By Mark Sheldon / MLB.com
11/17/09 4:27 PM EST
What are the chances of the Reds re-signing Jonny Gomes and Laynce Nix? If they don't, who will be the everyday left fielder?
-- Riley H., Fort Loramie, Ohio
One of the bigger offseason decisions facing the front office is whether to offer either Gomes or Nix arbitration. Neither are locks, but I think Gomes has a better chance. As it often does, it will come down to money and what Gomes is seeking to make after he made a bargain of $650,000 in 2009. And now you have to wonder if catcher Ramon Hernandez's re-signing on Monday for one year at $3 million takes away some of the dollars for left field.
If neither player is retained, Chris Dickerson would seem to be the primary option. There is also prospect Chris Heisey, Wladimir Balentien (unlikely) and ... well, see the next question.
Can Todd Frazier or Juan Francisco play left field for the Reds next year?
-- Jack G., Fredericton, Canada
Depending on the outcome of the previous question, both should at least be in the mix to compete for the spot. Frazier has gotten significant time in left field the past couple of years in the Minors and Francisco has dabbled there, and I'd expect him to play there in Spring Training. Francisco is also blocked at his natural third-base spot by Scott Rolen. No one would expect Frazier or Francisco to be spectacular defensively, but their bats should theoretically compensate.
With the Reds having a decent selection of outfielders on the 40-man roster, do you see them trying to move Willy Taveras this winter since his 2009 performance was less than expected?
-- Brian C., Kokomo, Ind.
Less than expected? You are certainly being polite. The fact that Taveras has $4 million owed for 2010 makes him pretty unattractive to other clubs. The choice will be either to release him or keep him for next year. It's another major decision for the winter. I'd think it would be rough to make Taveras a bench player. He's rather one dimensional in that he only plays center field, has no power for any quick offensive boost, doesn't bunt well, doesn't play great defense and he doesn't excel at getting on base. Although Taveras is certainly a good person, I also can't see him being a happy clubhouse presence as a reserve player.
Since Micah Owings lost his spot in the rotation, what's he going to be used for or will the Reds decide to trade him?
-- Shawn, Cincinnati
Owings lost his rotation spot this past season, but that doesn't mean he can't come back and fight for the fifth spot next season. Also, he can still be useful as a middle reliever and right-handed pinch-hitter. So no, I would not try to trade Owings.
Now that George Grande has retired, who do you see as the front-runner for the Fox Sports Ohio play-by-play job? Mine would be Jim Kelch. He seems to blend in with Marty Brennaman, the Cowboy and Chris Welsh. He just has that great baseball voice, and in my opinion, would be an excellent replacement.
-- Monty, Batavia, Ohio
I'm not going to endorse any candidates but I'd have to think Kelch will get a serious look. He's already filled in for Reds games on both TV and radio the past couple of seasons. Dan Hoard, familiar to many as the radio voice of the University of Cincinnati Bearcats and an occasional Reds baseball substitute voice, also has the skills for the job. What I'd like to know for next season is if there will be more booth stability? With Marty and Thom Brennaman, Jeff Brantley, Grande and Welsh, plus Kelch, Hoard and Kent Mercker all taking turns on either TV or radio this season, you almost needed a scorecard to keep track.
What are your thoughts on moving Joey Votto to left field? I think this would make room for Juan Francisco at first, if he could play there.
-- Tom P., Troy, Ohio
I don't like the idea at all and I think Votto has earned the right to stay at first base. And although he is a team-first kind of guy, I can't see Votto's personality reacting well to a move after his performances the past two seasons.
Besides, if anybody would force his move to left field, it would be the arrival of Yonder Alonso. And based on Alonso's numbers in the Arizona Fall League, I'd say he has some more seasoning in the Minors to do before that conversation is started.
I was reading some of the names of free agents. There are some good power hitters on this list. Do you think the Reds will go after Jason Bay or Matt Holliday?
-- Brandon S., Leesburg, Ohio
Two words: no chance. And to expound on that, there is simply no payroll space to make such a splash into the free-agent market.
Has anyone told you before you look like actor Jack Plotnick?
-- Irma P., Miami, Fla.
Uh, who? I looked him up and still don't know who he is. Too bad it couldn't have been a George Clooney comparison, but I do know my limitations.