I am curious as to what others think about the bench next year. Below are my thoughts.
I expect the team to go with 13 position players & 12 pitchers.
That is a five man bench. Three spots would seem to be taken.
1) Hanigan (or Hernandez)
3) Heisey (or Gomes)
4) We should have more than one guy on the roster who can play SS. Cairo has basically been a 1B/3B guy the last couple of years. He has logged a tiny amount of time at 2B recently. He hasn't played SS since 2007.
So I think a 2nd true shortstop will be on the 25 man. It may be Cozart. If Walt thinks he needs more seasoning he may try to bring in a very cheap veteran for competition. I'd of course love for the team to swing a deal for say Stephen Drew & use Janish as the backup. I am not holding my breath.
5) Last spot. The Reds are rumored to be in the hunt for a LH hitting outfielder which I think will be the 5th bench guy. I suspect it will be a cheap guy like Podsednik, Nix, Fred Lewis, Jim Edmonds, etc.
That will leave the following guys in AAA: Corky Miller, Devin Mesaraco, Yonder Alonso, Chris Valaika, Juan Francisco, Todd Frazier, Dave Sappelt & Danny Dorn.
Possibilities which would open up a bench spot.
A) They could use Cairo as an emergency left fielder & go with only 4 outfielders (Bruce/Stubbs/Gomes/Heisey). Or the Reds could sign a guy like Fred Lewis or Jim Edmonds & use him in LF and also as a backup CF/RF. That would allow the team to trade Heisey if they wanted to upgrade a poisition. (Or allow them to trade Gomes).
B) they could start Cozart at AAA & use Cairo as a backup shortstop.
Here is what I would do:
There are questions about whether Francisco can succeed in the majors (both offensively and defensively). If the Reds development people think he can then I would have him on the team. Why? Well a couple of reasons. The raw power is real. 18 home runs in 329 PAs at AAA. Plus IMO the team is terribly right handed & could use both Francisco as well as a left handed hitting outfielder. I'd play him at 3B for ~50 games, mostly vs RHP. The other games he could pinch hit. I'd also get him a 1B mitt and let him backup Votto. He could also DH in interleague play. That would hopefully get him ~300-350 PAs. Now, whose spot would he take? I'd get a LH hitting outfielder & move Heisey or Gomes. I've said before that these two guys, while different players, have very overlapping skill sets for the 2011 team. Basically they both play LF vs a left handed starter. Heisey's ability to play CF & RF won't come into play much as I don't expect Stubbs or Bruce to need much rest. Personally I still don't get bringing Gomes back other than it was cheap. That being said he is under contract. I think an AL team needing help at DH would happily trade for him. They do exist. The Red Sox's David Ortiz had a .599 ops vs LHP last year. The team could move Gomes & go with a Fred Lewis/ Heisey platoon in LF and use them at the top of the order. If somehow 2 guys go down in one game Cairo or Francisco could play an emergency left field.