What do you want to discuss today?

Here’s a suggested topic: raise your hand if you think Jerry Hairston is a legitimate leadoff option for 2009. Or do you think he will return to being Jerry Hairston next year?


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Blame Chad for creating this mess. Chad launched Redleg Nation in February 2005, and has been writing about the Reds ever since. His first book, "The Big 50: The Men and Moments That Made the Cincinnati Reds" is now available in bookstores and online, at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and wherever fine books are sold. You can also find Chad's musings about the Cincinnati Reds in the pages of Cincinnati Magazine. You can email Chad at chaddotson@redlegnation.com.

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46 Responses

  1. Matt Steele

    I think he’ll probably return to being Jerry Hairston in the second half unfortunately. With Griffey gone next year (well hopefully lol, though I do like him), we’ll need a good CF who can play leadoff, looking at potential free agents there’s not a lot there. We also don’t have a lot of good options in the minors.

    Chances are, Ryan Freel will be your starting CF and leadoff hitter for most of 2009.

    If that’s true, then I like this lineup

    Freel CF
    Bruce RF
    Dunn LF
    Phillips 2b
    Votto 1b
    EE 3b
    Kepp SS
    Catcher C
    Pitcher P

    I thought about switching Bruce and Votto around but I don’t know. We need to have Dunn (pending his re-signing with us) higher in the order with his OBP.

  2. Mr. Redlegs

    If he stays healthy, Hairston will be an extremely desired and valuable player since he’s a free agent. And given his mere $500,000 salary this year, also quite a bargain, even if given a multiyear deal. He can find better situations than the Reds.

  3. Phill

    He’s obviously playing above the back of his baseball card. Like any time the Reds catch a little lightning in a jar I’m very cautious. I’d definately like to see him get a shot, he’s earned that much so far(I know this can change by the end of the year). Regaurdless of wether they do or not, whenever I watch a game or hear him talking he just has a great attitude. Like when he jumps up and down trying to get a balk call or getting in the face of Brian McCann.

  4. BC

    When healthy Hairston is a viable option. Problem is, dudes never really healthy. Back issues have plagued him for awhile

  5. Ryan

    As much as I would love to say Hairston (or “The Midget” as my girlfriend likes to call him) is going to be an everyday shortstop and lead off hitter for years to come, I just can’t justify that claim with evidence.

    Career: .259/.328/.365; OPS+ 83
    2008: .343/.388/.479; OPS+ 125

    At 32, he appears to be having a career year. As they say: “the hits just keep on coming!” With a LD% of 31.5% and a BABIP of .389 the slash stats make sense. The LD% and BABIP? Not so much.

    The guy looks at about 3.8 pitches per PA and makes a lot of contact (88% this year, which is in line with his career). Combined with Kepp at the top of the order I’ll ride the hot streak as long as it lasts. But I just don’t see him keeping it up.

    Defensively (at short) his FLD% of .972 would be good for fourth worst in the NL and his Zone Rating of .797 would be second worst (both among those SS with enough innings to qualify).

    I like The Midget, and the Reds do need someone who looks exactly like Chris Kattan, but there’s no way this continues into next year.

    Does he have any trade value?

  6. AnnapolisRed

    He should be an option, but not the only option. He definitely deserves a chance.

  7. alex

    No. He’s 32 and playing way above his career norm. I think he does have some skills–I’ve been impressed with the way he works the count and he almost always gets a quality AB. But, he’s been very lucky. Right now is BAPIP is ~ .392. (That’s my rough calculation.)

    He’d be a good utility guy and I think I’d rather have him on my team than Freel at this point. But, he’s going to expect starter money and starter time.

    Matt, I like that line-up, but I fear it will not be enough. We can’t have a black hole at C, a clean-up hitter with an OBP around .325, and inconsistency, streaky hitters all around. But, it’s a good line-up to start with, just needs a little improving.

  8. John of Muncie

    That lineup above is basically this year’s lower-tier lineup without Griffey. Jocketty needs to make some real moves or next year will be more of the same.

  9. Dan

    The Reds, as a team, are BAD defensively, and have been for a long time.

    Do you think the decision-makers know this and are working on it?

    Defensive efficiency = the % of the time that a ball put in play (by the opponent) is turned into an out, as a team.

    Currently, league average defensive efficiency is approx. .700 (meaning that the opponent bats approx. .300 when putting a ball in play — we’re throwing out BB’s, K’s, and HR’s here).

    2008 – .684 (29th out of 30 teams) – on pace for 77 wins
    2007 – .682 (26th out of 30) – 72 wins
    2006 – .691 (21st out of 30) – 80 wins
    2005 – .683 (28th out of 30) – 73 wins
    2004 – .696 (20th out of 30) – 76 wins
    2003 – .698 (21st out of 30) – 69 wins
    2002 – .700 (19th out of 30) – 78 wins
    2001 – .695 (23rd out of 30) – 66 wins
    2000 – .710 (3rd out of 30!) – 85 wins
    1999 – .731 (1st out of 30!!) – 96 wins

    1990 – .717 (7th out of 26) – 91 wins

    1976 – .714 (14th out of 24) – 102 wins
    1975 – .724 (5th out of 24) – 108 wins

    1972 – .728 (8th out of 24) – 95 wins

    1970 – .722 (10th out of 24) – 102 wins

    Run prevention is both pitching and defense… not just pitching.

    Putting a bad defense behind pitchers just makes it that much harder on them (makes them look worse than they are).

    What can the Reds do about this? It’s a chronic (and, in my opinion, very important) problem.

  10. Dan

    By the way…


    2008 – .723 (1st out of 30 teams) – on pace for 101 wins
    2007 – .662 (30th out of 30 – worst ever recorded) – 66 wins

    I’m not saying this is the only reason that Tampa is so ridiculously improved this year… but I am saying it must be a big part of it!

    When you can change an opposing batter who’s hitting the ball in play from a .338 hitter to a .277 hitter… that helps a LOT!

  11. Mark in CC

    Too early to be making out ’09 line-ups. There will probably be a lot of changes between now and then.

    Hairston should really get a shot at it. He has been the best they have had hitting leadoff for years.

    When completing that ’09 line-up don’t forget Alex Gonzalez should be back next year. They are not going to let him sit for the kind of money he is going to make and he will have no trade value coming off the injury. So he will play.

    I also can not see them paying Adam Dunn what he will cost especially for the number of years it will take. It will probably take $17 Million for 5 years. I think there is a better shot to see Griffey next year than Dunn and I don’t think there is much chance of that. That means there could be two outfield spots open.

    I wouldn’t be suprised to see Joey Votto in left field with Keppinger ending up at first base at least in a platoon.

    I have a feeling Jocketty is going to make some drastic changes and after watching the Reds play the last few years, IT IS TIME!

  12. alex

    I think there will be a lot of changes as well. For next year, I think Votto, Bruce, Keppinger, and Phillips will be back, but beyond that…

    I wouldn’t be surprised to see them try to move EdE. He’s had a number of chances but can’t quite get on track for any length of time. I like Dunn, but he doesn’t make sense for this team if he is going to want 15 mil plus for several years, especially with the other two big hitters of the future (Bruce and Votto) being left-handed. Reds desperately need a consistent catcher and centerfielder. Those two spots have been revolving doors for 10 years.

  13. Kevin

    I’ve heard a few people mention that someone who’s not a defensive player never will be. I don’t know if that’s true or not, but I do feel like the team has never really been focused on defense or getting better at it.

    I’m not very apt at researching stats…but where are the majority of the errors coming from? My guess would be Edwin Encarnacion. He’s a valuable offensive player but I feel like his defensive problems have always hurt us. Also, with those defensive stats from above, Hairston shouldn’t be at shortstop, but I do think he’s a viable option for center field next year. The other player that stands out defensively is Brandon Phillips. I think that everyone’s hitting the nail on the head with defense being important for turning this franchise around. Does that mean a change in coaching emphasis or getting new players at shortstop and 3rd base? We have a “defensive specialist” sitting around for next year, Gonzalez, but I’d rather see Keppinger in that position any day. How are his numbers defensively?

    As for the issue of Hairston and CF:

    Freel: .272/.357/.376; 91
    Victorino: .272/.337/.396; 87
    Hairston: .259/.328/.365; 83
    Patterson: .254/.293/.410; 81

    That last one was just for laughs, that idiot had better not be on our roster next year. Anyway, those are the names that come to mind for center field next year and their career numbers. We do need a leadoff type hitter, probably at CF. I am in agreement with the comment above that Hairston deserves a shot to compete with Freel and maybe someone else next year, we just have to pray that the front office doesn’t throw an Arroyo style contract at him for having a career year.

  14. Mark in CC

    I talked to a scout a few weeks ago who told me that the Reds understand that Keppinger, Freel and Hairston are utility players and that is all they will ever be and that ownership will make their future plans with that in mind.

    I was a little suprised he was so blunt about it.

  15. Kevin

    Oh, I also wanted to say that I do think it’ll be really important to see what Hairston’s numbers look like after the second half. I just hope he’s playing everyday at CF with Griffey on some other roster and some new prospects in Louisville, instead of every other day at SS with Keppinger on the bench!

  16. Kevin

    I agree with the fact that Freel and Hairston are utility players, but I don’t understand why everyone’s so stuck thinking that about Keppinger. I know he hasn’t been able to play a full season yet, but his numbers continue to show that he is a guy that knows how to hit. I also get that sense when I can watch the games and see the kinds of hits he gets.

  17. Chris

    Kepp is seen as a utility guy b/c he’s not quite good enough defensively at SS (limited range and no arm), and he lacks the power to play a corner. (Last year’s .477 SLG was totally out of character). He could handle a 2b job (he’s as good as Mark Grudzielanek or Ronnie Belliard, who both had good careers), but the 2b “seat’s taken,” as they said on Forrest Gump’s bus.

    The Harriston question isn’t one. He is a marginal, if versatile major leaguer, who is having a career first half at age 32. No sensible organization counts on that, let alone signs him to a multi-year deal for his next couple seasons. By all means, ride him ’til he cools, but be ready to move on

  18. John of Muncie

    I’ve seen Kepp make some pretty amazing picks and throws for not having range or an arm.

    How much range will AGon have when he comes back? His D wasn’t that impressive before he got hurt.

    Every once in a while, I mention how they could move Brandon Phillips to SS, just to see people get riled up. We fear change.

  19. Mark in CC

    Keppinger is similar to Freel in that he makes some great plays but they would be more routine for a guy with range. No doubt he is solid when he gets to the ball but a lot of balls make it through the hole between short and third when he is in there.

    Freel makes diving plays that someone like (I hate to say it) Corey Patterson would make on the run. Also while making that diving play he hurts himself and is out for a couple of weeks.

  20. Dan

    I think Mark Loretta is a pretty good comp for Keppinger, and he’s been a solid major leaguer (and sometimes starter) for a good long time now.

    Both guys hit for a very good average but with below average power.

    Both guys have slightly below average range but very rarely make errors.

  21. Phill

    I agree. I’m not positive if it’s true but it seems to me that when Gonzalez was healthy he got to balls in more areas than Keppinger does. For instance Gonzalez seems to be able to get out into shallow outfield quicker than Keppinger to try and rob someone of a bloop.

  22. Kevin

    Looking at his stats, Keppinger’s fielding percentage at SS is above league average consistently. This year it is .993, compared to the league average of .975.

    On the other hand, when Gonzalez wasn’t on the bereavement list last season, it was .963, compared to the same league average, .975.

    Nonetheless, Keppinger’s career range factor at SS is 3.59, compared to the league average of 4.02. Gonzalez’s is 4.27.

    I don’t actually know how range factor works, maybe someone can explain it, but it shows it is factual that Gonzalez has better range, although his fielding percentage was below league average, while Keppinger’s is above.

    Which is more important? Range factor or fielding percentage? I personally think that even though he’s not the best defensive SS, we’ve got bigger defensive woes on the field.

    I also think that Keppinger could potentially be a successful starting shortstop for us in the seasons to come. I feel like he can hit, I feel like he really cares about the team and the game and gives his all, and that he’d make a great end of the lineup type offensive player, once his numbers hit average. His injuries haven’t been like Freel, who really does bring it on himself…the last one was a freak foul ball.

  23. AnnapolisRed

    Dan-Good stuff, agree. I wouldn’t put it all on EE. He has not been too bad at third base this year. Votto is an absolute butcher at 1st. They are below average at SS and although Dunn catches everything he gets to I would say he and Griffey are both below average as well.

  24. AnnapolisRed

    Everybody wants to upgrade at catcher, but who? These are supposedly the cathers available according to mlbtraderumors.com

    The Catcher Market Revisited
    By Tim Dierkes [July 7 at 2:07pm CST]

    It’s been over a month since we finished up our Trade Market series. A lot has changed, so let’s take another look at each position. Today we’ll look at catchers. As always, I welcome suggestions in the comments.

    * Gerald Laird, Rangers. He’s currently on the DL with a hamstring strain. He should be back this month. However, the Rangers may be on the fence about selling and committing to Jarrod Saltalamacchia as the main catcher.
    * Bengie Molina, Giants. The Giants are only five games out, and GM Brian Sabean said he’s not thinking of trading Molina.
    * Rob Barajas and Gregg Zaun, Blue Jays. Both are free agents after the season, though Barajas has a $2.5MM club option. The Jays are 14 games out.
    * Miguel Olivo, Royals. He has a $2.7MM club option for ’09. Trey Hillman has managed to find playing time for both John Buck and Olivo. Impressively, Olivo has thrown out 50% of would-be basestealers.
    * David Ross and Paul Bako, Reds. Neither seems worthy of a starting role, though the Marlins are said to be interested in Ross.
    * Ramon Hernandez, Orioles. At six games out of the wild card, the Orioles could go either direction. Hernandez isn’t having a good year, but he did hit better in June. Signed through ’09, his contract is a burden.
    * Yorvit Torrealba, Rockies. He wants to be traded, having lost the starting gig to Chris Iannetta. The Marlins almost signed him last winter, but he’s not on their radar. Torrealba is signed for ’09 at $3.5MM.
    * Paul Lo Duca, Nationals. He’s become Jesus Flores’ backup, and doesn’t bring anything to the table at this point.
    * Ronny Paulino, Pirates. Paulino was banished to Triple A in June. He was raking there until he sprained his ankle about a month ago.
    * Kenji Johjima, Mariners. The three-year extension is looking really bad. Johjima has been abysmal this year.

  25. Kevin

    Also, wanted to point out before I go to work this in the Columbus Dispatch about trades. According to Bronson,

    “It’s the prime year for me to be traded, no question… feel like we have four starters who can pitch here for a long time. They’ve proven to me in the past that they’re serious about winning, because of the guys they’ve signed. I feel like if they’re still serious, I’ll be here. If not, they’re just dumping salary.”

    Seems to me that Bronson has neglected the fact that he hasn’t pitched well in two seasons. It’s not just salary dumping and a sign that the ownership doesn’t want to win, if the GM gets rid of a bad pitcher. I personally want to see Arroyo gone and am lusting after that catching prospect!

  26. renbutler

    Sabathia’s first start for MIL is tomorrow (Tuesday), so I assume we’ll see him on Sunday against the Reds.

  27. Mark in CC

    Range factor or fielding percentage? It seems that if you make an error on a ball that the other guy couldn’t get to for a hit it is a wash.

    But, if you have great range, get to a ball then boot it maybe you have stopped a ball from going to the outfield that would stop a runner from scoring from second rather than allowing him to score if it goes into the outfield.

    That range also makes your third baseman better becasue he doesn’t need to cover as much ground.

    Thats like in the 70s Larry Bowa or Dave Concepcion. Both All Stars but take Davey everytime because of the range. Its how the Reds could have great defense and win with an average third baseman Rose while the Phillies needed a great one to create their great defense to win, eventually Schmidt.

    Defensivelt it is a healthy Gonzo!

  28. GregD

    Alex Gonzalez had knee surgery today and Norris Hopper is having elbow surgery (torn labrum) tomorrow.

    I had heard about Gonzo, but not Hopper. That puts Hopper out the rest of the season?

  29. Dan

    Yes, Hopper is out for the year.

    It’s not the labrum (which is in the shoulder) – it’s his ulnar collateral ligament in the elbow. (It’s Tommy John surgery.)

  30. mhopp

    So long as crappy P. is gone and there is someone better than Bako in the line up regularly it will be an improvement.

  31. Mike

    I like Hairston. He’s played well in the first half but a trade for a young, good defense right handed hitting centerfielder who would also bat leadoff could look good.

  32. Mike Martz

    I see a platoon of Freel and Hairston at CF if Hairston continues to play at a higher level.
    I agree that a trade for a right handed hitter would be a better option. I would hate to see Freel cut loose but I’d trade the whole team if it gets the REDs a world series title! :mrgreen:

  33. Kevin

    About 23, although I agree that the outfield is a big problem, since Adam Dunn is too fat to run and Junior is too old to run, Nonetheless, I still think EdE plays a major role in our defensive woes. To say that he hasn’t been as bad this year I think is definitely debatable. Looking at his career defensive stats, his range factor is the lowest its ever been this season, and his fielding percentage, although not his worst, is .933.

  34. Shawn

    Mike, how do you platoon two right-handed hitters?

    Hairston, age 32, should be traded ASAP, at the peak of his value.

  35. Relient k Car

    i actually like bako
    he calls a good game
    our best pitching preformances are when he starts at catcher.

  36. pinson343

    I see Hairston as an excellent utility player. While he was still with the Bats in April, manager Rick Sweet talked about how he’s healthy this year for the first time in several years, and what a strong all-around ballplayer he is. He predicted how well he would play with the Reds.

    Please don’t talk about Ryan Freel leading off and playing center field, that has failed many times. Freel gets slower, but not smarter. A while back he was a good utility player, he’s been replaced, trade him.

  37. Mike Martz

    Shawn, Your right, I guess platoon was the wrong word. I figure they will split time going back and forth from the D/L to CF. Thus making it a 3 man rotation. 😕 😕 😕

  38. AnnapolisRed

    I agree. I would much rather keep Hairston over Freel. Hairston is just a smarter, better all-around player. I agree on Bako as well. He is the superior catcher to Ross.

  39. alex

    There is nothing wrong with a Bako/Ross type at catcher, IF the rest of the line-up is good. But right now, it’s not. And unless there are major changes next year, the line-up is not going to improve that much.

  40. Kevin

    I personally like Hairston and Freel. Although last year it was easy to say that starting him at CF was a failed experiment, this year he seemed to prove us wrong, just like Hairston has (maybe a little less than Hairston). I think he’s still worth something, and his career numbers are definitely better than Hairston’s.

    That being said, I’d like to see them both on the roster, they aren’t too expensive, and I think we can all agree that they’re both ideal utility types. Depending on how Hairston continues to perform, he’s worth more than a utility player, and we’ve gotta ride it til he cools off. They’ve both shown the ability to get hot like this and that makes them great to have.

    I also have a gigantic bias for players who make it clear that they care, especially who make it clear that they care about Cincinnati, to me both of these guys care about the game and the team.

  41. John of Muncie

    Maybe I’m in the minority here but I’m tired of the Freel show. The baserunning blunders are a little too much.

  42. Mark in CC

    Sparky Anderson once said there is a fine line between being aggressive and being an idiot. Freel crosses that line too may times. Plus to say he is cheap? I think he will be owed $4.7 Million next year in the last year or his contract. Who woud trade for that?

  43. Kevin

    Ew…I didn’t realize that he was owed that much, next year! That’s definitely too much for him to be getting paid, I won’t deny it…but I do still like the guy on the roster, especially since he’s not worth anything trade wise.

  44. Mike Martz

    Freel does make base running blunders and dives for balls that he probably doesn’t have to, but he sure makes the game exciting to watch! Freel gets this team fired up when he makes those diving grabs.