Doug, haven't asked you about Valaika in a while.
With Phillips' great season this year, over in the SunDeck Valaika's getting no respect.
Had Phillips not had this great year Offensively with the bat, I don't think there was a question about the REDS letting him go after (or during) this season. But, now that he's shown a new "peak" at age 29, it's very likely for him to have another excellent year (for a 2nd Baseman) next season. I see the REDS picking up his option.
That doesn't change how I feel about Valaika. I've felt for the last two years that he would take over at 2nd Base for Brandon at the beginning of the 2011 season. Nothing Valaika has done has changed that idea. With Frazier taking a step back so far this season in AAA, Valaika's been steady as a rock. It won't hurt Valaika's growth to repeat AAA next season with a September call-up next in 2011. It should only make him more prepared to take over the REDS' 2nd Base job.
I don't see any money at the Major League level to spend on 2nd Base from 2012-2015 (the likely length of Brandon's next contract). With the REDS likely to be spending large money during the 2012-2015 seasons at RF (Bruce), CF/LF (Heisey/Stubbs), 1B (Votto), C (Mesoraco/Grandel), SP1, SP2, SP3 and SP4 (Volquez/Cueto/Chapman/Bailey/Leake/Wood), and I may be leaving another position out, or some Veteran SS/3B/CL that Walt may decide to go after.
How do you see Valaika at this point as a Major Leaguer? I see him as a 10-year player with 6 seasons where he's hitting .290 or better while playing good defense at 2nd Base the entire time. For a 2nd Baseman for this team, I find that to be more than adequate.