Crossroads

added 5/20/2002 by Raymond Desadier
There comes a time when, from no fault of your own, you have to move on. In the classic film Shane, Alan Ladd knew when it was his time, and he climbed on his horse and rode on. Today there is another Shane approaching a similar crossroads.

Shane Reynolds has been in the Astros organization since June of 1989. It is the only major league organization he has been affiliated with. He was part of four division champions, the fourth of which was clinched with his 100th career win.

During his tenure with the organization, several high caliber pitchers have come and gone and through it all, Shane remains. However, as Shane approaches the backside of thirty and a decade of Major League service time, one must wonder if his time to move on has come. This move may not necessarily mean retirement, and I would hate for it to mean him wearing a cap void of a star, but what it may lead to is a spot beyond the right center field fence. Yes, the Bullpen. With Billy and Ducky and the Boys.

Let’s face it, the future of the Astros’ rotation is Roy Oswalt, Wade Miller, Carlos Hernandez and Tim Redding. With their ability, and with Shane’s injuries seemingly affecting him, that leaves only a fifth spot available. An established veteran like Reynolds carries too high a price tag for a fifth starter, especially with prospects like Rodrigo Rosario and Jeriome Robertson knocking on the door.

The Astros brass soon has to make a decision as to who will be replaced when Wade Miller returns from the disabled list. One likely candidate is Dave Mlicki, who will only be around until the end of this season. What happens when this situation happens again with Rosario, Robertson or some other young phenom?

Shane Reynolds is the epitome of the Astros organization – a loyal, hard working good ole boy. Only two current players have been with the team longer (Craig Biggio, Jeff Bagwell). One would hate to see such a relationship end on a bad note like many long time Astros before him (Nolan Ryan, Jose Cruz, Alan Ashby).

Unless Shane were to do the unthinkable, taking a pay cut so huge that the God-forsaken Players Union would disown him, his career as an Astros starter will not last beyond next season, should it even reach that far (the team has an option for 2003). This leaves only one alternative – middle relief. And why not? Shane is a smart and durable pitcher. He has everything it takes to fill such a role and with good middle relievers so hard to come by he would be playing as big as if not bigger role as a starter.

It pains me to think of Shane as that wounded gunfighter riding off into the sunset. I only hope he does the noble thing, and maybe the time has come for such nobility.

Handling Pitchers

Much has been said of the quick hook of Jimy Williams, and I tend to agree with most every word. However, one positive aspect of Williams' handling of the bullpen has been overlooked. In Larry Dierker's regime, he was known for not only letting starters work out their problems but relievers as well. If a reliever had a bad outing, 2 to 3 games later he was thrust back into a pressure situation, much to the chagrin of the Astros' faithful.

Williams has done the contrary - pitchers who pitch poorly have been limited to low risk roles. For example, T.J. Mathews was an absolute joke during spring training. His first few appearances were in games where if his struggles continued, they would not cost the game. It was not until he proved he had worked out his problems that he got a chance at a pressure situation. The same strategy was used with Nelson Cruz who is currently working on borrowed time.

So, contrary to popular belief, Jimy Williams is not doing everything wrong.

rjdesadier@hotmail.com

Send this story to a friend