I've seen many different takes in the reds offensive woes and what should be done. Here is mine.
First off to everyone pointing at left and the two hole as the problem spots that needs fixed. That view while obvious is misguided. They are symptoms of the bigger issue with the offense: no right handed impact bat to protect votto and poorer team D in general.
Look at the history. 2010 Gomes on fire. Votto protected he wins MVP. Last year we had ludwick to protect Phillips and votto in the three hole. Reds win 97. ( yes I know great D and pitching too but ill get back to that). 2011. No consistent cleanup. No playoffs. Seems like a theme.
Second issue with this lineup. Too many low contact high pop guys. This results in a one dimemsional atrack in high Ks and inconsistent offensive performances.
So how to fix it? Well right now it's way too soon to bring in any impact player so the reds are going to have to rely on their pitching to carry them to the trade deadline, but at the same time change things in the lineup.
Step one: ID the issue. The 4 spot but that can't be fixed until the deadline so fix the symptoms while improving the D.
So this means the two hole needs fixed while we improve the defense of the team at its two weak links. Center and third.
First thing first. Do not assume ludwick will return and be at peak form, so It's Billy time. (Robinson down) Yes I know he probably not ready but right now we are getting nothing out of the two spot and our one dimensional approach with no speed is killing the top of the order. Plus just by virtue of his speed and athletic ability, it's a good bet he will be better than choo in center. Then choo can move to left and improve that too. In the two spot I'd use billy to bunt and move choo over and use his speed to disrupt the defense as much as possible and get on himself. He doesn't have to be a star. He just has to do better than cozart et al have done in the two spot so there wouldn't be much pressure.
Step two: the Bruce Frazier decision. These two back to back in the order are the key culprits for the weak contact high K rally killing issue. So which one to keep in the lineup and who to pull. My answer is pull Todd. Bruce plays all star caliber D that never slumps plus he has a track record of streakiness. Frazier on the otherhand doesn't bring much of anything with his D when the bst is in famine mode. So what to do with third and what to do with Frazier?
Third: hannahan brings the leather and gives decent at bats staying within himself and makes decent contact. AAA prospect Henry Rodriguez (lutz down for now) brings a solid contact switch hitting bat that the reds could use as a step away from feast or famine fence flailing. So my solution would be when Mez starts at catcher go with the D in hannahan. When anyone else starts go with the O with Hrod.
Frazier: use him as last year. A super sub and right handed power off the bench. He can crush lesser pitchers or bring pop to the lineup when key stars need a break. Use him in those situations. Pick your spots and pitchers he can crush and insert him wisely. He can be an asset playing 100 to 120 games or so but he gets exposed as undisciplined as he starts more and sees better pitching.
Catcher: there aren't many hitting issues with the catcher if that catcher is Mez. He gives good at bats seems to have a decent eye and makes hard contact. The other two catchers aren't bringing much to the plate. Solution. So long hanigan is out play Mez 4 out of 5 days. If his injury is prolonged corky needs to go. Bring up Barnhart.
So after all if that the reds need to sit back and assess and go from there.
The next part of my plan for at the deadline goes as follows:
If cingrani is the real deal use either cueto or bailey as the key piece in a trade for Headley from San Diego. If ludwick looks like good right handed power off the bench or in a spot start use Frazier and prospect to grab a plus pitcher to add to rotation. Maybe a josh Johnson rental.
If cingrani struggles: use prospects to acquire Michael Young from the phillies.
That'd solve the four spot issue and depending on the billy experiment Phillips could go back to two or behind Bruce.
So line before deadline:
Well. That's my take. Lets hear how crazy I am and how this is real life and not a video game. Haha