I#039;m so glad my Reds have made playoffs

Published 12:00 am Friday, October 3, 2003

"WHOO-HOO! My Reds have made the playoffs!" reads the caption to a cartoon in the Cincinnati Post the other day.

What, the Reds in the playoffs? Give me a break. The team had 93 losses and failed to fill a brand new, state-of-the-art ballpark this year. They traded away half of their team. The latter observation is the subject matter of the cartoon - the numerous players the Reds have let go in recent years that are on playoff teams this year.

Each team, hold the Minnesota Twins, has at least one former player from the Reds' not-so-distant past. Even the Twins have one who would have been a Red last year, Kenny Rogers, had he not invoked a no-trade clause when the Texas Rangers tried to deal him to Cincinnati in July of last year.

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Let's look at former Reds in the 2003 playoffs.

Atlanta Braves: Kent Mercker, relief pitcher. Mercker was traded to the Braves this August. In 55.1 innings this season, he had a 1.95 ERA.

Boston Red Sox: Scott Williamson, relief pitcher; and Todd Walker, second baseman.

Williamson opened the season as the Reds' closer, registering a club-leading 21 saves. before being traded to the Red Sox in late July. He has struggled with the Sox, though, posting a 6.20 ERA in just 20 innings of work.

Walker, Cincinnati's regular second baseman in 2002, was acquired by Boston last December. He hit .283 this season with 13 home runs and 85 RBI.

Chicago Cubs: Mike Remlinger, relief pitcher; Shawn Estes, starting pitcher.

One of the better set-up men in the majors, Remlinger was 6-5 with a 3.65 ERA in 73 games this season. He last suited up with the Reds in 1998. Estes, nursing a sore shoulder, has been left off the Cubs' roster for the first round of the playoffs, but could be activated should the Cubs advance. He had a brief stay with the Reds as he was on the roster the last few months of the 2002 season.

Florida Marlins: Juan Encarnacion, outfielder, Lenny Harris, infielder; and Jack McKeon, manager.

Encarnacion hit .270 with 19 homers and 94 RBI this year. In his short stay in Cincinnati (83 games in 2002) he hit 16 home runs and had 51 RBI while filling in for the injured Ken Griffey Jr. Harris, Major League Baseball's all-time pinch-hit leader, has played with eight teams over the past 16 years. He had two stints with the Reds, the last ending after the 1998 season.

McKeon, who replaced Jeff Torborg as manager of the Marlins on May 11 of this year, guided the Marlins to a 75-49 record after Torborg got the team off to a 16-22 start.

With the Reds, he was named the National League Manager of the Year in 1999 after guiding Cincinnati to a 96-67 record. The Reds just missed the playoffs that year, losing to the New York Mets in a one-game showdown for the wild card spot.

New York Yankees: Aaron Boone, third baseman; and Gabe White, relief pitcher.

Boone was the Reds' lone All-Star in July and was traded to the Yankees just a few weeks later.

This year, combined, he hit 24 home runs and drove in 96 runs and had a fielding percentage of .957. In 46 games with the Yankees and Reds this year, White was 5-1 with a 4.38 ERA.

Oakland A's: Jose Guillen, outfielder.

When Guillen was traded from the Reds in July, he led the club (and was among the National League Leaders) with a .337 batting average. He was also among the club's leaders in home runs (23) and RBI (63). Though his numbers tapered off when he joined Oakland, he is considered to have one of the strongest throwing arms among MLB outfielders.

San Francisco Giants: Benito Santiago, catcher; Jeffrey Hammonds, outfielder.

After spending the 2000 season as a back-up with the Reds, Santiago resurrected his career with the Giants as their every day catcher.

In 2002, he was named to the All-Star team for the first time since 1992.

Hammonds, who platooned in the Reds outfield during the 1998 and 1999 seasons, had a breakout year as a member of the Colorado Rockies in 2000 when he hit .335 with 20 home runs and 106 RBI and was named to the All-Star team. The Brewers released him in June after two injury plagued seasons in Milwaukee, and he was signed by San Francisco in July.

As you can see, some former Reds are playing important roles for teams in the playoffs this year. While I am happy to see some of my Reds in the October hunt, it sure would be a lot sweeter if they were all together doing it in a Cincinnati uniform.

Shawn Doyle is managing editor of The Ironton Tribune. He can be reached by calling (740) 532-1445, ext 19 or by e-mail (shawn.doyle@irontontribune.com).