Jocketty on CF, SS and more
Posted by jfay September 19th, 2009, 2:06 pm
I talked to Walt Jocketty about 2010 for my Sunday Insider for the paper.
Jocketty always plays things close to the vest, but he indicated that the Reds are likely to go with what they’ve got, i.e., Drew Stubbs as the center fielder, Paul Janish as the shortstop and some combination of the current players in left field and at catcher.
Asked if Stubbs is the center fielder for 2010, Jocketty said:
“I think based on what we’ve seen,” Jocketty said, “we have to give him that opportunity. We’ll see how he finishes up this year and what happens over the winter. But he’s given us a strong indication that he might be able to do that. He’s had a long test.”
If that’s the case, Willy Taveras becomes a very expensive ($4 million) extra outfielder.
Jocketty gave Janish a slightly less enthusiastic endorsement as the shortstop for ‘10.
“I don’t know,” Jocketty said. “Janish has played great defensively. I’ve seen a lot of championship clubs that have had shortstops that have the defensive ability he has and weren’t known for their hitting but provide enough offense to be an everyday player.
“Assuming we have enough offense in other positions. I’ve said all along that what I wanted to try to do is improve defense. I think our infield defense is as good as it’s been in a long time. That’s very important. Ask our pitchers. They’re extremely happy.”
The club has an $8.5 million option on catcher Ramon Hernandez. It’s hard to imagine that fitting in the budget.
“That has not been decided,” Jocketty said. “It’s a pretty big option. We have to look what all of the alternatives are and decide. Again, these are things that will take place in the month or so after the season.
“We’ve certainly talked about it. But they’ve just been preliminary discussions.
Injuries to Hernandez and Ryan Hanigan forced the Reds to use their catching depth. Craig Tatum and Corky Miller, the starter and backup at Triple-A, were the starter and the backup for the Reds for three weeks.
Jocketty liked what he saw.
“Hanigan’s played well,” he said. “Tatum has too. Corky’s done a good job. Our catching has been as good as any in the league with the depth.”
But offensively, the Reds haven’t gotten a lot out of Tatum (.169), Miller (.128) or Hanigan (nine RBI).
The Reds could refuse the option on Hernandez and try to bring him back at a lower salary. But given the likely lack of payroll flexibility, they might not be able to make him a reasonable offer.
There is no shortage of candidates to fill the left field job. If you took a survey of fans, Jonny Gomes would win.
Gomes has been one of the surprises of the season. Gomes has 20 home runs and 49 RBI in 262 at-bats.
The Reds haven’t talked to him about next year.
“That’s not unusual,” Jocketty said. “The season’s not over. He’s still under control for two more years. We haven’t talked to anybody about next year.”
The Reds could offer Gomes arbitration. He said he would accept it.
“We’re still working on our plans for next season. We want to finish this season first. Obviously, we recognize what he’s done for us this year. And we’d like to have him back.”
Chris Dickerson, Wladimir Balentien and Laynce Nix have played well at times also.
Juan Francisco, the 22-year-old who hit 27 home runs and drove in 93 runs in the minors, is in the picture for left as well.
“We’ve got a lot of depth,” Jocketty said. “We’ve been working Francisco out in the outfield a little bit. We’ll probably bring him down for a week of Instructional League.
“Outfield is not one of the areas that we’re concerned about.”
“Again, we’d like to find a quality RBI man. Where that fits in, I don’t know. It could be outfield.”