The year is 1976 and it is game four of the BRM's second and final world series championship. I am 10 years old.
I hear the TV announcer's talking about Dan Driessen (playing DH) after he draws a walk. They are saying that Driessen is the reason the Reds are considering trading Tony Perez... they want to find a place for Driessen in the everyday lineup.
I have always remebered that day vividly as even at 10 and we were about to be World Champions again, I somehow felt that it was all coming to an end.
Tony Perez was not my favorite Red... in fact he was not in my top five (I was a distant relative of Rose by a cousin's marraige so naturally he came first, Bench second and Davey Concepcion took third; Morgan and Geronimo rounded out the top five). However, I knew that he was part of the team. However, i also thought that Driessen was a critical member of the team and I didn't want him traded either.
As I think about our issues with Joey and Yonder, I have overwhelming feelings of dread and deja vu. I don't think we will ever let Joey walk, but I don't want to trade Yonder. I want him on the bench. I want him to be the guy that every announcer and sports writer complains about... they guy that they say would start on all but a handful of MLB teams... the guy that the Reds foolishly waste on the bench. The player that Reds fans screamed for whenever Tony appeared merely mortal.
I think Dan Driessen on the Bench is a critical part of what made the BRM dominant. I want Yonder on our Bench. I don't want him out of position in LF... I am actually pretty excited about a Bruce, Stubbs, Heisey outfield for a few years. This team has made our pitchers great through excellent defense, so why mess with that?
Instead, let Yonder be next year's Miguel Cairo... I know, I know, he cannot play the other IF positions like Cairo, but that will be OCab's job next year with Janish as the starter. Yonder will take over as bench hitter extraordinaire... the guy who comes in and goes 2-4 with 2 RBIs when Joey needs a break... of DH's when we are in interleague play... the possiblities are endless.
Whatever we do... don't let an abundance of talent at a single postion force our hand... I think that is why we have lost players like Konerko, Hoffman, Wetteland, and many others. Fans and sportswriters hate those type of abundances... but can you name a dynasty without them?
Also, in every trade I have ever heard Alonso mentioned, we are always giving up more players than our trading partners. I think the danger is that any player that is blocked on the MLB level is immediately susecptible to being undervalued. I guess in summary... In Walt I Trust... I just hope that even if Yonder starts off hitting .350 for the Bats next year that, rather than us fans clamoring for Walt to trade him for a LF or SP... that we allow Walt to pull him up and put him on the bench... even if it seems like a waste to us... I want that "waste" to push us back to the golden age.