Reds Assistant GM Bob Miller hosted another of his monthly chats on earlier this week. A couple of the Q & A’s touched on the same topics we’ve discussed at length the past couple of days with regard to the future of the Reds infield, and he mentioned that Todd Frazier was still a possible long-term option at shortstop.

rprprprprp: What’s the long-term solution at shortstop?

bob_miller: Could be Cozart or Frazier (both at AA) or Valaika (AAA) or Janish. Or someone we get in a trade

It was interesting that he also mentioned Janish, suggesting that they aren’t necessarily concerned about offense at the shortstop position. Would that open the door for Valaika or even Cozart to be the opening day shortstop in 2010, if they felt either player was ready defensively?

Later in the chat, specifically on the topic of which position Frazier will ultimately end up:

redsdevil: Todd Frazier has been all over the field lately. Where do you guys see him long-term?

bob_miller: The great thing with Todd is he can play just about anywhere in the infield plus left field. He’ll be able to slot in wherever we need him.

I like this kind of flexibility, as it gives the Reds options while they pursue other players via free agency or trade. It decreases the chances of Frazier getting blocked should the Reds add another bat in the off-season. If he’s successful at 2B, it also increases the possibility of trading Phillips.

If they have to move a contract this off-season, I think Phillips is the most logical choice as I suspect he would bring the most major league ready talent in return.

18 Responses

  1. GRF

    Phillips would make sense, but do you honestly think they would consider moving him? Seems inconsistent with adding Rolen and Walt’s moves to date in general.

  2. RiverCity Redleg

    Those “chats” drive me crazy. He never really answers any questions. They only send him the layups and he still doesn’t answer them directly.
    These are great examples here, I’ll paraphrase:
    Q. Who do you think will be our SS of the future?
    A. Anybody.

    Q. What pos. will Frazier settle in at?
    A. Anywhere.

    UGGHH! Go out on a limb and give us your opinion, best guess, or thoughts on the matter.

  3. Glenn

    Yeah, he’s not really taking a firm stand on anything. After reading the chat, you really don’t know anything more than you did before you read it.

  4. GRF

    The other frustrating thing about it (in addition to listing virtually every middle infielder in the system) is the maybe Janish comment. If he is a “maybe” how are you going to find out? Maybe playing him a little bit to see if he can actually handle the job might be a good idea?

  5. Steve Price

    Valaika’s defense has been his question mark all along. I don’t expect him to be at shortstop. That he’s still only hitting .198 after his injury may have as much to do with Frazier moving to 2b as anything.

    The problem with moving players around in the minors, especially when they’re being moved to weaker positions (Frazier–ss-3b-lf) is that usually means they aren’t glove men, and typically lessens a player’s grasp on a starting position (Pete Rose excepted).

    The Lf-2b move is rare combination but not a crazy one. Don Buford played LF and 2b for the Orioles and White Sox; the Braves moved Ron Gant from 2b-3b-lf. Bip Roberts alternated between 2b and LF. What it usually shows is a weak arm, which is why Frazier probably is not at ss or 3b any longer. Rose made the move from 2b to the OF.

    If Frazier becomes a dominant hitter, the position won’t matter. The danger (and warning signs) of him being moved so much makes him sound somewhat like another good line drive hitter without a position, Gregg Jeffries.

  6. Steve Price

    In fairness to Miller, there’s not really a lot he can say. If he disses a player, the word gets back to the player and the player becomes disgruntled. If he says there’s no one available, the fan base suffers.

    It’s Miller’s job here to name drop about all the future possibilities. I suppose he did it rather well.

  7. David

    Guys, Frazier is still in AA ball. He’s hitting well and will probably move up in September. Having said that, Reds fans have been way to concerned with what Alonso, Frazier and Francisco are doing. Those are three very good players. Alonso and Frazier are at least two years away and Frazier probably a year and a half. It’s too early to talk about moving Phillips (whether to SS or to another team). If the Reds aren’t competing next year, it’ll probably be a good time to move Phillips.

  8. Greg Dafler

    Phillips would make sense, but do you honestly think they would consider moving him?

    I think a lot of it depends on the true nature of their payroll situation. IF they have to move an 8-figure salary, Phillips would (1) probably have the best trade value and (2) require the least amount of offsetting dollars from the Reds.

    I agree with Steve – Miller has to be careful about what he says about his own players – and anti-tampering rules prohibit him from discussing acquiring any specific player from other organizations. I thought the inclusion of Frazier in his exhaustive list of organizational SS was somewhat telling given Frazier hasn’t played that position for a couple of years.

    It’s too early to talk about moving Phillips (whether to SS or to another team). If the Reds aren’t competing next year, it’ll probably be a good time to move Phillips.

    Phillips to SS has been discussed on this blog since the team fell out of contention in his first season with the Reds (2006.) I would think it would be harder to trade him to another team next year because he would cost that team $11M for 1 year. A team getting Phillips now could have him for $9M per year for 2 years. From the Reds perspective, if you think you will move him in the next 12 months, waiting comes with the risk that his value goes down (injury, decreasing performance with age, etc.)

    The other frustrating thing about it is the maybe Janish comment. If he is a “maybe” how are you going to find out? Maybe playing him a little bit to see if he can actually handle the job might be a good idea?


  9. Steve Price

    AAA experience before making majors (positional rookies of the year plus Dunn and Kearns) and a few other notables from last 10 years (from 1999)

    Adam Dunn: 55 games
    Austin Kearns: 26 games (sent down the next year for 28 more for being overweight)
    Joe Maurer: 5 games
    Geovany Soto: 327 games
    Joey Votto: 133 games
    Evan Longoria: 38 games
    Ryan Braun: 34 games
    Dustin Pedroia: 111 games
    Hanley Ramirez: 0 games
    Ryan Howard: 90 games
    Bobby Crosby: 127 games
    Jason Bay: 91 games
    Angel Berroa: 77 games
    Albert Pujols: 3 games
    Ichiro Suzuki: doesn’t count
    Rafael Furcal: 0 games
    Carlos Beltran: 0 games

    The trend has been for prospects to spend very little time at AAA. Hitting prospects may make a brief stop, but it’s not uncommon at all for hitters to jump from AA to AAA.

    Catchers and pitchers they like to move rung by rung; others may easily jump.

    Pete Rose jumped from Single A to the majors back in 1963.

    I do think Frazier needs the defensive tutorial, but he’s had lots of infield experience before. It would not surprise me at all to see in Cincinnati next season.

  10. Dan

    That’s an interesting list, Steve. It should be pointed out that in that list, we are really talking about the best of the best. I don’t think that would generally be true for all hitters coming up through the minors.

    Alonso is supposed to be among the best of the best.

    Is Frazier? I hope so, but he’s more borderline.

    (Francisco, in my opinion, is a non-prospect — with his 5-to-1 or worse K-to-BB ratio he’ll be eaten alive at the MLB level. I don’t think he has a shot unless he can get that down to 3-to-1 or better and keep it there.)

  11. Greg Dafler

    I wonder how much of the 1 rung at a time is necessary and how much of it is players “paying their dues”.

    In addition to the list of top prospects, you usually have a Rule V draftee come out of nowhere each year or two. These non-prospects or former prospects typically haven’t played above AA.

    Josh Hamilton, most recently. Dan Uggla of the Marlins is another recent example that comes to mind.

  12. Steve Price

    There are few Rule 5 draftees, but sometimes it works.

    As for best of the best, yes, some of those guys are the best of the best, but not all. If Frazier is not a guy who can qualify for this kind of list, then we need to keep looking. This list includes Berroa, Furcal, Soto, and Crosby, too; good players (except for Berroa), but not great.

    A hitting prospect who spends full seasons at AAA any more is probably not going to be a star, or impact player. I was surprised the Reds left Votto down as long as they did, and Votto was surprised, too. Not saying Frazier wouldn’t be a star player, but we need some stars to contend. A team full of average players, is, well, average.

    As for rung by rung…my feeling is that pitchers and catchers have a nuance of the game that coaches want to see conquered before moving to AAA. It’s very rare to see a catcher of pitcher skip AAA. Middle infielders are sometimes held a bit longer, too, than outfielders or corner infielders who are pretty much advancing based on their bats.

  13. David

    Steve – I understand your point and agree to an extent. Heisey is a good example of a guy who could make the jump fast. He could be in the bigs with less than 50 games in AAA if called up in September. It would be interesting to see the timing of the promotions on your list. Are these guys who got promoted to AAA at the end tail end of seasons and by the start of the next had impressed enough in ST to get a promotion rapidly (Evan Longoria)? Are these guys who jumped a level out of necessity and performed far above expectations (Pablo Sandoval)? It’d be interesting to see.

    Frazier I think is a different story. In all likelihood, he may get a call up to AAA in September if Heisey and Stubbs move up. That said, he probably will begin the season in AAA. Depending on what we do at SS or LF with FA, he may be in AAA for the year. That’s why I said he’d probably be there a year.

  14. Matt Steele

    I remember reading some from Keith Law a year or two ago saying that he didn’t think Frazier could work out long term defensively in the infield and said the outfield was probably his best shot. I’ll try to find that but I honestly don’t even know where to look for that

  15. al

    don’t september call ups happen after the minor league seasons are over? i don’t think anyone gets moved to aaa in september.

  16. al

    iteresting quote from phillips in an article on foxsports:

    “Some things happened in the middle of our season, and the team chemistry just went away. That’s where we went wrong. We have great players, but, as a team, we can’t put it together. We’re just terrible right now.

    Asked what specifically went wrong with the team’s chemistry, Phillips thought silently for several seconds.

    “Losing,” he replied. “That’s all I’ve got to say. I’m going to give you that answer. Just losing. I have my own personal reasons, why I think we are how we are right now. I really don’t want to get into that. I’m just going to say we have great players on our team, but we’re just not putting it together.”

    Theories? Certainly sounds like he’s talking about something(s) specific, and he mentions good players that aren’t coming together a few times.

    Could be anything, and we’ll probably never know, but I like to think that it’s the players reaction to Dusty running out bad players over decent ones. At least that would tell me the reds have players who are sane.

  17. Travis G.

    Wow, that’s something, al.

    Sounds like he’s referring to something specific, for sure. Maybe something went down in one of those closed-door meetings?

  18. chris

    Phillips is never afraid to throw a teammate under the bus. Hamilton, Dunn, now Votto(?)

    Funny, the problems stay even when those guys left.

    Nobody is promoted to AAA in September. Their season ends on Aug 31, no?