Generally, Memorial Day seems to be a traditional "its not early anymore" point in a baseball season. Its a point where teams start to take significant action to make changes to the team that it started the season with. The Reds seem to be on this page with the recent promotions and changes in the minor league system. Changes I hope to see:
1. Jay Bruce needs to be on the team and in the line-up. The super two thing should no longer be a consideration and there simply are no more excuses after a 2-5 road trip. The only debate left is over whether he should play CF or RF. He'd be a huge upgrade at either spot....
2. ... I've seen enough of Ken Griffey Jr with a glove on his hand. IMO, on a team with a number of poor defenders, Griffey is by far the poorest of them all. Give me Bruce in RF and hope the team can eek out something close to league average in CF with Freel/Patterson/Hairston etc. The offensive bar is set lower in CF and Patterson is a plus defender. I like the idea of saving Bruce's legs by not making him run between Dunn and Griffey everyday. With Bruce in RF, the CF should be able to cheat a little toward Left Center and the overall defense should be vastly improved.
3. Matt Belisle needs to be removed from the rotation. I was one of the people who posted that he should be handed a spot and really thought that he would build on last season. I really thought that his jump to 170+ innings in 2007 after a couple seasons of much smaller loads was a transition year and that the results would improve with that under his belt. I'm now convinced that those who said he was not a good pitcher were right and I was wrong about this one. With Lehr gone, I give Matt Maloney a try in the 5 spot for now...
4. ...Sign Freddy Garcia. This is an impact pitcher who is on the market. Unlike the other injured free agent busts out there, Garcia is coming off TJ and not a shoulder problem. He should come back as good as ever. He'd upgrade the second half rotation, a two year deal would provide a plus starter for 2009. I'd want an option for 2010 as well. It wouldn't cost any talent. Its time for the losing to stop, right?This is wrong see below
5. Put Dusty on a leash. Management needs to step in and order some stupidity to stop....
6. ...Hire an in game tactician to be a bench coach. Let Dusty handle the egos and he surely has a large voice, but he needs to be relieved of any responsibility for making decisions as the situation evolves. Fire the coach of your choosing to make room.
7. Get a Catcher. The clock has struck midnight on Bako's Cinderella start and David Ross is to catching what Juan Castro was to IF play the last couple years. A defense first player who actually can't play defense very well. Ross is a guy I'd like to see removed immediately.
8. Implement a platoon system that is based on defensive needs (as opposed to RH/LH offensive match-ups based on the opposing starter). The Reds are a team with too many guys who are offense oriented (Freel, Hairston, Keppinger) but probably not good enough offensively to be worth a poor glove all the time (like say Dunn is). The Reds also have a couple guys who are plus defenders but iffy with the bat (Patterson, Janish). The team needs to find balance. The Reds have three fairly extreme fly ball starters in Harang, Arroyo and Cueto. When they are on the mound the team needs Patterson in CF (with Bruce in RF). Volquez, Belisle and until this year Fogg were more ground ball guys. When they pitch, Janish should play SS IMO. I think its obvious that the Reds need a lead-off guy who can get on base without completely killing the defense and switching these guys in and out seems to be the best plan. When the fly ball guys are on the mound, play Keppinger (Hairston for now) at SS and let him lead-off. Patterson plays CF and bats 7th. When the ground ball guys are out there, Jansih plays SS and hits 7th with Freel (or Hairston) in CF in the lead-off spot. I think there is something to the RH/LH match-ups, but finding an offense/defense balance is more important at this point. With this plan filling the number 1 and 7 spots, the five core guys (Dunn, Bruce, EdE, Votto and Phillips) can bat 2 - 6. The catcher, of course, should always hit 8th on this team. I think this coupled with subbing Bruce for Griffey should greatly improve the team defense without completely conceding the offense. Until more two way players are acquired, its the best hope IMO.
9. Sign Adam Dunn. This offense would be absolutely awful without him.
Edit: Garcia did have shoulder surgery. I stand Corrected by GAC below. No interest in guys with shoulder trouble.