The Anti-Greats: Day 3

Name: Kevin Jarvis

Position: SP, RP

Played for the Reds: 1994-1997

Why he's here:  Drafted by the Reds in 1991 in the 21st round, Jarvis advanced through the Reds' minor league system relatively quickly, and by 1994 he was one of Indianapolis's best pitchers, sporting a 10-2 record.  During that season, he got a couple of call-ups to the big leagues and over the next couple years he alternated between the two clubs, due to lackluster performance.  Jarvis, was all too hittable, was prone to gopheritis, and had spotty control.  Other than that, he was pretty good.  His cumulative numbers as a Red, across 230.1 innings: 12-15, 6.21 ERA (68 ERA+), 1.62 WHIP.  In 1997, the Reds finally released Jarvis due to his double-digit ERA.  Fans in ten other cities were able to appreciate Jarvis's skills over the next decade, as his career improbably extended through 2006.  He retired with a lifetime ERA of 6.03

Role on the team: #1 Starting pitcher

Name: Gary Majewski

Position: RP

Played for the Reds: 2006-2008

Why he's here: To this point, the relief pitchers that have been unveiled as part of this "anti-great" team were not really relief pitchers at all, but rather starting pitchers who failed so epically, that the bullpen became a last gasp option to salvage anything positive from the player's tenure.  Not so with Majewski, who has never started a MLB game in his career.  Majewski was acquired by the Reds as part of an eight player trade with the Nationals-an infamous trade in which the Reds appeared to be giving away the best two (if not three) players in the trade.  While the ultimate recap of the trade has yet to be written, the trade appears to have been much ado about nothing, save for the Reds' inability to recoup better value for a pair of players they had apparently given up on, as well as a "buyer beware" reminder with respect to Majewski's balky shoulder and the cortisone shots that were keeping it functional.  Majewski was living off the promise that came with an outstanding 2005 season, although a cursory look at the numbers would have indicated that: a) Majewski struck out very few batters, especially for a relief pitcher; and b) relief pitchers who strike out very few batters tend not to have long-term success, especially in this era.  All that as lead-in to the numbers: over 2.5 seasons, Majewski appeared in 88 games for the Reds, and accumulated 78 innings pitched in doing so.  The W-L record was rather irrelevant (2-6), but the other numbers were not: 7.38 ERA (61 ERA+), 134 hits allowed, and a 2.00 WHIP.  Majewski was granted free agency after the 2008 season.

Role on the team: Right-handed set-up man

 

Name: Eric Milton

Position: SP

Played for the Reds: 2005-2007

Why he's here: Not known for heavy spending in the free agency era, the Reds made a bit of a splash just before the end of the 2004 calendar year by signing Eric Milton to a 3-year deal worth over $25M.  And, splash notwithstanding, it was a move that was generally panned.  Milton was a flyball pitcher without great stuff, signed to a team with a smaller stadium and that wasn't close enough to playoff contention to otherwise justify that kind of money on that kind of pitcher.  As sometimes happens, the critics were wrong: the move was even worse than predicted.  In 2005, Milton led the league in home runs allowed and earned runs allowed.  Unfortunately, he was nowhere near the league lead in innings pitched and, mathematics being the stubborn mule that they are, this meant that his ERA was a lofty 6.47 (66 ERA+).  Watching a Milton-pitched game in 2005 remains the only time in my life I have heckled a ballplayer while using his salary as fodder.  While he wasn't very good in that particular game (5 IP, 5 hits, 5 ER, 1 loss), he would have 18 starts that season that would qualify as worse.  In the unlikely event that the man sitting behind me who admonished me for heckling Milton is reading this little blurb, I would like to say that I have no regrets for my actions on that miserable day, sir.  In the two seasons that followed, Milton made fewer appearances than in 2005 alone.  In the reduced playing time (injury-caused), Milton pitched more or less to his career norms, but obviously the damage was done to his standing as a Cincy immortal.  His cumulative marks with the Reds were 16-27, 5.83 ERA, 73 times whipping his neck around to watch a ball escape the yard.

Role on the team: #3 Starting pitcher, key neutralizer of LH-heavy batting orders

 

Name: Fritz Mollwitz

Position: 1B

Played for the Reds: 1914-1916

Why he's here: In his only full season with the Reds, Fritz Mollwitz was the starting first baseman for the 7th place 1915 team.  That he played poorly should be no surprise given the context of this list: he hit .259/.281/.316 (79 OPS+), which as best as I can tell was over 70 points of OPS worse than the next best regular first baseman in the league that year.  What is surprising is that Mollwitz was given the full-time job after his 1914 stint with the team.  The Reds acquired Mollwitz in July of that year, and in part-time duty, he was breath-takingly bad: 32 games, 118 plate appearances, 18 hits (2 of them for extra bases, 3 walks, 5 RBI.  The rate stats fell out as .162/.198/.180 (11 OPS+).  Granted, this was the era of the Federal League, and perhaps the Redlegs were having difficulty attracting players, or were caught off-guard by the financial developments, or maybe Mollwitz was really charming.  In 1916, Mollwitz regressed from his relatively impressive 1915 performance, and by July the Reds had tired of the lack of production and sold him back to the Cubs.

Role on the team: Backup first baseman

 

Name: Jo-Jo Morrissey

Position: 2B, SS

Played for the Reds: 1932-1933

Why he's here: By now, you may be coming to the realization that the Cincy ballclubs of the early 1930's just weren't very good.  Morrissey was called up as a 28 year old rookie after proving himself a pretty decent hitter in the minors.  Plus, with the Leo Durocher experiment going poorly, Jo-Jo seemed like a clear upgrade.  As an amply used utility infielder in 1932, and as what amounted to a full time utility infielder the following year, Morrissey posted similar seasons at the plate: below-average batting average combined with few walks and no power.  His defense went from demonstrably solid in 1932 to head-scratchingly mediocre in 1933, as evidenced by his jump in errors (8 to 40).  His combined batting rates for his Cincy career were .234/.268/.274 (53 OPS+).  He hit no home runs (despite hitting over 20 in 1931 for St. Paul of the American Association), and added just seven steals.  He floated back down to the minors after the '33 season, and re-surfaced with the White Sox in 1936 for a brief and bitter cup of coffee.

Role on the team: Starting second baseman

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