Sunday, June 27, 2010

Good Monday morning to you....

I’m having a hard time trying to figure out what a lot of people have against Dusty Baker. You listen to this show, you listen to any of the talk shows in the Greater Cincinnati area and you hear a constant grumbling about his way of managing. Even the support he has around here is tepid at best.

I guess Bob Boone and Jerry Narron are officially off the hook.

And now comes a couple of fresh attacks on his style, one from Baseball Prospectus and another from Sports Illustrated. In each, the writers question exactly how Dusty manages to keep managing. The guy who wrote the SI piece is Joe Sheehan. We’re going to hear from him in a little bit. His contention is that the only thing that made Baker as successful as he was in San Francisco was putting Barry Bonds in the line-up every game. The reason for the article this week was the Reds signing of Gary Matthews, Junior. I’ll admit, I don’t get that move. Matthews appeared to be washed up playing for the Mets this year and the Angels the two years prior to that.

He appeared to be stealing the 22-million he’s made the last two seasons.

Sheehan’s worry, and mine too for that matter, is that signing Matthews could cost at bats for Jay Bruce, or Drew Stubbs or Chris Heisey, a man who needs to be playing everyday somewhere, and not rotting on the bench here.

I’ll give you that Baker stuck way too long with Corey Patterson. He was a latter day Eric Milton. But what other choice did Baker really have? And besides, a general manager spends an owners money on a player, the player should be good enough to play.

I’m not here to carry water for Baker. He’s big enough to do that for himself. But what I’m hearing a lot these days is that the Reds are winning despite Baker. Don’t think that’s true.

I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again: there’ve been two managers this town has embraced and accepted since Sparky Anderson left town: Pete Rose and Lou Piniella. Davey Johnson was the last guy to manage a Reds team to the playoffs. He was run out of town by the owner and the fan base here didn’t produce a whimper about it. Jack McKeon? Too old. Bob Boone? Thought he invented the game. Dave Miley? Minor leaguer. Jerry Narron? Talked like he was an escapee from the cast of Hee Haw.

In a way, Dusty Baker is a lot like the general manager we had around here a few years ago, Dan O’Brien. O’Brien inherited a mess. Under Marge Schott, the Reds minor league system went to hell in a handbag. She let Jim Bowden go out and buy aging veterans, but never saw the need to build a franchise the way you have to do it in a town like Cincinnati, through player development. Carl Lindner kept Bowden. Bowden’s talents at finding and developing young talent had apparently eroded by the time Carl started signing the checks. Look back on any of those drafts that happened while Lindner owned the team, while Bowden and his staff did the selecting and tell me what players have lit it up. O’Brien began the thankless task of rebuilding a system, without enough players at the major league level to compete. Ultimately, it cost him his job,

Baker spent the first couple of years watching his best talent go through growing pains. Jay Bruce and Joey Votto come to mind. Lately Drew Stubbs. That’s what happens when you inherit a team with dead wood and not enough big league talent.

I don’t know if Dusty Baker will get this team into the post season this year. Don’t know if he’ll ever be the kind of manager you want him to be. But I’m not running him out the door, right now. Last I checked, the Reds are in first place.

The comments in this blog may not be reproduced, retransmitted or repurposed in any manner, in whole or in part, without the express written consent of Ken Broo.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Good Monday Morning!

Walt Jocketty is CIA all the way. Stealth. The only one who knows what he’s up to is him. Remember the trade last year for Scott Rolen? Didn’t see that one coming, did we? Aroldis Chapman? Fidel Castro didn’t see that one coming either. So today, as we sit here with your Cincinnati Reds a game and a half out of first place, who knows what the silver fox is up to? Let’s hope he’s up to something. Because, as constructed, this Reds team isn’t good enough to win their division. And worse, the Cardinals haven’t made their big move yet. And you know that’s coming.

Here’s what the Reds don’t have that they need to be considered serious contenders: they need power pitchers in their bullpen. They need a legitimate number one starting pitcher. Mike Leake? Nice story, but the guy has only got so many more miles on him. The way they’re doing the math at Great American Ball Park, he’ll be out of gas by early September, or just in time for what could be a showdown series with the Cardinals in St. Louis. Bronson Arroyo? Historically, he’s a .500 pitcher and there aren’t too may legit number one starting pitchers who’ve been called that. Aaron Harang careens from good to bad like mood swings. Johnny Cueto throws too many pitches and lasts too few innings. Homer Bailey’s return has no arrival date and Sam Lecure, a month ago, was the answer to the question “Who’s That?”

It’s not Jocketty’s fault. But it’s his problem. This franchise stopped developing starting pitching at Scott Scudder. Richie Gardner, Ty Howington, Dustin Mosely, Chris Gruler, Ryan Wagner. The list of first round pitching selections by the Cincinnati Reds from 1999 through 2003 is astoundingly bad. Jim Bowden’s barren field has been left to Dan O’Brien, Wayne Krivsky and Walt Jocketty to sow.

But the man in the chair now has a decision to make. He knows he doesn’t have a pitcher that matches up with Chris Carpenter, or Roy Halladay, or Clayton Kershaw, or Ubaldo Jiminez. Jocketty can find one. He can go to the Mariners and ask about Cliff Lee, or the Royals and ask about Zach Greinke. But it will cost him, in prospects and money. Trading for now, could hurt the future.

Except, there is no future in baseball. Baseball, like every other professional sport is day to day. We hear that 2011 will be the year the Reds will blossom with their prospects ready to help the big league club. But seasons don’t translate. Teams don’t get to pick up where they left off, one season to the next. What guarantees are there for 2011? Will Scott Rolen stay healthy, and as effective as he’s been this season? Will Jonny Gomes hit in 2011 like he’s hitting now? Can anyone say for certain that arm injuries won’t infest the Reds key pitchers?

The 1999 Cincinnati Reds were similar, in a lot of ways to this current club. Bowden went out and traded for Juan Guzman. He went 6-3 and got the Reds to within a whisker of the playoffs. But the Reds paid a price. They gave up BJ Ryan to Baltimore, who turned out to be a very good closer.

In 2006, Wayne Krivsky traded two everyday players to get, at the time, the two best bullpen pitchers available. It turned out to be a lose-lose for both the Reds and Nationals. Austin Kearns and Felipe Lopez were busts in DC. Gary Majewski arrived here hurt. Bill Bray has been nothing but a rumor since the deal.

Now, like Bowden and Krivsky before him, Jocketty must make a calculated decision. He needs to decide if his team is a player or two away from making the playoffs. And then he needs to do something about it, without being completely beholden to the future.

The playoffs don’t come our way very often. That’s why Bowden and Krivsky did what they did. It didn’t work out either time. But you’ve got to try. And you have to start trying now. Play it smart,. But play it quickly.

The contents of this blog may not be reproduced, in whole or in part, or retransmitted in any manner without the express wrtitten consent of Ken Broo

Monday, June 14, 2010

It is game on in college football In the last 48 hours, we’ve seen more upheaval in college football than anything in the last 15 years.

Here’s what’s gone down since Friday morning.

Boise State jumped from the WAC to the Mountain West Conference. Now we’re hearing that the Mountain West, tired and irked at not getting into the BCS automatic bid club, is pursing Kansas, Kansas State and Missouri.

Except hang on, says ESPN’s Joe Schad, the Pac 10 leaders want Utah instead of Kansas…which means the Mountain West may have to add someone else.

Those schools are available because the Big 12 is imploding as we speak. Colorado has jumped to the Pac 10, soon to be Pac 16. Nebraska has booked for the real Big 12 now, running alongside Ohio State and Michigan.

Stand by for more.

The lower tier of the Big 12, the south division, has split from the rest of that conference like the San Andreas fault line. Saturday, the Pac pick your number commissioner, Larry Scott was in Oklahoma and Texas, delivering personal invitations to Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Texas, Texas Tech and Texam A&M to join his conference. He may only get four of those five teams. But late last night the Oklahoma City newspaper reported that Oklahoma gave the Pac 10 a thumbs up.

Because late Saturday, SEC commissioner, Mike Slive was in College Station Texas to talk to that school’s administration about joining his conference. One report last night had the A&M Board Of Regents ready to OK a move to the SEC. But one of the regents, Gene Stallings, the former A&M and Alabama coach says nobody has asked him about voting on a move.

Are you with me so far?

Over at East Carolina, Athletic Director, Terry Holland posted an open letter on the school’s web site to his faithful, detailing the life and death struggle that he believes the Big East Conference finds itself in today.

Interesting that Holland got an urge to write about this, as he’s been salivating all over the Big East, wanting to bring his Pirates the land of Bearcats and Cardinals.

According to the gospel of Terry, the Big East is trying to figure out a way to not only hang onto its eight football playing teams. It’s also trying to add teams who play football.

Oh and Holland adds this: the Big East is holding out hope that Notre Dame will finally join as a football playing member.

Someone needs to get Holland an aspirin

Meantime, at Notre Dame, the body snatcher posing as an athletic director told the Chicago Tribune his school has no interest in joining a conference.

But that opinion will only hold until another super conference or two is formed. Think about it. If we really do get to four 16 team super conferences, the majority of the conference games will be against each other. Who does Notre Dame, as an independent schedule if that happens? Maybe the Irish can make Tulsa, Western Michigan and the military academies yearly opponents. That oughta get NBC to keep forking over $14 million dollar contracts.

All of this affects nothing at UC, not yet. But here’s how it will. If Notre Dame continues to cling to its independent status, the Big 10 will look elsewhere to get to 16 teams. It will need four more. The most likely league to be poached is the Big East. The most likely teams would be Pitt, Rutgers…they want Rutgers for the New York TV market but honestly, the majority of people in the New York area couldn’t give a flying hop about that team…..and Syracuse. If that happens, that would leave the Big East with just five football playing members. Here’s the math: that’s seven teams short of the 12 needed to stage a conference championship game, which appears to be the critera for futre BCS status.

The Big East’s problem is also it’s strength. It’s the best basketball conference on the planet right now. But eight of its league members don’t play football. If you add seven teams to the equation….if you add only two, you’ve got an unwieldy lot of teams for basketball scheduling. Does the Big East, as was suggested in some reports this week, tell schools like Seton Hall, Providence and DePaul to take a hike? Don’t see that happening.

In short, college athletics have been a mess in the last 48 hours. And the domino effect of what the Pac 10 is doing right now will be significant. One of the epicenters of the shake up could be right here, in river city.

Wednesday, June 02, 2010

I'll have some comments on the retirement of Ken Griffey Junior later today. Right now, here's my latest Broo View Podcast. My guests are USA Today's national baseball writer, Bob Nightengale and from, Damon Durante, to talk about the wagering on World Cup Soccer games. You can find this podcast, as well as a nice inventory of past show, on the front page of my web site: You can also download the latest Broo View Podcast here.
Welcome to Wednesday....

Watching the Reds beat the Cardinals last night was watching two heavyweight boxers go the distance. Each side took some heavy punches and each side delivered damage. It was one of those in season classics you get during the course of a 162 season. We haven't had a lot of those around here lately, because the Reds haven't played a lot of games lately that've mattered. Now that they're good again, I think we'll see a few more.

I raised this question this past Sunday on my radio show. I asked my audience on 700 WLW what the Reds should be thinking about, right now, about how to make this team better. I was amazed to hear some callers, emailers and even the great Hal McCoy, Hall Of Fame writer, suggest that the team should stand pat. Now understand, I couched everything I said by saying that no trades or roster adjustments should be made this early in the season. You simply don't trade, or get maximum value on return, until you approach the trade deadline of July 31st. But you have to at least be thinking about what you're going to need to help you get to the playoffs.
You do that for two reasons. One, your competition will be looking at ways to get better and two, you have to know your weaknesses and explore improving them or they'll haunt you for the rest of the pennant run.

Look at any contending team, in any season, and see what it does to get better during the course of a season. Last year, the Yankees won it all. But it didn't stop them from making deadline deals, including one that sent Jerry Hairston, Jr. to New York. In 2006, the Reds got a whiff of what a pennant race is like. The sent Felipe Lopez and Austin Kearns to the Nationals in return for relief pitchers Gary Majewski and Bill Bray. That's a deal that worked out for neither side. But the Reds recognized a weakness and tried to address it.

McCoy had the best rationale for not trying to make a deal. His thought was waiting on current relievers Nick Massett and Daniel Ray Herrera and see if they can pitch their way out of their problems. McCoy, like a lot of us, senses a good chemistry inside the Reds clubhouse and worries that bringing in an 'outsider' through trade may mess-up the chemistry. That's a real possibility. And, there's always the possibility that the answers to the Reds bullpen problems may like in "AAA". Matt Maloney, Jared Burton and maybe even Aroldis Chapman, the $30 million dollar phenom, could contribute out of the Reds bullpen. As early as August, Edinson Volquez could return from his elbow sugery and rehabilitation. He'd be a candidate for the pen, at least in the short term.

But not thinking about your weaknesses and how you would address them come trade deadline is simply irresponsible. My guess is, a veteran general manager like Walt Jocketty has spent a lot of time working this. The hope is, he'll have to.

You can always follow me on twitter:

Quick hits....looking forward to tonight's NHL Stanley Cup game #3. I think the Flyers will feed off the emotion of the home crowd and make this a 2-1 series. By the way, if you have Home Box Office and haven't seen the documentary on the 1970's Broad Street Bullies, you're missing something. I hated those Flyer teams. But they were good, and tough.......

The NBA finals begin Thursday. I love the story the Boston Celtics have been writing. But I think it won't have a happy ending. Lakers in six.......

Tiger won't win the Memorial this weekend. And I don't think he'll ever approach the dominance in golf he once had. He'll win tournaments. He'll win major tournaments. But given his knee problems and his off course behavior, never again.....

I miss Graeter's ice cream, one of things I've had to cut out after my heart attack. But sorbet and sherbert aren't bad at all.....

Glad to see my good pal Andy Furman getting some fill in work wih Fox Sports Radio. I've known Andy for over 30 years, back in the days when he was Sports Information Director for Oral Roberts Univeristy and I was the Sports Director for KOTV in Tulsa. He's one of a kind (which is a good thing) and a very decent person at the core (which is an even better thing).....

I've had emails from dancers and dance instructors who've told me that the training that Chad Ochocinco had for his stint on Dancing With The Stars will make him a better football player. They claim he's had to exercise and use muscles that are different from the ones he uses to catch passes and run on a football field. I'm no muscle expert, so I'll defer to them. But I wonder if Marvin Lewis is buying into that theory. Seems to me, when you play for a team that's been a classic under-achiever and you're the face of that team, you really need to be with that team helping it get better, not off ballroom dancing......

But I'll give Ochocinco this: he's the smartest athlete to come through Cincinnati in a long, long time. He's setting himself up for life after football. And if you believe what Jack Bechta a player agent, my recent guest on Sunday Morning Sportstalk on 700 WLW, told me 75% of all NFL players are broke three to five years after leaving the game. Chad looks like he 'gets' that. So in that case, good for him.....

See you tonight at 6p and 11p on Cincinnati's Channel 5 WLWT. And be sure to check out my web site

This blog may not be reproduced or retransmitted, in whole or in part, without the express written consent of Ken Broo.