Reds roster taking shape
By C. Trent Rosecrans, CNATI.com Posted February 1, 2010 4:28 PM ET
With the announcement of the acquisition of shortstop Orlando Cabrera, the Reds' 2010 lineup is beginning to take shape with a veteran infield and a young outfield.
Orlando CabreraThe 35-year old Cabrera, a two-time Gold Glove winner, joins Scott Rolen (who turns 35 in April), Brandon Phillips and Joey Votto to make up the Reds infield. Among those, only Votto hasn't won a Gold Glove.
Despite Cabrera's Gold Gloves in 2007 and 2001, his signing was for offense, not defense. Cabrera will go into spring training as the team's starting shortstop, pushing aside Paul Janish.
"The one area we felt we still had to improve was our offense. Orlando's a very accomplished offensive shortstop," said Reds general manager Walt Jocketty. "His defense also is very solid, he won a Gold Glove in 2007, you have to remember last year he played a lot on turf the second half of the year, which is different some of the times. Obviously Paul is an excellent defensive shortstop. We were going to give him every opportunity to see what he could do on an everyday basis, but when this deal became apparent to us and we felt we could afford it, we felt we had to go forward."
Cabrera hit .284/.316/.389 with the A's and Twins last season, along with 77 RBIs, nine home runs and 13 stolen bases.
The Reds signed Cabrera to a one-year deal worth $770,000, with a signing bonus of $1.25 million. There is a $4 million mutual option for 2011, with the Reds owing Cabrera $500,000 if he declines the option and $1 million if he the club declines the option.
The team was able to take on that extra bit of money with Monday's other announced move, a trade of Willy Taveras and his $4 million owed in 2010 to Oakland along with infielder Adam Rosales for infielder Aaron Miles and a player to be named. Miles is in the second year of two-year deal that guarantees him $2.7 million this season. Although the Cubs sent $1 million to Oakland in the trade for Miles, that money will stay with the A's. Miles hit .185/.224/.242 in 170 plate appearances last season, limited by shoulder and elbow injuries.
"(Miles) is another one of these guys that's a winner," said Jocketty, who acquired Miles from the Rockies before 2006, when the Cardinals won the World Series. "I think it's important to bring in guys, I heard more and more from our young players that the influence that Rolen had on them, the way he played the game and the attitude he takes. Orlando's that way and Aaron's that way. It helps to bring in these guys to help with these young players."
Janish had been scheduled to start at shortstop, but throughout the winter Jocketty had noted he wanted competition there. Instead, he got a veteran shortstop who will step in right away and be the starting shortstop and perhaps the No. 2 hitter in the lineup.
"I'm excited about it, we've been able to do some things to improve our club and we weren't too sure we'd be in position to do that," Jocketty said. "A lot of it was being patient and waiting for the market to drop to our level where we could afford to do some things."
Cabrera played shortstop for the Expos, Red Sox, Angles, White Sox, A's and Twins, but was being pursued mostly as a second baseman this offseason. The Rockies wanted him to play second and he said several other clubs were interested in him playing at second as well. The Reds, though, wanted him at shortstop, and he wanted to be a shortstop. So Saturday night, the deal was done.
"The truth is, I'm a shortstop, I'm not a second baseman," said Cabrera. "Maybe in three or four more years, I'd consider that, but right now I think I can still play shortstop every day and stay at the level I've been at for the last six or seven years."
Cabrera has hit mostly in the two hole during his career, which Jocketty said is part of the reason his OBP is a less-than-impressive .322 for his career.
"As I've talked to some people about that, who have had him, he makes up for it (because) he's a contact guy," Jocketty said. "He moves runners around, sometimes that's as important or more than the on-base percentage."
Cabrera said he feels most comfortable batting second.
"That's not set in stone, whatever Dusty needs me to do, hit eight, nine behind the pitcher, we have to find a solution, whatever it takes," said Cabrera, who noted he prefers batting second. "Especially if you have a guy who can steal bases, I'll take pitches, I can protect him, hit behind him, I'll put the ball in play, I make contact - sometimes too much, sometimes it hurts me in my at-bats - but if a guy can get on base, we can score in the first inning, which is important to a team that is trying to bounce back."
Jocketty said he still sees second-year centerfielder Drew Stubbs as the team's leadoff man. Stubbs hit .267/.323/.439 last season in 196 plate appearances, with eight home runs, 17 RBIs and 10 stolen bases.
Along with Stubbs, the Reds have Jay Bruce (23 in April) in right and a number of players battling for the leftfield spot, including Chris Dickerson, Chris Heisey, Wladimir Balentien and possibly Jonny Gomes. Gomes is still a free agent, but Jocketty said they were still talking to him and was hopeful the team could bring him back.
"I think this puts us in a pretty good position, I really do. You look at the infield, Hernandez, Votto, Phillips, Cabrera, Rolen -- these are all quality, quality players," Jocketty said. "We've got a young outfield with huge upside. That's another reason why adding another veteran guy in the infield with his ability and stature was important, with Bruce and Stubbs and Heisey, Dickerson, Balentien and if we're able to bring Gomes back, there won't be as much pressure on these guys. They shouldn't feel the pressure, because we have guys who will play the infield who are consistent run producers."