What should the Reds do with left field? That’s the glaring hole that remains on this roster; well, at least, it’s the biggest hole.
That question precisely is the focus of this piece by Dave Cameron. We all like Chris Heisey, but Cameron points out why the Reds need to be looking for an upgrade:
They’ve done well so far, but while the roster is almost done, they still have a pretty glaring need in the outfield. Their 40-man roster currently only contains four outfielders, and one of those is Denis Phipps, a 26-year-old who spent most of last season at Double-A. Not only do they lack depth behind projected starters Jay Bruce, Drew Stubbs, and Chris Heisey, there’s a good case to be made that they should be looking to get better production in left field than what Heisey could give them.
Heisey has some positive attributes – most notably his power and athleticism, which translates into solid defense in left field – but he’s also got some notable flaws. The most obvious thing holding him back is his contact rate (72.3% for his career), which is among the worst in baseball. The only players who got 500+ plate appearances in the Majors and made contact less often than that last year were Mark Reynolds, Miguel Olivo, Mike Stanton, Ryan Howard, Carlos Pena, Kelly Johnson, and Corey Hart. Now, that seems like a pretty decent list of comparable players, but they all (besides Olivo, who is a catcher) do something Heisey doesn’t do – draw walks.
I like Cameron’s suggested solution, as well:
So, what are the options? Heisey’s presence as a right-handed hitter with power (ignore his reverse platoon splits – they’re meaningless in this kind of sample) create a natural opportunity for a platoon in left field, giving the Reds the chance to acquire a guy who can hit RHPs but could use regular days off when a southpaw is on the hill. And, because they are running low on cash after signing Madson, they could use a player who doesn’t come with a big salary.
Lucky for them, that exact player is on the market – the Colorado Rockies have been shopping Seth Smith all winter, and after their signing of Michael Cuddyer, he’s lost his chance to play regularly in Denver. His projected salary of around $2 million via arbitration fits into the Reds’ budget, and Smith could thrive as a platoon player in Cincinnati.
Go read the rest of the article; there’s much, much more food for thought in Cameron’s piece. My initial reaction is that platoon could be very effective. What do you think?