View Full Version : Freel Making Most Of Limited Role

04-11-2006, 04:28 AM
From 2003 thru 2005, versus RH pitching, Ryan has put up these numbers .276 B/A .364 OB% .365 SLG% .729 OPS

Same time frame, but against LH pitching

.275 B/A .387 OB% .415 SLG% .802 OPS

So far this season, Ryan Freel has only started against lefties, but has hit .545 (6-for-11) this season overall.

the breakdown...

5 A/Bs vs RHers.... .400 .400 .400 .800
6 A/Bs vs LHers.... .667 .833 1.000 1.833

This season - small window, yes. So is this gonna be the Red's/Narron's approach with Ryan? And looking at the overall stats breakdown, does it justify it?

I really, really, really, don't agree with Narron on this IF that is what he is doing. Not when looking at the alternatives at 2B he is providing/wanting to go with.

And to say that his versatility hurts him? Versatily is good. But in this case, with Ryan, it's a disadvantage because he is not getting to play everyday. But we are pretty set at those other positions he knows. Play the guy at 2B, and if he is needed to "fill in" elsewhere, such as in the OF, then (and only then) do you shuffle a couple guys around to meet that temporary need.

That is when the versatility needs to come into play. Don't use one's versatility to keep them out of the lineup when they are producing.


CINCINNATI --- For the Reds' Ryan Freel, his importance to the club in a utility role can often be both flattering and frustrating.
Considering how productive he's been when in the lineup, you can't blame Freel for wanting to start everyday -- especially when there's currently a position without a regular like second base.

Because Freel is such a solid multi-tasker, it's also understandable why manager Jerry Narron resists using him as a one-position regular.

"His versatility may have hurt him being just an outfielder, or just a second baseman, or just a third baseman," Narron admitted. "He does play the other positions well."

Complicating the picture is that Cincinnati has four options at second base in Freel, Tony Womack, Rich Aurilia and the just-acquired Brandon Phillips. Narron said last week there wouldn't be a platoon system used to dictate playing time, but Womack has gotten the majority of at-bats against right-handed pitchers. Freel has only started vs. lefties.

Freel is as curious as everyone else how the infield logjam will be sorted out, especially if none of the surplus infielders are traded.

"I think time will tell," he said. "I know we're going to face a lot more righties than we are lefties. If that's the route we go in facing righties and lefties, it's going to be tough. It's not easy being a bench guy. I am a utility player, but I was a utility guy that played every day when I was healthy. The way it's looking now, it going to be a righty-lefty thing."

If he isn't going to play all the time, Freel has made sure he's not cheated when he does crack the lineup. Playing in five of the Reds' six games this season, including three starts, he's batting .545 (6-for-11). He's also drawn six walks in his 17 total plate appearances for a spectacular .706 on-base percentage.

Adding a small-ball element to a boom-boom power lineup, the 30-year-old has already stolen six bases and scored eight runs. He stole three bases in one game alone Wednesday vs. Chicago. In that game, he also scored an eighth-inning insurance run with a daring sprint home from third on a groundout to the shortstop. Freel beat first baseman Derrek Lee's throw home with a headfirst slide.

"If he gets on base, he can make a lot happen," Narron said. "He disrupts the other club's pitching and defense and everything."

In Saturday's win over Pittsburgh, Freel showed even more gusto, scoring on a shallow sacrifice fly to right field -- the popup had barely made it past the infield. Another headfirst slide ahead of the throw scored the run.

"I'm not doing my job if I sit there on base," Freel said. "I'm going to go every time, that's my mindset."

No one is suggesting that Freel's numbers will remain in its current upper stratosphere all season long. But players producing that kind of offense usually don't sit very long in the Major Leagues.

It's Narron's hope to keep Freel from being idle too often.

"Freelie is going to play a great deal," Narron said. "I don't think anyone has to worry about Ryan Freel being on the field. He'll play a lot. Right now, with the roster the way it is, I've got some decisions to make every day on who to play."

Since his 2003 debut with Cincinnati, Freel's hard-nosed approach has always impressed the organization, which signed him to a two-year, $3 million contract last winter under former general manager Dan O'Brien. New GM Wayne Krivsky also had appreciation for the effort.

"It's that style that got him to the big leagues and is keeping him as a productive player in the big leagues," Krivsky said. "Ryan Freel is a very valuable player. He gives Jerry a lot of options and ways to get him in the lineup. He is such a catalyst at the top of the order."

The all-out approach has certainly benefited Freel's career, but it has sometimes done him some harm, too. His risk for injury is high, and there have been several trips to the disabled list. Hamstring injuries bothered him in 2003, and he missed 39 games last season during two stints on the DL (toe and knee injuries) while still managing to steal 36 bases.

In 2004, Freel did play 143 games at five different positions and stole a career-high 37 bases. As far as he's concerned, the dial of his play will always be turned all the way up. He doesn't know how to turn it down.

"I hit the ball and my instincts take over. That's just playing hard," Freel said. "That's the way the game is supposed to be played. That's the way that I play. That's what got me up here. That's what is keeping me here. You control how you prepare yourself to play and what you do as far as stretching. I don't go out there and try not to get hurt. If you do that, you're more prone to getting hurt."

Healthy at the moment, Freel plays each day knowing he's not guaranteed to be in the next game's lineup. It's the burden that comes with being a master of several positions, but the owner of none.

"I know I can help this team win," Freel said. "But being off the bench is a little tougher than starting a game. Time will tell. But we are winning. That's the important thing."