From today’s Enquirer, comparing the Reds hopes for a turn around to Tampa:
Tampa Bay had more room for defensive improvement than the Reds, but it’s still a sound strategy. The Rays changed players everywhere but catcher, first base and left field. The Reds should change everything but catcher, first base, right and center.
His idea for 2009:
The Reds’ makeover should include going after Orioles second baseman Brian Roberts with a trade package of Edwin Encarnacion, minor-league infielder Chris Valaika (he’s in the Reds plan for 2010; the Orioles don’t have any minor-league infielders on the cusp) and any two young Reds starting pitchers who aren’t named Volquez or Cueto. If the Oriloles want somebody more major-league ready, sub Chris Dickerson for Valaika and give the O’s one of the pitchers.
The Reds are weakest defensively at third base and shortstop, the latter of which could be solved by moving second baseman Brandon Phillips to short and making room for Roberts at second.
On the idea of going after Adrian Beltre and the future of the 3rd base position:
If the Reds were closer to contending and farther from having their third baseman of the future up here by 2010 , we’d suggest going after Seattle third baseman Adrian Beltre, who was 23 runs above average defensively last season. Even if he was only 10 runs above average defensively, he’d be a 25-run improvement on defense over Encarnacion.
But the Reds have third base options on the cusp: Valaika, Todd Frazier and Juan Francisco. Later, look out for Neftali Soto; he’s only 19, but man can he hit.
If the Reds don’t trade Encarnacion, they should move him to left field. Ryan Braun made the same move for the Brewers last year and went from a 23 runs below average third baseman to a nine runs above average left fielder. Even if he were only average defensively, he’d be as valuable to the Reds as Phillips. Don’t believe it? Check the ’08 stats.
And his beliefs on what to do with the infield:
We like moving Phillips to short. True, Phillips likes second base; it got him a big contract. But that’s not the Reds’ concern; fielding a winning team is.
Even if Phillips is only average at short, and Roberts “is what he is” at second, then defensively the Reds would net 5-10 runs. But together they would gain about 40 runs, because of their offensive ability; that’s a net five more victories. Phillips would be “replacing” Jeff Keppinger at short. And a Keppinger-and-Gonzalez platoon at third, would hold things down till the cavalry arrives in 2010.
Interesting ideas, should bring about some spirited discussion…