Wednesday, April 28, 2004

Reds e-mail Q&A

click here to e-mail John
Bullpen blowups are the topic of choices for the e-mailers this week.

Q, from John: I know it's attractive to throw Danny Graves, or any reliever for that matter, under the bus as soon as they blow a lead late in a ballgame. But how much longer can Red's fans go into the ninth inning with a lead and just feel sick about who's trying to close the game?

What does Reds management continue to see in Danny Graves? It appears that Ryan Wagner is quickly being groomed for a future closer role, a role he is not anywhere close to fulfilling. But where does this love for Graves come from? What am I and thousands of Reds fans not seeing that management is?

John, this is not an isolated incident. Graves has been blowing leads and saves for five years now, but Gullett and those guys continue to throw him back out there in the ninth. I am to the point that the TV goes off if he comes on in the ninth.

A: Graves is one or two pitches from being the goat most nights. So he is the player fans most often throw under the bus. Let's look at the facts: Graves had converted 10 of 12 save opportunities this year, through Monday's games. Both save Graves blew were one-run saves. His ratio from 2000-2003 when he was the closer was 83 percent. That's not in Eric Gagne's class, but it isn't awful either. But the Reds really don't have a better alternative right now.

Q, from Austin: I'm 10 years old and my question is: Do you think Ken Griffey Jr. will be traded?

A: I think if Griffey's traded it will be near the July deadline. And, if the Reds continue to play well, he won't be traded at all.

Q, from Brandon in St. Petersburg, Fla.: Can you please explain to me why the Reds are putting up with Phil Norton? I understand they want to have a lefthander out of the bullpen, but as ineffective as he has been all season, isn't he hurting the Reds more than helping them? Jesus Sanchez not only had an excellent spring, but is pitching well down in Louisville. Let's bring him up and send Norton down for some more seasoning. Sanchez could also serve as an occasional spot starter if needed. The Reds are having too strong of a start for this guy to blow it for them.

A: Norton is out of options, so he can't be sent down without going through waivers. But, right now, the Reds can't risk running him out there with the game on the line. You're right about Sanchez (2.89 ERA at Louisville). But Mike Matthews has pitched even better - 1.23 ERA, three hits in 7 1/3 innings going into Saturday. He may be the best left-handed option for now.

Q, from Greg in Mason: I'm really happy this year with the way the team has started has a whole. When do you think they'll send Jimmy Haynes down? And who would they bring up?

A: Haynes' contract is guaranteed, so even if he's pitching for Louisville, he's making $2.5 million. If he continues to struggle, the Reds could show the fans a lot by eating the contract and bringing up one of the young arms. Matt Belisle and Brandon Claussen are pitching well at Louisville.

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