Re: Start Ryan Freel every day.
I wouldn't move Dunn to 1B. Couple of reasons.
1. If he was willing to make the transition to 1B, it should already have happened. Casey's gone. Dunn supposedly spent the off-season preparing for such a move. But when the 2006 season opened, Dunn remained a fixture in LF. Either he wanted it that way or else the Reds' front office decided he was better suited remaining in LF. Why? Maybe 1B is earmarked for Griffey in the not-so-distant-future. Maybe a trade or free-agent acquisition is pending to bring on board a more natural and long-range 1B. Maybe the braintrust has figured: If you're going to sacrifice defense for offense, LF is the perfect place to deposit a Home Run King who has defensive shortcomings.
2. Why mess with Dunn's biorthyms when he's got a .450 OBP and .871 slugging average? The only possible argument for doing so is to make room on a daily basis for Freel, who has an astronomical and unsustainable OBP of .586 so far this season. But Freel can man 2B. He hasn't committed an error there yet and he can always be spelled late in games by up-and-coming defense phenom Phillips. True, to see if Phillips can eventually become a regular, he'll need to get at least 175-300 at bats in 2006. That can happen by playing him quasi-regularly at 2B and every so often at SS to give Lopez a breather. When Phillips plays 2B, Freel's versatility can be tapped, and he can move to LF, CF or 3B to give Dunn, Junior or Encarnacion a blow.
3. Yes, Hatteberg's batting average is below the Mendoza line, but so far, his OBP is .478, ahead of Dunn and second among all the regulars and quasi-regulars to only Freel. He has not exactly set the world on fire or defied gravity, but he has out-Caseyed Casey, proving to be a 1B who can get on base a lot without necessarily exhibiting much power or knocking in lots of runs. Considering his age and move to a new league, he's been a decent-enough transitional guy, an OK platoon player to start the season. He's drawn eight walks, so you have to figure he's causing his fair share of aggravation for opposing pitchers.
4. That brings us to Aurilia and Womack. Both are not bad bench options, but neither really deserves a full-time, starting berth. Aurilia's OBP is .226 -- below his norm, but not unexpected. Womack is getting on base more, but doesn't have Aurilia's power or versatility to play all IF positions. If you ask me, neither Aurilia nor Womack should be in a position to steal at bats from Dunn, Freel or even Hatteberg. For the time being, I'd just leave Dunn in LF, Freel at 2B and Hatteberg at 1B for the majority of games. Let Aurilia and Womack compete, not so much with the starters, as with each other to see who is our better bench option. In another month or two, one of them should have clearly staked a claim, while the other should be gone -- replaced on the roster by Denorfia.