I was pretty excited last September when for a few games the Reds moved Brandon Phillips back to SS. It turned out to be a short lived experiment at the time, due to both a hand injury that Phillips was battling and the fact that Cardinals nosedived back to the pack and made the Reds feel like they might have half a shot at making the playoffs still.
I still saw the move as an excellent sign, that the slick fielding middle infielder we picked up early in the season, who seemed to have blossomed offensively, would be able to fill the glaring hole we had at SS, and by all indications, be a well-above-average bat for the position. As we went into the winter there were still hints of talk that Phillips could be moved over to SS for the upcoming 2007 season. That made great sense, since we had Ryan Freel readily available to back fill that spot, and if they decided to go another direction, 2B are cheaper and more readily available. (I won’t bring up Brendan Harris at this juncture, because I don’t wish to rehash “The Trade” here. 🙂 ) Then the Reds made their big off-season free agent signing, inking Alex Gonzalez to play SS for three years for $14M.
Ok, fine, I figure: here comes the big pitching- and defense-minded moves we have been expecting since Wayne Krivsky took over. This could be an alright signing; after all, the guy can pick it at SS, as long as there are some additional moves to complete the defensive shoring-up, add some more good pitching, and at least one bat. Well, here we are in July and the Reds still have Dunn and Encarnacion bumbling around in the field; so much for the changing the face of the team for a defensive-minded lineup. The Reds re-signed Weathers, signed Stanton, and dealt for Saarloos. So much for the new good pitching. The Reds picked up Josh Hamilton and Jeff Conine. We did actually get a bat in Hamilton, and Hatteberg has carried Conine in the 1B platoon.
Given that, I was quite displeased with the Reds lack of direction last off-season, where they pretty much stood pat with a sub .500 club and did next to nothing to lay the foundation of building a winning team. Now here we are, Narron fired, mired at the bottom of a weak division.
Our $4M+ SS is away for a while attending to a serious family situation. Wouldn’t it have been nice to have seen Phillips slide over to SS in his absence? Do they really think Pedro Lopez is a key piece to this team’s future? I’d think a lot more of Pete Mackanin if he would have made Phillips the starting SS, at least until Gonzalez’s return and played some combo of Freel and Keppinger at 2B. It’s really hard to be convinced that they are trying to win when Encarnacion, who should be part of the future, is riding the pine for the likes of Pedro Lopez and Norris Hopper.
It’s time for the Reds to show a sense of direction and make some moves to change the face of this team to show us they intend to build a winner.