Okay, time for another community discussion, since yesterday’s look at Brandon Phillips prompted some thoughtful responses from you guys out there in the Nation (and that BP conversation is still ongoing).

Anyway, today’s subject is our intrepid third-baseman, Edwin Encarnacion. Overrated? Underrated? What is his future with the Reds? Let’s hear your projections and opinions.

I will hold off on my opinion for now, other than to say that EE is my favorite Red now. That (clearly) doesn’t mean he’s the best player on the Reds; he’s just my favorite.


88 Responses

  1. Mr. Redlegs

    What’s the over/under on this one drawing 100 comments . . . ?

  2. per14

    He’s not a great player but he’s underrated overall. He’s a pretty darn good hitter. Significantly better than Phillips. I expect him to be the Reds second best hitter next year behind Votto (assuming they don’t pick up someone else in the off-season).

    Defensively, he seems to have good instincts and will make sparkling plays, but the stats don’t lie-he’s pretty bad.

    So overall, I think he’s a solid player and needs to be moved to the OF.

  3. Bill

    Question…do the defensive numbers show his having improved over last year?

  4. Chad

    Over, Mr. Redlegs. I imagine that EE is going to be the new Adam Dunn, with people criticizing and defending him with equal zeal.

  5. Brian

    The probablem moving him to the outfield is that he is rather slow (such as Dunn was). Braun got away with it because he isn’t nearly as slow footed as EE.

    In terms of hitting he is alright but my main issue, as he is still young, is when will he finally put an entire year together. Every year we talk about how talented and young he is offensively but he more than anyone else always gets stuck in that long slump. I think he will improve this year as he will be a year older.

    I just have a probablem believing that he will be our third baseman or first basemen of the future because of how poorly he plays defense. Yeah, Votto could move to left but I would much rather have Votto stay put at first as his defense has improved significantly this year.

    All in All I think he is overrated because he has yet to put an entire year together. His potential is still high but he isn’t there yet. I also believe that of any Red on the roster he may be the one that ends up being moved this offseason for a more sure handed guy or LF.

  6. Tom

    Edwin had more months of .900+ OPS in 2008 than Adam Dunn. There aren’t many 25 year old 3B that can say that. It isn’t just flashes he’s shown. Moving EE would be the worst move the organization could do. Corner OF are way easier to produce and purchase than 3B. It greatly dimishes his value to the Reds.

    Edwin had one horrifically awful month in 2008 that drug down his stats overall. He, not Phillips, should have been the cleanup hitter all season. Phillips numbers without Dunn behind him were awful. Edwin never had that protection.

  7. BenL

    I think he might be rated just right: His advocates will say that he’s young and he has a huge upside, both on offense and defense. They’re right. His detractors will say that he isn’t playing up to his potential, and that he might not ever make it there. They’re right also. The difference is in the patience of the observer, not the perception. Personally, I’m patient, and I like him, but I’m concerned. He’s only 25, and he could still have a break out year. Still, I’m not sure being on the Reds is helping him. I think he might benefit from a trade to a team with a better coaching staff.

  8. Dan

    I agree – I think Edwin is underrated. He’s already one of our better hitters, and he’s surprisingly young still (turns 26 in January).

    That said… since I enjoy pretending I’m a GM… *if* we were to trade Edwin, I have a deal in mind already (and I’ve had this in mind since last offseason)…

    EE for Jonathan Sanchez (LHP on the Giants)

    I’m not as sold on it as I was a year ago b/c our offense is way down now… but I really do want to find a young, power-pitching lefty for the Reds’ rotation!

    Any thoughts?

  9. Tom

    Trading EE is a GM’s nightmare. Jocketty could never get full value in a trade, and as soon as EE’s dealt he’ll probably put it all together.

  10. James

    The thing about EE’s defense is that he actually has a great glove. It’s his arm that creates the wild throws and errors. But like lot of people said, he’s only turning 26 so i say give him some more time.

    I really think EE can even improve his hitting if the lineup would have more consistency. I think phillips, votto, EE as the 2,3,4 hitters would help. And make sure you tell phillips that he needs to hit singles to right like he did two years ago.

  11. Tom

    Phillips is a double play machine in the field and at the plate. Hitting him 2 isn’t a good idea in my mind. He needs to hit near the bottom and use his speed to generate runs with the guys that can’t clear the bases with one swing. Him hitting #2 would cripple the offense.

  12. Mr. Redlegs

    Some of you harp on Phillips about his offense when his defense–and his total package–is really quite good. But you ignore EE’s uptick offensively and harp on his defense, when, in fact, his defensive problem (if you actually watch games) is almost 100 percent throwing, which is correctible, and his instincts and reflexes at 3b are tremendous.

    EE has a very strong arm. He makes the difficult throws. His problem stems mostly from the routine–the charge-and-throw and going left-shift-throw. That’s footwork and release point, and you’d think infield coaches such as Bucky Dent and Chris Speier would have fixed these fundamentals. They haven’t.

    Let’s just say EE has saved an awful lot of runs and innings on amazing plays as well as those he’s given away with the routine throwing marker.

  13. Mark in CC

    He looks like Aramis Ramirez to me, who was traded by the Pirates to the Cubs because they felt he wasn’t living up to potential(his average had digressed to the .230’s his last full year) and his arbitration eligible wages were getting too high. I bet the Pirates would like to have that one back. EE is in the same spot.

    In a interview Phillips said that Gonzo had a great influence on EEs defense and that is why he was so inconsistent without him this past year. I really don’t know what that has to do with throwing but maybe it was a calming influence.

  14. Tom

    I agree 100% Mr. Redlegs. He makes the play on the short hop extremely well and he charges the ball with the best 3B in the game. Getting the ball out of his hand cleanly seems to be his biggest issue. His glove is nice though. He’ll never play 3B like Ryan Zimmerman, but he’s not the hack job he’s made out to be.

  15. dfs

    By all accounts they have worked with his footwork.

    The question about EE’s value is going to be based on what the arbitrator thinks. Since his day’s in Dayton it was obvious that Edwin had the bat and range to carry third.

    With Votto and Yonder in the system, we can just stop the talk of moving Edwin to first. He’s going to left or stay at third.

  16. Brian

    I agree that EE has great upside and hope that the Reds hold on to him. I think he is currenlty overrated but in a year or two it could be a completely different story. Another thing that I forgot to mention above was that EE has shown a potential to be extremely clutch at the plate, even if he hasn’t dont it for a full year. I agree with 13 in that he looks like Aramis and I hope we don’t give up on EE like the Pirates did Aramis.

    But he is currently overrated by the fans but I think that from hearing Dusty Baker talk about moving positions with EE I think the management has him underrated. Which is why I feel that of all the starters he is the one that may get moved, I don’t think he should but Dusty Baker scares me in general in how he manages talent.

  17. Mr. Redlegs

    EE was on Uncle Walt’s list of untouchables; Phillips was not.

  18. dfs

    “EE was on Uncle Walt’s list of untouchables; Phillips was not.”
    Yeah. While I agree with that, I have to wonder how much of that is contractual. If EE had Phillips contract, I think my opinion of the two players would probably flip as well.

    How much is a league average player worth to the reds? That’s a serious question.

  19. Brian

    Where can I find where he listed “untouchables”, Living in New York I can’t always find the most current or relevant Reds news? My Apologies then.

  20. Doug O'Dwyer

    Bob Hunter of the Columbus Dispatch relays a Walt Jocketty radio show appearance. Jocketty reportedly named five untouchable Reds players: Jay Bruce, Joey Votto, Edinson Volquez, Johnny Cueto, and Edwin Encarnacion.

  21. Doug O'Dwyer

    Forgive my naivete, everyone. Living outside Philly without the MLB package, I see the Reds precious few times and I’m wary of falling in love with Web Gems clips. Listening on XM, both to our announcers and the opponents (when the Reds are on the road), EE gets raves for his play– until he throws the ball. And like several have pointed out, it’s the routine stuff. Not that he doesn’t have the skills, but the concentration slips. I’m not a fan of moving him to LF unless it was making room for a Chipper Jones/David Wright type of talent, which I don’t see in the cards. An excellent point above about EE as a cleanup. He did produce as an RBI guy far better than BP. He seems to have that month every year where he gets lost at the plate. Marty (admittedly getting grumpier with age) points out frequently that he doesn’t seem to have an “approach” at the plate that would help him shorten those slumps–kinda’ like a routine in your golf swing?
    Over all– EE is rated properly. Not untouchable to me, but the offer would have to be truly compelling. Knock on wood that we get the Armamis Ramirez development out of Ed E.

  22. mike

    just want to say that this “How valuable is” idea is GREAT.

    Any plan to post the planned schedule??

    Votto and Bruce will pretty much complete the position players since the Reds have a million holes including SS, C, CF, and LF.

    Then there are the 5 starters, assuming our best hitter is in the rotation next year.


    i think hes overated
    he is treated like a god
    when he is unproven
    he kinda bores me

  24. Joe

    I see some good points above, but we are forgetting the thing that will always make EE one of the best Reds: His walkoff homer to shut Brantley up and expose him as the loser he (Brantley) is.

  25. The Redhead

    I’m torn here. And I am putting up my post before reading everybody else’s so I don’t get influenced.

    I really like EE as a fan. But I also find myself yelling at him alot. Mainly when he stops a routine grounder and then throws the ball in the red seats.

    Again, he is young, and the way he hit late in the year excited me.

    A move to the OF wouldn;t be too bad, he is faster than many are saying. He would be much better than Dunn out there.

    I think many teams would like to have him…and if Jocketty could pull off something good, I wouldn’t cry…but I like to see him on our team…3B or OF.

  26. Phill

    I like EE I think in certain aspects he’s both under and over rated. His glove is fantastic and a lot of people don’t seem to recognize his great reflexes and dives. He certain has gold glove ability but maybe it’s like Felipe Lopez where he just has stupid mental lapses on routine plays. One of his worst things is when he rushes a throw to first. It’s like he thinks Eugenio Valez or Joey Gathright is running to first when it’s someone very slow and he sails the throw. His offense can be just flat great. He’s been a great guy with RISP although last year he saw his overall numbers dip a bit. He’s got pretty good potential to just be a force on the team but who knows if he can actually tap into it.

    One thing that doesn’t have to do with rating him but I wonder if this past season he changed his swing around. Basically his last two full seasons he seemed to be constantly getting catcher’s interference calls at a ridiculous rate but I don’t think he got one in the 08 season. Maybe he shortened his swing or something.

  27. Kevin

    I guess I’m realizing that all these positional moves will l just make a big mess for us. If we moved EE to the outfield he might not pan out at all, and if he goes to first and Votto to left, where does Alonso go when he comes up? EE would have to go back to third (I’m thinking this far ahead because I absolutely want EE on this team for years to come).

    That being said, our defense is a big part of the problem and he needs to improve this year. I think this should be his last chance at third base. It’s absolutely true that his main problem is the routine throws. I’ve seen him make a remarkable amount of good plays at third, including a lot of tough throws.

    He’s always struck me as a little bit immature and I think that might be the only reason he puts up so many errors. Obviously he’s got the tools to be a good defensive third baseman. I just read Sheldon’s newest article on reds.com and Jocketty listed next year’s improvements, and the first one was improving the defense. I’m so glad he’s putting emphasis on it.

    I’d rather see something like Jocketty calling in an old Reds third baseman or something to spring training and having EE do a lot of work on fundamentals and lot of fielding practice than seeing them put him in left. He just needs to get his head right. That being said, something’s gotta give, and that might mean moving him. Our defense has got to improve.

    Besides his defense, I love his offensive numbers and think maybe he’s one of the more undervalued players defensively, since people still think about batting average so much. His career numbers are:

    .266 .346 .455 (.901 OPS, 103 OPS+)

    That’s just flat out good. Although his average was down this year, his OPS+ was up, and we have to remember it’s just his 4th season. I think EE might be my favorite Red too, if not Votto.

    He strikes me as a guy with a lot of passion and a lot of skill, and I think if he matures a little mentally, he could potentially be a star. I’d say overall he’s undervalued at this point, because although people seem to like him, he’s not really considered a star or part of the “core” (whenever they list the young core he’s not mentioned as much as dude’s like BP). I like Phillips, but more than BP, I hope EE is around for a long time.

  28. Kevin

    think maybe he’s one of the more undervalued players defensively

    That doesn’t make any sense. Obviously I meant to say offensively.

  29. Y-City Jim

    Some of you harp on Phillips about his offense when his defense–and his total package–is really quite good. But you ignore EE’s uptick offensively and harp on his defense, when, in fact, his defensive problem (if you actually watch games) is almost 100 percent throwing, which is correctible, and his instincts and reflexes at 3b are tremendous.

    I couldn’t agree more.

  30. River Otter

    I would concur that EE loses some of his offensive value if he’s moved to LF. The Reds should give him another year at 3B, where hopefully he’ll make the leap defensively. As others have commented, it seems like his defensive problems should be correctible.

  31. Mike

    Edwin is a right handed bat that the Reds can’t afford to give up at this time. Put him in leftfield and with his strong arm he should do just fine. Use money saved with the Dunn/Griffey trades to get a free agent third baseman.

  32. Phill

    Kevin, I think a part of the reason EE is not considered a star is because he hasn’t had an insanely over the top season yet and English isn’t his first language. Not that his English isn’t that good or that is the end all reasoning but I think it has a ton to do with it. I think it’s the way the team promotes their players. Either way if he can put up the numbers we know he’s capable he’ll get some recognition.

  33. Ellis

    There are no free agent 3B. Too bad we let Jorge Cantu go…*bangs head against desk*

  34. Flash

    I definitely think he can do better than he has done. I think part of the problem is that he has no mentor on the club. Other than the pitchers EE really has no one to talk to. I know the reds have Gonzalez and Valentin, but I really don’t see EE relaxing with them. Everyone talks about the Reds getting a right hand bat in the outfield. Well, is Moises Alou still availible. I know he is injury prone, but his presence might help EE at the plate. it looks like the guy can still hit also.

  35. preach

    Don’t even bring up Cantu again, I’m still irritated by that move. Why in the world would we want a right handed bat with power who can do at least a moderate job all over the infield?

    Anyway, while it might be tempting to move EE to the outfield, we could be opening up a lot more holes than we fill. Someone above mentioned the fact that we don’t exactly have Chipper Jones sitting on the bench waiting. Also, one of EE’s best attributes in his glove work would be wasted in left. And if you think he has problems making the throw to Votto, what do you think could happen when he uncorks one from the warning track? Keep working on the foot work and bat him clean up. Use Keppinger to spell him and keep him fresh. Let him have a year without having to look over his shoulder and see what happens. At this point, I wouldn’t be that concerned about third, and I would only move him as part of a package to fill some major holes.

  36. Ellis

    No need to move him to left. That’s Matt Holliday’s spot!!

  37. Brothers

    Edwin profiles at 3B/1B/LF.

    Assuming normal progression of Stubbs, Frazier, Dorn, and Alonso…

    End of 2009: LF: Dorn, Dickerson
    3B: Frazier/Rosales
    1B: Votto

    End of 2010

    1B: Alonso/Votto
    3B: Frazier/Rosales
    LF: Dickerson/Dorn/Votto

    Point is that Edwin doesn’t profile out all that valuable considering the strength in the Reds system (1B, LF, 3B). A guy with an .801 OPS who currently profiles to be an average defensive third baseman (shaky arm, great glove) doesn’t seem to be much better than what we have to replace him.

    Phillips is much more valuable because of the positions he plays (2B/SS) because other than Valaika, the Reds have no true prospects near major league ready (unless Turner has a fantastic year).

  38. Mr. Redlegs

    Let’s see: In your irrational haste to move EE to a position he’s never played and may not wish to play in order to supposedly shore up the defense, you’re banging your head against the desk for Cantu, whose defense is so horrendous that he makes EE look like a Gold Glover.

    Meanwhile, in your desires to improve for 2009 by trading for Matt Holliday you’re willing to part with Cueto, among others, for a one-year rental.

    Purple haze, purple haze. . . .

  39. Deaner

    Overall, EE is underrated because I feel that most people underestimate his abilities (both offense and defense). Unfortunately, this is easy to do because when he’s bad, he is BAD – he is such a streaky player. Usually players grow out of this sort of thing and there were times this summer when that looked like the case and other times when it was just the same ol’ same ol’.

    I think most of his problems are mental. He tries so hard and internalizes ever little mistake. The Reds need a good sports psychologist to help him (and Homer Bailey).

  40. Ellis

    Mr. Redlegs,
    Did I ever say trade for Matt Holliday? No, I didn’t. At best next year the Reds could win the wild card, and that would involve a major disappointment of a season from 2 out of 3 teams in the NL East. 2010 seems like a more appropriate target for realistic contention. Hence, signing Holliday as a FA. And I never said to move EE to left field. I also never said I wish I had Cantu back to put him at 3B, just that we had him back.

  41. doug

    I missed most of this, so I will say this. Offensively, I like where he is heading. Defensively at third base, well, I want to close my eyes. He absolutely MUST be moved off of third base if the Reds want to win and improve their defense.

  42. Ellis

    The problem is there is not a realistic place to move him. LF? What makes anyone think he’d be any better out there? 1B? Not when Votto was the #5 most valuable 1B, and we have Alonso in the wings. So either leave him at 3B and see if a full year at 3B with, knock on wood, no interruptions will bring about some defensive progression…or trade him.

  43. doug

    Because he has speed and a fine glove. Its not far fetched to believe he would be a defensive upgrade in LF compared to what we have had the last 7 years out there and there will obviously be a defensive upgrade at 3B because Edwin is the worst in baseball there.

  44. David

    At some point a player doesn’t have potential anymore – they just are. After three and a half major league seasons EE is no longer a prospect. We should have a pretty good idea who the guys is after 1600 career ABs.

    So what do we have? This year among 3Bs that qualified, he finished 8th in the league in avg., 9th in RBI, 6th in OPS, 6th in secondary avg. so he is at or below league avg. in many of the more important categories offensively.

    Plus, he doesn’t make up for his offense with superior defense like Brandon Phillips. He is next to last in all of MLB at 3B in RF, next to last in F%, third to last in ZR.

    Whether his problem is correctable or not in 1146 TC he has not corrected the mistakes!

    In total what you have is an avg./below avg. offensive player positionally, and a well below avg. defensive player positionally, but because of his youth he is tantalizing.

    I may have once been a proponent of moving EE to LF, but can no longer say that I am. Yonder Alonso can play and 1B so let him and let Votto take the other position. If that means moving EE for a RH LF then do.

    Personally I think EE’s value is higher now because of his age, so I would scrap the 09 season and make the move now by having Alsonso and Votto make the switch now.

    The Twins are shopping Delmon Young and are looking for an 3B. I say make the swap there, it fits on both sides.

  45. Mr. Redlegs

    “He absolutely MUST be moved off of third base if the Reds want to win and improve their defense.”

    No he doesn’t. That’s hooey, too. You look up every single error by EE, figure out how many unearned runs he allowed, how many specifically cost them ballgames, and you’ll find that he’s not the singular difference in this team from fifth place to fourth place, let alone winning.

  46. Mr. Redlegs

    You guys look at the defensive stats for Mike Schmidt and Wade Boggs early in their careers. Both became Gold Glovers. You’re wanting to toss a 25-year-old player into the creek because you don’t believe he can improve.

  47. doug

    Mr Redlegs, its not just the errors…. his range, while to the eye looks good, just isn’t. He made 28 fewer plays than the average third baseman last year, much less a good one. Even if he improves upon that, he still sucks at third base. Put him in LF where he can succeed and improve your team on the whole. He can hit enough to be there and his glove will be fine out there and you will essentially be upgrading two positions defensively by making that move.

  48. Mr. Redlegs

    And those 28 fewer plays had absolutely nothing to do with the pitching staff, correct? Or the ballpark? Or the leadfoot playing SS all year?

  49. brublejr

    At this point I think he a little overrated; however, I think he can pull it all together to become what everybody believes he can be. From all accounts that I have read, he seems to work hard on his defense. He can make spectacular plays, but he needs more consistency with the routine. Also, I think he gets lazy with his thows because most of the throwing errors I have seen, he has had plenty of time.

    As far as offense, he has shown in the past to be a good clutch hitter, although he didn’t show it this year. He is good for the 6th spot in the lineup. His best years are yet to come, and it would be stupid to give up on him unless you get great value. I think he is poised to have a great year if the reds can find a consistent lineup card with people in the correct places.

  50. Mr. Redlegs

    Phillips handled 699 balls in 140 games and made only 7 errors. There is absolutely nothing wrong with his defense. Zero.

  51. Hitler

    Might also add that EE had the 2nd most errors in all of baseball in 2008, out of ALL position players, and since 2005, he has the 3rd most errors in the game, despite the fact that everyone else in the top 10 has well over 200 more chances. He already ranks 89th in errors out of all active players despite only playing 3 years. And despite the fact that his HR numbers have increased every year, so have his strikeouts. I’m not saying trade him, but i don’t think he is ready to be given the job at third and expect the team to do well. The 1990 Reds had only 2 players with more than 20 HRs (Sabo 25, Davis 24), and no one with more than 86 rbis, but were 4th in the Majors in Fielding and Hitting.

  52. doug

    Mr Redlegs, his crappy shortstop probably hurt him SOME. Either way, the fact of the matter is, combined with his range and his error problem, the guy just isn’t going to make the transition to being an average third baseman. He needs to make up historic turnaround ground just to become average at third base. Again though, the pitching staff has nothing to do with a rate amount of balls he gets to. Given the amount of balls that went into his zone, he made roughly 28 fewer plays the average guy would have based on their ratio of balls in zone turned into outs. It has nothing to do with your ballpark.

  53. Tom

    Encarnacion is currently the best RH hitter on the Reds. His obvious throwing mechanics problem on routine throws drops him down about an average player. If he could solve the throwing issue on routine plays he’d be an above average player.

  54. Shawn

    If anything, a bad shortstop should mean a third baseman gets MORE plays, not less.

    My opinion, and it’s only my opinion, is that EE loses concentration and focus a lot. This is something a young player sometimes grows out of, and sometimes doesn’t. Bad throws can easily be explained as a loss of concentration, and he seems to do the same thing at the plate, swinging regardless of count or situation.

    Edwin is actually not improving as a hitter: he has been at about the same level the last three years. His batting average was down 38 points this year from last, but he hit 10 more homers. He did walk more this season.

    Trivia time: Encarnacion is another gift to the Reds by the Rangers organization, coming over in 2001 in a trade where the Rangers got Rob Bell.

  55. Mr. Redlegs

    “Edwin is actually not improving as a hitter: he has been at about the same level the last three years.”

    Now this we can probably all agree on.

    And, we’re probably gonna be under on that 100-post plateau.

  56. GregD

    You guys look at the defensive stats for Mike Schmidt and Wade Boggs early in their careers. Both became Gold Glovers. You’re wanting to toss a 25-year-old player into the creek because you don’t believe he can improve.

    Good point. Yet you’re completely against moving Phillips to SS because of how he played the position in his early 20s.

  57. Mr. Redlegs

    I’m against it, his managers in two organizations were against it, his GMs were against it, and there’s not a modicum of common sense that suggests it’s the best move for the team or player. But since a blogger obviously knows better than the people who actually know better, by all means. . . .

    And the mere difference between Schmidt and Boggs and the absurd suggestion for moving Phillips is Schmidt and Boggs didn’t change positions.

  58. Tom

    That’s funny, the Reds were for moving Phillips to SS in Sept. 2006, but bailed on the switch cause they were silly enough to think they had a shot a the playoffs. Clevelend moved Phillips back to SS in 2005, the season before the Reds acquired him. Looks like both organizations realize that he can still play the position.

  59. John

    EE is an enigma to me. I can’t figure him out. He seems to have all the skills necessary to become a star but really struggled this year. He dropped from .289 in 07 to .251 in ’08 and really dropped off his average with runners in scoring position. (In my opinion he was just another Red who suffered under batting instructor Brook Jacoby–everyy single veteran Red had a subpar year and Jacoby seemed helpless in turning them around.) EE is streaky, especially with long dry periods. He could be the right-handed power hitter we need. Not only did he digress this year as a hitter but also as a fielder with his erratic throws. As GM I wouldn’t know what to do with him. I’d shop him but wouldn’t give him away. We have Frazier, Valeika, and Rosales all waiting in the wings to replace EE. Are they ready for next year. Rosales got a few ML AB’s last year, but not really given a chance to show what he can do. I don’t think Frazier or Valeika have been to the ML spring training. Maybe they could emerge for next year. Would I give up on EE? No, but he’s got to turn it around next year.

  60. Mr. Redlegs

    “That’s funny, the Reds were for moving Phillips to SS in Sept. 2006, but bailed on the switch cause they were silly enough to think they had a shot a the playoffs.”

    Simply not true. Cleveland let him play SS one game. One! In 2006, he was supposed to finish the year at SS but Narron aborted the idea after three games because Phillips made several big mistakes. He had a bad error that cost them one game and he had been shaky on a few routine balls, including a pop to short left that Phillips botched that went for a hit.

    So, to say four games is a sign of two organizations saying he could play SS is absurd.

    How many games has he played SS since 2006? One. How much squawking have you heard from him about a position change since Gonzalez went down last year? None.

  61. GregD

    Sorry Redlegs, but Tom’s got it right. In 2005, Phillips last year in the Cleveland organization, Phillips played all 111 minor league games at SS. In 4 MLB games he played 1 at DH, 1 at SS, and 2 at 2B. He wasn’t going to break that lineup at either position with 23 yr-old Peralta hitting .292 with power and Belliard hitting .284 with power. (Phillips was hitting .256 in AAA, but posting his best SS FPct of his minor league career.)

    Comparing Phillips fielding at SS in his late teens/early 20’s to his fielding at 2nd base at 26-27 (2007-2008) is not a fair comparison either. SS fielding percentages are generally worse than 2B fielding percentages. Younger players fielding typically improves over time. Phillips Fpct his first full year in Cincinnati (2006) was below league average.

    If the Reds want to limit themselves to finding a SS in the offseason and leave Phillips at 2B, that’s up to them. It makes no sense to me is why through these last couple of wasted seasons, did they at least not try the switch for more than a couple of games. Why did they continue to put guys out there who didn’t even play SS in the minors? Keppinger’s first professional game at SS was last year in Cincinnati. Hairston last played SS full time during his rookie ball year back in 1997. He split time at SS and 2B the following year, and has been a second baseman ever since.

  62. Mr. Redlegs

    I didn’t look at Phillips’ minors numbers in 2005 because I thought we were talking on the big-league level, but it makes perfect sense to me why neither Cleveland nor Cincinnati gave him more big-league time at the SS position:

    If you can’t play it in the minors, you can’t play it in the pros. And that’s obviously what two organizations, three GMs and four managers believe.

    And sure it’s a fair comparison of stats/age because, well, that’s what Phillips has actually produced. For all you folks who selectively toss out your precious stats, it’s funny how you like to ignore them when they refute your points.

    So it really doesn’t matter how you spin it–Phillips has been a far better 2b on the MLB level, which actually matters, than he ever was a SS in the minors. So why in God’s name would you think he could play MLB SS now?

    And what idiot manager or organization makes that move to weaken his defense in two positions?

  63. GregD

    Two reasons why Phillips didn’t play shortstop in the majors with Cleveland:
    1 – Omar Vizquel
    2 – Johnny Peralta

  64. Mr. Redlegs

    Yeah, because he wasn’t good enough to beat out a lightweight such as Peralta. Duh. And facts are facts: He can’t play the position, and he’s not going to play the position.

  65. GregD

    Fact: He’s not going to play the position in Cincinnati
    Fact: Peralta is not a lightweight.

    Everything else is just your blogging opinion.

  66. Mr. Redlegs

    No, the stats prove he can’t play the position. But stating my opinion doesn’t stop you from stating yours that the Reds shouldn’t pay Cordero more than Harang or tie up $12 mil into a reliever. Now that’s opinion.

    Peralta makes about 20 errors a year at the most important position. Lightweight.

  67. Tom

    Phillips can play SS, he’s the best SS on the Reds roster, if Gonzalez is healthy or not. There is no one on the roster who has a better toolset for the position. It’s amazingly funny you keep trotting out that he can’t play SS because one of the most inept organizations in the game haven’t figured out yet he is their best SS. What kind of record has the GMs and managers during Phillips time here put up. Yeah, they all put losers on the field, and have about as much of a clue of developing talent as you do. So I’m not surprised you are unable to recognize it.

  68. Tom

    In 2006, he was supposed to finish the year at SS but Narron aborted the idea after three games because Phillips made several big mistakes. He had a bad error that cost them one game and he had been shaky on a few routine balls, including a pop to short left that Phillips botched that went for a hit.

    Since you like facts so much Mr Redlegs, perhaps you can help us out here. Seems that one of Phillip’s 3 games at SS in 2006 was on 4/15, where he was pinch hiter in the 8th and played SS for one innning, the 9th, where he made no errors in a 9-3 loss to the Cards. His next appearance was a start on 9/22 where he made no errors in a 4-2 win over the Cubs. Then his last appearance at SS was a start on 9/23 where he made an error in an 11-4 loss to the Cubs. So help us out here, despite that he only played two games at SS in Sept, which game was it that his defense at SS cost them the game?

  69. Mr. Redlegs

    On 9/23/06:

    In the fourth inning, with two runners on and no outs, Phillips botched a potential double play ball at the 2b bag. That opened the gates to a 5-run Cubs inning and led to an 11-4 defeat.

    Don’t know to tell ya, Tom. You don’t know more than two organizations, three GMs and four managers. Phillips is a far better MLB 2b than SS. When you become Reds GM you can make the conversion. Until then. . . .

  70. GregD

    How did Phillips error cause Lohse to give up a leadoff HR to the opposing pitcher in the same inning?

    You can keep saying two organizations, but the fact is that Cleveland played him at SS his last year in their organization. They had no room for him at either MI position at the major league level, and he wasn’t hitting in the majors or the minors at that point.

    You can think Peralta is a lightweight, but the fact is that he’s committed fewer errors than the average SS for each of the past 3 years, and never thrown 20 or more in a single season. He had the 6th best Fpct of the 18 fulltime SS last year. Plus he has an above average bat. Must be a nice problem for the Indians to have such a lightweight.

  71. Tom

    As usual, Mr. Redlegs fails to produce accurate facts. In the game on 9/23 that he claims Phillips defense at SS cost the Reds the game, Phillips E in the 4th came with the Reds already down 6-4 in a game they lost 11-4. With one out and Theriot on first, Ramirez reached on an error. Not apparent at all that Phillips cost the Reds this game. The next four batters went BB, BB, 1B, reached on E, who says they don’t still do that in the 5th, or even more damage. Reds never manage to score again, so they still lose 6-4 from that point on if Cubs fail to score again too. Still waiting on you to provide any kind of reasonable evidence that Phillips is incapable of being an adequate major league SS.

  72. earl

    The thing that is maddening about Encarnacion as a player is that in stretches both as a hitter and fielder he really seems to have ‘it’. The guy has had a couple of streaks as a hitter where he is really patient and seems to use the whole field as a hitter (like the stretch run two years ago and a week or so last year). Edwin will also make some great defensive plays and then completely throw away so many easy ones.

    I look at the guy and with his batting stance and build, the guy reminds me of Gary Sheffield, but I tend to doubt that he is ever going to get that level of production. Or knowing the Reds, it will be a year later when someone like the Indians or the Rangers picks Encarnacion up for a case a beer and a pizza then he goes and puts up 40+ homers for a couple of years straight.

  73. Kevin

    Don’t know to tell ya, Tom. You don’t know more than two organizations, three GMs and four managers. Phillips is a far better MLB 2b than SS. When you become Reds GM you can make the conversion. Until then. . . .

    Mr. Redlegs, this is an internet blog and an open forum for fans to discuss their opinions about the Reds. Not very many of us know as many people in baseball as you because we’re not sportswriters, we’re everyday fans. None of us are going to become a GM and we never hope to “make the conversation,” but we get on this website because we like to discuss and give our opinions. I’m sure you’re going to choose not to, but you could probably manage to argue with us and disagree with us without being so demeaning or discrediting all of our ideas simply because we’re not “elite sportswriters” like you.

    I’d like to see Phillips get some balls at SS someday, maybe spring training, just to see how it’d go. Like it was mentioned, it gives us two possibilities for making an acquisition to fill the hole, and who’s to say that our “SS” prospects like Valaika and Frazier are going to be better defensively than Phillips would be. If it turns out you’re right and it weakens are defense at SS, then start him at 2B in ’09, and there’s no harm done. (this is all assuming Gonzalez isn’t back next year, if he is, I don’t think we even need to worry about it).

  74. Dan

    I’ll chime in again…

    I don’t think anyone truly knows what kind of SS Brandon Phillips would make in the majors. Not me or you or Mr. Redlegs or Dusty Baker or Castellini or heck even Brandon himself.

    He’s played 5 games at SS in the majors (and made 2 errors) – not good but such a small sample you can’t know anything from that.

    He played a lot (356 games) of SS in the minors, and not very well (.950 fielding %), but that was when he was anywhere from ages 20-24. (He’s 27 now.)

    Anything else is pure speculation.

    Of course he might stink at SS, but we just don’t really know.

    My argument was, this past season was so clearly a lost year for the last month or two of the season, why not try some things? That’s the only real value in playing out the string of a lousy season. Learn as much as you can about your players for next year!

    To me, one of the most obvious things to try is, try Brandon at SS. Let’s find out once and for all if he can do it. (He’s athletic and has a strong arm so I don’t think the idea is crazy.)

    If he’s bad, no harm, no foul. Keep him at 2B going forward.

    If it works out, he’s suddenly a more valuable player (harder to find a good SS than to find a good 2B) and it opens the way for some of the prospects coming up who people seem to think can’t stick at SS (like Valaika, Rosales, Frazier, etc.)

    I just don’t see the harm in trying it!

    As it is, we learned nothing new about Brandon Phillips as we played out the string in 2008.
    OK, sorry for the long-winded rant…

  75. Tom

    Nice post Dan, it presented the common sense reasoning behind why it could be a move to greatly benefit the Reds.

  76. Mr. Redlegs

    “Nice post Dan, it presented the common sense reasoning behind why it could be a move to greatly benefit the Reds.”

    Tell us: What is the common sense reasoning behind playing the guy what is now “out of position” since he has barely played SS in the three years he’s been in the big leagues for good? How did he magically improve at SS over those three years from how pitifully lousy he was until age 24? In his last year in the Cleveland system, he made 21 errors in just 111 games at SS.

    And if Jhonny freaking’ Peralta is such a great SS, why are the Indians having him play 3b in winter ball?

    Why do we need to “learn more” about Phillips’ defensive ability? Your hero and god, Bill James, just named Phillips as the top defensive 2b in the majors in his annual bible awards. Yes, better than Utley, better than Hudson, better than Ellis, better than Roberts, better than anyone else in the game.

    In recent memory, Sandberg came up as a very highly touted SS but is in the Hall of Fame as a 2b. Did the Cubs frig with him when erratic Shawon Dunston came along? No. Oester came up as Concepcion’s heir apparent but did they move him to SS during the Stillwell-Larkin debate? No. Upton came up as an error-prone SS but is now a dynamite CF. Would the Rays have made the World Series without Bartlett at SS and Upton in CF? Likely not.

    So just because Phillips once played the position–and played it poorly–does not mean you move him because of some insatiable, fantasy desire to experiment. In fact, no manager or GM is going to move a Gold Glove position player in the majors because he played another position in the minors.

    For one thing, it’s really stupid because you don’t weaken two positions. For another thing, it’s unnecessary. And lastly, based on true common sense reasoning, it’s just not . . . going . . . to . . . happen. Nor should it happen.

  77. KSquared

    Has anyone considered the fact that Alonso can also play third? Hummm…Votto-1st Philips-2nd Valaika-ss Alonso-3rd? I like the EE for Delmon Young idea…Lets get it done.

  78. KSquared

    Other that that I still like the Phillips to SS idea and signing orlano Hudson. I know I know….you`re a numbers guy Mr. Redlegd, but there have been some very intriging arguments here FOR it. And I happen to agree with them. Give the guy a shot there…he`s not a kid anymore.

  79. Dan

    I wouldn’t commit to the “Phillips to SS” switch now, for 2009.

    I would absolutely try it at for the last month or two in a lost season.

    If it winds up that you’re “weakening two positions” as you like to say, Mr. Redlegs, then you just say “OK, bummer, that didn’t work out, Brandon is still our 2B going forward.”

    If he’s good at SS, you’ve improved the team.

    It’s something you try when the games don’t mean anything anymore — like August and Sept. of last season.

    I don’t see why you wouldn’t experiment a little in that scenario. It’s a much better and more realistic place to try some things than spring training is.

    I don’t see why you wouldn’t try.

  80. Dan

    And by the way, I don’t think it’s crazy to think that he could be better now at SS in the majors than he was 3-7 years ago in the minors.

    –He’s older, and I think that some players lower their error rates as they get older.

    –The fields in the minors suck compared to fields in the majors. Might not matter much in the OF, but I think it matters a lot in the infield when you’re fielding grounders.

    These are reasons why it’s POSSIBLE that Brandon could be significantly better at SS now than he was back then.

    But… I don’t know! No one knows b/c we didn’t try it!

  81. GregD

    Now it’s obvious you’re just trolling for comments and/or you just don’t follow baseball that closely. I guess it actually lends to your claim of being a sportswriter.

    Re: Cleveland – Peralta played some 3B at AAA the season he shared SS with Phillips. Cleveland no longer sees Andy Marte as an option at 3rd after the terrible year he put up. There’s a better free agent market for second baseman this offseason than third baseman. They’re giving Peralta some time at third to leave their offseason options open. If they land a second baseman, Asdrubal Cabrera (who played SS in the minors about as well as Phillips) will slide from 2b to SS, Peralta to 3rd. If they don’t land a second baseman, it seems Peralta will stay at SS. They have a good hitting third base prospect at AA named Wes Hodges, who could be blocked if Peralta slides over. That will factor into their decision, as they wouldn’t sign a lightweight at second base, slide everyone over to block a player who could emerge onto the MLB scene as early as this year.

  82. Mr. Redlegs

    Your comments lends to your claim of being a blogger. Sorry Greg, I couldn’t resist. 🙂


    * If Jhonny freaking’ Peralta is such a great MLB SS, why are the Indians considering him for another position? The defensive shortstop is harder to find than the 3b, and more balls are hit to SS than any other position.

    * The difference in the comp between Cabrera and Phillips is that Phillips is no longer a prospect and is NOW an established MLB 2b who is a Gold Glove-caliber defender and Cabrera is a prospect who hasn’t done diddly-poo-squat where it matters–the majors.

    Now, I don’t confess to thoroughly follow the Indians or know their system, but I know intimately how MLB works and I know that no team in its right mind moves an established player with Gold Glove defensive skills–especially up the middle–in the prime of their career to “experiment” with him at a position he so thoroughly sucked in the minors.

    And that, boys, is your common sense reasoning.

  83. KSquared

    What`s the deal…I speak against the “King” and MY comments don`t post? Sorry….no Torry here.

  84. KSquared

    Mr. Redlegs you insult our intelligence.

  85. KSquared

    First off, he has obviously learned how to use that glove. Secondly he WANTS to be a preimer position player, and while he is in my opinion the best second baseman in the league, the only thing better than that would be for him to be the best shortstop in the league. He`s still hungry…I say give him the chance…if he can do it…he becomes the leader that he wants to be…and the leader they need him to be.

  86. KSquared

    And that “BOYS”…makes sense.

  87. NickP

    Is Mr. Redlegs Bill Plaschke?

    They’re both clueless, so it would make sense.

  88. Mr. Redlegs

    To insult intelligence you need to use intelligence. The Major Leagues are not NOT where you learn new positions, especially for veteran players who already excel at their current position.

    It’s also not fantasy baseball, a fact of non-intelligence too often overlooked by the common fan.