Watching this kid tonight in the AFL All Star game, I feel pretty comfortable with the Reds giving him a share of the catching duties to open the season (with Hanigan getting the majority of the starts). So, it would not bother me at all to see them let Hernandez and Cabrera walk. With Bruce achieving Super 2 status, the club needs to find a few bucks in order to afford the upgrade in left field it requires to compete for another division title in 2011. If Walt moves one of our young starters and Alonzo for a cleanup hitting left fielder, the tax is not going to come in the form of talent, but in payroll. Moving some valuable parts to make room for that money may be a little painful up front, but if the NLDS proved anything to Reds fans it was that teams aren't going to respect Scott Rolen next year as much as they did in 2010. It is absolutely mandatory to put a young, professional hitter behind Joey in the batting order that teams do not want to pitch to. Left field is the most obvious deficiency in the starting lineup, and fortunately one of the most exploitable positions in the game. A trade could easily be done with the young talent this team owns to make this team dangerous next year.
Solidifying the number 8 hitter on a solid baseball team is not as ridiculous a notion as it sounds, and there is no question that this is where Paul Janish and his gold glove defense belongs. I will not just suggest Mark Belanger for how valuable he could become on the high end of his value, but someone we are more familiar with in the original number 13 for Sparky's Reds. If Janish hits 8th 150 games for the 2011 Reds, it would not surprise me to see 11 home runs, 50-60 ribi's and an obp north of .300. And that would not even touch on what he would do for the entire pitching staff defensivley. Alex Gonzalez and Orlando Cabrera get millions of dollars for such production these days. No, Janish cannot run like Davey. But, his hitting potential is just as tangible at this point in his career as what Concepcion developed into. Even if all of this optimism is ridiculous, he still deserves a chance over another season of O-Cab at four times the price. Outstanding defense is a small price to pay for a shortstop.
Hernandez had a great season offensively, but his inability to bring the best out of the pitching staff has been well documented at Redszone. What Mesaraco may do to harm this club in quality ab's could very well be made up for in raw power. Defensively, I have read that he tends to relinquish an inordinate number of passed balls. But, he looked extremely comfortable behind the plate tonight catching Jeremy Jeffress, who more than once hit 100 mph with unguided scud missiles. The kid looks very atheletic behind the plate to the nake eye, and very much like the future of this team hitting somewhere in the middle of it's order very soon. Ryan Hanigan looks more than ready to take over this rotation while Devin hones his skills at the major league level to me. To let Ramon's 2-3 mil prevent this club from getting it's left fielder this winter would be sad. This is not even to touch on Grandal, who appears to be a rapid climber.
So who do we get? Matt Kemp would be amazing. Are the Dodgers REALLY ready to give up on him? Their pitching staff is surprisingly thin, despite some dynamite at the top. I could see Los Angeles buying into Leake, Lecure or maybe even Maloney and Alonzo for Matt Kemp. I think I would move on any of those starters plus Yonder in that deal. If they stahled, I might even throw in Jordan Smith or Chris Valaika. The Dodgers are not going to bite unless it is major league ready talent, but the Reds are plush with that in any number of ways.
If that failed, I might look at San Diego and Ryan Ludwick. I don't think Ludwick is a superstar by any stretch. But, in a ballpark like GAB, he could be the perfect catalyst hitting between Votto and Bruce. There is no doubt in my mind that Walt would love to capitolize on the Cardinals decision to give this guy away in a panic to pick him up and make his former employer pay. The Padres are about to lose A-Gon to free agency, and Kyle Blanks is coming off a season in which the normal wear and tear of baseball left him with a season ending injury to his sasquatch feet. Yonder Alonzo may look very good to that team, especially if he was packaged with the type of effective pitcher we seem to have falling from trees at this particular time. Ludwick would have a very realistic shot of hitting 30 hr's and collecting 100 rbi's with a high batting average hitting between Votto and Bruce.
In short, I think there are deals out there to bring a great left field option to Cincinnati this winter. If so, the peripheral offensive contributions of players like Hernanez and Cabrera can be taken off the books along with their bad contracts. If, by some miracle, the Reds could move Cordero for another "bad contract" who just so happens to provide exactly what the club needs in left, so much the better. But, this is what Walt Jocketty gets paid for.
We are on the precipice of greatness if the powers that be can take this team to the next level with a couple of brilliant postseason moves. Investing a little faith in drafting and player development, very similar to what the Giants did at a maniacal pace this season, is often what seperates the men from the boys in this game. But, there is a lot to be said for what a good GM can do at the poker table as well.