As the Reds play bad and fall behind the Brewers ( 9 games out on May 9th. ouch! ) I have been thinking about who will be on the field next year.
Some players are obvious. Some are not.
There are some interesting scenarios to watch for over the next two months in regards to 2008.
I. the 2008 offense will look a lot like the 2007 version.
2B/SS/3B: Phillips/Gonzo/EE. This assumes that Phillips and EE play at least decent this year.
LF: Dunn. Unless he totally tanks I think the Reds will pick up his option. We need the offense.
CF: Hamilton. 'The Natural' has made quite a splash so far.
RF: Griffey. 2008 is the last year of his contract. Bruce is the 'right fielder of the future' but he is still in A ball. Most expect him in 2009.
C: ? Ross certainly calls a good game and handles the pitchers well. The question is will he hit. He is signed for 2008. Valentin seems to me to be a pinch hitter/backup catcher. His defense/game calling/handling of pitchers doesn't seem adequate for a major league catcher. Honestly I am not sure he is a #2 catcher. He might be a pinch hitter/emergency catcher.
If Ross falters with the bat the Reds will be looking for catching help.
We have no one in the minors.
Bench: Freel & Castro are signed for next year. Hat and/or Conine could be back in a purely bench role depending on what kind of season they have this year. Neither is signed past this year. Hopper could be on the bench depending on his 2007 performance.
II. Starting pitching. Now it gets interesting.
Harang and Arroyo make a nice 1-2 punch. Both are signed through 2010.
Lohse. There is an interesting discussion on Reds Live about Lohse.
I honestly don't know if he will be back or not.
Depends on his performance this year and how much money he wants.
Belisle has looked good so far. If he keeps it up and his back problems don't flare up he will be in the 2008 rotation.
Milton is gone.
Bailey, Dumatrait and/or Livingston could be in the rotation. All three are pitching well at AAA. IMO pitching Milton in 2007 hurts the Reds for 2008. We need to get a look at these guys especially if we plan to let Lohse go.
Do we want a 2008 rotation of Harang-Arroyo-Belisle-?-?
What if Belisle falters in the 2nd half ( shades of EZ ) or his back problems flare up? Do we want a 2008 rotation of Harang-Arroyo-?-?-?
That is why I would like to see now what these three guys can do at the big league level.
Weathers and Stanton are signed. So is Coffey.
I honestly have no clue who else is in next years pen.
Candidates are Saarloos, Coutlangus, Salmon, Bray, Majik, McBeth, Pelland and I'm sure there are a few others.
It depends on how well they perform this year.
This will be an interesting story for the rest of 2007: will anyone step up and be our closer? will these young guys show they belong in the bigs? will we need to spend the offseason trying to fix the pen ( again ) ?