What's all this talk about acquiring a second baseman, moving Brandon Phillips to shortstop and the need to re-sign Juan Castro? Why not just play Rich Aurilia at short, Phillips at second, Scott Hatteberg at first and Edwin Encarnacion at third everyday? With all this juggling guys around, it's no wonder we don't see any consistent offense.
-- Billy S., Nicholasville, Ky.
It basically comes down to range, and the Reds don't believe that the 35-year-old Aurilia has enough of it anymore to play shortstop every day. Sure, he played there down the stretch a lot and proved capable, but that was because the Reds couldn't afford to keep Aurilia's hot bat on the bench as the offense was drying up. I think stability is a good thing though, and I wouldn't take issue if it were decided to make Phillips the shortstop and Aurilia the everyday second baseman in 2007. It would help both offensively and defensively up the middle.
And on a semi-related topic...
Who do you think will be the starters next season at shortstop and second base? Does Ryan Freel crack the starting lineup?
-- Matt H., Evendale, Ohio
Manager Jerry Narron believes Freel is most productive offensively when he plays just four days a week, and the 2006 numbers seemed to back that theory. If Narron sticks to his belief, look for Freel to start at different spots each day and play every day only if there's an injury or vacancy at a position.
However, Freel is one of the top three defensive players on the Reds, no matter which position he's playing. He often makes things happen from the leadoff spot and while on the bases. He played spectacular right field this season and could see regular action should the team not address that spot this winter.
With Aaron Harang and Bronson Arroyo as the pitching aces for next year, how good do you think the rotation will be next year?
-- Robert T., Cincinnati
It's certainly a solid 1-2, Robert, but I think everyone might feel a little better if another starter is acquired. Many believe Kyle Lohse has the stuff to be a dependable No. 3 starter, and he showed it in stretches after the trade from Minnesota. But Eric Milton, Brandon Claussen and Elizardo Ramirez are coming off arm injuries. Then, there's the uncertainty whether Homer Bailey will be ready for the Majors.
What do you think about putting Adam Dunn at first base and Scott Hatteberg in left field? This may help out in the defense -- or do you think otherwise?
-- Bryan W., Louisville, Ky.
Bryan appears to be from the school that believes playing two players out of their regular positions will improve a team's defense. I'll go ahead and think otherwise. Seriously, the Dunn-at-first-base experiment was a plan of the old regime before Spring Training. That was until Dan O'Brien was let go and new GM Wayne Krivsky signed Hatteberg as a free agent the week camp opened. Dunn isn't a gifted left fielder, but moving Hatteberg there won't be doing him or the Reds any favors.
When was the last time the Reds had two 15-game winners on their pitching staff in one season?
-- James B., Columbus, Ohio
The answer is 1992, when Tim Belcher and Jose Rijo each had 15 victories. Harang (16 wins) and Arroyo (14) were one Arroyo win short of getting there this season.