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View Full Version : Formulating a Plan of Attack: 5 Crucial Decisions



Benihana
07-02-2009, 12:55 PM
In order to create a blueprint for the long-term as well as a plan of attack for both the trade deadline and this offseason, the Reds need to use the rest of this season to make decisions on the long-term viability of the following players at the following positions:

1. SHORTSTOP: Chris Valaika/Zach Cozart

If they are confident that either Valaika or Cozart will be the SS of the future, they can sign a stopgap like Julio Lugo or let Janish handle the position for the remainder of the season (and possibly early 2010- until Cozart is ready.) If they are not confident that Cozart/Valaika can be a league average SS or better for the long run, then they have to seek a major acquisition of a young SS. Right now Yunel Escobar and/or Brandon Wood (if you believe he can stick at SS) appear to be the best options, and both are reportedly available.

2. FOURTH STARTER: Homer Bailey

Homer Bailey should have the next three months as an extended major league tryout. While he will endure some growing pains for sure, the Reds brass should be able to make an informed decision on whether or not he can be at least a #4 starter for the long haul. If the brass doesn't have confidence in Bailey going forward, he needs to be shipped out for a change of scenery. The Reds should still be able to score a decent enough return (perhaps another faded prospect like Brandon Wood, Elijah Dukes or Delmon Young.) However, if the brass retains confidence in Bailey, Bronson Arroyo should be traded this offseason (if not at the deadline.) Obviously in order to do so, Arroyo needs to pitch better than he has so far this season. If he doesn't, or if he goes on the DL, the Reds probably still need to trade Bailey for an upgrade somewhere else, as they will likely be stuck with Arroyo as the #4SP for the duration of his contract (or at least for one more year.)

3. THIRD BASE OR LEFT FIELD: Todd Frazier

Is he a 3B or a LF? The Reds need to figure this out. If he is a LF, then Encarnacion will stay through 2010 at least. If he is a 3B, Edwin becomes expendable as a valuable trade chip either at the deadline (provided he comes back and shows signs of life) or this offseason, as Frazier should be ready to play full-time in the bigs next season. If you trade EdE and Frazier falters at 3B, you still have two top prospects in the system that happen to play 3B in Juan Francisco and Neftali Soto. While neither will be major league ready next year, they should be arriving sometime in 2011, allowing a stopgap player to man the position for 2010 and some of 2011 if Frazier should prove unworthy (see below.)

4. CENTER FIELD: Chris Heisey/Drew Stubbs

While some would like the Reds to hold on to both of the AAA CFs, I think they need to make a decision soon. Dickerson can stay as his trade value is probably lower and he could provide a complimentary LH-bat to either of these prospects. But the Reds have too many holes, and Heisey and Stubbs both have too much trade value to wait for one to break out and one to stumble (thereby ruining their trade value.) This is where you have to trust your scouts to know your internal prospects better than anyone else- something teams like the Braves have had great success doing. I don't believe either player will hit enough to be a starting LF on a legitimate major league team, and therefore there are too many cooks in the kitchen- someone needs to be moved in order to extract maximum value. Like Stillwell and Larkin, I hope the Reds make the right choice.

5. LEFT FIELD: Gauge Joey Votto's willingness to play LF early on in this offseason

While many people say that this shouldn't even be probed until Alonso is ready, I disagree, and here's why: If he is, I would worry a lot less about acquiring a future LF along the lines of Taylor, Dukes or Young. Instead, this off-season I would sign a veteran to a one-year deal that could handle LF duties full-time in 2010 (until Alonso is ready) but potentially start at 3B if Frazier should falter- someone along the lines of an Aubrey Huff, Ty Wigginton, or Mark DeRosa. If Alonso and Frazier both materialize, this guy could be a very valuable backup at all positions.

If Votto is not willing, I'd consider trading Alonso this offseason- if he regains his health and his stroke before the end of this season. Specifically, I'd look to move Alonso in a prospect-for-prospect trade for either a SS or LF equivalent, be it a guy like Matt LaPorta, Mike Stanton, Tim Beckham, etc. (realizing that the Reds may need to throw in a sweetener to get one of those deals done.) In an ideal world, the Reds could trade Arroyo for a guy like Michael Taylor at the deadline, provided Arroyo has a good month of July. That way, the Reds could hang onto and continue to develop Alonso without worrying about filling holes.

--

While these three decisions focus on minor league players, I think this post is relevant in the Major League forum due to the effects the decisions will have on Major League personnel. Who should be the Reds' primary acquisition targets to fill the needs if they decide that these players aren't up to the task? All of the following are great possible solutions that are currently (reportedly) available:

SS (if Valaika/Cozart aren't long-term answers)

Yunel Escobar
Brandon Wood

3B (if Frazier is LF, EE stays. If EE is traded because Frazier is 3B but not up to task...)

Mark DeRosa
Aubrey Huff
Ty Wigginton
Julio Lugo

(all veteran 1-2 year stopgaps due to presence of Francisco and Soto)

LF (if Votto won't move and Frazier is 3B)

Elijah Dukes
Delmon Young
Michael Taylor

In order to target some of these players, you could potentially use Arroyo (if Bailey is for real), Encarnacion (if Frazier is a 3B), as well as any of the bullpen arms (the Reds clearly have a surplus) as bait.

First however, the Reds need to properly evaluate and make an informed decision on what the role of these players (Valaika/Cozart, Bailey, Frazier, and Stubbs/Heisey) will be going forward. All of them are in AAA, with the exception of Cozart and Frazier who should be there soon, so it's not as if they cannot be evaluated against high level competition. All of them are in the 23-25 age range as well, so they have developed enough physically to make a judgment call on their long-term viability.

Walt and the Reds should be figuring all of this out right now and for the rest of the season, so that hopefully they can form a plan of attack for this offseason (unlike last year.)

RED VAN HOT
07-02-2009, 02:17 PM
Interesting points for discussion....
I admit that I am less inclined than most to make a trade that will raise this year's chance of making the playoff from .15 to .20. With that in mind...
1. Agree on the need to evaluate whether Cozart or Valaika can play SS next year. I prefer looking at Cozart at AAA first. Let Valaika play SS and Cozart primarily DH. Cozart's glove is not in question. For the rest of the year, turn the ML job over to Janish. He might surprise. If not, a good fielding SS with ML experience who is under club control still will have trade value.
2. By all means let Homer start for the rest of the season. It is not realistic to think that the five starters who began the season will all be sound this year. Further, Reds need to make a decision on Maloney. It looks to me as if he his getting away with high not so fast balls at AAA that don't play well at the ML level.
3. Todd Fraser can do either. I see no need to decide. At the moment the need at 3B is greater.
4. No need to decide between Heisey and Stubbs. It is better to look at both at AAA this year. Heisey can play any outfield position and play alongside Stubbs. It does not hurt to have too much OF speed. Besides, Heisey is showing some power this year. The crucial decision will be in the offseason when the Reds must determine whether to retain Nix and Gomes. I don't see LF field as a critical problem anymore. There are plenty of options. SS and 3B have become the critical positions.
5. I am in the camp that believes it is premature to ask Votto if he will move to LF. Alonso has things left to prove. Votto does not. Also, I suspect that Votto would move to LF if the Reds asked him to do so and the move was clearly in the best interests of the team.

Benihana
07-02-2009, 02:29 PM
Interesting points for discussion....
I admit that I am less inclined than most to make a trade that will raise this year's chance of making the playoff from .15 to .20. With that in mind...
1. Agree on the need to evaluate whether Cozart or Valaika can play SS next year. I prefer looking at Cozart at AAA first. Let Valaika play SS and Cozart primarily DH. Cozart's glove is not in question. For the rest of the year, turn the ML job over to Janish. He might surprise. If not, a good fielding SS with ML experience who is under club control still will have trade value.

I don't think either (especially Cozart) has to necessarily be the Opening Day SS next year. But make a decision on whether either is the long term solution. If so, you can acquire a one-year stopgap (Cabrera, Lugo, etc.) or let Janish play. If not, you need to acquire a young 0-2 type with upside (Escobar, Wood, etc.)


2. By all means let Homer start for the rest of the season. It is not realistic to think that the five starters who began the season will all be sound this year. Further, Reds need to make a decision on Maloney. It looks to me as if he his getting away with high not so fast balls at AAA that don't play well at the ML level.

I don't see Maloney and his flyballs playing fulltime in GAB. He should be considered rotation depth/trade bait IMO.


3. Todd Fraser can do either. I see no need to decide. At the moment the need at 3B is greater.

I agree that the need at 3B is greater, and Frazier would have more value there. But one way or the other, the Reds should stop jerking him around and start concentrating on his development at a specific position. My vote is for 3B.


4. No need to decide between Heisey and Stubbs. It is better to look at both at AAA this year. Heisey can play any outfield position and play alongside Stubbs. It does not hurt to have too much OF speed. Besides, Heisey is showing some power this year. The crucial decision will be in the offseason when the Reds must determine whether to retain Nix and Gomes. I don't see LF field as a critical problem anymore. There are plenty of options. SS and 3B have become the critical positions.

Disagree- I don't think Heisey can hit enough to be a starting LF in the majors. He and Stubbs are both RH-hitting CFers, and that is redundant. While you could make an argument for hanging onto both to see which one materializes, I say trust your scouts and take a chance, assuming each of them has significant trade value (which I believe they do at this point.) Isn't that the point of scouts- to predict who will be better in the future so you can make informed choices in the present?


5. I am in the camp that believes it is premature to ask Votto if he will move to LF. Alonso has things left to prove. Votto does not. Also, I suspect that Votto would move to LF if the Reds asked him to do so and the move was clearly in the best interests of the team.

I don't think you have to move Votto to LF, or even get anything in writing. I do think it would be wise just to probe his interest, with full realization that a move probably won't be necessary until a year from now at least (if ever.) That way, you can go into the offseason with some kind of plan, rather than flying blind like they've been doing for some time now.

RED VAN HOT
07-02-2009, 03:24 PM
I think we fundamentally agree in every area except Heisey. I believe he will hit well. A year ago, I thought he would end up as a platoon with Dorn, defensive replacement, and pinch hitter/runner. After this year's surge, I can see him as a starter. It is hard to find a real weakness in his game.

The best time to approach the Votto to left issue would be next spring when he can try out the position.

edabbs44
07-02-2009, 04:15 PM
Right now I don't think I'm touching Votto. Alonso can go get the LF mitt.

Keep him happy. If he volunteers to try it out, then bless his heart. Otherwise, forget it.

Benihana
07-02-2009, 04:48 PM
Right now I don't think I'm touching Votto. Alonso can go get the LF mitt.

Keep him happy. If he volunteers to try it out, then bless his heart. Otherwise, forget it.

I'm not suggesting doing anything that would possibly upset Votto. I'm only suggesting probing. If he doesn't like the idea, that's it- Give Alonso a LF mitt. It is possible that he could be open to it, particularly as he develops as a leader. Also, he may have a new found appreciation for the organization after how he was treated during his absence. Finally, it could be an interesting jumping off point to discuss a Longoria/HanRam type contract extension. All things to consider...

In summary, it cannot hurt to probe. If he doesn't want to move, that's the end of the conversation.

TRF
07-02-2009, 05:18 PM
Internal or external? either option is viable. I don't care who it is, so long as he can pick it and hit a bit. Any High OBP bat with a solid glove and great range will do.
Bailey initially has three more starts. What he does with them, even if he's sent back down when EV returns will shape his future. Plus, AAA will likely have Stewart and Wood next year in the rotation. There will be some depth.
3B is EE's till he loses it. I don't think he will for the length of his contract. He might be gone at the end of 2010, so really the Reds need to prepare for 2011.
Is either better than Dickerson? I have to say no.
Waaaaay to early to declare 1B as Alonso's

nate
07-02-2009, 05:23 PM
Right now I don't think I'm touching Votto. Alonso can go get the LF mitt.

Keep him happy. If he volunteers to try it out, then bless his heart. Otherwise, forget it.

Here in the South, "bless his heart" means something different!

:cool:

Benihana
07-02-2009, 05:59 PM
[LIST=1]
1.Internal or external? either option is viable. I don't care who it is, so long as he can pick it and hit a bit. Any High OBP bat with a solid glove and great range will do.

The point is to decide whether or not we have the solution internally. If not, go out and get the player you describe (eg Escobar or Wood).


2.Bailey initially has three more starts. What he does with them, even if he's sent back down when EV returns will shape his future. Plus, AAA will likely have Stewart and Wood next year in the rotation. There will be some depth.

Bailey is out of options. He will not be joining the ranks of Stewart and Wood next year in AAA. Either he sticks in the rotation or he doesn't. Regardless, I believe he'll get the remainder of this season to prove himself in the majors.


3.3B is EE's till he loses it. I don't think he will for the length of his contract. He might be gone at the end of 2010, so really the Reds need to prepare for 2011.

I'd rather see the Reds first make a decision on Frazier's future position. Then worry about whether or not EE should be traded or stay for the remainder of his contract.


4.Is either better than Dickerson? I have to say no.

For the rest of this year? Probably not. After that, who knows? My guess is at least one of them will probably turn out to be better than Dickerson.


5.Waaaaay to early to declare 1B as Alonso's

Agreed. Nobody is declaring 1B as Alonso's. Alonso won't be ready to play everyday in the majors until at least a year from now IMO, if then. But in order to formulate a plan to attack the trade deadline, the offseason, and beyond, you should know what you're options are. IF Votto has no interest in ever moving to LF, you need to find a LF for the future. Whether that could be Alonso, Frazier, or someone from outside the organization is anybody's guess. But until you know if that's even an option, you can't properly plan for the future. Hence, you're flying blind.

redsmetz
07-03-2009, 06:58 AM
I wanted to respond to this thread yesterday, but since we were getting ready to head out of town, I didn't have the time. Now that I have a few moments before we get back on the road, I thought I'd put out my thoughts.

Benihana, this is one of the best analysis of the team's situation that I've seen written on RZ and whether you intended it or not, I think it lays out what the team faced coming into this season. I have said at times that this year was when we would see where players were going to be falling in the Reds' future, both on the current ML roster as well as those players on the cusp. How would minor leaugers like those you've mentioned fall into the larger plans for us, who would be surplus and therefore available to trade for bolstering the big club or adding on for development.

You have cogently asked the questions and laid you concisely, in my opinion, those questions. It's from the answers that the team can move forward this season, as well as in season's to come. Very good job and I think it lays out why you shouldn't give up on this organization. I'm liking it's direction and I'm liking that we didn't prematurely pull the trigger until we've gotten a better look at where we precisely are in playing top caliber ball for the long haul.

Redhook
07-03-2009, 07:54 AM
Great job Beni!

I really like your breakdown as it focuses on every key decision the Reds will have to make. Unfortunately, I don't believe the Reds front office is intelligent enough to break it down this way. At least, I haven't seen it yet. I'd love for your blueprint to get to Walt Jocketty. I'd really like to know how he feels about your 5 points.

GAC
07-03-2009, 08:35 AM
Good initial post Benihaha that brings up some very good points.

It really boils down to what is the approach this FO, and primarily our GM, going to take in order to fill some of the needs on this current team? Are we going to emphasize building and developing our farm system/young talent to fill those needs..... OR.... are we going to use them for "bait" to go after a player or two at the trading deadline to help bolster our chances in '09?

Is our thinking long term or short term?

I personally believe we need to "stay the course" and show some patience. Unless a slobberknocker of a deal is presented to Jocketty by the deadline. Use '09 to "expose" and highlight those dire areas of need, while at the same time looking at what we have in our farm system that may address those needs.

Why does everything right to be RIGHT NOW?

What really bugs the crap out of me RIGHT NOW is Baker's infatuation with Hairston - a player he knows very well from his days as Cub's manager (and who frustrated him then) - and this stiff-necked attitude of having to keep this guy in the lineup day-in-day-out and, IMO, to the detriment of giving younger players like Dickerson and Janish the regular chance to play and show us what they have.

Janish is a far better SS (defensively) then Hairston will ever be. Questions about Janish's bat? OK, that's fair. But here's JHJ's number so far this year....

.244 BA .302 OB% .385 SLG% .687 OPS

Yes, I realize Janish's numbers, in 31 games, aren't nothing to brag about. But would we get better defensive at SS?

And when EE returns - you watch - you'll see JHJ at SS far more then Janish.

Play Dickerson in CF. Screw Taveras, swallow your pride FO, and choke it up as simply a bad acquisition that is not working. Put his butt on the bench, and use him as a late inning replacement (like when you need a pinch runner). The guy is worthless, and it's time this manager sees him for what he is, and quit trying to force the issue.

And for cryin' out loud Baker! Find someway to get Hanigan into this lineup more. The guy, in 45 games, has only put up a.... .336 BA .423 OB% .403 SLG% .826 OPS.

Now a couple weeks ago I listened to Baker say that he has always believed that a good, defensive catcher, because of his glove (hands) can play either 1B or 3B. OK, I'm calling you out! Why didn't you test your theory by playing Hanigan at 3B then when we had a need? Oh, that's right. Then where would you play Hairston?

Offense Dusty Offense. Not offensive to the eyes. ;)

And finally, let me say this about Alonso, and it's something I've always believed. This kid is not long in a Red's uniform. Don't ask me why, but he initially reminded me of Manny R, and that he's got "stars in his eyes", desires bigger things, and the Reds are just a "steppin' stone" for him, and he will jump ship on the Reds the first chance he gets once he shows his success. Yeah I know that is still several years away; but don't sacrifice Votto for the sake of this kid. Votto should become the face of this organization for years to come.

And something needs to be done with Jay Bruce. Yeah, he's young; but the kid couldn't hit LH'd pitching if his life depended on it. We're talking a ....

.215 BA (.195 vs lefties), a putrid .295 OB% .458 SLG% and .754 OPS (.592 vs lefties)

It has nothing to do, IMO, with being unlucky, but simply being over-matched. How about a "wake up" call to Louisville for a bit? Think longer term here, not simply the '09 season.

Blimpie
07-03-2009, 08:39 AM
That's a pretty darn good analysis, Beni.

Personally, I feel that EdE is getting polished up for the market observers and will not be our long term choice for 3B.

redsmetz
07-04-2009, 08:46 AM
Great job Beni!

I really like your breakdown as it focuses on every key decision the Reds will have to make. Unfortunately, I don't believe the Reds front office is intelligent enough to break it down this way. At least, I haven't seen it yet. I'd love for your blueprint to get to Walt Jocketty. I'd really like to know how he feels about your 5 points.

I believe that Beni laid out what the front office saw this off season (and what I think Krivsky was seeing too), that we couldn't pull the trigger much because we needed to see how some of these players developed this year (both minor league and the big club). We're starting to see that this year and now we can begin to make moves with a better knowledge of where we stand. I know it's frustatingly slow, but I think it's been necessary.