2010 Reds

The Centerfield Question

Drew Stubbs or Chris Dickerson? That is the question.

I have never been a fan of letting spring performance dictate roster decisions of this type. Stubbs and Dickerson have roughly 20 at-bats this spring; are we really going to make a decision based on 20 ABs? Seems silly.

That said, Stubbs was named CF heir-apparent in the off-season, and he hasn’t done anything to justify that since spring training started (before today, at least; he had an excellent game this afternoon). Dickerson, meanwhile, has been great. I wouldn’t be surprised at all to see the Reds decide that Stubbs isn’t ready, and hand the CF position over to Dickerson. Two things about that:

1. It wouldn’t be all bad. Dickerson isn’t a bad option. He’ll get on base a bit, and his centerfield defense is pretty darn good (even if it isn’t as good as what we’ll see from Stubbs). In fact, just forget the last twenty at-bats, and you can still make a good argument that Dickerson should be the starter.

2. If the Reds make a decision like this based on 20 at-bats, I have serious concern about the people in positions to make judgment calls with this organization. That’s a ridiculous way to run a business. If you think Stubbs is better, as the Reds have said for the last several months, how can 20 ABs change your mind?

I don’t have any problem at all with Chris Dickerson as the starting centerfielder and leadoff hitter for this team. I like the guy. Heck, I like Stubbs too, though I’ve never been completely sold on him. But the idea that the Reds would turn on a dime, based on a tiny sample size…well, that just rubs me the wrong way.

Okay, I’m glad to get that off my chest.

32 thoughts on “The Centerfield Question

  1. “Dickerson isn’t a bad option.” Unfortunately, he’s not a great option. Are there any good CF’s available for a possible back of the rotation or long relief kind of guy? Seems like we have a few of those. Perhaps there is another deal in the making.

  2. Never let reason get in the way of a baseball team making bad decisions. Every team in baseball lets 30 at bats or 15 innings decide roster spots. Why? Who the heck knows. It doesn’t make any sense at all, but it happens to every team in baseball.

    • Every team in baseball lets 30 at bats or 15 innings decide roster spots. Why?

      It’s not just the ABs in the games that they’re looking at. These players are taking BP and throwing on the side all the time. There’s way more going into the decision than what we see in the games.

      Again, would you just say that every spot should be settled before spring based on previous stats? Then Dickerson would get the nod anyway.

      • Again, would you just say that every spot should be settled before spring based on previous stats?Then Dickerson would get the nod anyway.

        No, you take into account what they’ve done in the years and years and years of games before the spring. And I don’t think it’s clear at all that Dickerson would get the nod using that view (the argument can be made either way). Stubbs has done well in the minors, and is at an age where you can expect substantial improvement.

        The point is that there are a billion things to base the decision on (including the things you’ve mentioned); using spring stats is the dumbest one of those.

        • No, you take into account what they’ve done in the years and years and years of games before the spring. And I don’t think it’s clear at all that Dickerson would get the nod using that view (the argument can be made either way). Stubbs has done well in the minors, and is at an age where you can expect substantial improvement.The point is that there are a billion things to base the decision on (including the things you’ve mentioned); using spring stats is the dumbest one of those.

          first, my problem is it seems like you’re the only one saying that all they’re going to use is spring stats. strawman much?

          second, it also seems like you don’t want there to be any roster decisions made during the spring, and for a team that isn’t made of all-stars, that seems like hamstringing yourself. if one guy looks a lot better than another, and there isn’t much difference in track record, i’m glad they go with the guy who looks a lot better.

          third, dickerson has out ops’d stubbs in the minors and majors, and by uzr played a better center field last year. so are you arguing only that stubbs should play because he was younger in the minors than dickerson was?

          if there was ever a bad metric to use for making decisions in the spring, that might be it.

  3. I have no problem with Dickerson starting CF and leading off. Heck, I think Dickerson has to be the leadoff batter against RHP. His ability to get on base is hard to ignore. If he fails, you still have Stubbs there too. I am not sold on Stubbs. I potential see him as a Geronimo type player, but I really don’t see him as a leadoff hitter.

  4. A lot of people have been griping about spring training stats and how pointless they are lately, and I feel like I have something to get off my chest:

    Just because all we have are the numbers, doesn’t mean that that’s all the decision makers have.

    They play these games for a reason, and if Stubbs gets sent down (or not) the decision will be made largely on the basis of how he looks at the plate and in the field. You have to remember, that just because we debate the numbers from mlb.com, doesn’t mean they do. That’s a total assumption. The coaches have WAY more information than we do. I doubt the numbers even come up.

    If Stubbs his lining out hard every AB, taking bad pitches, there’s no way they’re going to send him down. No chance. If he’s striking out all the time and not having good ABs, then maybe they will send him down to get right.

    He’s not exactly established, I’d rather have him figure out how to hit in the minors if he’s off. It is a competition after all. If you disagree with the idea that any roster spots should be up for competition during spring training, then that’s a different gripe, but I don’t think you do.

    If Dickerson wins, it won’t be because of numbers.

  5. For me, the real race is between Gomes and Stubbs. Gomes in RF, Stubbs in CF, Dickerson plays in the place of the looser. IMO Dickerson is the ONLY servicable lead off hitter, he needs to start somewhere.

    I strongly feel if Stubbs wins, Nix is out and I like Nix on this team. I like his ability to play any field and I like having a power lefty off the bench.

  6. Gomes and Stubbs or Nix and Stubbs, I’m confused.

    Gomes is on the team, no doubt. Signed a 1mil big league deal, having a good spring, clubhouse guy. No doubt.

    I got no problem with Nix really, but Stubbs was better last year and projects to be better this year if you buy into things like CHONE.

    • I got no problem with Nix really, but Stubbs was better last year and projects to be better this year if you buy into things like CHONE.

      Stubbs projects to be much worse this year if you buy into things like spring stats. 🙂

  7. Dickerson should be the leadoff hitter, whether he plays CF or LF. Stubbs could be much better off lower in the lineup, to take some of the pressure off of him.

    There really should be two battles going on here. (1) who plays CF, and (2) who leads off. Even if Stubbs plays CF and Dickerson LF, Dickerson should lead off. I say “should be two battles” because you never know if Baker is paying any attention to OBP, and you can probably doubt he is.

  8. This may be a case of if Stubbs doesn’t win the starting spot, he starts the season at AAA.

  9. Dickerson projects as a 4th outfielder no matter how you slice it. In 2 years he has proven that he belongs in the majors only. He has yet to prove he should be an evryday starter. He has talent but he cannot stay healthy. If the Reds are relying on him to get 400 ABs, they are already on shaky ground.
    As for Stubbs, he has superior speed and defense. It will be very important for the Reds to have someone who can steal at the top of the order. And considering they already sacrificed defense up the middle by choosing Cabrera over Janish, they will need a good fielder in center to round up all those balls Cabrera has let by

  10. @Python Curtus: I don’t buy Stubbs has superior speed and defense. He has better base stealing ability, but Dickerson is plenty capable of playing a great defensive centerfield. He has played his best defensively (and the numbers show it) at CF. Stubbs issue for me is getting on base. You can’t steal 1st base, he needs to learn how to walk more. Dickerson has proven in his opportunities that he can get on base at a very good clip.

    I think Stubbs can be great defensively and hold his own offensively, I just don’t like him at the top of the order, especially against RHP when Dickerson has a far superior OBP.

  11. I don’t believe the sample size is that small. 20 at bats? You assume it is about Spring Training alone. Give the baseball people a little more credit than that.

    Look at the minor league numbers of the two and they are practically the same. Look at their first year call-up numbers. As good as Stubbs was Dickerson’s was better as his batting average alone was 40 points higher. And, Dickerson had a nice full first season to back it up.

    Forget the team led Stubbs hype. If you haven’t learned by now that the off season is for selling tickets you just need to look at history. And if you haven’t learned in the Cincinnati market that it means over promoting the young good looking white kids, then you haven’t been paying attention. (Jay Bruce, Austin Kearns, Homer Bailey, etc.). Heck they had us believing Kurt Stillwell was the answer at shortstop over Barry Larkin.

    Everyone complains about Dickerson’s injuries. I seem to remember the same arguments about Eric Davis, Barry Larkin and Reggie Sanders. I think we would take any of those three again.

    I hope Stubbs is tremendous but I hope Dickerson is too. I hope they both play but Dickerson has every right to be in the running for the starting spot in center and based on previous experience he should have expected to be at the top on the depth chart there. I don’t think I would want him on the team otherwise.

    • I don’t believe the sample size is that small. 20 at bats?

      Ummm…okay. Look at their ages in those minor league numbers. Wasn’t Dickerson older than Stubbs at every single level?

      I don’t really care. I like both guys. I don’t care who starts.

      Mark, of course, thought Darnell McDonald deserved to make the Opening Day roster last year, so I’m not sure we should take your advice. 😉

  12. I have said from the beginning that Stubbs and Dickerson would be a perfect platoon in CF. I don’t know why so many people are against platoons. It keeps more players involved day to day. Unless you have a clear cut better player at a position, a platoon will get more players invoolved and will help avoid riding out bad streaks too long like with Willy and AGon last year.

  13. @Python Curtus: You can’t ask a guy to steal when he can’t get on base. Everyone will agree on the health issue, but you’ve got to play your best player until he can’t play.

  14. Who says anyone with the Reds is making the decision today as to who starts in CF and LF for the Reds? Some hyperactive bloggers want to handicap the decision. That can be a little bit of fun but is essentially pointless at this stage. It will be what it will be after the other two thirds of spring training. I’m more interested in what it looks like then. If Dickerson stays hot and Stubbs is still struggling, then Stubbs can go to AAA and get his stroke. If Dickerson tails off and Stubbs heats up, Stubbs starts in CF and Dickerson probably platoons with Gomes. Either of those are very real possibilities plus a bunch of other scenarios. There is just no way to predict at this point which scenario will play out. And since you can’t predict it, everyone would be better off slowing down and letting it unfold. Exactly the same story with the 5th starter question.

  15. @RedBlooded: This blog would not be nearly as fun if we just let things unfold. I think most of us know that our arguements have no bearing on the actual decision.

    • Right on. I mean, until the basketball games start tomorrow, what else do we have to do? When I get tired of the speculation, I just quit reading.

      @RedBlooded: This blog would not be nearly as fun if we just let things unfold. I think most of us know that our arguements have no bearing on the actual decision.

  16. @al: I don’t know if you’re missing the point on purpose, but I have an idea.

    First, I didn’t say all they were going to use was spring stats. You made that up. Don’t put words in my mouth. I said IF they use these spring stats to justify going back on a decision that they told us all off-season had been made (Stubbs is the CF), then it’s dumb. These are the same players they were at the beginning of spring training. Twenty AB’s is not a reason to completely reverse course. (And again, I’m not saying it’s wrong to reverse course; I don’t know who is better and a reasonable argument can be made either way).

    Forgive me if I don’t think decisions should be made based on who “looks better” in 20 ABs. Ridiculous way to make decisions.

    Finally, the fact that Stubbs was younger at every level is something that has to be taken into account when comparing their minor league numbers. It means he’s a better prospect and is likely to improve more than Dickerson. That doesn’t mean Dickerson shouldn’t start this year as the CF.

    Now, why don’t you get rid of that big fat straw man that you’ve constructed? I NEVER said that Stubbs should play over Dickerson. I’ve said that either one could be justified. You are putting words in my mouth again. Try reading what I wrote just once. You keep saying “it seems like” I’m arguing something. Try arguing against the actual points I’ve made.

    If you want to dispute something I actually said, let me know. If you want to be obtuse and argue against statements that were never made, I don’t have time.

  17. fair enough, sorry if i missed your point. i’m still not sure i have it, but not a big deal.

    feel free to correct me. my take was that #2 in your post was about how you disagreed with the reds changing course on center field based on the results of 20 ABs.

    since i had never read any coaches say anything to that effect, it seemed like you were making a problem out of nothing. my point was that if they’ve changed course on CF, they have a lot more information than the results of 20 ABs and i’d trust that.

    is your point that they shouldn’t have said that stubbs was going to start in CF if it really was a competition? i’m sure dickerson would agree with you there if so 🙂

  18. I love how CD gets on base at a nice clip. I am worried about his ability to stay healthy. He has only started 25 games in CF and played parts of 34 games in CF. In total, he has a total of just over 300 ABs. That’s not a lot of MLB experience for a guy that turns 28 in about 3 weeks. IF the REDS are counting on him alone to handle CF, that is a big mistake. Both CD and Stubbs have to make the roster. BTW, Stubbs has already started 15 more games in CF than CD!

  19. It will be interesting to see how this plays out but I think it’s clearly Stubbs job to lose. Most baseball folks seem to think Stubbs is an elite centerfielder – that will come into play I think. I am not sure that Stubbs profiles as a lead-off hitter though.

  20. The Reds just need to play who is getting the job done. That will fix a whole lot of things. If you are not hitting or looking like a schmo in the field, ride the pine. None of these guys really has earned anything and the guys getting it done should get the time. They had a lot of vacent at bats over the last two years wasted on guys like Gonzales, Willy T, Patterson and that no-name guy that started the season last year in left who didn’t do much (although that no-name guy did play OK for a few games down the stretch).

    Personally, I think all of them have some weaknesses and I would like to see some platooning based on who is pitching.

  21. Except for Bruce, in the OF we do need platooning based on who’s pitching. The decision about Stubbs will be based on whether management thinks he’s ready.

    Last year with the Reds, Stubbs hit lefties better than righties. How well did he hit lefties in his minor league career ?

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