While waiting for the Reds to make their first offseason moves, we’ll continue to debate how the Reds should shape the 2010 team by looking at the possibilities in the infield. So far, we’ve opined on the outfield, and more recently the starting rotation.

Catcher: Hanigan should be the starting catcher. The Reds have to make a decision on Ramon Hernandez’s $8.5 million option by Nov 15. John Fay reported Thursday that the Reds will not pick up the expensive option, but that the two sides are talking now to bring him back at a lower rate.

I would look externally for a match with Hanigan and look for someone with better defense than Hernandez. I like Kelly Shoppach as an option, either via trade or signing him if the Indians non-tender him, as rumored. Gregg Zaun, Hernandez’s short-term replacement in Baltimore, is also an option.

Corky Miller is on the 40-man roster, arbitration eligible, and likely to be cut. Craig Tatum will likely be optioned to AAA. Wilkin Castillo has caught in the past, but at this I believe he isn’t expected to be more than a 3rd/emergency catcher.

Starting infield: I could easily see the Reds make very little movement with respect to the starting infield situation this offseason, which means Votto, Phillips, Janish, Rolen around the diamond. I am officially off the Phillips to shortstop bandwagon, as I think he is now past the age that he could physically handle the switch. The Reds should have moved him there in 2006 or 2007 (or 2008 or 2009.) Phillips will be the player most named in trade rumors because of his salary the next two seasons ($18M/2yrs.)

Outside of moving Phillips for an equally gifted shortstop (which I doubt is likely), I think this is the most likely and most plausible infield for 2010. Zack Cozart and Chris Valaika are just a short drive away, and one of them will likely take over the SS role during the 2010 season.

Bench: There are all sorts of possibilities for the bench, whether internally choosing two from current 40-man roster candidates Rosales, Sutton, Richar, Castillo, Barker, or Francisco or adding some non-roster spring training invitees at the end of March. I like Sutton the best of this group with Rosales as the likely 2nd bench infielder. Adding a starting SS on the roster ahead of Janish pushes Rosales off the 25-man roster. Richar, Castillo, and Barker are all candidates to be removed from the 40-man roster.

Minors: There will be a minor league all-star cast around the Louisville infield diamond with Alonso, Valaika, Cozart, Frazier, and Francisco – one of whom will be in LF. Cozart and Frazier don’t have to be added to the 40-man roster this offseason, Francisco and Alonso already are, but they will have to make a move for Valaika.

With the defensive reports on Francisco, I’d have him start the year in LF and play Frazier at 3B. It is also not entirely out of the question that Frazier or Cozart makes the jump to the majors out of spring training – Cozart at SS and Frazier in LF.

While looking at the various players in the Reds organization and the potential help outside of the organization, I found the following information helpful:

  • The Big Board in the righthand sidebar is updated & current 40-man roster players are highlighted.
  • Doug has long list of players who could be exposed to Rule V draft if not protected.
  • Mlbtraderumors.com list of free agents and non-tender candidates.
  • On the free agent list, “Type A” means signing team loses a draft pick. If they pick 1-16 it is a 2nd rounder, if they pick 17-32, it is a first rounder. The Reds should have a top 16 pick, so would lose a 2nd rounder for signing a Type A free agent. Signing a Type B free agent does not cost the signing team a draft pick.

56 Responses

  1. per14

    I’d love to get a better bat at shortstop but I just don’t see anyone out there who can provide that and be a good risk. So, I’ll stick with Votto, Phillips, Janish, Rolen and Hanigan. That should be, by far, the best infield defense in the NL. (And with Bruce in RF and Stubbs/Dickerson in CF, you have one heckuva defensive team.) I’d then focus on getting a big bat for LF.

  2. RiverCity Redleg

    We always seem so good on paper in the offseason, but somehow don’t produce like we think they will when the season starts. I like what we’ve got also, I’m just afraid of being let down during the season.

  3. Behind in the Count

    Rolen gave the infield just what they needed. Being solid at third and second took a lot of pressure off Janish. Janish finally seemed to relax and show signs of maturity. That is exactly what a leader like Rolen does for a ball club.

    The outfield needs that same type of leadership. When a team signs a player like #3 one moves backward. Yes, I refuse to use Willie’s last name for fear of getting a sick feeling by simply saying his last name.

  4. Behind in the Count

    The best thing the REDS can do is release or trade Willie immediately. Just like the mistake with Patterson, don’t give Dusty an opportunity to screw up this team. Blind leadership should be taken out of the equation.

  5. Dan

    I hope to see a lot of Drew Sutton, Adam Rosales, and Zack Cozart in spring training. I’d really like to start learning what these guys are all about.

    Rosales got a pretty decent chance early in the year when EE was hurt and he was terrible. (But, his minor league numbers are pretty good – .289/.364/.491.) He’ll be 27 in May.

    Sutton never got a chance to get regular starts, and I’m not willing to judge a guy on an at bat here and an at bat there mostly as a pinch-hitter, which is all Dusty gave him. Again, pretty good minor league numbers for Sutton — .280/.378/.442. I want to see if he’s a viable 5th outfielder, likely to get significant playing time. I think he could be but Dusty has already decided he’s just a utility guy. (Damn I’m sick of Dusty and his deciding things based on almost no information, and then sticking to it no matter what.)

    Cozart needs more AAA time, but I’d like to get his feet wet. I think he’s our best option at SS (other than Brandon Phillips) in the near future.

    But… overall I’ve got nothing new to add. I think our starting infield is probably set already.

  6. Dan

    At catcher, I think we would be wise to move on from Ramon Hernandez. He’ll be 34 in May and he’s coming off knee surgery. He might wind up being OK, or he might be done.

    If we sign Hernandez to a 1-year deal for a reasonable sum ($2M? $2.5M?), I’ll be OK with it, but I wouldn’t do it myself.

    If we sign him to a multi-year deal, I’m going to be ticked and I’m going to have a renewed wave of hopelessness about the current decision-makers. You just don’t do that for OK-but-not-great catchers approaching their mid-30’s!

    We do need some other catcher to share the job w/ Hanigan, probably close to 50/50, and I’d prefer for the new catcher to be kind of offensive-minded. Kelly Shoppach? Lou Marson? Max Ramirez? Jake Fox (if it’s possible for him to play a passable catcher, which it might not be)?

    I love Hanigan — on-base skills and defense — but if we regularly have a lineup w/ Hanigan and Janish in it, plus the pitcher, that’s 3 spots in the lineup with VERY little power. That’s not great in this era. You could make up for it if you had fantastic OBP’s up and down the lineup, but we obviously do not.

  7. Dan

    OK, now I also have an off-the-wall notion to throw out there, in the spirit of “buy low”…

    There’s a guy named Kila Ka’aihue who plays 1B in the KC system. (He’s Hawaiian.) He’ll be 26 in March.

    KC doesn’t seem to value him at all — despite a terrible offense, they didn’t even call him up in September this year.

    And admittedly, his batting averages aren’t great, and his power is good but not great.

    But… the guy is an on-base machine. He walks ALL the time. (Over 100 BB’s each of the last 2 seasons in the minors.)

    Overall, his minor league slash stats are .260/.384/.446.

    More recently, his overall averages at the AAA level are .265/.401/.476.

    My thought is this: If Votto is going to move to LF eventually (to make room for Alonso), and if we’re struggling to come up with a stud LF for this year… what if we make Votto our LF now?

    In which case, we’d need a 1B for a year probably. I think, in that case, Ka’aihue (that’s very tricky to type!) would be a fantastic “buy low” option, and he would add badly-needed OBP skills to the lineup, and I just don’t think he’d cost much (in terms of players or in terms of $$).

    I realize this is convoluted… but I think it has some real merit. (In truth, I have to admit, I love OBP guys, and I love good “buy low” candidates, so Ka’aihue is like my dream guy… so to speak…)

    OK… I now return you to a more sane conversation, already in progress…

  8. Sultan of Swaff

    -I like the defense from Rolen, but I’m scared to death the brass will attempt to keep him past 2010. The guy has little power anymore, he needs to bat in the 2 hole.
    -Is it time to listen for offers on Phillips? After a season of bloated rbi totals batting in the 4 hole, his value has never been higher. It’s likely a dumb consideration, but when you’re paying 11-12 million/year for your third baseman and closer, you have to balance the books somehow.
    -We’re probably stuck with Janish until midseason, when Cozart is ready or a trade brings someone different in.
    -My ideal infield next August will have Alonso at first and Frazier at third (Votto in left). That’s 3 quality cost controlled players. It’s how the Reds will need to operate to be successful.

  9. per14

    Sultan, I like how you’re thinking. I also like Dan’s idea.

  10. Sultan of Swaff

    I’m in favor of keeping Ramon Hernandez on a 1-2mil deal ONLY if he is the backup (too bad we can’t trust Dusty). The lack of defense isn’t an issue when you only play once or twice a week. His bat off the bench, relative to other no-hit backup catchers, would be a positive.
    Sure would be nice to have David Ross as our backup………

  11. Dan

    @Sultan of Swaff: Sell high!

    I don’t think it’s crazy at all to at least consider dealing Phillips. You’re right that his value is high, and you’re right that he’s going to be very expensive soon (2011 I think?).

  12. Sultan of Swaff

    If you stay in-house, we’re likely looking at a situation where you have 3 guys (Votto, Francisco, Alonso) for 2 spots. The only 2 variables I see are Alonso’s inability (so far) to hit lefties and Francisco’s K/BB rates. It looks to me like the guy who doesn’t show improvement will be the odd man out. They’re both so young, I’m willing to wait them out until mid-2011, but for the team’s sake, we need one of them to grab a spot and lock it down.

  13. Steve

    Powerful line.

    Dan: (Damn I’m sick of Dusty and his deciding things based on almost no information, and then sticking to it no matter what.)

  14. Steve

    We’ll be looking to trade BP by the end of 2010 one way or the other. His 2011 salary is $11 million plus. He’s a great player, but no way worth that relative to our up-and-coming IF.

  15. Steve

    Three problems, oft stated, with re-signing Ramon Hernandez.

    First, he’s going to be too expensive, even with renegotiation, for a back-up catcher/1B. Plenty of others on the FA market who can do as much, with a better record of health, for less $$$.

    Two, if we sign him, I don’t trust Baker to play Hanigan enough if Hernandez is on the team. (career OBP .327)

    [Boy, that’s a recurring theme, isn’t it?]

    Three, if we don’t play him very much, he’ll become the same kind of problem that he apparently was in Baltimore.

  16. preach

    “I’m going to have a renewed wave of hopelessness about the current decision-makers.”

    Waves as consistent as a full moon high tide, I suppose.

    Ka’aihue would be the second born Hawaiian to play in the bigs, and the other one was Mike Lum who we also had at first base for a hot minute. Eerie, huh? I like the thinking of shifting Votto now, but I don’t believe that Ka’s OBP by walks would translate well to the majors. However, a placeholder first baseman should not be that difficult to find. Gomes was brutal there, wasn’t he? The D’backs were experimenting with Owings at first just before the trade I believe. I’m not advocating those guys, but thought I would look at some of our in-house-outside-the-box possibilities.

    I know I’ve taken heat for the Bobby Crosby support, but I think he would seriously benefit by a change to GABP, and he is affordable. I am also a fan of Chone Figgins, but he wouldn’t be cheap.

  17. Travis G.

    We can cross J.J. Hardy off the list of available SS. I kinda like the idea of signing Crosby if he comes cheaply. He’s shown flashes of competence, and I wonder if his numbers would improve by switching leagues and playing in a less cavernous ballpark. At the very least, he’d be a good veteran backup with some chance of upside.

    I’d prefer Shoppach as backup/possible starter, but we don’t know what the Indians would ask for him. Hernandez would be an okay fall-back option, assuming he’d take a big pay cut. I suspect he would.

  18. preach

    “We can cross J.J. Hardy off the list of available SS.”

    Since the Brewers traded him for a CF (heck, we could have offered them Taveras)that makes another leadoff outfielder/second/shortstop available: Felipe Lopez.

  19. Dan

    Wow, JJ Hardy for Carlos Gomez? Didn’t see that coming at all. I really thought the Brewers could get more.

  20. Dan

    As for Bobby Crosby… I like the “buy low” thinking a lot… but he’s not young anymore. He’ll be 30 by opening day. This might just be what he is.

    And I looked up his home/road splits – was hoping to see that his home park was seriously suppressing his numbers, and that doesn’t seem to be it at all:

    Crosby (home – career) – .240/.313/.374
    Crosby (away – career) – .235/.297/.381

    Seeing those numbers, I think I’d just stay away.

  21. Dan

    Talk of Brewers infielders has reminded me… I’m still quite high on Rickie Weeks. (Last offseason I wouldn’t shut up about him.)

    Last year he was having a breakout month-and-a-half or so (.272/.340/.517), and then got injured again. (That’s the biggest knock on him at this point.)

    So, I know this makes very little sense as it would require Phillips to move to SS and no one anywhere in the Reds organization seems to like that concept… and this probably would hurt the defense… but I love Weeks’s on-base ability and I can’t shake the idea that he is going to break out and be VERY good someday soon.

    Weeks (majors) – .247/.351/.415
    Weeks (minors) – .289/.404/.493

    I just think Weeks is about the ideal #2 hitter in a lineup.

    Subbing in Weeks in place of Janish in the lineup would make me VERY much more optimistic about our offense… even though admittedly the defense would take a hit.

    Weeks isn’t as “buy low” due to performance anymore, but he might be “buy low” due to injuries.

    I’d look into it. Brewers need pitching. Anyway… it’s a thought…

  22. preach

    How would dealing Hardy and shopping Lopez affect their perception of keeping Weeks?

  23. broadwaydave

    i would definitely be up for trading phillips, especially if we could package him with cordero for a slew of low minor-league prospects. i believe frazier is more than ready to contribute offensively in the majors.

  24. Dan

    @preach: Oh, it doesn’t. Probably makes them more likely to keep Weeks, if anything.

    Hey, I’m not saying my train of thought makes any sense. I’m just saying that talk of Milwaukee infielders reminded me of him… 😉

  25. RiverCity Redleg

    As much as I like Janish, he will never be a ML-caliber hitter. I would love to give give Valaika and Cozart a serious look this spring.

  26. RiverCity Redleg

    Does anyone know how Francisco is doing in LF this fall?

  27. Drew Nelson

    I think this offseason is going to be very interesting. ESPN Buster Olney is reporting that a large number of players who are arbitration eligible won’t be offered it and in fact released due to the economic issues in the country right now and MLB. While there might not be many A+ or A level players available, there will be possibly some strong B level players available. Trading and signing has already started and it could be a very interesting offseason, so dealing Willy I bet will be impossible due to his salary, so the question will be if the Reds are willing to eat the contract.

  28. Matt WI

    @Dan: Dan, I think you’re a Brewers fan in Reds clothing. 😯 Weren’t you talking up Capuano as well? Just kidding with you. I appreciate the ideas being thrown out there.

  29. Dan

    @Matt WI: Ha! I have no idea what you’re talking about!! [Eating 3 bratwurst with mustard and chugging a Miller High Life…] 😉

  30. Dan

    @Matt WI: Just kidding… no particular Milwaukee love here. I don’t dislike the Brewers (unlike the Cubs), but I’m not secretly cheering for them or anything.

    It’s true that I think Weeks and Capuano are worth looking into, and could be good “buy low” possibilities, but I don’t think it has anything to do w/ them being Brewers.

    Hey Matt, what does the “WI” stand for in your name? You’re not a Wisconsin-ite yourself, are you? 😆

  31. al

    I’ll say this, I’ll be very frustrated with the Reds if they re-sign Ramon Hernandez and not Jonny Gomes. The figures I’ve seen for them are pretty similar, maybe Gomes getting $1 million more.

    Gomes will provide so much more value to the team, if there’s really a financial reason not to bring him back, cut Ramon and sign someone at league min, they won’t be that much worse.

  32. TheNatural

    Move Votto to LF. Sign Russell Branyan to 1 year deal + option to stopgap at 1B.
    Keep Votto at 1B. Tender a contract to Gomes + sign Rick Ankiel. Platoon in LF.
    Sign Scutaro for SS or sign Orlando Hudson and move Phillips to SS. Both are type A free agents but the Reds’ 12th overall pick is protected.
    Look into trading for Chris Ianetta from the Rockies.
    Trade 1 out of Coco, Harang or Arroyo.

  33. al

    i love the idea of signing hudson and moving phillips, i’ve been pushing that one for a while.

    i could also live with letting todd frazier have a shot at short. to me, there’s just no way janish’s glove compensates for his noodle-esque bat.

  34. Dan

    @TheNatural: Wow, Natural, you’re going to be busy!

    I’m not a big fan of some of this (I don’t see the need for Branyan if Votto is still the 1B, and I also don’t want to give up a draft pick to sign a 30-something free agent)… BUT, I love the Iannetta idea!

    I don’t know how much it would take to get Iannetta, but I think he’d be a perfect fit here. He gets on base, he’s got some real power, and he’s still young (27 in April) and cheap.

    I’d LOVE to see the Rockies re-sign Torrealba and make Iannetta expendable! (I doubt that they will, but we can hope. For some reason, they did play Torrealba ahead of Iannetta in September and in the playoffs.)

    Iannetta (career – majors) – .242/.361/.446
    Iannetta (career – minors) – .303/.409/.512

  35. Dan

    @al: I like Hudson a lot too… but at this point, I don’t think it’s worth the cost (several million PLUS a 2nd round draft pick). I’d stay away, personally.

  36. TheNatural

    Branyan would be used as a stopgap at 1B after moving Votto to LF (where he will most likely wind up thanks to Alonso)

  37. Travis G.

    This might be relevant to your interests:

    IF Danny Richar was reinstated from the 60-day disabled list, was outrighted off the roster and elected free agency; 1B Kevin Barker was outrighted off the roster and elected free agency; OF Darnell McDonald was outrighted off the roster; C Corky Miller was outrighted off the roster and agreed to a 2010 Louisville contract; RHP Justin Lehr was signed to a 1-year Major League contract through the 2010 season and then was outrighted to Louisville.

  38. David

    1B: Votto
    2B: Phillips
    SS: Ramirez
    3B: Rolen
    C : Hanigan/Torrealba

    Obviously the two guys which should jump out are Ramirez and Torrealba.

    Torrealba (.291/.351/.380) had an impressive year. Though his career numbers are significantly lower than his slash line this season, if he plays in his spots, he should be a good compliment to Hanigan.

    Most here have already expressed disbelief that that HanRam would be dealt. It wouldn’t surprise me at all. Hanley’s salary is prohibitive to the Marlins (who also want to sign Josh Johnson long term) in 2011.

    The question is, would a package of Alonso, Francisco and Frazier, et al. be enough? For the Marlins, it may be hard to pass.

    I for one don’t think we’ll miss any of these guys long term.

  39. Travis G.

    Dude, you aren’t getting Hanley Ramirez for anyone you wouldn’t miss long term. The Marlins might be cheap, but they aren’t stupid.

    Sure, it’d be awesome to have the one of the best players in the National League manning short and batting third, but would it be worth giving up Bailey or Cueto and Votto or Bruce? Because that’s the type of offer it would take just to get their attention. Ramirez is the face of a franchise for whom taxpaying fans finally agreed to build a stadium, and he’s still cheap for another year and a good value through that new ballpark’s inaugural season. Come one, don’t sound like a Cubs fan with these outlandishly lopsided deals here.

  40. Drew Nelson

    The Reds are not going to move Brandon to SS, so looking at options at 2nd is pointless. We have a good infield with Votto/Phillips/Janish/Rolen why not concentrate on the LF position where an upgrade could help.

  41. Drew Nelson

    We can also now forget about the Brewers Hardy, he was just traded to the Twins for Gomez their CF.

  42. Travis G.

    Dan: @Travis G.: Whoa! So does this mean that Lehr has made the 40-man roster?

    I’m looking at the PDF of the updated 40-man roster that accompanied Rob Butcher’s release, and I don’t see his name on there. The text I supplied above was cut-and-pasted directly from his e-mail, so I don’t know whether Lehr’s being outrighted means he’s exposed to waivers right now. I can’t imagine he’s got any options left.

    Of note: There are only 39 men on the current 40-man roster.

  43. Dan

    @David: I have no interest in Torrealba, personally. He had a good year (for him) right before free agency — to me that would be buying high on a not-very-good player.

    When your slash stats for your career are .255/.315/.390 and you’ve played half your career in Colorado, that’s not so good.

    He’ll cost millions too, since he’s coming off the .291/.351/.380 year like you mentioned.

  44. Drew Nelson

    Well will the Reds make a move on Dye now that is he available as the Sox didn’t pick up his option?

  45. Matt WI

    @Dan: Yeah, I live in Wisconsin now. Not a native, but for a couple of years now.

  46. brublejr

    I can’t believe the Brewers traded Hardy for Gomez, basically a younger version of Willy T.

  47. brublejr

    Although, outside missing out on Hardy, this works out nicely for the Reds…Brewers replacing Cameron with Gomez, who can’t get on base, makes their offense worse. This should hurt their offense a lot.

  48. al

    Drew Nelson: We have a good infield with Votto/Phillips/Janish/Rolen why not concentrate on the LF position where an upgrade could help.

    I just don’t get this thinking. Paul Janish had a .600 ops, and Gomes had an .875 ops. Why is it easier to upgrade in LF? League average for SS was .718, which means “replacement level” should be about .650. That means that random guys in the minors should outhit Janish by a decent amount.

    Another way to look at it: Paul Janish had a -5.7 VORP, while Gomes had the third highest VORP on the team at 18.6. That speaks directly to who would be easier to replace and improve upon.

    This team cannot and should not play Janish every day.

  49. David

    Travis G.: I’m looking at the PDF of the updated 40-man roster that accompanied Rob Butcher’s release, and I don’t see his name on there. The text I supplied above was cut-and-pasted directly from his e-mail, so I don’t know whether Lehr’s being outrighted means he’s exposed to waivers right now. I can’t imagine he’s got any options left.Of note: There are only 39 men on the current 40-man roster.

    I think you have seriously underestimated the genius of Larry Beinfest. Hanley’s value will never be higher than it is right now. Larry Beinfest will deal Ramirez within the next two seasons.

    The Marlins cannot afford to keep Hanley past 2011. Hanley makes 7.5 this season and 11 in 2011 (25% of the team’s ’09 payroll). The Marlins are then on the hook for 15, 15.5 and 16. 16 million is approximately 40% of the teams payroll!

    Ramirez WILL BE dealt by 2012.

    Given Beinfest’s track record, he’ll move earlier rather than later. Whether the Reds match up is another question, but Ramirez is on borrowed time in Florida.

  50. Greg Dafler

    I advocated moving Votto to LF last year, and I doubt we see it happen this year. I suspect Alonso will eventually be traded to help the major league team. An internal, short-term option could have been to play Barker at 1B.

    With today’s transactions, the Reds are down to 39 free agents on paper. Kip Wells hasn’t officially filed for free agency, and Hernandez hasn’t had his option declined yet. Multiple sources are reporting that Jocketty said he will not pick up his option. That drops the roster to 37.

    Mark Sheldon keeps mentioning that Herandez is a Type B free agent…but if the Reds offer him arbitration aren’t they stuck with a minimum of a 20% discount to his 2009 salary? I don’t see why they would offer him arbitration if Jocketty is saying they “definitely” won’t pick up his option.

    I like that they were able to keep Miller in the organization and clear the 40-man roster space.

    I’m not sure how the Lehr deal works. I guess he has major league money, but has to pass through waivers to go to AAA?

  51. Dan

    Ah bummer. Rockies declined their option on Torrealba. They seem to be committed to Iannetta.

  52. Redsfanx

    I’d package Phillips in a blockbuster trade (ie. Joe Morgan in 1970)
    to upgrade the offense in leftfield and shortstop and put Frazier at second. Then trade Cordero to the Phillies and move Masset to closer.

  53. brublejr

    @Redsfanx: I think Cordero to the Braves would make the most sense if they are going to move him…They need a closer badly, I don’t think Philly can take on that salary to have two high priced closers, and nobody is going to take on Lidge’s salary after this year.

  54. Drew Nelson

    I disagree, if our big bats produce and Dusty bats Janish 8th I feel we will be fine. Also you have a better chance of finding a good hitting LF then you do a good hitting SS.

    al: I just don’t get this thinking. Paul Janish had a .600 ops, and Gomes had an .875 ops. Why is it easier to upgrade in LF? League average for SS was .718, which means “replacement level” should be about .650. That means that random guys in the minors should outhit Janish by a decent amount. Another way to look at it: Paul Janish had a -5.7 VORP, while Gomes had the third highest VORP on the team at 18.6. That speaks directly to who would be easier to replace and improve upon. This team cannot and should not play Janish every day.