I know a lot of you are jazzed about Chris Dickerson, although for the life of me, I can’t figure out why. He’s never done much in the minors to make me believe he can be a starter on the major league level.

On the other hand, I’m willing to have an open mind if someone wants to try and convince me. I want to like Dickerson. I heard him interviewed, and he’s a very respectful, polite, intelligent young man who is enjoying his first taste of the big leagues.

Unfortunately, my view of his actual playing ability is summed up nicely by Baseball Prospectus:

In a system full of athletes, the Reds think Dickerson might be their best. If so, it makes you wonder about their ability to perceive the difference between athletic ability and useful baseball skills. Dickerson is a fourth outfielder at most, in large part because of his struggles against his fellow lefties. Dickerson has the potential to play once a week in the bigs, but he could also spend his prime years becoming a local hero in Louisville.

Being a 4th outfielder is nothing to be ashamed about; it’s a useful part to a good roster. The Reds, of course, have a roster that was put together by Mr. Magoo, full of fourth outfielders named Dickerson, Freel, Hopper, and Hairston (and a 7th outfielder named Patterson).

So, what do you think? Can Dickerson be a starter for Cincinnati next year? Should any of us care any more?

48 Responses

  1. Y-City Jim

    The Reds, of course, have a roster that was put together by Mr. Magoo…

    Great line!

  2. Y-City Jim

    I know Branch Rickey used to preach that if he had players that had speed and strong arms that they could be taught to hit. That must have been before the development of the breaking ball and off-speed pitch because it has been proven wrong a million times. Corey Patterson would be the most current example.

  3. Phill

    In my opinion if someone says oh this guy can’t be more than a 4th outfielder..I’d let the guy prove that. There aren’t any free agent outfielders, specifically centerfielders that makes me say screw Dickerson sign that guy.

  4. Kevin

    I don’t know if I’m that sold on Dickerson, either Chad, but we need a CF next year, here’s the free agent lineup this winter:

    Rocco Baldelli (27)
    Mike Cameron (36)
    Jim Edmonds (39)
    Mark Kotsay (33)
    Corey Patterson (29)

    For some reason that last name made my stomach lurch. So, it’s one of these guys, a trade, or we fill the spot with somebody in house. As much as I’m not sold on Dickerson, who are we going to trade to fill the hole in CF? Who are we going to sign? Ultimately, I might be glad we have him. (I’m overlooking here the possibility of Bruce in CF and someone else in RF, but the free agent class for OFs in general doesn’t look so good)

  5. Buddy

    man, I forgot Freel and Hopper were on the team…

  6. per14

    Bruce can play CF. EdE or Votto can be moved to a corner OF spot. So really, the Reds need to find either a Lf, Rf, Cf, 1B, or 3B. They do have some flexibility.

    I’m not excited about Dickerson either. But, he’s a better option than Patterson. He’s really a better option than Hairston, too, at least as an OFer. Hopefully, the Reds can find someone better.

  7. Kevin

    Right. I’m still not used to the thought of EdE switching to the outfield. Thinking about that, though, I realized that if one of them switches to LF next year, for example, we’re still have a hole in right field, as well as a new hole in the infield.

    That means either one of our “utility/fourth outfielder” types in house (Freel, Hopper, Dickerson) will have to start next year, or we find 2 “someones better.”

  8. John

    If you will look at mlbtraderumors.com list of “REDS” rumors during the peak July trade season, one can notice that they are looking for pure hitters-defense type of players to for the corner OF spots. With Dunn and Dunner gone it looks like a change in the total makeup of the team. Look for more Keppinger type player on the team next year.

  9. Matt Steele

    I like Dickerson and think he’s a useful guy to have (more so than Freel or Hopper honestly). I’m ok with him being in our starting outfield next year. However, long term, I would prefer us to have him as the “first guy off the bench” type player

  10. nycredsfan

    I don’t think he has a future as a starter either, but rather than trade for one for next year, or sign one of those free agents, I’d let him have a crack at it in ’09 and hope Stubbs progresses to the point of being ready in ’10. Then Dickerson slides nicely into that 4th OF spot.

  11. John of Muncie

    Dickerson’s been here what, a week? Geez, give the guy a chance to prove himself or not. If we end up with an outfield of Votto/Dickerson/Bruce next year, at least Patterson is gone.

  12. doug

    So let me get this straight BP…. he is a 4th outfielder because he can’t hit lefties. He also is only good for 1 start a week based upon the previous information. So with 80% of the league’s starting pitchers being right handed, he is good for 1 start a week how?

    Moving in the same direction, is Brandon Phillips really only good for 1 start a week because he absolutely sucks against righties, which make up 80% of the league, but happens to kill lefties?

    Dickerson is what he is, but I think he could certainly be a very nice part of a centerfield platoon, getting 4 or 5 starts a week against right handed starters where over the last two seasons in AA/AAA he has had a .915 and .820 OPS for the last two seasons.

  13. Phill

    If Dickerson can continue to hit he could prove a reasonable platoon with Ryan Freel or Norris Hopper.

    Freel for career hits .261 w/ .354 OBP against lefties. Gives him an OPS of .737 against left handers(surprisingly he hits righty’s better)

    Hopper for career(much smaller sample size though) .367 w/.406 OBP. Gives him an .862 OPS against lefties.(he hits lefties beter than righty’s)

    As I said Hoppers career numbers is a very small sample size(70 some games) where as Freel’s is over 200 games.

    This whole arguement is moot if Dickerson can’t hit though. But I would rather wait and find out then make a decision(mentally) based on what BP thinks.

  14. Fire Dusty NOW

    I’d like to think Dickerson can turn into a Curtis Granderson type player at the top of our lineup, but I really doubt he can sustain this throughout a whole year. I’m not going to say he can’t be that, so I say let him prove that he can’t. And right now, he’s proving he can. Let him play until we get somebody better (it’ll be a while).

  15. Kevin

    That sounds about right, to me, Phill. I’m personally hoping they come up with something better than Dickerson/Hopper in CF/RF be it a trade or a signing, but I do think it’s a somewhat doable option that we have.

  16. Sunday Deep Thoughts « Crosley Field Terrace

    […] Chris Dickerson is looking really good, but I don’t expect it to last and neither does Red Leg Nation.  Sometimes athleticism can be viewed as baseball skills and that seems to be the case with Dickerson.  He may have a hot start, but is he or any of the guys on the DL (Freel, Hopper) really the long-term answer? […]

  17. Mr. Redlegs

    Norris Hopper has played his last game for the Cincinnati Reds. Players like him litter the streets of free agency.

  18. Mike

    I agree Kevin. If Hopper/Freel are playing on a consitant basis for the Reds next year, expect another season well below .500.

  19. preach

    You know, I think I wouldn’t mind the Reds taking a flyer on Jody Gerut next year. He had all the potential in the world when he came up, I thought he was going to be great. He had some injuries, had no place to play in Cleveland and is a bench player in San Diego. Even in that role I think he is hitting about .300. If he can’t start I would like to have him on the bench. He is a very good pinch hitter.

  20. Dave from Louisville

    And we all know the smug stat assholes at BP have never been wrong.

    Great line Kurt

    Walt is going to make a big trade this offseason for Matt Holiday and we are going to sign Irturis or Furcal to play SS. At least I can dream.

    Expecting rookies to be reliable, counting on old players to be injury free, and expecting sucky players not to suck is a receipe for failure. That’s what Krivsky did, and that’s why he’s out of a job. Walt’s not a loser.

    I am with the camp that says if CD is playing in left next year, we are going to lose ALOT of games. CD is great for 2 reasons:
    1. He posseses all of the skills that C Pat is suppose to, and just happens to play the same position and be left handed.
    2. He’s cheap

  21. Y-City Jim

    Norris Hopper has played his last game for the Cincinnati Reds. Players like him litter the streets of free agency.

    But Hopper is cheap ($400,000(. Ryan Freel is not ($3,000,000). If they can move Freel then Hopper may stay.

  22. Matt Steele

    I hope he doesn’t trade for Holliday. He’s not even an above average player away from Coors, but because his inflated stats are seemingly MVP-like, the Rockies would ask for a ton for him.

    Anyway, next year we’re probably going to see a Votto experiment in LF with Alonso’s signing.

    Hell though, I don’t care at all who’s playing the outfield next year among our current roster as long as one guy isn’t a part of it (unless he gets a lot better)

  23. Thinking about Chris Dickerson

    […] I was reading one of my favorite sites, Redlegnation.com yesterday and they brought up something that Baseball Prospectus said about Chris Dickerson (Photo: Don Wright/AP). Here is what BP had to say: In a system full of athletes, the Reds think Dickerson might be their best. If so, it makes you wonder about their ability to perceive the difference between athletic ability and useful baseball skills. Dickerson is a fourth outfielder at most, in large part because of his struggles against his fellow lefties. Dickerson has the potential to play once a week in the bigs, but he could also spend his prime years becoming a local hero in Louisville. […]

  24. Mr. Redlegs

    Freel’s severe hamstring injury makes him almost untradeable until he’s proven healthy in the spring, and Hopper’s had one-half of a good season.

    Instead of getting punch drunk with these retreads, cast-offs, injury=prones and has-beens, and having to rely on them for more than 200 ABs or being starters for long stretches when someone gets hurt, how about bench depth that actually has some talent and ability?

    I swear, someone comes to the Reds and has one good week and some people are making out projections 8 months in advance with the Hoppers, Keppingers, Valentins, Hanigans and Dickersons in possible lineup scenarios. If these are the type of players starting everyday that you think are going to win the division, you have a pretty low threshold.

  25. brublejr

    I was never impressed with Dickerson at L’Ville, but he can be a very useful player.

    Is he a starter? NO. Can he be a good 4th outfielder that plays only against RHP? YES.

    Now, is he more useful than Freel and Hopper? YES. Hopper can only bunt and run fast, and now everone knows that so his bunt attempts are thwarted. Freel is a great hustle guy that might play more stupid than anyone in the league. How can someone get picked off as much as he does?

    The answer in this whole mess, I think, is to move Votto or EE to left and trade for an outfielder to play either CF or RF, and Bruce plays the other spot with Dickerson on the bench.

  26. Chad

    I agree 100% with comment #25. It’s called “Chris Stynes Disease.”

  27. david

    Matt – that is the second time you have ripped on Matt Holliday. Can you give us some reasonable explanation why you think Holliday is a product of Coors Field? A lineup of Holliday, Bruce, Phillips, Votto, EdE makes me completely enthused?

    I think we cannot discount Dickerson, nor can we discount Stubbs.

  28. per14

    Ah man, a Chris Stynes reference. And right on, as well.

  29. Dan

    MATT HOLLIDAY (CAREER)

    Coors Field – .365/.430/.663, 1 HR per 15.6 AB

    Everywhere else – .278/.344/.455, 1 HR per 29.0 AB

    That’s why, in my opinion, if anyone trades for Holliday, they will drastically overpay and be disappointed.

    I mean, I’m not saying he’s a bad player. He’s not. But I just don’t think he’s the superstar that his raw stats say he is.

  30. Matt Steele

    yeah, just check out his career splits on http://www.baseball-reference.com

    He’s not a bad player, but away from Coors, he’s just average and not a MVP like player.

    His OPS is something like 250 points different away from Coors

  31. John of Muncie

    Gee, guys. Ya think Dickerson would be anything more than a 4th outfielder if, say, they hadn’t traded Dunn and Griffey in the space of two weeks?

    Dumping 2/3 of a starting outfield does tend to blow the curve a little. Let’s panic next spring when Jocketty has had an offseason to rebuild the outfield. If Patterson and Dickerson are still starting, then go ahead and flip out.

  32. Chris

    Thank you, Mr. R (#25) and Chad (Styles reference) for saving me a lot of typing. “Let’s give him a chance” should not mean “let’s ignore his entire professional career and focus on a couple hot weeks.”

    In related news, Dusty is already stumping to bring Hairston back (“hopefully we re-sign Jerry Hairston Jr. and we hope he stays healthy.”)

    Now, I like Hairston, and hope he gets a nice contract this winter, but the best thing for the Cincinnati Reds is for Hairston to hit about .100 the rest of the year.

  33. catcard202

    IMO, If Dickerson can hit at a .270 clip the rest of the way(as I expect him to settle back to earth, a bit)…He should be the front runner for the everyday CF job. Speed & Defense.

    As much as I like Holiday….He’ll be too expensive…

    If I’m WJ, I try to swing a major off-season trade w/ the Marlins for SS Hanley Ramirez & OF Josh Willingham for several minor leaguers(3 AAA & 1 A/AA). Ramirez does not have a “no trade” clause in his 6yr/70M extension that starts in 2009 & Willingham is arbitration eligible($3M range). They are rumored to be looking to cut 2009’s pay-roll…

    Ramirez takes over at SS/lead-off & Willingham fits as a RHB w/ 25HR/100RBI potential.

    Leaving only a dependable back-stop, from the off-season shopping list.(CF, RHB OF, SS, C)

  34. Travis G.

    The Marlins are not trading Hanley Ramirez, and certainly not for table scraps.

  35. Mark in CC

    If Dickerson can’t hit lefties then he should fit right in.

    So far he has shown 3 of the 5 tools they look for. He has speed, good arm and has power. He has proven he can get to balls but not necessarily catch them and of course we need a larger sample on BA.

    At the very least this is a platoon starter in lf or cf. If he can hit.270, 20 hr, 20 sb, score 60 and drive in 45. at the salary he will make next year then that would be a tremendous upgrade.

  36. Sultan of Swaff

    Good post, Mark. Dickerson doesn’t have to be all-world, just a solid 1/2 of a platoon at the very least. He can do that. I keep seeing the argument that you can’t ignore a player’s entire minor league career when making value judgements like these. I think there is a flipside to that–we shouldn’t undervalue the thousands of minor league at-bats. This kid has had the right amount of seasoning and we need to value that, especially compared to the travails of Homer Bailey. For all the reasons I keep reading why this won’t/can’t work, we only need look at teams like the Cardinals and Twins–teams that continually bring up seasoned non-prospects and watch them have success when used in situations that play to their strengths. At worst, Dickerson is a small but valuable piece of a much larger puzzle

  37. Phill

    Hanley Ramirez will not be traded and if he is it will be for way more thant he Reds can afford. Could anyone imagine a Reds left-infield of Hanley Ramirez and Edwin Encarnacion? They’d rack up about 40-50 some errors in a season.

    I just don’t understand how anyone can write a player off when he’s barely had a week in the majors. I refuse to say Dickerson deserves a starting job but I also refuse to say he can’t do it. At the end of this season and during spring training my mind might get made up a bit more but I’ll wait to cast my judgement.

  38. Mr. Redlegs

    One of the things that fans are way too guilty of overlooking with minors players at the upper levels is not what the player CAN do, but what they CAN’T do.

    They’re “prospects” and they’re professionals so we expect certain skill sets. But I learned this from an old scout . . . focus on the player’s weaknesses and evaluate whether that weakness can be corrected or adjusted in parallel with a major league career.

    Of course, players surprise you and some keep improving once they get to the majors, but it doesn’t happen that often to avoid the tag of being a AAAA player or role player.

  39. NickP

    If we’re going to trade for Hanley, can we also trade for Pujols and David Wright?

  40. Dave from Louisville

    NickP – While your at it throw in that A-rod guy, he’s a little bit better than EE, ablthough EE is younger and has upside.

  41. Brian

    you guys are to busy giving (#34) a hard time about naming Ramirez as a possiblity. But realize that the Marlins are looking to cut payroll next year and have not attempted to sign Uggla and now there are rumors that they may move an all star in Uggla. Given it would mean a position switch but if you trade for Uggla you can either move Phillips to SS or move Uggla to 3rd and move EdE to LF. I think it could make sense for both teams in a deal where the Reds trade for Uggla giving the Marlins more young prospects.

  42. Thomas

    Uh, yes, and no less jazzed than I was about Dunn.

  43. Pete

    The same people that like the Dickersons of the world seem to dislike the Dunns.

  44. per14

    Do you all realize that Dickerson will be 27 next April? That’s awfully old for someone who’s never been all that great in the minor leagues. If he were 22, or even 23, I’d like him a lot more.

  45. Mike

    Baring something else becoming available, I wouldn’t mind looking at this OF next spring: EdE in LF, Dickerson/Hopper platoon in CF, Bruce fulltime in RF. I would like to find a 3Bman and keep Keppinger as a super utility guy. Hairston will likely be resigned but he will be hurt early on and not be a major factor. Hairston’s 38% hit percentage shows just how lucky his results have been this year and despite Marty and Dusty gushing over him, he will go back to his usual level of performance next year albeit that he is a good guy and plays hard. We still need a good defensive SS and who really things that Alex “the good” Gonzalez will be that guy.

  46. Mark in CC

    Let Dickerson play and see what he does. If he can be a role player that would be good.

    It isn’t a fair comparison but if you look at the numbers and performane of Drew Stubbs he isn’t going to light you up either and he is supposed to be a big time prospect. He isn’t 22 or 23 either.

  47. NickP

    I don’t think the Marlins would trade Uggla, and if we do a deal with Beinfest, Jockety would get owned. That said, trading for a 2B isn’t a bad idea if it finally forced the Reds to move Phillips to SS. Our best SS should not be wasted at 2B.

    I’ll never understand how Keppinger logged so many innings at short, when he was noticeably subpar with the glove.