Not many new topics on the board lately, so I thought we could go one by one, examining the case for (and against) each of the borderline guys for the 25-man roster. First up: Xavier Paul.
Last season proved to be a very, very good one for the former Pirate and Dodger prospect. Paul hit well in AAA, then, after Jocketty picked him up for a pittance, as the Reds' fifth OF and primary LH PH. Paul hit, to the tune of an .844 OPS with patience and BA to boot.
And many of those hits were big. Baker typically used him late, to either pinch hit for Drew Stubbs or the pitcher. (At that point in the season, they were pretty much the same player offensively.)
The Case For:
1. He has a pedigree. Kind of.
It's not like Xavier Paul came out of nowhere. He put up decent to above average numbers for three years before struggling in his first extended major league test in 2011. He's got a minor league line that includes two 900+ OPS season and might have been the AAA MVP last year, had he stayed in Syracuse. A career minor league OPS of 817 isn't bad. Not bad at all.
2. He's versatile.
Paul, 27, plays all three OF positions, though he's not great at any of them. His minor league track record includes more games in CF than in RF or LF, but he's had enough experience at all of them to feel comfortable wherever he's put.
Speaking of, he's also versatile offensively. Paul's got some pop, most recently seen in his .465 slugging percentage last season in the majors. He's also got some speed, as his 23 SB (in 500 career ABs) attest. As a bench guy, he's got to be able to do more than one thing. And Paul has shown he can do just that.
3. He's produced already in the role.
Last season, Paul showed what he was capable of. He's patient at the plate (9 BBs in 96 PAs is exceptionally good, especially off the bench) and showed the hit tool as well.
4. He's young and cheap.
The Slidell native is just entering his prime, at age 27. He's also not likely to cost more than $500,000 or so and is under team control until 2017. He won't be arb-eligible until 2014. What's not to like there?