Miguel Cairo or Todd Frazier?

It’s quite possible this choice will confront the Reds next spring.

Assuming that 2012 infield roster spots are guaranteed for Joey Votto, Brandon Phillips, Zack Cozart and Scott Rolen, the Reds will add two utility infielders to the bench.  One of those two players must be a credible shortstop who could backup Cozart (38 major league plate appearances).  Neither Cairo or Frazier falls into that category, which puts them in direct competition for the remaining bench slot.

(Note: This presumes that Juan Francisco won’t be on the Reds Opening Day roster.  If Francisco makes the team, presumably to hit balls into the Ohio River, it’s hard to imagine Cairo or Frazier could make the team, because either of those choices would leave the Reds with only Cozart able to play SS.  Did I mention Cozart has only 38 plate appearances?)

Back to the non-Juan world, where the Reds sign a veteran backup shortstop and then face a choice between Cairo and Frazier.  Frazier has an edge in terms of defense.  Cairo looked pretty stiff at 2B in the few games he played there, and is barely passable at 3B.  Frazier has looked decent at 3B.  His best position may be 2B.  He has already played all four infield spots and left field for the Reds in 2011.

2012 will be Cairo’s age 38 season, Frazier will be 26.

At the plate, Frazier has a higher SLG and OPS, Cairo has a better OBP.  Frazier has hit 6 HR and has 14 RBI in just over 100 plate appearances.  Cairo’s career high in HR (7) and his 32 RBI have come in 270 plate appearances.

You might say that Cairo has already won the job, since he has a guaranteed $1 million contract for 2012.  But if the Reds decide they prefer Frazier, Cairo would be relatively easy to trade.  It’s also possible the Reds could trade Frazier, given his position flexibility and youth.

Many of us have been assuming that Cairo was a lock to make the 2012 roster, and perhaps that’s still true.  But, after a second look, there’s certainly a strong case that the Reds can and should move Cairo instead.

What say you, Nation?

Steve grew up in Cincinnati as a die-hard fan of Sparky’s Big Red Machine. After 25 years living outside of Ohio, mostly in Ann Arbor, he returned to the Queen City in 2004. He has resumed a first-person love affair with the Cincinnati Reds and is a season ticket holder at Great American Ball Park. The only place to find Steve’s thoughts of more than 140 characters is Redleg Nation. Follow his tweets @spmancuso.

Join the conversation! 17 Comments

  1. I vote Frazier.

  2. @Y-City Jim: Seconded. Frazier seems to have much more upside to me, and would also be cheaper. And Cairo would be relatively easy to trade as well.

    Not sure what to make of Francisco yet…incredible power but it remains to be seen how complete of a player he can become. I am, however, extremely excited about the prospect of Cozart becoming our starting SS next season, and of Yonder Alonso playing LF. The kids are alright.

  3. This won’t even be a question next spring in AZ. Dusty will demand to go with the one thing Cairo brings to the team over Frazier and that is “veteran creaminess” and thus Cairo (who is also on a 2 year deal) will come north and Frazier will head to Louisville along with Juan and Yonder. Only the rookie catcher will come north as Cozart my guess will have an extended spring to get back into baseball shape.

  4. I would go with Frazer, it’s time for him to stay with the Reds He can play a lot of positions fairly well and has pop. I do want to add that Cairo has done an unexpectedly good job coming off the bench for the Reds in both 2010 and 2011, I just wouldn’t look for a 3-peat.

  5. It’s time to trade Cairo this offseason. Also, let Renteria and Coco walk. Unload some of the big salaries.

  6. @Alex: I too am looking forward to Cozart and Alonso (and I would add Mesoraco) in the Reds starting lineup next season.

    Also undecided about Francisco. His ending the game last nite on a 3-2 curve ball way out of the strike zone is the kind of crap we already have enough of.

  7. @dn4192: I’m afraid some of what you say is right, but Alonso is on the team next season, playing LF. And my understanding is that Cozart won’t need an extended spring training.

    • @dn4192: I’m afraid some of what you say is right, but Alonso is on the team next season, playing LF. And my understanding is that Cozart won’t need an extended spring training.

      With TJ surgery you never know and I am willing to bet the Reds will sign some super senior to come in and play SS so that Cozart can get extra time in ST. No chance Yonder is in LF next year, it will be Heisey and some SS picked up in the offseason to lead off. At best Yonder is traded for a bat, at worse he is in Lousiville honing those LF skills. Remember he hasn’t yet got that position down and it takes “time”.

  8. @dn4192: But Heisey would be on the roster anyway. Your belief is that they’ll find a relic for the 5th OF slot ?
    Or Sappelt ?

    Yonder was told to lose weight and focus on LF. I’m hopeful, anyway.

    I haven’t dumped on Gonzo, Cabrera, or Edgar, but at this point yet another senior SS would make me barf.

    • @dn4192: But Heisey would be on the roster anyway. Your belief is that they’ll find a relic for the 5th OF slot ?Or Sappelt ?Yonder was told to lose weight and focus on LF. I’m hopeful, anyway.I haven’t dumped on Gonzo, Cabrera, or Edgar, but at this point yet another senior SS would make me barf.

      I see next years OF being Stubbs/Bruce/Heisey and someone they pick up off the FA heap, I don’t see them going with 5 OF.

  9. I wish they wouldn’t do the FA heap thing. Frazer could fill the 5th OFer role, an option I forgot to mention.

  10. Didn’t follow AA closely enough but what the Phipps guy who seemed to come out of nowhere? What is he, about 27 already? Seemed to crush the ball for the BATS.

  11. Also, what do you do about Valaika? Seems as though there are a lot of guys in Louisville that are of the age they need to be in the big show or traded to get some younger prospects.

  12. @dn4192: So despite the official statement of the Reds organization that Alonso would be focusing on dropping weight and learning how to play LF in the offseason, you don’t think he’ll actually end up playing there? I know this organization can often make very puzzling decisions, but I don’t see why they would tell him this if they have zero intention of following through on it.

    I could be wrong but my guess is that Alonso gets the everyday LF job next season–provided of course that he actually shows improvement in terms of both physical fitness and D over the offseason. I guess Heisey is used as the 4th OF.

    As far as SS, which seasoned veteran could we possibly bring in next? I’m not up-to-date on the SS free agent market…but I say just let Cozart start there next season, and if you really need to give him extra time to recover, play Janish for a bit. Given the other talent on the team and the state of their finances and contract negotiations, the Reds need to spend what little $$ they have at other positions than SS. I think we as fans just need to get used to the fact that the Reds, at least for the foreseeable future, are not going to have an “elite” shortstop. Doesn’t fit the team’s character or makeup. No offense to Cozart though, the kid’s got talent.

  13. I think Hoosier has a great point. A number of our AAA guys have reached the point you need to play them or trade them. They are not going to learn any more by playing in AAA, and they will lose value as “prospects” as they age.

    I question one premise of the article. The way Francisco has been playing, and with Rolen’s injury history, I will be very surprised if he does not make the roster. Yes it creates issues with flexibility on the bench, and I am not sure he will hold up over a season offensively or defensively, but I think they give him a shot next year. Given Frazier’s ability to play outfield, can’t you keep him, Francisco and Janish (or other SS backup) on the bench?

    Trading Cairo should be a no brainer. It should have been done at the deadline.

  14. I believe that Frazier’s best chance to make the roster is as the 5th OF/UI. Cairo would then only be used as a PH and Frazier would be a super utility, playing both OF and IF. With Heisey as your 4th OF, he can play all 3 OF pos. So you can afford to also have a Frazier on the bench who can play anywhere and Cairo who can only PH, but would be your main PH.

  15. The Reds are interested in adding a middle of the order bat (for reasons unknown). Aramis Ramirez’s name has been floated in rumors. That says to me that the Reds are willing to pay upwards of 18 million a year at the hot corner on a 37 year old Rolen ($6.5 mil.) and 33 year old Ramirez (9-12 mil. ?). Why in the world would anyone think the Reds would opt for Frazier over 38 year old Cairo? With Cairo, the Reds would have over 100 years of experience at third base.

    Of course that’s tongue-in-cheek, but this question points to the larger issue facing the Reds: Is this team going to get younger or older? Votto or Alonso? Alonso or Votto? Do the Reds pick up Phillips’ option? Do the Reds pick up Cordero’s option? Does Scott Rolen retire after another shoulder surgery? Do the Reds offer arbitration to Hernandez?

    The Reds are fumbling the transition to a younger core of Alonso, Bruce, Mesoraco, Cueto, Leake, and Chapman.

    Quick question of the day: One year of Billingsley and Kemp for two years of Votto and three of Volquez. Who hangs up first?

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About Steve Mancuso

Steve grew up in Cincinnati as a die-hard fan of Sparky's Big Red Machine. After 25 years living outside of Ohio, mostly in Ann Arbor, he returned to the Queen City in 2004. He has resumed a first-person love affair with the Cincinnati Reds and is a season ticket holder at Great American Ball Park. The only place to find Steve's thoughts of more than 140 characters is Redleg Nation. Follow his tweets @spmancuso.

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