From yesterday’s DDN:

Untouchables

P Aaron Harang, OF Josh Hamilton, P Homer Bailey, 2B Brandon Phillips.

Harang is the best pitcher fans outside of Cincinnati have never heard of, even though at 6-foot-7 and 275 pounds you couldn’t miss him in a crowded airport terminal.

Hamilton, the baseball story of the year after missing more than three years due to drug and alcohol abuse, is a future megastar — and it won’t take long.

Bailey was rushed to the majors and is paying the price, but has the stuff of stardom.

Phillips has all the talent, but needs to carry a jar of mustard in his pocket to slather onto his hot-doggedness. Phillips’ antics could get him and some of his teammates hurt from errant fastballs due to his showboating.

I agree about the first three. But I don’t see everyone’s love for Brandon Phillips. He’s a decent player, at times a very good player; but untouchable? I don’t think so.

Worth keeping

P Bronson Arroyo, P Jon Coutlangus, OF Ryan Freel, 3B Edwin Encarnacion, OF Ken Griffey Jr., OF Norris Hopper, C David Ross.

Arroyo drives folks crazy with periods of untouchability and periods when he can’t survive, but eats innings and has the stuff.

Any left-hander who strikes out the side and puts an exclamation point next to it by striking out Barry Bonds to end the all-strikeout inning — as Jon Coutlangus did last week — is a keeper.

Freel may not have the most talent and is injury-prone, but his versatility enables him to plug a lot of holes and inject energy into a sometimes-moribund band of Reds.

Encarnacion is an enigma, because just when it seems his defense and offense are equally putrid he has a spell of hitting and defense that may not remind anybody of Brooks Robinson, but he is a decent imitation of a big-league third baseman.

Griffey has shown this year what he can do without bandages, surgical procedures and Advil. He has star power with the fans and is still the best player on the team.

OK, so Ross has long offensive blackouts, but he does hit home runs and hits them in bunches. Plus, he is an A-plus defensive catcher with a Glock arm and is a strong handler of pitchers, a nice stopgap until No. 1 draft pick Devin Mesoraco makes the climb through the system.

Hopper is a little guy with speed, bunting ability, defensive skills and a great guy to have in the clubhouse as the foil of pranks because he always smiles about it, making him a nice extra player.

Freel is worth keeping, but he’s also worth trading if anyone is interested. He can play multiple positions reasonably well, but can’t stay healthty or be effective every day and makes more mental mistakes on the field than any player in recent memory.

My feelings on EE are well known here. He’s 24, he’s got skills, he’s been singled out for some reason by the prior manager for different reasons…leave the kid alone and he’ll progress. He’s not going to be Mike Schmidt, but he’s not going to be Wayne Krenchicki, Ed Vuckovich, or Denis Menke either.

I like Junior. But he’s on the downside of his career and he’s had a propensity for injury since coming to the Reds. The only reason keeping him makes sense (providing you can get a deal he’d agree to (10-5 player)), is to sell tickets as he goes for 600 homers.

David Ross is not a good defensive catcher, period. Has he ever caught a throw from the outfield without dropping it? He does have a good arm, but he had a career offensive year last year, let’s admit it and move on. He should be trade bait if anyone wants him.

I like Hopper as a 25th guy. But he’s nothing more than that and 25th guys are easy to find.

Trade bait

OF Adam Dunn, 1B Scott Hatteberg, 1B Jeff Conine,

P Mike Stanton, P David Weathers, P Todd Coffey,

P Matt Belisle, P Kyle Lohse, C Javier Valentin.

Dunn will be paid $13 million next year if the Reds keep him, but if he is traded that option goes away and any team trading for him risks losing him at the end of the year to free agency. Therefore, before a trade is made, a team must be convinced Dunn will re-sign with them (is that legal?). If a deal can be made, color him gone.

Aging veterans Hatteberg and Conine, both first basemen, can help contending teams with their savvy and ability and probably will be gone before the trade deadline.

Stanton, a well-aged vintage left-handed reliever, could be a nice piece for a contending team’s bullpen. And depending upon how soon Eddie Guardado comes back to be a closer, the Reds might be able to deal Weathers to a winning team for prospects.

Everybody is looking for pitching, so Coffey, Lohse and Belisle could be pitchers other teams ask about. All three have had their good moments, and bad moments and a change of scenery could help them and help the Reds improve their rotation and/or bullpen.

Valentin is, at best, a pinch hitter and a suspect backup catcher because of defensive shortcomings. He is a luxury for a struggling team, but a team pointing toward the playoffs could use a switch-hitting bat and a backup catcher/first baseman.

I like Dunn. But the Reds don’t, never have. He’s a magnet for all of their problems. Strikes out too much, bad defense, etc. Never mind the fact that he’s done things offensively no one has EVER done in the long history of this franchise. (100-100-100 seasons, 40 home run season, etc). Because of the way they wrote his extension, he’s going to be hard to trade unless you can get him to agree to an extension with whoever you want to trade him too. Otherwise, you aren’t going to get anything near his value for the final few months of the season.

Hatteburg and Conine have contributed much more than I ever thought they would. Hatteburg has been a pleasure to watch for 2 years. But Joey Votto is ready and if you can get anything for these guys (Good High A prospects) they should be gone.

I’d trade Stanton for a pack of gum the way he’s pitched this season, with his age, and contract (signed through ’08, with an ’09 option that could become guaranteed).

Weathers might bring a prospect, but imagine how bad this bullpen could be without him the rest of the way?

Lohse will be traded. Someone will take a flyer on him and Krvisky should jump all over it. I’d like to hold on to Belisle, I think he’ll improve if they leave him in the rotation. Trading Coffey now makes no sense, don’t trade when value is low. He had a good year last year, having a bad year this year. He’s still young, he’ll comeback.

Won’t be back

Hatteberg, Conine, Stanton, SS Juan Castro, P Mike Gosling,

P Marcus MacBeth, P Ricky Stone.

Hatteberg, Conine and Stanton have been discussed. If Hatteberg and Conine are gone, that leaves room for Class AAA Louisville first baseman Joey Votto, ready to make the jump.

Castro has been a wonderful defensive piece with one of the most pleasant demeanors in baseball, but his time is close to up, and the Reds need to get younger with their extra players, guys who might eventually step in and play, such as Louisville infielder Jeff Keppinger.

Ricky Stone is a journeyman right-hander who can jump from team to team for as long as he wants or return to Hamilton and hang some more drywall.

MacBeth and Gosling are two guys with permanent round-trip tickets to Louisville, two of about five interchangeable pitchers the Reds bounced back and forth between Cincinnati and Louisville.

Castro has a year left on his contract, don’t bet against him. The media and front office seem to love him, despite the fact that he’s HORRIBLE offensively.

McBeth is 27, but didn’t start pitching until ’05 and was in the majors this year. I hope the Reds don’t give up on him. As bad as their bullpen is, I think he’s worth watching. I think the same about Mike Gosling, though he’s been pitching longer, he’s worth keeping in the organization.