There's been a flurry of roster moves precipitated by injury and ineptitude.
The Reds demoted Brian Reith before Wednesday night's game versus the Atlanta Braves, and brought up Joey Hamilton.
Reith deserved far better. He'd pitched well since being brought up by the Reds on April 20th. Reith's numbers:
Considering the awful state of Reds pitching, those aren't bad numbers at all. But Reith, having options (which is as good as a death sentence in Cincinnati), was sent down to AAA. And for what?
The same Joey Hamilton with these earned run average numbers the last two years:
Hamilton is a spectacularly bad pitcher, and proved it Wednesday night, where he was quickly called on to clean up the mess Jeff Austin had made. Hamilton pitched 5 and 2/3 innings, giving up a mere 9 runs, on 12 hits.
And that brings us to Austin. I wasn't against Austin being called up on April 20th, and given the opportunity to start. He'd pitched well at AAA, and seemed worthy of a shot. Austin is a former number one draft pick (albeit of the Kansas City Royals) in 1998, and seems like he might have a future, despite many setbacks through the years.
And he pitched pretty well his first four starts.
But in his fourth start, Bob Boone let him go seven innings, racking up 122 pitches.
Now I don't know how much correlation there is between such a high pitch count and what came after, but it's funny how you can so often point to an extremely high pitch count outing before many pitcher's breakdowns.
Austin's next start was a 3 and 1/3 inning outing, giving up 5 runs, and walking six.
Fine, perhaps a bump in the road, and I don't have a problem with the Reds sending him out again.
The next start, Austin failed to get a single batter out, giving up five runs and walking four.
Now it's not often that a pitcher starts a game, and fails to get an out without getting injured. It just doesn't happen very often. That start against the Florida Marlins should have gotten Austin demoted, as he'd clearly gone way off track.
But the Reds, in their infinite wisdom, let Austin take the hill on Wednesday night, against the top offense in the NL, the Atlanta Braves.
Was it any surprise what happened?
Austin gave up 5 runs, walking four, while only managing to get out two hitters.
Austin seems like a great guy, and had this to say after his terrible outing:
"Oh, my goodness, this team is definitely better without me on it right now," he said.
"I'm still proud to have been, or still am, whatever you want to call it, a Cincinnati Red. I love this ballclub, I really do. That's something very honestly said, which makes it all the more difficult the way I've played the last two starts."
Jefff, you deserved better. The Reds should have been handling you with kid gloves, instead of letting you take the beating that you took.
All the signs were there that Austin needed more work at AAA, and there's no shame in that. But Cincinnati has to wait until the point is painfully clear to make a move. We saw this earlier in the year with Jimmy "Orca" Anderson, and Josias "I enjoy hitting myself in the nuts" Manzanillo.
Jim Bowden and Bob Boone need to head down to their local baseball academy and enroll in Roster Management 101, because these guys haven't got a clue right now.
Making matters worse, the Reds had to recall Ranier Olmedo, who they just sent down on Tuesday to make room for Jimmy Haynes, because Ryan Freel injured his hamstring and is expected to miss the next month - month and a half. Freel hadn't played spectacular baseball, putting up the pretty pedestrian line of .268/.348/.293, but he hustled like crazy, and was fun to watch. You could tell he enjoyed being where he was, and wanted to stay with the big club, no matter what it took. The Reds need everyone to be as focused as Freel, and its a shame he's been injured.
Along with Olmedo, Russell Branyan is expected to join the club in Florida, where the Reds open a three game set Friday night.
The Reds are on pace to score 808 runs this year, which isn't a bad total. Anything over 800 is pretty solid from a Major League club over a 162 game season.
But the Reds pitchers are on pace to allow 1022 runs. That would make this year's pitching staff one of the worst in history. And if the Reds allow that many runs, there's little chance they'll win more than 70 - 75 games, and that's being generous.
If the Reds don't acquire pitching soon, and in decent quantity, it's going to be a long summer.