Jay Bruce (The Enquirer/Michael E. Keating)

It appears that Cincinnati’s Opening Day roster is set. Not a lot of surprises; let’s examine the guys that will line up along the first base line on Thursday afternoon:

Pitchers
Edinson Volquez
Travis Wood
Bronson Arroyo
Mike Leake
Sam LeCure

* Here’s your rotation to begin the season. Volquez is at the top, which we all expected. Then things get a little screwy. Arroyo has the ebola virus or something, so he’s been dropped back to #3 initially. Travis Wood, who couldn’t even make the team last year, is the current #2. That’s temporary, of course, but he has still solidified his spot in the major league rotation. Big step for the young guy.

Leake and LeCure are likely the odd men out once Homer Bailey and Johnny Cueto get healthy. I see LeCure being an option for the bullpen at that point, but unless someone else gets hurt (or if Cueto or Bailey are injured worse than the Reds are letting on), Leake is likely headed to AAA.

Matt Maloney
Bill Bray
Aroldis Chapman
Jared Burton
Logan Ondrusek
Nick Masset
Francisco Cordero.

* This is a really strong bullpen. Cordero has his faults as closer, but Masset, Chapman, and Burton are all very good options in the setup role. There are three lefties, which gives Dusty Baker some options. Obviously, Jared Burton had to leave the game early yesterday, so injuries could become a concern, but I’m pretty happy with the bullpen right now.

My guess is that Maloney and Ondrusek need to pitch well to hang onto their spot when LeCure becomes an option, or when Jose Arredondo is ready.

Volquez certainly has #1 starter-quality hair. (The Enquirer/Michael Keating)

Infield
Joey Votto
Brandon Phillips
Scott Rolen
Paul Janish
Edgar Renteria
Miguel Cairo
Juan Francisco

* If Janish gets the bulk of the starts at shortstop (and I’m very doubtful on that point), this is likely the best defensive infield in the National League. They can hit a little, too. Votto should be great again, Phillips should be the same player we’ve seen in the past. Scott Rolen’s health is the question mark. He was clearly worn down by last October, and he played more games in 2010 than he had played in five years. Should we expect him to repeat that run of health? (The answer is no.)

The bench is a little weak. You should expect Cairo to go back to his career norms this year (and next year!), while Edgar Renteria is what he is. I’ve actually come around on Francisco a bit. He doesn’t have the skill set to be a starter, but he could be helpful as a left-handed power bat off the bench. All in all, I’d prefer Todd Frazier in that bench spot, but Francisco is okay.

Perhaps my biggest concern about the 2011 Reds is what we’re going to see if Rolen is on the disabled list for any extended period of time. Miguel Cairo is simply a terrible option as a starter on anything resembling a full-time basis. I appreciate what the guy did last year, but it isn’t reasonable to expect him to repeat that, especially if he has to play more often.

Catchers
Ryan Hanigan
Ramon Hernandez

* We have an idea what we are getting here. It’s a good tandem, although I’m outraged that Corky Miller didn’t make the team (no, I’m not). Once Devin Mesoraco is ready, the Reds will be in good shape at the catcher spot for years to come.

Outfield
Jonny Gomes
Drew Stubbs
Jay Bruce
Chris Heisey

* Two-thirds of the outfield are in great shape, and Heisey is a terrific option off the bench. Concerns: Heisey is the only outfield backup right now (unless you include Francisco, who can barely manage to stand upright out there in left field), and Gomes is one of the worst left fielders in baseball. Stubbs and Bruce should be very good, though…and that makes me feel a bit better.

Overall, it’s a good roster, and should be better once everyone gets healthy. Let’s get this thing started!

23 Responses

  1. Bill Lack

    I’m ready to get it started, but I’m concerned about the rash of injuries….things like this seem like omens almost. Will they continue all year, limit players effectiveness, etc? I hope not.

    As someone else posted, the Reds play 16 of their first 22 against Arizona, Houston, and Pittsburgh. I think a fast start is important, to establish confidence within and to show the rest of the league that last year wasn’t a fluke.

  2. Redtardation

    My biggest concern is the lack of a LH hitting outfielder other than Bruce. Given Dusty’s platoon love for certain players but not others seems like its going to be an issue until Fred Lewis is healthy enough to play.

  3. Travis G.

    That’s an exciting 25-man roster, even without arguably our best starter and our third- or fourth-best one. The biggest flaw you pointed out, Chad, is the easiest one to fix. Veteran role players are freely available at the trade deadline, but we’ve got some viable options on the 40-man roster in Frazier, Cozart and Valaika. Same goes with the outfield, once Lewis “recovers” from his “injury,” and the bullpen, with Arredondo and Smith.

    It’ll be real interesting to see where the Reds stand in July. As it looks now, it would seem they’ll be in the market for a better backup 3B or starting LF, with plenty of trade chips on hand. Of course, my crystal ball doesn’t show injuries, but this looks like a talented, dynamic and deep ballclub that knows what it takes to win. I really can’t wait until Thursday!

  4. Steve

    I’m excited for the start of the year, but the development this spring where Renteria decided he didn’t want to play 3B or 1B (or said he couldn’t play them) was a huge negative for the overall bench.

    When WJ was asked at a Reds caravan event that I attended, what the role for Renteria was going to be, he said to back up across the infield. He specifically said Renteria would take some ground balls at 3B and 1B. While that does make him sort of an overlapping player with Miguel Cairo, it made some sense. We needed someone to play those 40+ games that Rolen won’t start.

    Then, Baker announces that Renteria isn’t going to play 3B or 1B. In fact, Renteria only played a very little bit at 2B.

    With Renteria only being able to back up SS and 2B, that means Cairo has to play 40 games as a 3B and what happens if we need him at 1B, too, for a short time (heaven forbid)?

    That’s what put Francisco into play for the roster – some backup for Rolen. But that leaves us with only four real OF, which is a bad situation. Now it looks like the failure to sign a legitimate 3B back up — when we KNEW that Rolen would be rested for 40+ games — was a real failure in off-season planning.

    It’s just hard to believe that Renteria – if he’s really facing the prospect of being the backup SS – wouldn’t at least try to take some balls at 3B, knowing there are 40+ games of being in the starting lineup at stake.

    It almost brings out the paranoid, Baker-conspiracy, side of me, thinking that Renteria has been privately assured he’s going to become the SS soon, so why practice anywhere else?

    I guess Janish can always play 3B if necessary.

  5. Redtardation

    There are a lot of playing time issues with that roster for sure.

    Will Gomes see a ton of time against RH pitching because “we dont have a LH option”. Almost seems to be on purpose.

    What is the point of Renteria, Cairo, and Francisco? Francisco going to be back up 1st and 3rd then where is Cairo going play? Only Francisco carries and stick and his is suspect at best when it comes to translating to MLB.

    It certainly brings up a lot of questions.

  6. nllspc

    “(and next year!)” LOL

    …Mr. Jocketty, what were you thinking

  7. Sultan of Swaff

    Good point Chad about Heisey being the only true backup outfielder. Here in Chicago, I got to see the Reds vs. the Sox yesterday. Heisey (and Stubby) showed tremendous range in center. If he can hit enough to play left field, we easily have the best defensive outfield in baseball…..to go with the best defensive infield. I think the clock is running out on Gomes because if Heisey starts, Johnny doesn’t have the ability to backup center or right. You’d have to DFA him and bring up Sappelt or Frazier.

  8. Matt WI

    I don’t know guys, I’m sort of nostalgic for Jimmy Haynes or Darnell McDonald. Just doesn’t seem right.

  9. Steve

    Arroyo pitched well today. Other than giving up two home runs to Shin Soo Choo, which Arroyo does when he’s perfectly healthy, he shut the Indians out. He pitched into the seventh inning.

    Renteria started at SS, along with all the (other) regulars, Paul Janish came in off the bench with all the (other) bench players.

  10. pinson343

    @Steve: You beat me to it, with your Arroyo comment. SIx and a third innings, allowing 2 runs on HRs to Choo, is mid-season form for Bronson. (He’s allowed 2 HRs in a game to Choo before.)

    I was getting nervous about our starting rotation, but the good performances from Leake and Arroyo the last 2 days have settled me down.

    What can anyone make of how well Jerry Gil has pitched ? I know about sample size, I’d like to hear from someone who has seen him pitch. What is his breaking ball ? He’s throwing it for strikes ?

  11. al

    I don’t know why Francisco doesn’t get more love on this board. He’s been a highly rated prospect for a few years now, for a reason. He’s won the MVP in winter ball twice. Is he perfect, no, but Todd Frazier? Please, tell me that was a joke.

    I always thought Frazier as a #1 prospect was ridiculous. He’s certainly no better than Chris Heisey, and will probably be a good deal worse in the final analysis. When utility man is your upside, you are not a #1 prospect.

    I think Francisco is going to be fine as the backup to Rolen, and I’m fine with him in left too, he’s as good as Gomes, and it is the least important defensive position on a very good defensive team.

    The real issue on the bench is Cairo. Francisco can back up 1st and 3rd, Renteria can back up 2nd and short. I’d rather have Hermida on the bench than Cairo. Then the bench has two lefties, two righties, two outfielders, and two infielders.

  12. al

    @pinson343: i’ve only seen gil a few times but i think his breaking ball is a slider that is average. he may also throw a split finger.

    his fastball is very good though. mid 90’s very easily, with good movement. out of the bullpen i think he could be a cheap, effective middle reliever in the near future.

  13. dn4192

    What happen to Fred Lewis? I mean did he even suit up and play any this spring? I mean I know we didn’t pay alot for him, but I have to wonder if Walt was totally off on this guy or Dusty didn’t like him or what?

    Also what are the odds in vegas right now on Janish being the back up SS? I gotta figure high at this point?

    Am I the only who feels we we won’t see either Homer or Cueto much this season on the major league level?

  14. pinson343

    @al: I too would rather have Hermida on the bench than Cairo. Keeping Cairo around has put the Reds in a bind. Renteria can play 2nd, Francisco can play 3rd, what do we need Cairo for ? Plus we have Valaika and Frazier for organizational depth.

  15. pinson343

    @al: Thanks Al for the Gil response. The surprising thing to me is that he’s throwing strikes, and he seems to be pitching a little, not just throwing. If Burton is hurt and Ondrusek keeps melting down, Gil might be an option. Back when he was a position player, I loved watching him let loose with a throw.

  16. Dave Lowenthal

    @pinson343: Preseason games…mean nothing.

    And if they did mean something, Leake’s outing wasn’t that great: 2 BB and 3 K in 5 2/3 IP.

  17. RiverCity Redleg

    @Steve: I mentioned the same disappointment in Renteria on an earlier post. I think it’s absolutely ridiculous that he refuses to play 3rd. You make a good point, though, that if needed, Janish could always move over to 3rd. But, of course, that wouldn’t be the optimal def lineup.

    • Bill Lack

      @Steve: I mentioned the same disappointment inRenteria on an earlier post. I think it’s absolutely ridiculous that he refuses to play 3rd. You make a good point, though, that if needed, Janish could always move over to 3rd. But, of course, that wouldn’t be the optimal def lineup.

      He refuses or management refuses to push him to? Who knows?

      My guess is someone said, “Play 3rd or be unemployed and we won’t pay your contract” (Has to be some way out of paying someone that won’t play the position assigned), he’d get out to 3B pretty quick.

  18. al

    @dn4192: it’s official now, paul janish is the starting shortstop on opening day.

    can we all finally take the reds management at their word yet?

  19. RiverCity Redleg

    @Bill Lack: I acknowledge that some of the culpability should fall on management. Dusty said at the beginning of S-T that they asked him to take some balls at 3rd and he replied that he didn’t feel comfortable there b/c it was too close to the batter and he doesn’t have the reflexes he had earlier in his career. So Dusty accepted that he won’t play 3rd.
    This is all ridiculous of course. First, management should have known before they signed him if wasn’t willing to play the position they need him for the most. Secondly, to say he doesn’t have the reflexe3s at his age is crazy, considering the two guys that will be playing 3rd are Rolen and Cairo, both as old or older and ER is a SS, suposedly the more athletic position. Just look at Ripken who moved to 3rd when he got too old for ss. Or ARod, Aurillia, Garciapara or any of the countless SSs who move to 3rd at the tail end of their career. Or even Johnny Bench who moved to 3rd when his reflexes were no longer good enough for catcher. Point being, to still think you can compete for the ss job but not have the reflexes for 3B is absurd.

  20. jrob45601

    @RiverCity Redleg:
    Totally agree. And not just defense. Did he just tell the whole league that there is no chance he can get around on an inside fastball? Or react to the difference between a fastball and hard slider? Horrible signing all the way around. Between this and the Lewis debacle (Jocketty signing a guy that Dusty doesnt seem to want on the roster at all), there is a big disconnect between GM and manager. Amazing that said manager just got a contract extension.

  21. jrob45601

    @Bill Lack:
    Unfortunately, the union would probably prevent them from voiding a contract for refusal to play a position. Especially considering he has never played it before. But I agree. I would eat the contract and release him, and let everyone know its because he refused to accept a backup role, and refused to play multiple positions that would have gotten him on the field more.

    Another thing, wasn’t his “leadership” a reason for this signing? What kind of leader doesnt stand up and say “I will do whatever I need to do to help this team win.”

  22. dn4192

    @al:

    Being the OD starting SS does not mean you are the everyday SS. Lets see playing time come say June and see who played more games at SS by then..