By Andy Behrens
May 11, 2007
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Good evening, and welcome to the Jerry Narron Fantasy Baseball Theater of Pain!
We're really thrilled to have you here. Please take your seat. Looks like you'll be in the second row for today's perform … wait, no. Jerry's changed his mind. You'll be sitting in the sixth row. So please, take your seat and we'll get start …
Oh, no, sorry. Jerry's playing the match-ups today, and he'd like you back in row two, next to the … wait, no, scratch that. You're sitting in the fifth row, on the aisle. So please, if you'll just take your seat we'll be able to get start … wait, no. Jerry doesn't want you on the aisle. Or in the fifth row. You're moving up to row four, and you're sitting in the middle. That's a big opportunity, kid. Don't blow it. Hustle up! And please, no flash photography during today's performance, and turn off those cellular …
Oh, sorry, sport. Jerry thinks you're loafing. Theater patrons are expected to take their seats with a sense of urgency. If you don't hustle here at the Jerry Narron Fantasy Baseball Theater of Pain, you can't participate in the show. That's just how it goes. We're sending you to a small theater in Louisville where maybe, if you work hard, you can …
Whoops. Well, it seems that our box office manager just traded you to the Jim Bowden Ranch for Wayward Reds. We're getting Gary Majewski in return, so that should make everything better. Thanks for stopping by, though. It's really been great having you.
Um … can you tell that I've owned a few Cincinnati players over the past two seasons? It's a disturbing experience. The questions are without end.
Who's leading off? Brandon Phillips? Scott Hatteberg? Ryan Freel?
Where will Adam Dunn hit? Second? Clean-up? Sixth?
How's Ken Griffey's lupus or his eczema or whatever the heck it is?
Who's closing? Who's setting up?
Rich Aurilia isn't coming back, is he?
Saying that fantasy owners are annoyed by Jerry Narron is like saying that migratory shore birds are annoyed by oil spills. Narron might be a really nice guy, a fine motivator, and an excellent tactical manager, but I don't really care about those things. In the fantasy community, he's a walking plague. You never really know where your Reds are going to bat or what position they'll play. Or if they'll play. If you own any Cincinnati starting pitcher, you're not sure if it's Todd Coffey you should dislike or the manager who keeps giving him the ball in high-leverage innings. Or, arguably, the general manager who constructed the Reds bullpen.
Anyway, today we're devoting the column to the Cincinnati Reds and their manager. I invite you to use the feedback link to share some of your favorite fantasy-related Narron anecdotes. We'll devote most of a future column to him, too, so your voice will be heard.
It's not the Edwin Encarnacion demotion that inspired this exercise, by the way. That's really not a surprise. If you're a 24-year-old hitting .218/.301/.287, you can't afford many multi-error games. I didn't actually make a significant fantasy investment in Edwin this year. Last year, yes. This year, no. Moving Encarnacion to Triple-A will just give Ryan Freel more opportunities to hurt himself.
No, strike that. I meant to write "Moving Encarnacion to Triple-A will just give Ryan Freel more playing time."
The thing that irks me today is a comment that Narron made to reporters while discussing the Eric Milton elbow injury. Obviously it's not Milton we're concerned with here. He's really not someone you should've owned. But his potential replacements in the Cincinnati rotation are of interest – particularly Homer Bailey. The hard-throwing right-hander is, of course, one of the top pitching prospects in baseball. He also happens to be available in the Yahoo! player pool already (1.2 percent owned), for those of you in keeper leagues or those with very deep benches.
Narron was discussing candidates to take Milton's Sunday start against the Dodgers, and this is what he said: "It'll be somebody out of Triple-A. (Bobby) Livingston or (Phil) Dumatrait – those two guys have pitched the best. I'm not saying Homer is definitely out of it. We're going to keep him down there for a few more starts at least. Hopefully, he continues to progress. I wouldn't get my hopes up on Homer."
Too late, Jerry. The hopes are up.
I'm not saying Bailey is ready to dominate Major League hitters. In fact, I doubt he is. His K/BB is 21/15, which doesn't really compare favorably to other aces in the high minors, like Nashville's Yovani Gallardo (51/11) or Rochester's Kevin Slowey (38/2). But Bailey has been almost inarguably the best starter in Louisville. He has the best ERA of any starter (1.83) and the lowest WHIP (1.02). He's only allowed 20 hits in 34.1 innings, and he's posted a 3-1 record.
Livingston and Dumatrait are both left-handed, which is clearly important to Narron and/or his general manager. So fine. Neither pitcher is worth your waiver priority, though. Livingston is 0-3, but he's struck out 33 hitters and walked only four. Dumatrait is 5-1, but he's walked 18 and struck out 25 in 40.2 innings.
And Bailey "continues to progress." Sigh. Jerry Narron, you are deeply cruel.
Andy Behrens has written for ESPN.com, the Chicago Sports Review, NBA.com, the Chicago Reader and various other publications. In all likelihood, Andy owns more Artis Gilmore memorabilia than you. Follow him on Twitter. Send Andy a question or comment for potential use in a future column or webcast.
Updated on Friday, May 11, 2007 3:23 pm, EDT
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