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Chat transcript: Marty Brennaman

Marty Brennaman (Mar 29, 2005 11:56:33 AM)

I really enjoy visiting with Reds and baseball fans in general. This is about as good a way of doing it as I can think of. Fire away!

milton05 (Mar 29, 2005 11:59:08 AM)

Marty, what do you think the veteran presence of Randa and Aurilia will contribute to the infield?

Marty Brennaman (Mar 29, 2005 11:59:08 AM)

I think they will contribute tremendously for a couple reasons: One, I think both these guys can still play. At 33 years old, there's no doubt Aurilia can come back and have a good year. Randa, he has the kind of steady game that no one has seen here in a few years. I think he'll hit .280 or better, probably hit 15 home runs, and be good for around 75 RBI. But on top of all that, both of them are quality people; when you're together for seven months, it is really important to have quality people on your ballclub, and these two guys are quality people.

REDSALLTHEWAY (Mar 29, 2005 12:00:30 PM)

Hey Marty, who do you feel will be the Reds toughest competion in their division?

Marty Brennaman (Mar 29, 2005 12:00:30 PM)

There's no question, it's going to be St. Louis. Having said that, I don't know that they're as good as they were last year. But I still maintain that when you look at the challengers for the division championship, those two teams -- Cubs and Astros -- there's no question they have more questions now than they did last year.

KSkee (Mar 29, 2005 12:02:14 PM)

Mr. Brennaman...What is the possibility of Wily Mo or Kearns being gone by the All-Star break?

Marty Brennaman (Mar 29, 2005 12:02:14 PM)

If I had to pick one of the two, I would have to say Wily Mo. I know publicly that Dan O'Brien has maintained he will not be traded. I can't imagine that Kearns would be traded unless this team was hopelessly out of the division race going into the end of July, and they could get something for one of these guys that would be beneficial to the team. But I think IF that were the case, it would be more likely that Pena would be traded than Kearns.

Ace (Mar 29, 2005 12:03:42 PM)

Marty, Were you surprised at the players that got sent down and released?

Marty Brennaman (Mar 29, 2005 12:03:42 PM)

No. I guess the one player that evoked the most comment when the Reds sent him down was Rob Stratton. But I can understand their thinking in the sense that they want him to go to Louisville and get four at-bats a day and stay sharp. If they call him up, he'll be ready and be on top of his game. But he's the only one I can think of that really surprised people.

BigLefty (Mar 29, 2005 12:05:00 PM)

Mr. Brennaman, how impressed have you been with the two new starters Milton and Ortiz?

Marty Brennaman (Mar 29, 2005 12:05:00 PM)

I've been impressed with Milton; I've seen very little of Ortiz because he's been hurt. I think both of these guys will be major improvements over what we looked at for most of last year. Milton gave up two home runs to Pat Burrell the other day, but other than that he pitched well. So I've been impressed with both these guys and I think they'll be a big improvement.

redsfan2 (Mar 29, 2005 12:06:25 PM)

Mr. Brennaman... Do you think the Reds are flying under the radar this year? I saw Sporting News rank each team and the Reds were 24th overall.

Marty Brennaman (Mar 29, 2005 12:06:25 PM)

I think so. For the life of me, I can't understand why. I think any person with any knowledge of this game at all would look at the additions this team has made -- the improvement in the rotation, the bullpen and on the left side of the infield -- and I can't believe that there are only six teams in Major League Baseball that are worse than the Reds are. That just doesn't make any sense at all to me.

Toledo (Mar 29, 2005 12:08:31 PM)

Marty - what would you say is the single biggest surprise during this spring training. By the way - Congrats on becoming a Grandpa again - Glad the Brennaman name lives on.

Marty Brennaman (Mar 29, 2005 12:08:31 PM)

Thanks for the grandpa mention (that's huge for me, especially since the name will now continue)! I don't think I've seen anything that's been a major surprise to me. I think some of the young pitchers -- Matt Belisle, Todd Coffey -- aside from what happened against the Twins yesterday, I've been impressed. Belisle has improved his velocity and he has better control. That means this team will have some depth in their pitching. Aside from that, I can't really think that there's been anything that I've been overly surprised at.

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johnny shuffle (Mar 29, 2005 12:09:54 PM)

Do you believe that Junior will miss every 4 or 5 games to rest his hamstring?

Marty Brennaman (Mar 29, 2005 12:09:54 PM)

That's a tough question. I don't know. I'd be real disappointed if they go into the season with that kind of mindset. Everything I've seen from him this spring has been so encouraging, that if they're going to handle him with kid gloves, it would be very disappointing. I think there has to be a certain measure of protection afforded him, but if he's going to sit every four or five days, I don't think that's a good sign at all.

edog (Mar 29, 2005 12:12:54 PM)

Hello Marty, I keep reading about all the positives coming out of this years camp..veteran signing, pitching, confidence, but was curious, have there been many negatives? if so, what is going to be our toughest to overcome and still contend this year?

Marty Brennaman (Mar 29, 2005 12:12:54 PM)

Two things concern me: One, the defense. I don't think this club is real strong up the middle, with all due respect to Jason LaRue and D'Angelo Jimenez and Rich Aurilia, guys that don't have a lot of range; and then with Griffey, he's obviously on the downside of his career in terms of the ground he can cover in center. But another thing that concerns me is that so little was done to improve the bench. Wily Mo is capable of breaking open a game in the eighth inning, but he's also capable of striking out. I'm concerned that they didn't pay more attention to the bench. Keith Hernandez once told me, "You cannot win a division in this game without a good bench," and I believe him. So I'm concerned about the defense and the productivity from the bench.

Guest (Mar 29, 2005 12:14:07 PM)

What is going to be the X-Factor for the Reds this season that most people don't know about?

Marty Brennaman (Mar 29, 2005 12:14:07 PM)

If I had to guess, I would say the bullpen. Most people would readily agree that at least on paper, with the additions of Mercker, Weber and Weathers, it's an improved bullpen. But they HAD to improve, because that was about as bad a bullpen as I've ever seen last year.

TJ (Mar 29, 2005 12:15:36 PM)

Marty, do you think Acevado will be cut from the roster?

Marty Brennaman (Mar 29, 2005 12:15:36 PM)

If I were a betting man, I would say yes. He's a guy who has options, and if you have options in this day and time. Now, the key is if a guy is out of options or if he has options. I'll never get over understanding that. In Acevedo's case, he has options. Generally speaking, he has not pitched well at all, so I would think that he's going to open the season in Louisville.

bata (Mar 29, 2005 12:17:18 PM)

In your opinion is D'Angelo Jiminez the right person to start at 2nd?

Marty Brennaman (Mar 29, 2005 12:17:18 PM)

I think Ryan Freel hurt himself by getting hurt. That really took some pressure off this club, because up until he went down, he was clearly the guy who was best suited to start at second base. I've said before, this is a better team when Ryan Freel is playing second base and leading off. That in no way is a negative reflection on D'Angelo Jimenez, but Freel is the one guy who will give you the potential of stealing 40 or more bases IF he's in the lineup on a regular basis.

KSkee (Mar 29, 2005 12:19:05 PM)

MB, can you comment on the Barry Larkin situation? Why wasn't he at least offered a position somewhere in the organization?

Marty Brennaman (Mar 29, 2005 12:19:05 PM)

The main reason was that Barry insisted he was going to play. He compounded his situation here by not expressing to Dave Miley or Dan O'Brien or anybody in the baseball operation, that he would be willing to come back as a utility infielder. I think that was the reason why they didn't bring him back as a player. As far as bringing him back in another capacity, I can't speak to that. He really made it easy for this team to let him go.

Guest (Mar 29, 2005 12:21:14 PM)

Marty: Do you think anyone will hit more than 45 HR this year in baseball in light of the recent steroid controversey? And will your Tar Heels win it all?

Marty Brennaman (Mar 29, 2005 12:21:14 PM)

Answer to the first question: Adam Dunn hit 46 homers last year and didn't put one speck of steroids in his system, so yeah, I think it will happen. I think we're going to see an evolution in light of this controversy. I think you'll see teams go back to putting more emphasis on the speed game. As far as my Tar Heels, I'd have to say it's going to be tough. From what I've seen Illinois is the best team, but North Carolina has the most talent.

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Guest (Mar 29, 2005 12:22:45 PM)

How about Dave Miley; I know you like hima and so do I, but will we see better fundamentals this season, bunting the man over and driving in runs with less than 2 outs?

Marty Brennaman (Mar 29, 2005 12:22:45 PM)

We'd better. I think this club was woefully deficient last year in terms of playing fundamental baseball, and they've certainly worked on it all spring. But as I said earlier, the additions of Aurilia and Randa will certainly enhance their chances of doing that. If this team has any aspirations of having a banner year, then it has to be more fundamentally sound than the one we saw last year.

griffeyfaninky (Mar 29, 2005 12:24:22 PM)

Do you think griffey is still among the top 10-15 players in the national league?

Marty Brennaman (Mar 29, 2005 12:24:22 PM)

Maybe the top 15, I don't know about the top 10. That's a by-product of all the injuries he's suffered over the past few years. The better question would be: Can he get back to that plateau, and from what I've seen from him this spring, there's no question he can. I still believe if he plays 140 games, that he's fully capable of hitting 35 to 40 homers and re-establishing himself as one of the great players in the game.

Bill (Mar 29, 2005 12:26:31 PM)

Marty, I've been impressed with Dan O'Brien's deliberate style at rebuilding this club -- mixing new veterans like Randa, Aurilia and Mercker in with giving some youngsters a fair shot. How would you contrast Dan O'Brien as a GM when compared to our former GM, Jim Bowden?.

Marty Brennaman (Mar 29, 2005 12:26:31 PM)

You're asking the wrong person. I have a real hard time being objective when it comes to Jim Bowden, because I was never a Jim Bowden fan; he's too flamboyant for me, too showy for me. Dan O'Brien conducts himself in a more GM-type way, if you know what I mean. I liken him to Bob Howsam in that Bob never used the media to conduct what he was doing behind the scenes. So comparing Dan O'Brien to Jim Bowden to me is like night and day.

Zeek01 (Mar 29, 2005 12:28:45 PM)

I think Bobby Estalella is great. He hits a ton and he throws runners out. What do you think his chances are of making the team? We know that Jason LaRue is the main catcher but what about Javier Valentine? Are they going to keep Valentine just because he can play 1st as well as catcher?

Marty Brennaman (Mar 29, 2005 12:28:45 PM)

I think Valentin is definitely on the ballclub. Part of that is he's a switch-hitter and the best side for him is as a lefthanded hitter. Does Bobby Estalella deserve to be on the club? You cannot ask a person to do any more than Bobby Estalella has done in this camp. If you're going to base it on performance, right now it would appear to be between Jacob Cruz and Bobby Estalella. Cruz has the advantage of having been here last year, but he's going to strike out a lot. Who know how this will manifest itself once the season begin. If I were making the decisions, I'd have to give the nod to Bobby Estalella.

redskinalum02 (Mar 29, 2005 12:31:51 PM)

Marty, yet another Adam Dunn strikes out too much question. I have read countless articles discussing how he's changing his approach somewhat and not letting himself get to two strikes, but just the other night you commented that he continues to take too many close pitches. I know changing his approach will take some time (right, wrong or indifferent), but have you noticed any improvement over the course of the spring?

Marty Brennaman (Mar 29, 2005 12:31:51 PM)

Yes, I have. I think his first 26 at-bats he had struck out only three times, and the strikeouts have been more numerous since then. I know he's working hard to make better contact. Adam Dunn, even though he struck out 195 times last year, he walked over 100 times last year, so he has a great eye. I'm thrilled to death that he walks that much, but he's not paid to do that. The most shocking stat of my 31-year career was last year, in 568 at-bats, he did not have one sacrifice fly. If he cut his strikeouts down by 40 or 50, he could probably challenge 60 home runs, that's how talented he is.

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GeorgeNYC (Mar 29, 2005 12:33:20 PM)

Do Danny Graves comments in the press ever bother you? They do me. I find he's too easygoing. Saying that the Reds are a good team to play for "because losing is not the end of the world," doesn't strike me right.

Marty Brennaman (Mar 29, 2005 12:33:20 PM)

If he said that, that statement would bother me. I hope that it would bother everybody else on the club. I would be disappointed in any player who could nonchalantly walk away from losses like that. I can't really address that, because I haven't seen him make that statement. But if he did, it would disappoint the heck out of me.

moderator (Mar 29, 2005 12:33:49 PM)

Please remember this is a moderated forum and only questions answered by Marty Brennaman will appear to everyone. We apologize if your question is not answered, but we are trying to get to as many as possible among the numerous submissions

Bill (Mar 29, 2005 12:34:59 PM)

Has any other club in the NL Central improved as much as the Reds -- and who do you feel will be the greatest threat to the Reds?

Marty Brennaman (Mar 29, 2005 12:34:59 PM)

On paper -- and that's the key phrase -- I don't think any team has improved itself as much as the Reds have. They needed starting pitching, they went out and got two; they needed to shore up the left side of the infield, they've done that. Again, though, the Cardinals are the team to beat in the Central Division.

Guest (Mar 29, 2005 12:38:15 PM)

Hi Marty, Reds fan in upstate NY . How do you see the last two spots in rotation and will this rotation hold up to give us a legit shot at winning division

Marty Brennaman (Mar 29, 2005 12:38:15 PM)

The last two spots, obviously Harang is the fourth starter. The fifth spot, as we speak today, I would say without any doubt it's going to be Brandon Claussen, to begin with. They're not going to need a fifth starter until April 19, and I would think Claussen is going to pitch that game. He does have a better chance of being successful as a starter now than as a reliever. Now when Hudson comes back and Claussen is pitching well, then they've got a decision to make. Now, is this rotation good enough to contend? I don't know. I would say the Cardinals certainly have a better rotation. But 1999 made a believer out of me that I never say never. I think the goal of any team is to be reasonably close in September. Once you get to that point, crazy things seem to happen. I think that should be the goal of this club: Stay close until the last month of the season, then take your chances.

Guest (Mar 29, 2005 12:39:39 PM)

How do you think Hancock will be utilized this year, I thought he showed flashes last year, especially in his last start at Wrigley. Thanks!

Marty Brennaman (Mar 29, 2005 12:39:39 PM)

I really like Josh Hancock. He's a guy who's not blessed with the greatest stuff in the world, but he's got great competitiveness. He throws strikes, and he has the ability to pitch in relief and he can start. I think he'll be what they call in this game a "swing man." He'll be a sixth starter when they need someone to step in, and he'll be able to pitch some long relief as well. I really like the way he goes about his business.

freddy (Mar 29, 2005 12:41:33 PM)

What is your reaction to Sean Casey not being named captain?

Marty Brennaman (Mar 29, 2005 12:41:33 PM)

I was a little surprised. I know Dan O'Brien wants to do it with a committee of players, and that's fine. I always question the importance of having a captain anyway. I don't know that when you have people like Sean Casey, who will be the leader of this team whether he carries the tag or not, the fact of the matter is, he's the guy. He's vocal, extremely outgoing on the field and in the clubhouse. He's constantly pepping players up, talking up this team and its ability to win. So whether he carries the title of captain or not, to me, he's still the guy.

RedsFanatic57 (Mar 29, 2005 12:43:15 PM)

Is it just me or does it seem that Dave Miley leaves the starters in a bit too long. By the time he takes them out... we lost

Marty Brennaman (Mar 29, 2005 12:43:15 PM)

I think people have to understand, that if they level that charge against him last season, he did it because he was not confident in his bullpen. I think Dave was confronted a number of times with that situation last year. I think this year you'll see he's more ready to deal with that, in light of the improvements that have been made in the bullpen.

tommy (Mar 29, 2005 12:45:25 PM)

Marty do you think that Ryan Freel will eventually take the second base job away from Jiminez?

Marty Brennaman (Mar 29, 2005 12:45:25 PM)

I think it's very possible. Again, like it or not, people have to understand that when you invest $2.8 million or whatever they signed Jimenez for, there is going to be a reluctance to sit that guy on the bench, whether it's justified or not. Now that they have Jimenez under a contract approaching $3 million, you're going to want that guy to play. It's human nature want to justify your investment and not admit that you may have made a mistake by giving someone who's not as good at a particular position, all that money.

Guest (Mar 29, 2005 12:46:28 PM)

Marty, Can we get an Opening Day prediction?

Marty Brennaman (Mar 29, 2005 12:46:28 PM)

I don't make predictions like that. The ideal situation would be for the Reds to win. You know it's going to be a full house, it's the most special day of the year in Cincinnati, but as far as making a prediction on the outcome of the game, your prediction's as good as mine.

Guest (Mar 29, 2005 12:47:32 PM)

If you were to make a prediction this year for the Reds what will their record be at the end of the year?

Marty Brennaman (Mar 29, 2005 12:47:32 PM)

Can't do that either. I don't get into predictions as to wins and losses. I know John Fay wrote in the Enquirer that the Reds could win 85 games this year. If that prediction comes true, that would be a good year for this team.

Guest (Mar 29, 2005 12:48:20 PM)

Will Steve, Joe, and you all be in the booth at the same time for any games this year? If so how many?

Marty Brennaman (Mar 29, 2005 12:48:20 PM)

I don't expect that to happen at all. I think there will be a two-man broadcast crew for every game.

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Guest (Mar 29, 2005 12:50:51 PM)

Hi Marty - we've seen Joe take a step back - what's your personal timetable for you and your length of time behind a mic? Also - give us an update on Thom. Thanks for your contribution to the Reds and the fans of Cincinnati baseball.

Marty Brennaman (Mar 29, 2005 12:50:51 PM)

Thank you very much. I don't really have a timetable. Knock on wood, I'm still healthy and I still love what I do for a living and being a part of this organization. I'm in the first of a three-year contract, and I could definitely see signing another contract. But if the day ever came where I'd like to do just home games, I'd like to think they'd be willing to do that. If that's the case, I could see doing this for a long time to come. Jack Buck did that in St. Louis; Vin Scully doesn't travel east of the Rockies. In Thom's case, Thom's doing very well as the lead announcer of the Diamondbacks, and he's celebrating the birth of his son on Easter Sunday.

Guest (Mar 29, 2005 12:52:23 PM)

Baseball prospectus claim the GABP is a severe pitchers park. If that is true, where did the popular idea that it is a run scoring magnet come from?

Marty Brennaman (Mar 29, 2005 12:52:23 PM)

If they have stats to support that, then I'm surprised. I think that ballpark is about as fair a park as there is in baseball. If they had numbers to refute that, then obviously I'm wrong. Having worked there for a couple years, I haven't heard hitters complain that it's a pitcher's park, or vice versa. Philadelphia, that's the ultimate home run ballpark in baseball maybe. But I think our park is very fair.

faulk28 (Mar 29, 2005 12:54:13 PM)

The Reds had a rotation with four outfielders in the past and it didn't seem to work...Will the Reds be able to pull that off this season? Or are they counting on another on another major injury?

Marty Brennaman (Mar 29, 2005 12:54:13 PM)

I've said all winter that I don't think it can work. I can understand how they feel with all the injuries that Junior's had the last couple years and Kearns. Your fourth outfielder is normally a guy that's happy to play once every two or three weeks. That's not the case here. I think that's something of negative. I think Dan O'Brien would say he's being something of a realist about it, and he may be right. But I just don't think it's something that's going to work.

wyatt (Mar 29, 2005 12:56:49 PM)

Injuries, without a doubt, are an unpredictable part of the game. But throughout the spring, have you seen any changes that you think might play a part in keeping this club healthier this year?

Marty Brennaman (Mar 29, 2005 12:56:49 PM)

I think keeping a club healthy is a roll of the dice. For a team to get through a year without any debilitating injury, is a very lucky team. The one thing you can't take away is the competitiveness of players. I'll take Junior as an example, when he goes into the alley, his instincts are to dive for the ball. You can't take that away from a player, and if that creates an injury, so be it. I don't know, medically, that there's anything you can do to prevent injuries altogether. If there's a team that deserves to have a streak of luck go its way, it's sure as heck is this one.

The Mayor (Mar 29, 2005 12:58:42 PM)

Will Eric Milton survive in Great American Ballpark as a flyball pitcher in a hitter friendly park?

Marty Brennaman (Mar 29, 2005 12:58:42 PM)

Again, I think it's a fair ballpark. There's no question that he's a flyball pitcher. He gave up 43 home runs last year, which is a heck of a lot of home runs, but he also won 14 games. I can think in the past, people like Tom Seaver and Robin Roberts; both were guys that gave up a lot of home runs every year. But if you give up a lot of home runs, you've got to cut your losses to make sure that they come with no one on base. If Eric Milton can win 15 games for this ballclub, I can live with him giving up 35 home runs.

difab4 (Mar 29, 2005 1:00:26 PM)

With the plethera of young talent and veteren leadership we have, who do you think has the best chance of having a breakout year or revitalization of a veteran career?

Marty Brennaman (Mar 29, 2005 1:00:26 PM)

Austin Kearns. And Junior. Assuming, of course, that both of them stay healthy. I don't think we've seen Kearns show us the kind of offensive ability that he has. And I think if Junior stays healthy, he's capable, as I said before, of re-establishing himself as one of the best players in the game. If Kearns and Griffey both have outstanding years, it'll be interesting to see where this club is in the standings come the end of the season.

DPowell (Mar 29, 2005 1:01:56 PM)

I'd rather think of it as 5 guys filling 4 positions. With Dunn getting an occasional start at first, Wily Mo filling in wherever somebody needs a day off, and pinchhitting the other days, there will plenty of AB's to go around. Save Miguel Tejada, nobody plays 162 game anymore, let alone 140...

Marty Brennaman (Mar 29, 2005 1:01:56 PM)

You can look at it any way you want. To some extent that's true. Dunn can play first when Casey needs a day off. That's fine, but there will be very few days where Casey takes a day off. But it still goes back to four guys for three outfield spots.

tommy (Mar 29, 2005 1:03:25 PM)

Whose going to be the starter at shortstop Felipe Lopez or Rich Aurilia?

Marty Brennaman (Mar 29, 2005 1:03:25 PM)

As far as I'm concerned, Rich Aurilia. Felipe Lopez still shows you things that can knock your eyes out and lead you to believe that he has a chance to be an outstanding player. But Rich Aurilia will pretty much catch every ball he can get to.

faulk28 (Mar 29, 2005 1:04:51 PM)

If the Reds don't have more success as a pitching staff this season with the additions, will Don Gullett's job be in jeopardy? I think he has done a great job with what he has had, but some people on WLW have mentioned in the past that he has gotten a pass

Marty Brennaman (Mar 29, 2005 1:04:51 PM)

I don't think he's gotten a pass. I think he comes by his reputation justifiably. Now, is there pressure on him as a pitching coach with these additions? I'd say yes. I think this is a better pitching staff, and if it is, he deserves some of the credit and if it isn't he deserves some of the blame.

BigFan (Mar 29, 2005 1:06:19 PM)

I have really enjoyed the play by play this spring. It is going to be a great season. I really liked having Joe sit in a do a few games. It really helps me transition to the new team in the booth.

Marty Brennaman (Mar 29, 2005 1:06:19 PM)

Nobody's more thrilled over the prospects of having Joe do some games than I am. I think Steve and I work well together; I think Steve's loosening up a little more. It's a natural tendency to tighten up a little when you're replacing an icon like Joe. I think your comment is a reflection of the way most people feel.

Guest (Mar 29, 2005 1:08:56 PM)

Marty, from a distance it seems this club is extremely professional in its approach...are they as fundamentally sound and prepared as they'll need to be to compete?

Marty Brennaman (Mar 29, 2005 1:08:56 PM)

Only time will answer that question. I can say this: This is a professional group of guys. As a broadcaster, I'm blessed to be around a group of guys that's as professional and as good a bunch of guys as they are. I think it's important to have good people on your club, and this team has great people. They have people with integrity, people that want to win, and people that get along with each other. But again, if this team is going to enjoy any level of success, they're going to have to be a lot more fundamentally sound than they have been.

moderator (Mar 29, 2005 1:10:31 PM)

Thank you for all your questions and, of course, to Marty Brennaman for taking so much time to answer as many as he could. The transcript of this chat will be made available on Cincinnati.Com.

Marty Brennaman (Mar 29, 2005 1:10:34 PM)

I enjoy this immensely, and I'm sure we'll do this again in the not-too-distant future.


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