In the wake of the Alex Gonzalez deal, Redleg Nation thinks it is high time the Reds organization makes the move they should have made the day they traded Felipe Lopez away and move Brandon Phillips back to shortstop. With Chris Valaika’s bat appearing to peak out at AAA this season, there is not anyone in the organization that appears ready to be of help at SS in the near future. With this season already a lost cause, doesn’t it seem to make sense to see if Phillips can still play the position he played for 82% of his minor league career?
In the Cleveland organization, Phillips was a SS from 1999 to 2002. He was not a fulltime 2B until 2003 with the Indians, and later at AAA Buffalo after he flopped offensively in the majors. In 2004 he split time evenly between SS and 2B at AAA. In 2005 he was a full-time SS in AAA. Omar Vizquel was the Cleveland SS through the 2004 season, and Johnny Peralta took over full-time in 2005. So basically Phillips had 5.5 years of professional experience at SS and 1.5 years of professional experience at 2B when he came to the Reds, and some pretty good SS talent in front of him in Cleveland.
Phillips has indicated that he’d be willing to make the move back to SS on several occasions since arriving in Cincinnati. If nothing else, finding out if Phillips can still play the position would give the Reds the flexibility of finding either a SS or a 2B to fill the big hole in the middle infield for next season.
Is it possible that the Reds are already considering this move? That may be the only logical reason for moving one of their top prospects, Todd Frazier (who is hitting .296/.355/.485/.840 at AA), from LF to 2B recently. Frazier was drafted as a SS, but many saw his 6’3” 215 lb frame being more likely to end up at 3B or a corner OF spot. Just last winter, the Reds had moved him from SS to LF, where he played for most of the season before being moved to 2B for the last few weeks. If Phillips is entrenched at 2B for the Reds, why would they move one of their best prospects at the higher levels behind him on the depth chart all of a sudden when he would seem to be much more likely to break into the Reds lineup at either LF or 3B a lot sooner?
The Reds already know that Paul Janish can play SS and that he can’t hit. The better solution would be to maximize Phillips’ bat by moving him to the tougher defensive position that he’s shown the ability to play in the past. The Reds should go ahead and move him back to SS now for the remainder of the season and let him get comfortable on that side of the infield again while they are simply playing out the season; if nothing else, this helps to find the answer to some questions for turning things around for next season. Making a sensible move like this one could also go a long way toward showing the Cincinnati Reds fan base that there might actually be some sort of plan in place to improve this club, as opposed to the mixed signals the Reds have been sending out lately.