2012 Reds / Dusty's Lineup Shenanigans / Reds - General

Dreading Rolen’s Return

I was one of the few people at this site who defended the Rolen trade from the start.

Photo: Gary Landers/Enquirer

Rolen’s presence turned the Reds from a pretender into a contender. The confidence, experience and model he provided for consistency, professionalism and running the bases seemed to convince the team they could win. Brandon Phillips and Joey Votto said so. Rolen wasn’t the Reds’ best player in 2010, but they wouldn’t have made the playoffs without him.

The organization began 2012 with the overly optimistic plan that Scott Rolen would be healthy enough to play 120 or more games and would return to a reasonably able version of his former self. Predictably, Dusty Baker installed him game-after-game-after-game as the club’s clean up hitter. Who amongst Reds’ observers thought that would work? Rolen’s production during those 29 games:

.174/.238/.304

Then Rolen took himself out of the lineup. His shoulder hurt, and he was hurting the team. Scott Rolen, to his credit, said both of those things. He spent the last month on the DL and was replaced by Todd Frazier, the Reds’ best hitter this spring, who produced this:

.274/.333/.600

The key number to note is the last one, the slugging percentage. Frazier has six home runs to Rolen’s two. But back to the dread.

It began after listening to a brief part of last night’s TV broadcast.

Announcers Jim Kelch and Jeff Brantley turned to the news that Scott Rolen had taken batting practice earlier in the day. We’re looking at days now, rather than weeks. Great! Right? I love watching Scott Rolen play baseball. Shouldn’t I be looking forward to his return?

After all, Rolen has done well in pinch hitting duties the past couple years. He’d be a great defensive substitute. Todd Frazier’s performance at third base has been so much better than the 2012 version of Scott Rolen that everyone sees it. Even Dusty Baker, even through the fog of Aqua Velva, has surely grasped that simple truth. Scott Rolen’s return as a pinch hitter and bench player will definitely improve the Reds.

But as Kelch and Brantley began to discuss Rolen’s return, a feeling of queasiness crept through me. They didn’t seem to consider, even for a second, that Frazier should continue to start at third base for the Reds. Instead, they talked about how he would be perfectly suited to replace Rolen on the veteran’s regular days off. Were they kidding?

It doesn’t matter what announcers (or bloggers) think. But, if Kelch and Brantley don’t see Frazier as having earned the 3B job then, to a moral certainty, neither does Dusty Baker. And unfortunately, it does matter what he thinks.

Of course, every one of us would love to see Scott Rolen return healthy and revitalized and play like he did in that glorious first half of 2010. We’ll be hoping that the injured shoulder, not Father Time, explains April. We’ll pull for him. But, looking at it realistically, we know that’s not happening.

More likely, we’ll suffer through day after anguishing day of Baker stubbornly putting the name Rolen, not Frazier, on the lineup card. Rolen will struggle at the plate. Todd Frazier, the organization’s third best hitter, will rot on the bench, seeing the same playing time as Wilson Valdez.

89 thoughts on “Dreading Rolen’s Return

  1. @seat101: please refer to my post, the first on this thread. the substance was, rolen, the reds, and the media all told us that he was healthy in spring training and to start the season.

    then scott rolen was terrible at hitting.

    he said many things during that time, but never did i read a report where he said, i think i have reinjured my shoulder.

    finally, after more than a month of sucking, rolen says: my shoulder STILL isn’t healthy, and the media all went along for the ride, pleasantly forgetting the all of march and april where he was ostensibly healthy. it’s like it never happened.

    so, you’re defending rolen here, you tell me what happened.

    was he ever healthy? if not, why were we told he was?

    did he re-injure himself at some point? if so, when? is it clear that his production went down after that point? why not go on the DL then?

    it all just looks too much like a player who is actually “healthy” but just too old and had too many injuries over time to play at this level any more. i’m listening if you have answers though.

  2. @hermanbates: People are WAY over valuing Carlos Quentin & I think the ESPN article is pure speculation on their part (they are very good at that). Quentin has been hot, VERY HOT (.481/.533/1.185), since coming off the DL, but let’s be realistic. CWS traded him to SD for two minor league pitchers who had failed miserably at their only shot in AAA and are now both pitching in AA again. His career line is .255/.348/.499, not nearly as impressive as his current production. He might very well be coming this way, but not at a supreme cost.

  3. I guess I’m the lone guy here who thinks Rolen won’t get much playing time if he can’t hit. Rolen himself won’t want to play if he stinks.

    If the Reds shopped Billy Hamilton, they’d get offered a lot more than Carlos Quentin. Hamilton is Willie McGee/Deion Sanders fast, and they pay him less than a secretary. They’d be nuts to get rid of him.

  4. There are NO rumors out there that the Reds are interested in Quentin. Buster Olney mentioned that he thought Quentin would be a good fit with the Reds and the Reds could put him in the middle of the order.

    As far as I know, the Reds haven’t even contacted SD about him.

    Don’t get your hopes up.

    • There are NO rumors out there that the Reds are interested in Quentin. Buster Olney mentioned that he thought Quentin would be a good fit with the Reds and the Reds could put him in the middle of the order.As far as I know, the Reds haven’t even contacted SD about him.Don’t get your hopes up.

      I think there is a better chance of Chapman being moved to the starting rotation then Walt pulling off any kind of deal this season to add a major bat/lf to this club. Walt is figuring the answers will come from whom is here and whom is in the minors.

      As for Rolen, anyone who thinks he won’t be the everyday 3rd basemen/4 or 5 hitter upon his return are just fulling themselvs. The ONLY way Frazier gets the majority of playing time at 3rd is with Rolen on the DL.

  5. @Robert: You may be correct, you may not be. Seeing the Reds deficiencies and having and understanding that most GMs are in pretty consistent dialogue, it’s hard to imagine that the Padres haven’t called and offered Quentin for Hamilton stragiht up or Walt hasn’t jokingly extended and offer of Wilson Valdez for him. But perhaps nothing serious has happened. Truth is, none of us but the big guys at the top know.

    With that said, I’d be more shocked if a deal didn’t get done with someone for something than I would if we just stood pat. Still a lot of time until the trade deadline.

  6. @hermanbates: @dn4192:

    i fall somewhere in between on this one. i don’t think hamilton for quentin is THAT lopsided, but it’s certainly a better deal for the padres than it is for us.

    trading hamilton seems reasonable to me though since we have long-term solutions at SS and 2B. I could see hamilton for quentin, all of his salary for this year, and a decent prospect of theirs. they have a few guys without the ceiling of hamilton that would work.

    straight up though, i don’t think it’s worth it. the reds are in first place after all. i think the braintrust is happy with a playoff appearance this year and letting some of the older guys make their way off of the roster next year.

    rolen, ludwick and cairo are all gone next year. i think they’ll wait until then to do a major roster overhaul, rather than give up their best prospect.

    if we were in second or third it would be a different story, they clearly want to get to the playoffs again this year.

  7. Take a look at Derek Jeter’s minor-league record on baseball-reference.com. It looks pretty much like Hamilton, although Jeter was more polished out of high school and was a year ahead of Hamilton. Jeter made 56 errors in the Sally League, then exploded to a .410 OBP in his first year at High A (and above). Hamilton’s OBP this year is .410.

    Walt is not going to trade him.

  8. I don’t expect to see Hamilton up here this year or next – from what I’ve read, he’s still terrible in the field (and if they’re planning to move him elsewhere, hadn’t they best get on with it), undisciplined at the plate, and his base stealing technique is poor at present – he’s succeeding on pure speed. His OBP is inflated somewhat by the fact that, against single A level infielders, a normal depth SS or 3B often can’t throw him out on a chopper – opponents have been playing the infield in every time he bats. He’s still VERY rough.

    I’m still fascinated to see what becomes of him, though, and don’t want to see him traded. But I would move him for the right guy. I just don’t know who the right guy would be.

    But I know who he ain’t – Carlos Freakin’ Quentin.

  9. Almost everybody seems to be saying “If we just had another manager, they would see that Frazier needs to be at 3B and Rolen needs to be on the bench when he returns.” That just isn’t true though. It isn’t a matter of the manager. You saw what Steve wrote about the conversation between Brantley and Kelch and many of you heard the conversation first-hand. That thinking is not only how they think and how Dusty thinks it’s how a vast majority of MLB coaches and managers think.

    If the Reds had another manager upon Rolen’s return, it is an almost certainty that Rolen would get the majority of time at 3B. They may find more playing time for Frazier but Rolen would get most the time at 3B. There are very few exceptions. The veteran, especially the borderline HOF-candidate veteran, gets the benefit of the doubt.

    I like stats. I like advanced metrics. I like the ability they give me to go into deeper analysis of the game and it’s players. That said, at the end of the day the game is played by people. It isn’t Dusty, it’s baseball in general and the mindset of ex-players and former professional athletes. If back and healthy, Rolen is going to be in there. Is it the best decision? Unless he comes back on fire the numbers would likely say “no” but the heart says “yes”.

  10. I thought Chris Heisey was going to refute my initial thoughts regarding his proper role and take the LF spot, but he just simply does not get on base enough and his power is dwon significantly as a starter. Alas, I believe is going to be a major league pinch hitter, but a pinch hitter extrordinar. With no outfielder in the minor league system within two years of being major league ready, I think a move to obtain a RH-hitting, run-producing LF is probably necessary. Carlos Quentin is one possibility, but three other possibilities, all signed through 2014, could be Michael Cuddyer (Twins), Josh Hamilton (Athletics), and Billy Butler (Royals). All three play for teams going nowhere soon, but a package might be structured that included young pitching to pry one of the four loose.

  11. @BloodyHo: Cuddyer plays for Col. He signed as a free-agent and I don’t see them moving him. I think Butler would be hard to get too. He’s also pretty brutal in LF.

  12. Boy, I had a nice reply for everyone, hit “post comment” and my post disappeared.

  13. Well Cards lose another player to DL..how many is that for them now and this time it’s there no. 4 pitcher Jamie Garcia. How are they staying in this race?

  14. Hamilton is untouchable IMO. The Reds haven’t had a legitimate leadoff hitter in quite some time, and he fits the bill. Plus he is under control for 7 years once he hits the majors.

    At what point is the organization going to see what they have in these kids? Frazier is already 26 years old and they are considering benching him for a 36 year old with multiple back and shoulder problems. We don’t know what Heisey can do if given an OF job everyday and they refuse to see because Ludwick “offers something that Heisey can’t.” We don’t know if Chapman can be a starter 2.5 years into his contract.

    • @dn4192: Getting Latos back to normal and Bruce back to normal may just be as good as an acquisition.

      Back to normal? don’t understand? Bruce is about at his normal production and Latos is still a work in progress and will get better…not sure what you consider normal?

  15. For the record, I was never suggesting I thought Billy Hamilton for Carlos Quentin was a good trade. I just think Quentin would be a really good addition to this lineup and was wondering out loud what it might take to land him. The conversation has mostly been centered around BH, but what do people think of Bailey or Leake plus Heisey? I think we’ve seen Heisey’s ceiling and it’s not that great. And frankly I’m a little sick of waiting on Bailey to finally put it together. Petco helps struggling Reds pitchers out, so it would probably be the best thing for Homer. I think Leake still has a lot of upside so I’d be less keen on losing him. But I have to admit it would be a little strange to see 3 of our last 6 first round picks all wearing Padres uniforms.

  16. @eric nyc: leake might interest them, because of the years of team control, but i can’t imagine why they’d be interested in heisey (who seems to have lost all his power this year and generally be terrible) or bailey (who’s only got a two more years of team control and has never been an above average pitcher).

  17. if you think that Frazier is the answer to 3rd base you’re crazy.Good thing we have a gold glove at first because 3/4 on Frazier’s throws are either off line or in the dirt.

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