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Thread: Introducing the New 2B of the Reds: Aaron Boone

  1. #31
    SSG, Red Army Choir Guacarock's Avatar
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    This experiment makes a lot of sense. I'm not saying it will pan out. Just that it's worth trying on for size at the opening of the season to see how A. Boone responds to the shift. Here's why:

    1. Unless Boone cedes 3B, then Branyan and Larson are left in limbo on the bench. Could be that's where they belong. But both exhibited flashes of power and timely hitting in their short stints with the Reds last season. If either one of them can handle 3B defensively, we stand to gain by having their bats in the lineup. We did rank 20th among all ML teams last season in runs scored (709) and 19th in RBI (with 678). We need to improve upon those totals in 2003 if we're going to hope to move up in the standings.

    2. Let's say the experiment flops, and we discover neither Larson or Branyan can handle the hot corner. No big deal. A. Boone returns to his old position and we move on to Plan B. But perhaps that Plan B could still involve Larson or Branyan -- say Larson in LF or Branyan at 1B. We might discover, for instance, that we want their offense (if one or both can deliver 30-plus dingers), but that we need to limit exposure to their defensive deficiencies. We won't know that unless these two get some more playing time. I'd sure hate to deal off Larson prematurely, only to see him go elsewhere and flourish like Konerko. We screwed up there, and shouldn't repeat that same mistake twice. And even if we end up dealing Larson before 2003 runs its course, why not beef up his trade value first?

    3. This buys us some time to see what we've got in Lopez, our new young SS of the future, without placing undue pressures and expectations upon him. Why lock him into a 2B regimen when we might need him sooner than we think at SS (depending on how Larkin's aging bod holds up to the wear and tear of yet another season)? If Lopez gets 200-250 ABs this season, that's no crying shame. That's a pretty reasonable amount of playing time to break in a prospect.

    4. We know Larson and Branyan will face defensive challenges wherever they play, but we've seen enough of A. Boone at 3B to know he's not Gold Glove caliber at the position. Yes, he's speedy and athletic and has quick reflexes, but he's also prone to throwing errors, lapses in his concentration and a certain streakiness that may or may not be due to injuries. Who knows how a move to 2B will impact his defense? He did seem to rise to the occasion playing SS in 2002. And just maybe, 2B will suit his strengths (speed, range), while masking one of his shortfalls (the pesky, bad throws).

    5. By my calculations, the Reds are an average team defensively. We ranked a poor 23rd among all ML teams in total number of errors last season (120), but on the flip side, our fielders were 5th in assists (1,774) and 4th in Total Chances (6,255), suggesting they were aggressively stretching to make key plays. Better that than a lumbering squad like the 2002 Mets that committed 144 errors in far fewer opportunities. The upshot: We have valid reason to be concerned about our defense, but no cause to be sounding the alarms and striking the panic buttons just yet.

    6. If we really want to improve the defense, the answer doesn't really lie in the choice of fielders, but who we insert into the rotation. We need a KO specialist or two among our starting pitchers. Which teams had the fewest Total Chances on defense in 2002? Minnesota, Anaheim, the Yankees, Seattle, Arizona and both Chicago squads. A disproportionate number of those teams made the play-offs. Their rotations were simply a much higher quality than ours. As a small-market team, we can't hope to upgrade our rotation significantly unless we're innovative in how we compose our offense -- maximizing whatever resources we have, and, yes, cutting corners where necessary. Flexibility is a must. Trying out A. Boone at 2B fits that game plan. It might not work, but if it doesn't, the damage ought to be fairly easy to repair.

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  3. #32
    Member Spring~Fields's Avatar
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    The only reason Aaron is still here is because him and his daddy come cheap and Lindner would not pony up the dollars for a real third baseman that could really help the team in Rolen.

    Aaron will be lucky that Branyon and Larson along with Lopez don't park his butt next to Wilton, and Castro.

  4. #33
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    I agree with the move, at least offensively: Aaron would be a top-of-the-line 2Bman with the bat, and Larson would bring up the Reds' power numbers at the corners to an acceptable level. I also think that Aaron's shortcoming at third base is his arm, which would be solved at second. The question in the move is how good is Larson defensively. Keep Lark at short and spell him often with Lopez. Seems good to me.
    "Don't trust any statistics you did not fake yourself."--Winston Churchill

  5. #34
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    I like the idea of Aaron switching to 2b. He has the athletic ability, range, arm, and offensive ability to turn into an all-star caliber 2b IMHO. We may have to live with a few growing pains in ST and at the beginning of the season, but my guess is that by the end of 2003 he will have us saying Todd who? When his brother Brett came to Cincy, he had a reputation as an all hit, no glove 2b. Over time he developed his defensive talent and won a couple of gold gloves at the position. Aaron has twice as much athletic ability as Brett did, and could really turn into something special at 2b and turn our MI into a strength defensively along with a DP combo of Larkin and Lopez at SS.

    If the future of the Reds MI is Boone and Lopez, the Reds have the potential to get great defense and offensive production out of that position if both work hard. A duo of Lopez and Boone could provide great defense and 40-60 hr pop as well as lots of speed to the lineup.
    "Haven't you ever loved something that much?"

  6. #35
    A Little to the Left Redsfaithful's Avatar
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    I really would like this move better if Branyan was healthy and was going to be our third baseman. Larson just flat out can't hit right handers, and in our division that's quite a problem. How many left handed starters are there in the Central? Not many, I know that. I do think that Boone would be an adequate second baseman, it's the defense at third by whoever will be replacing him that's the real problem. 1 error in every 4.6 games (Larson's number) is simply unacceptable.
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  7. #36
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    This is a good move IMO. Boone will be better than Larson at second. If Larson stays with the Reds, he will hit (and RH's too !) Thus, offensively we have traded Walker for Larson, not bad inmy opinion, but obviously BL is not a tested commodity. There is no way LArkin will ever move.period.

    The flip-side of this is defense of course, and this will be a big concern with our CURRENT pitching staff. I just hope that this changes soon and Jimbo goes out and gets somebody (even Suppan) to off-set the loss of Elmer.

  8. #37
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    I'm not sure that Larson can be the third baseman

    but if he shows that he can, then Aaron's the logical guy to deal in order to get payroll flexibility. In the meantime, his move to second allows Lopez to be brought along slowly.

    here's the question: what if Lopez and Larkin outplay Larson?

  9. #38
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    Bowden just cracks me up at times:

    "We wanted to improve our range at second," Bowden said. "Aaron's willingness to do it was a factor. We have a proven player at third in Brandon Larson. We were pleased with the year he had in Triple-A and the adjustments he made when we brought him up to the big leagues."

    Since when does having 84 career AB's, 33 of which were deplorable, as well as having a career 428 OPS off of RHP (the vast majority of the league), and playing by most accounts a below average 3B count as being a proven player?

  10. #39
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    This is a good move because it gives the Reds a chance to look at some cheap players in B.L and R.B. Boone is going to comand big money in 2004 and be a free agent in 2005. The Reds must feel they have some good 2nd base prospects a year or two away from the bigs. This is really a make or break year for Larson, he is at the age where either his going to have a bright future or be label a bench player or a flop. If he is a flop The Reds have time to look in other directions. If he is puts up good numbers it maybe bye bye Boonie.

  11. #40
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    Interesting article from Hal

    Bowden, Aaron Boone discuss second base
    Move would keep Larson at third

    By Hal McCoy
    e-mail address: hal_mccoy@coxohio.com
    Dayton Daily News

    CINCINNATI | Aaron Boone walked into General Manager Jim Bowden's office Monday as the Cincinnati Reds' third baseman and emerged a few minutes later as the team's second baseman.

    Maybe.

    This isn't the old Abbott & Costello routine, Who's on First? (that's still Sean Casey). This is a case of finding a second-base replacement for traded Todd Walker with the least amount of disruption.

    Boone was in town Monday to have his shoulder examined and popped in to see Bowden. That's when Bowden dropped The Second Base Plan on Boone, who was receptive.

    Boone's father, manager Bob Boone, was home in California and unaware that his son would be told of the plan Monday, "Although it is something we have discussed."

    When the Reds traded Walker (.299, 42 doubles) to Boston during baseball winter meetings in December to save $3 million, manager Boone said third baseman Brandon Larson had priority at second base and had worked at the position after the season during the instructional league.

    The club now believes moving Boone to second and keeping Larson at third is easier, even though Boone hasn't played the position played so well by his older brother, Bret.

    "We're going to look at it this spring," said manager Boone. "If Aaron can do it, that will give us the least amount of resistance (from other players like Larson and Barry Larkin). Aaron can make the switch. He is an athlete and should, but you don't know. We have to see how he turns the double play.

    "I do know he'll cover that huge hole we had to the left side of second base," Boone added, referring to Walker's limited range. "We can leave Larson at third so that he doesn't have to learn how to hit and play a new position at the same time in the big leagues."

    It isn't a done deal.

    Boone said at least four players will begin spring training working some at second base Boone, Larson, newly acquired Felipe Lopez and Larkin.

    "But we can't force it, can't force anybody to change, that would be counter-productive," said Boone, meaning it is unlikely Larkin will agree to a switch from shortstop.

    "There are a lot of things we have to find out during spring training and we'll look at third hard," he added. "We think Aaron can do it. Edgardo Alfonso made the move and Aaron is a better athlete. There are a lot of scenarios, but we'll figure out the best way to go. I know we have a Gold Glover (Boone) at third base. If we go the avenue of playing Aaron at second, I don't want to have to make a defensive switch in the seventh inning and move Aaron back to third. That wouldn't be fair to him."

    It is ironic that Larson is now so much in the mix that the club would move Boone. Larson, 26, was the team's No. 1 draft pick in 1997 but fell from grace and wasn't protected after the 2001 season. Any team could have claimed him, but none did and Larson signed a minor-league contract for 2002.

    After undergoing Lasik surgery, Larson tore up Class AAA pitching at Louisville, hitting .340 with 25 homers and 69 RBIs in only 80 games before he was promoted on July 11. With Larkin out with injuries, Boone moved to shortstop and Larson played well at third base, well enough to earn a chance in the lineup for 2003.

    "We will do a lot of mixing and matching during spring training, but Aaron is pretty pumped up about making the change," Boone added. "Whatever is best for the team. . .we have a whole lot of guys on our team who are that way."

    What the club really needs, though, are a couple more starting pitchers and Boone knows it.

    "Nothing that about $20 million wouldn't solve toward getting us those pitchers," Boone said. But there is no $20 million.


    Contact Hal McCoy at hal_mccoy@coxohio.com

    [From the Dayton Daily News: 01.07.2003]

  12. #41
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    Originally posted by princeton
    here's the question: what if Lopez and Larkin outplay Larson?
    Then the Reds should play Lopez at the hot corner. He played 47 games there is 2001 and was about league average in terms of range factor and fielding percentage.

    If he flops, then the Reds can try Larson there. By the time the Reds get a decent look at both guys, Branyan should be back and ready to take his shot if Larson flops too. If all three guys flop, then the Reds are in trouble, but the odds of all three guys being busts is pretty thin.

  13. #42
    Dunnilicious creek14's Avatar
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    Originally posted by Wheelhouse
    I agree with the move, at least offensively: Aaron would be a top-of-the-line 2Bman with the bat, and Larson would bring up the Reds' power numbers at the corners to an acceptable level. I also think that Aaron's shortcoming at third base is his arm, which would be solved at second. The question in the move is how good is Larson defensively. Keep Lark at short and spell him often with Lopez. Seems good to me.
    All discusion on this topic should have stopped after this post.

    If Wheelhouse gives the stamp of approval to anything dealing with a Boone, it must be a good thing.
    Will trade this space for a #1 starter.

  14. #43
    THAT'S A FACT JACK!! GAC's Avatar
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    And who says that Aaron can't develop (and that is the key word, meaning, in the future) into an All-Star 2bman with time and experience?

    I'm sorry, but some of you are too quick to be judgmental and to come to conclusions.

    The move doesn't bother me at all, because I expected an INF lineup of this sorts. What else were they gonna do, looking at we we have? I'll be honest though... I am more skeptical of Larson at 3rd, then I am with Boone at 2nd.

    I'm a "wait and see" kind of guy when it comes to them giving Larson his shot at playing 3rd though.

    But I'm not too "giddy" about Branyan at 3rd either. Neither of these guys, from a defensive standpoint, impress me.

    In fact, when I now look at this INF lineup from a defensive standpoint, I am not impressed (or amused ).

    But alas, these are the cards that we have been dealt.

  15. #44
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    Lopez at third and Aaron at second? two players out of position, with the natural second baseman at third, and the natural third baseman at second?

    maybe we can put Austin Kearns at first base and Sean Casey in RF, too

  16. #45
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    ESPN's Insider weighs in with a postive vote.

    don't know about you, but when a team does something right any team I think it's pretty neat. Take for instance the Cincinnati Reds. Blessed with a ton of young outfield talent, they are in danger of having perfectly decent ballplayers rotting away on the bench. Instead, they have taken a step that will allow one of these players, Brandon Larson, to become a full-timer in 2003.

    John Fay of the Cincinnati Enquirer reports that Aaron Boone will be shifted from third base to second so that Larson can have that job. Larson made a great leap forward at Triple A last year and now appears at age 26 to be ready for the show. With Austin Kearns and Adam Dunn holding down the corner outfield positions, there would have been no room there for Larson without some shell gaming in the infield.

    "We wanted to improve our range at second," said general manager Jim Bowden. "Aaron's willingness to do it was a factor. We have a proven player at third in Brandon Larson. We were pleased with the year he had in Triple-A and the adjustments he made when we brought him up to the big leagues."

    Boone has not played second in the major leagues since 1998, but has been called on to play shortstop 25 times a good indicator that he can handle second. There was some talk of moving him to shortstop and Barry Larkin to second base when the Reds traded Todd Walker to Boston. Larkin is set to stay put right now, although he needs to rebound from what was probably the worst year of his long career. (Actually, it was pretty similar to his first full year in the bigs: 1987.) Larkin has reached icon status so it won't be easy to phase him out, but if he keeps going like he did in 2002, the shortstop job will have to become Felipe Lopez's sooner rather than later.

    Boone had an interesting season in 2002. It was only the second time in his six-year career that he played enough to qualify for the batting title and he logged the most plate appearances of his career. Because of this, his counting stats were all the best of his life, save for triples. What catches the eye is that a substandard batting average dragged down his OPS to a career-low .753. However, this belies the fact that his isolated power (slugging average minus batting average) and walk rates were actually the best he has ever produced.

    The Reds have a lineup brimming with the potential of being downright scary. However, a number of players have to reverse recent trends. Larkin, of course, needs to prove the end is not at hand. Ken Griffey, Jr. has seen his slugging average drop five years running. It is time for him to arrest that trend and send it back upward. Ditto for Sean Casey; a first baseman who hit like a shortstop in 2002. His slugging average has dropped three straight years and he reached the point last year where he cannot justify his position in the lineup. With Dunn and Kearns both reaching base 40 percent of the time, there is an opportunity for somebody in this lineup to drive in a gondola-load of runs.
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