Graves seeks help after quick release

Published 12:00 am Sunday, May 29, 2005

When the word came to Danny Graves that he had been released, it was so unexpected it was like being hit with his own earned run average.

The release of D'Angelo Jimenez wasn't unexpected. Players on the Cincinnati Reds said the infielder was running in neutral, happy to collect his salary and put up numbers that would rival Olive Oyl's measurements.

But Graves, the Reds career saves leader, tossed aside early in the season? No way!

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Oh sure, so Graves had an ERA of 30.3 over his past five appearances. And so he blew a six-run lead in the ninth inning against St. Louis on May 2, and then last Sunday gave up five runs in the ninth inning during 9-2 loss to Cleveland.

But to get rid of him without anything in return? No wonder Paul Wilson and his 1-5 record and 7.77 ERA rushed to Graves' defense.

Graves compounded his problems first by criticizing the fans for booing him after the disaster against St. Louis. After being removed from last week's game against Cleveland, a fan in the high-priced seats near the dugout gave it to Graves pretty hard and the Reds reliever responded by yelling and flashing a hand gesture that does not proclaim his team to be No. 1.

The Reds are to blame. You see, two years ago they made Graves a starter for the first time in his career and he went 4-15. During the season, Graves said he wore down and his fastball went from 94 miles per hour to just 88.

He's never recovered.

With all the troubles going on in Graves' career, he turned to the one thing that could get him through it all, the Waiver Wire Crisis Hotline.

The reason I know this is because I took a part-time job with the Waiver Wire Hotline and I overheard Graves' conversation with one of our on-line psychologist/short order cooks.

Here are exerts from the conversation:

Graves: I need help. I'm making millions of dollars and I don't have a job.

Hotline: So, just what do you need help with? Spending the money? I can definitely help you with that.

Graves: No, I mean I got fired but I'm still getting paid. You see, I was the bullpen closer for the Cincinnati Reds and they let me go for being ineffective.

Hotline: Oh yeah, I've heard of you. I'm a Cubs fan and we're always rooting for Dave Miley to put you in the game.

Graves: I'd be mad, but I get that a lot. Well, I used to before the Reds let me go.

Hotline: They just let you go with no strings attached?

Graves: Yeah. They asked the Braves for two dozen game balls, but they only wanted to give them one dozen baseballs and a broken batting practice bat.

Hotline: I think the Braves were getting the short end of that deal, too.

Graves: Don't you understand? It's the Reds fault. They made me a starter in 2003 and cost me my arm speed.

Hotline: You mean the Reds paid you millions of dollars to pitch, and then they really expected you to pitch?

Graves: Can you believe it?

Hotline: Do you have any prospects of a new employer?

Graves: One, but I'm not sure about the job. It's in baseball, but it doesn't sound like what I'm looking to do.

Hotline: Who is it with? What is it?

Graves: It's with the San Diego Padres, but they said they need someone to be the new chicken? Is that some kind of special reliever?

Hotline: Ummm, let me call the Braves again.

Jim Walker is sports editor of The Ironton Tribune.