2010 Reds / 2011 Reds

Looking (again) at the 2011 roster

We’re going to be hammering this nail all winter long, but the Reds have some very interesting decisions to make as they look toward the 2011 season.

We should be hearing about this soon, but GM Walt Jocketty expects Jay Bruce to qualify for arbitration this year, and he’ll be due a substantial raise over the $440,000 he made this year. Bruce earned it, but it will put a further crimp on the 2011 budget (especially if the Reds pick up Bronson Arroyo’s option, as expected).

Other items of note that emerged from John Fay’s interview with Jocketty that I’ve linked above:

–The Reds have had some discussions about bringing Arthur Rhodes back. I think they have to do that, if the price isn’t outrageous.

–According to Fay:

The Reds have not told any of the players with options – Aaron Harang, Bronson Arroyo, Jonny Gomes or Orlando Cabrera – whether they will exercise the options or not. Jocketty has said Arroyo’s will be picked up and Gomes’ “probably will.” The Reds certainly won’t pick up Harang’s at $12.5 million and won’t likely pick up Cabrera’s at $4 million.

My first thought: why are they going to pick up Gomes’ option? If it’s to be the everyday starter in LF, that’s a terrible decision. If they pick up that option with the idea that Gomes will be a backup outfielder and pinch-hitter, that would be reasonable. Color me concerned.

Also, Jocketty has indicated that he’d like to bring back Cabrera, if possible. It’s a similar situation to what we saw with Ramon Hernandez last year, when Cincinnati declined his option but signed Ramon to a new deal. I really don’t want to see the Reds re-sign Cabrera, though he grew on me throughout the 2010 season. The primary reason for my hesitation: if Cabrera is here, he starts and bats second. One of the benefits to having Paul Janish as the primary shortstop — besides the brilliant defense — is that Dusty won’t be tempted to bat him near the top of the lineup. If Cabrera had batted eighth this season, you would have seen far fewer complaints in this space.

Finally, Jocketty says they are going to look at bringing the aforementioned Ramon Hernandez back. I think that’s probably a no-brainer, unless there’s a market for Ramon out there that we don’t know about. Hernandez had a great 2010 season, and the Reds don’t have anyone ready to step in as Ryan Hanigan’s best buddy. If all goes well, perhaps Devin Mesoraco will be ready at some point in 2011, but it would be a poor idea indeed to count on that.

45 thoughts on “Looking (again) at the 2011 roster

  1. why not use corky miller to spot start for hannigan while we wait for Mesoraca to develop rather than paying hernandez? It is widely known that this guy can call a game, and given enough ab’s he is servicable with a bat

  2. In today’s column, Fay makes the case (it’s a pretty easy one) that, barring a trade, Janish be the starting SS in 2011. I would not mind bringing back OC for a reduced salary, if he were used properly: replacing Cairo as our utility IFer. (I love what Cairo did in 2010, but I’d still say good bye now.)

    Would OC accept reduced salary and a utility role ? Would Dusty use him that way ? Very big IFs.

  3. I have to agree with your concern with bringing back Cabrera. Dusty will pencil him in as the regular starter and keep using him at the top of the line-up. Cairo is also a free agent. He did a good job as back-up to Rolen. Rolen can’t play a full season any more. I would rather see the Reds bring Cairo back than Cabrera.

  4. Votto is The Sporting News All Star 1st baseman ! This is a major award, the all stars are selected by the GMs.

    Albert was also replaced as the Player of the Year, by former Red Josh Hamilton.

  5. I’m also in favor of bringing back Arthur, if it can be done at about the same salary ($2 M).

  6. Free Janish.

    I doubt Cabrera would agree to come back as a back-up utility player.

    There was enough obsolete Orlando “Gold Glove” “Playoff Winner” Cabrera commentary this year that surely some misguided team will sign him as a starting SS.

    If the Reds don’t bring him back as a starter, make that five teams in a row who had the opportunity to resign his “winning ways” and passed.

    Fingers crossed.

    Free Janish!

  7. And, if no other major league team wants to sign Cabrera as their starting shortstop, what does that say about the Reds evaluation in 2010 and 2011 if they do want him back?

  8. I think they’re taking the wait and see approach with Gomes. I wouldn’t say he’s being brought back to start, moreso platoon with Nix/Heisey/Frazier. I think they want someone to emerge in Spring Training and make the decision for them, and if not they’ll have the same situation as last year. Hopefully Nix and co can stay healthy so we’re not forced to suffer through Gomes as an everyday player. $1.8mn is still great value regardless

  9. My thoughts:

    Ditch Gomes and Cabrera. Bring Hernandez back for the right price.

    Gomes is a trainwreck. We might not all want to admit it, and certainly, he is a great guy, but he is not qualified to be anything other than a platoon DH or pinch hitter.

    Cabrera is probably fine, but not better than Janish who will bat 8th (where Cabrera should have hit).

    Here’s a question, what should he batting order (realistically) be next year? Who hits leadoff?

  10. @Jason461: Assuming the changes to the roster happen that we want, I’d bat:

    Phillips
    Hanigan
    Votto
    New slugging LF
    Bruce
    Stubbs
    Rolen
    Janish
    Pitcher

  11. Would love to be able to put Stubbs leadoff, or maybe Brett Gardner but I’m guessing we’re ruling out free agent signings given Bruce’s situation. It’d be nice to able to bat Phillips 2nd

  12. @MikeB: I’d like that, but I don’t think Dusty will bat Hanigan 2nd. Rolen, maybe, but my guess is that it will be Stubbs. Or perhaps Heisey if he is next year’s starting LFer.

  13. I love Gomes… OK I love his attitude and approach more so than the fact he drops off the face of the earth after the All-Star break. Gomes should be a backup for us next season. We have plenty of pitching that we could trade one or two of them for a solid right handed power hitting left fielder. Signing one outright is probably out of the question. We need to trade Coco to the Yankees or Red Sox and make Chapman or Bailey our closer, unless we trade a SP or two for a left fielder.
    What do we do with Yonder Alonso and Juan Fransisco? I say trade one or both and Cueto to KC for Zack Greinke. Granted we will have to pay Bruce and Votto, but if we could lose Harrang and Cordero’s overpriced salaries the we could go and sign someone like Jayson Werth to play left.

    I’d love to see the 2011 lineup & batting order look like this:

    CF – Stubbs
    2b – Phillips
    3b – Votto
    LF – Right Handed/Power Hitting Left Fielder to be named later.
    RF – Bruce
    3b – Rolen
    C – Hannigan
    SS – Janish
    P – Arroyo, Volquez, Wood, Bailey, Leake, Cueto
    CL – Cordero and/or Chapman

  14. @xumuskiefan: Alonso and Fransisco should both go to AAA to hopefully establish a higher trade value. Right now, I’m not sure either is considered an elite prospect; they’re just a step below.

  15. If I am GM I let Hernandez, Gomes, Cabrera, and Harang all walk. Otherwise I know 3 of the 4 are going to be penciled into the starting lineup the majority of the time. I use that money to lock up Bruce and Votto for the next 4 years (maybe back-loading it a bit until Cordero comes off the payroll in 2011). Hanigan catches 100 games for me with Miller as an understudy until Mesoraco is ready. Janish is my starting SS with Cairo and Valaika as backups. I also eyeball the potential of Cozart and Frazier to become utility players sometime in 2011.

    I spend prospects like Francisco, Maloney, Lehr, and Alonso, plus one of my 7 SPs to get a LF – either a legit 4 hole hitter or a lead off hitter. If I can go get Greinke I do it, but I don’t break the system, fail to lock up Bruce and Votto, or ignore the problem at LF to manage it.

    Heisey and Nix come back as my 4th and 5th outfielders.

  16. @Jason1972: I agree, but I would look to upgrade Cairo. He’s old and there are lots of younger players with similar skill sets who could fill that roll well.

    Put another way, Cairo did a great job filling in when he had to this year, but that’s not something I would count on happening again.

  17. The problem with signing Gomes as a backup OF is that he can realistically only play LF. Heisey can play all three OF positions and has shown an aptitude for pinch hitting that Gomes hasn’t.

    We could sign both Gomes and Heisey as the two backups, but that means no LH off the bench, which is not the best.

    As someone said here before, the problem with Gomes is not the cost, it’s the opportunity cost — and that applies either as a starting LF or as a backup.

  18. I don’t understand why Reds management fails to see what we find so completely obvious. Having guys like Gomes, Cabrera, Nix, Cairo and the like prohibit the development of your quality minor league players. We need to figure out if Alonso, Valaika and Francisco are major league ready in 2011, along with continuing the development of Frazier, Cozart and the other young guys in Louisville.
    Sure, exercise options on Arroyo and Hernandez, but look to move them to secure a bat in LF, or hand the job to someone like Heisey. We need to use our positions of strength to improve the team. I would like Stubbs to take over that leadoff spot, dropping BP down to third. WE NEED A THIRD BASEMAN as well. Rolen is a very old 85 years of age. He can’t be expected to play like he did in the first half for a full season. Heck, I don’t think he makes it out of the spring without serious issues. Why can’t we find another 3B, or find out if one of the kids is ready?

  19. @Jason in Toronto: You make some good points, but where is there evidence that management “fails to see” what we find completely obvious? I’m going to go out on a limb here and venture that running a ballclub is a lot more complex than anyone here understands. Part of the fun of being a fan is playing the ‘what if’ game, but fans need to understand that it’s just not that easy.

    All that said, there is no reason to think the Reds won’t do all of the things you said; they’re under no obligation to divulge what their plans are. In fact, it’s probably advantageous not to.

  20. Everyone should read Hot Stove Economics. It will help readers understand just how complicated it can get for management this time of year.

  21. There is under no circumstances that I bring back Cabrera! If he is brought back at all, Dusty WILL use him as the starter. He is awful in the field and not that useful at the plate. He is the Reds version of Nefi Perez. Janish is better and cheaper. Cozart is very good at SS and has great power for the position.

    I would not bring back Gomes, even with the reasonable 1.8 mil option. Balentien, Heisey, Sappelt, and/or Frazier can do just as well for a third the money. I really like him, but he just isn’t that useful a baseball player. And again, if he is brought back, Dusty WILL start him.

    Also, I liked what Cairo did, I just can’t believe that he can maintain that for another year. I would love to see the Reds sign Ty Wiggington to caddy for Rolen and give breaks to Phillips and Votto.

    I think Rhodes would be good to bring back dependent on his ankle. If he will be 100% and you get him at 2 mil for 1 year, then I would do it. I’d hate to give him more than a 1 year deal…but other than Bray and Chapman, lefty depth is very thin for relievers.

    The option with Hernandez, I am on the fence. I do think he is the best of a terrible group of FA’s outside of Victor Martinez. However, he is a type A free agent which is surely going to scare teams away from signing him. I say let him test the waters and bring him back cheap. If not, take the draft pick, use Corky for two months until Devin is ready. Mesoraco is the future of the franchise at catcher, he is going to be a good one. Hanigan then will be the best backup catcher in the majors.

    I’d love to see them lock up Votto long term and possibly Bruce this offseason. I think if you can get Bruce locked up right now, it will save money because he is a year or two from a MONSTER season, I believe. He showed so much improvement this year, you can’t help but be encouraged.

  22. A lot has been said from time to time and again in this thread about giving the younger guys a chance to prove themselves and favoring them over veterans for the bench spots.

    In the last two years, the Reds have gone from being wannabes to being legitimate contenders. By and large, if contenders want to remain contenders and win championships, they can’t do it by evaluating talent on the fly at the MLB level like a team that is not in contention does.

    I am not tied to the current cast of veteran untility players and would be utility guys (Cabrera if back; Gomes in that role; Hernandez with Hanigan assuming a larger role) if better replacements can be found. However I don’t want to see a bench made up of AAA guys looking for their break. Those guys need to be down at AAA playing everyday; and, hopefully playing so well that they force a move or that when someone gets hurt resulting in them being called up they will play so well that they can’t be sent back down.

    A lot has been said about Chris Heisey and his year in 2010. I would maintain that he was victimized not because he did not get more playing time in the MLB but was victimized because the team did not have the depth to send him back down when cooled off and the league caught up with him. Had they been able to send him down to play every day, he could have worked on the weaknesses that had been uncovered and perhaps come back later as a solid contributor like he was when he first came up. At the very least he would probably been in a stronger position for next year than he is now.

    • I don’t want to see a bench made up of AAA guys looking for their break. Those guys need to be down at AAA playing everyday.

      Agreed.

      I like the idea of bringing Cabrera and Hernandez back as backups, like many of you, but certainly not as everyday regulars. I don’t think Gomes has enough value to serve as a bench player (he can only play LF, and barely, and doesn’t do well as a pinch hitter), and he won’t be as cheap. I would decline his option, as much as I like the guy.

      Cairo has some defensive versatility and has adapted well to being a part-time player. He also, according to a story I read during the playoffs, is an “expert” at noticing when pitchers tip their pitches. (This helps our hitters and our pitchers, btw.) Skills like that are underrated, important and teachable.

      Janish earned a starting job absent a notable upgrade, which is unlikely given the free agent and trade markets. But he isn’t terribly durable, so he’ll need a competent backup. I just don’t see Valaika or Cairo being that guy, but Cabrera would be ideal in that role (and as backup 2B/3B) if he’d accept it. Frazier could be a nice addition if he can play regularly at multiple positions.

      That leaves LF as the only position that really needs attention, and luckily it’s one of the easiest to fill. Whether the Reds find a top-of-the-order guy or a cleanup hitter, it will improve the team. Not a bad spot to be in at the end of October.

  23. @OhioJim: They would not be “evaluating talent at the MLB level”. They already know tyhe talents of these players. it’s just a question of whether they can translate to the MLB game or not. The point most are making here is that “talent-wise” the guys in AAA are higher than the broken down veterans currently on the roster, not to mention cheaper.

  24. @Travis G.: I agree with your assessment, but the problem with Cabrera is that if he is brought back he will be the everyday starter. We’re better off not taking that chance and making Cozart the backup ss/utility guy. He’s got good speed, pop in his bat and is solid defensively at ss or 3b. I don’t mind keeping Cairo on the bench as well for that veteran prescence and PH experience, plus he can play 1b, 2b or 3b if needed.

  25. What about the idea of trading Brandon Phillips? I don’t believe the team WILL, but wonder what the thoughts here would be…

    • What about the idea of trading Brandon Phillips? I don’t believe the team WILL, but wonder what the thoughts here would be…

      I’d be fine with it if whatever we got in return made the team better. It’s not all that hard to find a good 2nd baseman. Phillips is a very good player but if some other team values him more than the Reds do, then by all means, trade him.

    • What about the idea of trading Brandon Phillips? I don’t believe the team WILL, but wonder what the thoughts here would be…

      This is an intriguing idea. It would certainly save a LOT of money since BP is due a very hefty raise this year.

      He would be impossible to replace one-for-one, but could we come close enough to make it worth while, spending the money on a more important need.

      And, is BP at the stage of his career where he begins to decline? If so, trade him now.

      I’m not saying I’d do this. He is an extremely valuable player in the field and has some virtues at the plate. If we traded him we wouldn’t be as good at 2B overall.

      But it’s still in interesting idea. I wonder if the Reds are considering it.

  26. @OhioJim: I agree. If a guy is a legit prospect, then you’re wasting him by sitting him on the big league bench and giving him a few at-bats per week, when he could be down in AAA improving his game and perhaps enhancing his trade value.

    • Jocketty just said they’re probably keeping Gomes. Oh, well.

      I can make a solid defense of this, for right now. The Reds have to exercise the option within the next couple of weeks. If they don’t, they lose their rights to Gomes and would have to resign him at the market rate, which is probably higher than the 1.8 million he is due. There is no guarantee that a better LF option will be available on the free agent or trade market, nor any guarantee that any of the young guys (Heisey included) will outplay Gomes to clearly win the job in spring training.

      Thus, Gomes and his $1.8 million dollar salary are LF insurance. If a better option comes along, then he is a cheap trade piece for an AL team that might need a bat, or as we’ve seen with Aaron Miles, the team is clearly willing to cut bait with a player (and salary) that is under-performing.

      If a better LF option does not emerge by the end of spring training, then you either get a) Gomes playing better than he did this year, which makes him a bargain; b) Gomes playing at the level he played this year, and his low salary makes him expendable if a better option comes along, or c) he’s really bad, in which case, see the Aaron Miles example.

      I understand the opportunity cost argument of having Gomes on the roster. Just because they pick up his option doesn’t mean he is guaranteed to be the starter. It’s just a low cost insurance policy in case the other plans don’t work out.

      • I can make a solid defense of this, for right now. The Reds have to exercise the option within the next couple of weeks. If they don’t, they lose their rights to Gomes and would have to resign him at the market rate, which is probably higher than the 1.8 million he is due. There is no guarantee that a better LF option will be available on the free agent or trade market, nor any guarantee that any of the young guys (Heisey included) will outplay Gomes to clearly win the job in spring training.Thus, Gomes and his $1.8 million dollar salary are LF insurance. If a better option comes along, then he is a cheap trade piece for an AL team that might need a bat, or as we’ve seen with Aaron Miles, the team is clearly willing to cut bait with a player (and salary) that is under-performing.
        If a better LF option does not emerge by the end of spring training, then you either get a) Gomes playing better than he did this year, which makes him a bargain; b) Gomes playing at the level he played this year, and his low salary makes him expendable if a better option comes along, or c) he’s really bad, in which case, see the Aaron Miles example.
        I understand the opportunity cost argument of having Gomes on the roster. Just because they pick up his option doesn’t mean he is guaranteed to be the starter. It’s just a low cost insurance policy in case the other plans don’t work out.

        The problem with this analysis — and I agree with it — is that it doesn’t factor in Baker’s mismanagement of the situation.

        It reminds me of the post I wrote when the Reds signed Willy Taveras — this is OK as long as he is the fourth OF and pinch runner (although pretty expensive for that). 500 AB later, well, we know how that turned out.

        In a world of pristine logic and sound roster decision-making, taking on Gomes makes sense. But Baker-proofing comes at a price.

  27. I’m not against trading anyone other than Votto and Bruce. Trading Phillips now doesn’t make too much sense though…almost any trade they would do that actually makes the team better would increase their overall salary. The Reds have to be beyond the point where they are dumping guys solely in year 2 b/c they will be due for a raise in year 3.

    That said, maybe Phillips can be Tommy Helms and whoever we get turns out to be Joe Morgan.

  28. @Steve: My assumption is that if Gomes is one the opening day roster, he will be on the roster to be the starting LF or not at all. And if Gomes is the opening day LF, then that means that either the Reds didn’t acquire someone this off season to play LF every day, or that none of the young guys played well enough in spring training to earn the job. I believe that if someone outplays Gomes enough to play LF, they will deal or release Gomes since he doesn’t provide much value off the bench. Basically, he’ll be the best option to play LF, or he won’t be there at all.

    • @Steve: My assumption is that if Gomes is one the opening day roster, he will be on the roster to be the starting LF or not at all. And if Gomes is the opening day LF, then that means that either the Reds didn’t acquire someone this off season to play LF every day, or that none of the young guys played well enough in spring training to earn the job. I believe that if someone outplays Gomes enough to play LF, they will deal or release Gomes since he doesn’t provide much value off the bench. Basically, he’ll be the best option to play LF, or he won’t be there at all.

      I’m with you on that. That makes perfect logical sense.

      Where that breaks down is on the evaluation of LF in spring training. If Gomes is signed, he’ll win the job — in Baker’s eyes. Just like he did this year. During the second half of the season, Gomes was not better than Heisey, yet Baker played him every night.

      Baker: “Gomes is an RBI-guy.” (not recognizing that anyone who hit behind Joey Votto’s .424 OBP would be an RBI-guy).

      If we resign Gomes, Gomes will be the starting LF on Opening Day.

      Maybe, just maybe, we sign and trade him.

  29. @OhioJim:

    That’s the wrong way to look at it. Younger players make better bench players because they’re cost controlled, which leaves you with more money to spend on regulars. Sinking money on veteran bench players is as wasteful as it gets.

  30. @Steve: Luckily, I don’t think Dusty has final say on who is on the roster. He gets input, but ultimately it’s up to Walt. If Gomes is not the best LF option at the end of spring training, he’s gone.

  31. Gomes is a one-trick pony. I like Gomes, (we always preface our comments about the guy this way, don’t we?), but he cannot possibly be on the roster for any other reason but to play (read: butcher)LF. Fourth and fifth outfielders need to play all three positions unless you have a monster bat.

    No way at this point do we lose anything if Gomes walks. Heisey and Nix have already demonstrated power and plus defense. They are a good outfield bench. We need a solid LF starter. And I really don’t care at this point if he’s a high OBP, good D, and speed guy; or a masher who plays adequate defense, we could use either right now.

    Janish as a starter scares me. I don’t think his bat would be above .210 over the course of 400 abs, and that just isn’t enough to cover for his defensive capabilitiies. I know I am in the solid minority here, but while he is a plus defender, I don’t think he’s exceptional. Above average, yes. Concepcion/Larkin in the field? No. I believe a lot of playing time would bear that out. I could see him on a 50/50 with someone who has a better stick and not so great defense. I really had hoped that’s what they would have done with OCab last season. It would have been better for both of them. But OCab has another year on him now, and it would have to be at best a 70/30 split with Janish getting the lion’s share of the playing time, and I don’t think that would happen. We need a handcuff at SS.

  32. @preach: I believe you are sorely underestimating Janish’s defense. Nevermind his great def stats as Brien points out above, but just the eye test will tell you he has the strongest arm we’ve had at short since Larkin and maybe stronger. He fires the ball to 1st with accuracy no matter how deep in the hole he is. He is easily better than just above average. He very well may be the best defensive ss in the NL. I also think a .210 BA is a worst case and not the most probable scenerio for him. Admitedly, I would like to also have a reliable handcuff for Soft J with a better bat, but not at the expense of him getting the majority of start as OC would. I would be willing to give Cozart that opportunity, but also don’t mind to test the market for a veteran willing to be a backup/handcuff.

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