Tuesday, June 21, 2005

The axe falls

The Reds fired manager Dave Miley and pitching coach Don Gullett today. I feel bad for Miley, considering he's a likeable guy and spent 20 plus years toiling in the minors before being hired as manager in late 2003. Miley got a lot of credit for the Reds success early last season. That argument has some merit, considering that they played over their heads until the very end of the season. Still, it's not like they were winning with Miley at the helm this season.

I'm happier that Gullett is finally out of town. He's been the pitching coach since 1993, and his departure is long past due. Gullett is well-known for his reclamation projects in Cincinnati. Pete Schourek, Pete Harnisch, Dave Burba and Jimmy Haynes, for example, were scrap-heap waiver pickups who ended up having one or two good seasons under Gullet's tutelage. That would be all well and good if these players were complementary pieces, but for too long, the Reds relied on Gullet's rehabs as the main source of their pitching. Gullett's glaring failure has been his inability to develop homegrown pitchers. Granted, part of the blame for this has to fall on management, who have consistently drafted high school pitchers, only to see them flame out in the minors. Still, it's kind of ridiculous that during the entire Gullett era, only one homegrown pitcher had any kind of success--Brett Tomko, who is the definition of mediocrity.

I'm not sure if Jerry Narron is the long-term solution at manager. He managed the Rangers for 2 seasons and had a winning percentage of .453. Not exactly good. I'm more encouraged that the Reds hired Vern Ruhle as the new pitching coach, because he has served as their minor league pitching coordinator for the past couple of years. This should provide some continuity for pitching prospects as they're called up to the majors later in the year.

These moves won't fix the Reds this year, and probably not for the future either. The franchise is a total mess, thanks to GM Dan O'Brien's ludicrous free agent signings. At this point, the best Reds fans can hope for is the establishment of a new culture with an emphasis on developing young pitching, something that former GM Jim Bowden and Gullett never seemed interested in doing.

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