be. You swim in dangerous waters when your administrative types start calling the shots on the field, or even if they give that perception. That's part of what has torpedoed the Bengals for years. Players perceived the head coach was working with Mike Brown's hand in his back. That effectively emasculated the coach.

The problem will solve itself if Bowden can trade Guillen, though Jose didn't help himself with the Sunday wall-whacking. (By the way: Guillen wasn't fined. I guess it's open season on clubhouse walls in Redsland now, if you're ticked off.)

Guillen is a polite guy with an angel face, who recently gave a kid in the third row at Great American Ball Park a signed bat, a wristband and two batting gloves. But he needs to curb his baser instincts.

And maybe, so does Reds management.


E-mail pdaugherty@enquirer.com

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