aka Resolving the bottleneck between AAA and the Reds.
Not going to attempt to post depth charts 1-2 years from now, because so much will change that it is almost an exercise in futility. But I do think there are some interesting match-ups to look at that will be coming up next year, with the loser(s) being either pushed back down to AAA or out of the organization.
1. Chris Heisey vs. Chris Dickerson vs. Laynce Nix
IMO, there is only one spot for the backup OF that plays all three OF positions. Dickerson and Nix are both LH, while Heisey may have the highest offensive ceiling of the three.
My pick: Heisey due to the upside potential. Dickerson can't seem to stay healthy and Nix is what he is at this point. With Francisco or Alonso on the roster, we won't need the extra lefty bat on the bench. If Dickerson can come back from his injury, they could probably use him or Nix as a piece in a trade for pitching help this season.
2. Chris Valaika vs. Drew Sutton vs. Todd Frazier
The utility infielder spot. Valaika and Fraizer are both RH, and all three can play 1B, 2B, or 3B at the big league level. Sutton probably plays all three the best, with Valaika better at 2B and Fraizer better at 1B. Fraizer and Sutton can also play LF, adding to their value. Of the three, Fraizer probably has the most offensive upside, and should be an early favorite for this battle.
My pick: Frazier if he turns around his season in the second half of 2010, as he has the most upside and can stand in at 3B or LF, the two positions most likely to need support. If Frazier continues to flounder in the minors, than I'd like to see Valaika get his shot, considering how well he has hit this year. Unfortunately he has considerably less versatility than both Sutton and Frazier.
3. Juan Francisco vs. Yonder Alonso
The power hitting LH bat off the bench and/or platoon partner with Jonny Gomes for LF. Francisco certainly has more defensive value, as he could be a viable backup/injury replacement for Rolen at 3B, and has more experience playing LF than Alonso. Plus, Francisco has been able to hold his own in brief stints in the majors. Either player could also spell Joey Votto at 1B should he require a trip to the DL.
My pick: Francisco is more likely to stick in the bigs first, especially due to his relative defensive versatility. Alonso has far from wowed in the minors, and could ostensibly use more seasoning both offensively and defensively (if he's not traded first.)
4. Zack Cozart vs. Paul Janish
There may be room for both if Cabrera does not return, although they profile to similar types of defense-first SS. If a veteran is brought in next year, there is only room for one of them on the big league roster.
My pick: Let Cabrera walk and start the season with both. If neither one hits enough, send Cozart down and look to acquire a SS.
5. Travis Wood vs. Matt Maloney
Most likely, one of these southpaws will be shipped off in a trade in the next six weeks. If not, there could still feasibly be room for both of them on the roster- if one pitches out of the bullpen. Wood is much younger and seems to be the better prospect, while Maloney has had some effectiveness at the big league level.
My pick: One will probably be traded, but look for Maloney to go to the 'pen.