In the wake of the Brandon Phillips trade, Bryan Price has declared that Jose Peraza is his second baseman and that Zack Cozart is not a part time player. Now, certainly, I get that Cozart needs to play until the Reds find another team for him, but handing the second base job to Peraza seems like an odd choice.
The Reds, we all know, have two major league-ready middle infield prospects. One of them is, essentially, locked in at second, and it isn’t Jose Peraza. In fact, unless you count Eugenio Suarez, Peraza is the only player in the organization who can reasonably be considered a big league shortstop once Cozart is gone. Given that — plus the fact that (a) Dilson Herrera is a second baseman and only a second baseman, and (b) Herrera has a better bat than Peraza, and (c) Peraza was used as a super-sub last year, –the current thinking from Price makes little sense.
I started writing this post before Price’s comments, with the idea that the middle infield and outfield have an overflow of players who need regular playing time and that a reasonable rotation could be worked out. If we assume one off-day per week, on average, there are six starts available at each position. This is very much a theoretical project (especially now), but here’s how the Reds could rotate starts on a weekly basis in order to get all the major league ready players a decent amount of playing time:
SS – Cozart 4, Peraza 2
2B – Herrera 5, Peraza 1
LF – Duvall 4, Schebler 2
RF – Winker 4, Schebler 2
CF – Hamilton 5, Peraza 1
A few notes:
–Zack Cozart needs to play. He has enough value that he shouldn’t be merely cut loose and, at some point, some team will need a shortstop and the Reds will have one for them. This might happen during spring training or it might happen in May or June or July. But it will happen. He doesn’t have to play everyday to maintain his value (and there’s been talk of him needing regular rest anyway), but he does need to play most days.
—Billy Hamilton probably needs rest. An extra day a week off will do him some good. Peraza could provide that, while capably playing center field.
–Speaking of Peraza, he gets the shaft in my scenario, and I suppose it’s possible that the Reds felt they mishandled him last year and are trying to avoid duplicating that mistake this year. Still, he seems a better bet than Herrera to provide value by floating around the diamond.
–The outfield is going to be interesting. The middle infield has been getting a lot of talk, but the Reds need to figure out what’s going on in the outfield as well. It’s unlikely that all three of Adam Duvall, Scott Schebler, and Jesse Winker will be producers in the long run, but there’s enough uncertainty that each needs to see regular playing time until things line out.
One thing is certain: this will all line out. Someone will get hurt. Someone won’t produce. Someone will get traded. Just wait. It happens every year.
The rotation suggested above isn’t something I think will or should endure all season. Rather, it provides sufficient playing time for all the major league-ready players while also allowing for the baseball season to work its magic and sort these guys into their permanent roles. Let the season for sorting begin.