The Astros released veteran starting pitcher Shane Reynolds in a turn events that ESPN calls a "Spring Shock". Leonard Malton calls it a "rollercoaster ride-great fun for the whole family." While Ebert and Roeper give it "two thumbs way up!"
But what's so shocking? Reynolds had been slotted as the 'Stros number three starter and Tim Redding and Jeriome "Cheerioios" Robertson had been competing for the final spot in the rotation. Now Reynolds is out and Redding and Robertson are both in the rotation.
Maybe the oddest thing is that the two men that benefit most by Reynolds' departure seem the most broken up by it:
"It was kind of a somber moment," Redding said. "I know Jeriome's thrilled and I'm happy too. But at no time do you think you could see a guy like Shane Reynolds released.
"I kind of have mixed emotions, though. I'm thrilled to have a spot on the team and a spot in the rotation."
"That's a tough loss for us,'' Robertson said. ``That guy has a lot of knowledge about the game, and a young staff like ours needs that. I feel he's a good pitcher, too."
Even Gerry Hunsicker, the man who gave Reynolds his walking papers, seemed
"You had the trade off -- two talented young kids who are unproven at this level versus a veteran that has performed well at this level, but has recently struggled and has now had back surgery in the background," Hunsicker said.
Recent struggles? Reynolds hasn't had a sub-4.00 ERA or an injury-free season since 1999. His strikeouts per nine innings had also dropped precipitously since then. The man is 35 as of yesterday (nice birthday present, eh?) and not only oft-injured but currently injured. The million dollars still owed to him should ease the pain.
So the Astros will start the season with four starters who are either 25 or 26 years old. The old man of the rotation will be Brian Moehler at 31. Redding does not really impress me even with his mid-90s fastball. He seems too inconsistent. Robertson had a very good year last year in the PCL with very good ratios but worked out of the bullpen in 2001 and had some poor seasons prior to that.
Even with the question marks that surround these two, they ought to be better than Reynolds. Besides Peter Munro, Jimmy Barrett, Rodrigo Rosario, and Kirk Saarloos aaree all available for recall at any point from the minors. I guess the only issue is the lack of experience in the rotation, but that doesn't seem to be holding the A's back. Besides given Reynolds fragility, the club would probably have to turn to unproven commodities at some point this season.
Rob Neyer characterized the Livan Hernandez trade as "addition by subtraction". I disagreed with him regarding Hernandez, but I think that the phrase applies here. Honor Reynolds with his one "Shane Reynolds Day", fete him, make him V.P., but there really is no room for sentimentality for a club that should be in a dog fight for the Central crown this year.