Strategic Reds plan for 08, 09 and beyond(long)
The Reds are approaching the 1/3 mark of this season - a reasonable point the assess near term team strategy. Although if everything falls neatly into place the Reds could still contend this year, I continue to believe they should plan for 2009 and beyond. I feel the approach I outline below provides the best hope to compete in the 2009-2011 period while still allowing a chance this year under perfect storm scenario. My approach position-by-position:
a.. Votto at 1B until he proves unable
b. Phillips at 2B
c. EE at 3B - I don't agree with the posters who would trade him or move him to the outfield. I fell he has GG potential. Even now his highlight plays outnumber his errors. Put him at 3B and leave him there at least through the rest of this year.
d. Try Janish at SS for the rest of this year. If he can OBP near .350, he can be a reasonable leadoff hitter. I'm assuming his defense is as good as advertised..
e. In LF, if possible resign Dunn for 3 Yr/$45M and bat him no lower than 5th. He's said he'd like to remain in Cincy. A three year contract would allow him another big payday at age 31. Cumberland/Frazier - later Waring/Fransisco should be ready to replace his bat w/i those three years.
f. CF is one of the two most difficult questions. Bruce until Griffey is traded. After that Bruce goes to RF and, if Dickerson is as good a CF as Patterson, I'd call him up and let him compete with Patterson for the job. With the other starting hitters and strong starting pitching the Reds could afford below average bats at SS, CF, and C if it results in excellent "up the middle defense". Hope that Stubbs is the answer to CF starting no later than 2010
g. RF belongs to Bruce as soon as Griffey is gone. Barring injury, I expect Griffey to have a hot streak of at least a month. His numbers should then look good and his remaining 08 salary and 09 buyout will be relatively modest. At that point an American league contender that needs a solid bat as a DH should be willing to part with a high ceiling AA prospect(we could pick up part of his remaining $).
h. At catcher, I think we're stuck with Ross/Bako the rest of this year. I'd try to trade for a solid AA/AAA catching prospect for 2009(any combination of Griffey/Freel/Hatte/Fogg/Hairston
i. For starting pitchers I'd go with Harang, Arroyo, Volquez, Cueto. I'd stick with Belise as the 5th starter for now, but if he continues to flounder I'd bring up Bailey, Thompson, or Maloney depending on their performance in the interim. Jukich, Smith, and Wood are good candidates for 2010.
j. Bullpen lockes are Codero, Burton, Affeldt. Bray and Lincoln I'd give more time. Weathers , if not traded and Belise,if not starting round out my current 7. If guys continue to underperform, Adkins, Herrera, Livingston(DL), McBeth, Coffey, Roenicke are among the minor league guys availble to try.
k. Subject to trades, the bench would be unchanged until trades or cut opened roster spots:
Gonzalez - DL
My lineup for 08(until Griffey is traded then put Dickerson or Patterson CF in the 7th hole and Bruce in RF)
Janish(if he can OPS ~ .350) Maybe Keppinger when he Returns
My lineup for09(Youth, strong defense, good OPS at top of lineup, power 2-6)
Janish(Keppinger if Janish can't hit .250 and OBP ~.350)
Dickerson/Patterson(Stubbs in 2010)
Ross/Bako(trade or FA)
Edit: MODS: I MEANT TO PUT THIS IN THE SUN DECK - ANY WAY TO MOVE IT?