John Fay in the Enquirer takes a pre-ST view of the Reds bench:

The Reds likely will go with 12 pitchers early. They play 12 straight days after the April 6 off day. Pitchers don’t go as deep into games early in the season, so they’ll need the extra arm.

You’ve got 11 pretty solid locks for the remaining 13 spots. Joey Votto, Brandon Phillips, Orlando Cabrera, Scott Rolen, Jay Bruce, Drew Stubbs and Ramon Hernandez will make up seven of the starting eight.

Chris Dickerson will make the team, even if he doesn’t win the left field job. Ryan Hanigan is going to be the back-up catcher. (Aaron) Miles will be on the roster.

Only thing surprising here is that he’s handing the starting catching job to Hernandez. Am I the only one that thinks this should at least be an open competition?

So you’ve got at least 11 guys vying for two spots (three if the Reds decide to go with 11 pitchers). Here’s a look at the field:
Infielders

Paul Janish: He was the starting shortstop until the Reds signed Orlando Cabrera. Janish is still a good bet to make the team because of his defensive ability. But he doesn’t give you a lot of power off the bench.

Drew Sutton: He’s versatile. But he didn’t hit much – .212, 4-for-22 as a pinch-hitter in his 42 games with the Reds.

Todd Frazier: As the No. 1 prospect in the system, he’s going to have to get significant at-bats for the Reds to justify him making the club. He probably won’t unless he wins the job in left field.

Juan Francisco: His situation is similar to Frazier’s. He’ll probably start in the minors unless some significant at-bats are available.

Chris Burke: He’s got big league experience. He can play all over. But he hasn’t hit much in the big leagues lately – .229, .194 and .207 the last three years.

Miguel Cairo: The infielder played pretty well for the Phillies late last year – well enough to make the postseason roster. He batted .267 in 27 games.

Chris Valaika: After last year’s rough time in Triple-A – he batted .235 in 95 games – he’ll likely get a do-over at Louisville.
Outfielders

Wladimir Balentien: He’s the only one in this group out of options. That’s always a factor. His numbers last season with the Reds were decent – he batted .264 with a .352 on-base percentage in 110 at-bats. He has a good arm, but is not great otherwise defensively.

Chris Heisey: He does everything well. He hit .347 in Double-A and .278 in 63 games at Triple-A. He could probably use more time in Triple-A.

Laynce Nix: He’s got left-handed pop – he hit 15 home runs in 277 at-bats. He can play all three outfield positions. But he doesn’t hit left-handers.

Josh Anderson: He’s the new guy in the outfield mix. In 118 games for the Tigers and Royals, he hit .240 with one home run, 24 RBI and 25 steals in 30 attempts. But he lacks power (one home run in 298 at-bats last year).

My prediction made without great conviction: Miles, Hanigan, Janish and Nix will make up the bench at the start of the season – that assumes Dickerson starts Opening Day in left field. Balentien will make it also if they go with 11 pitchers to start.

I tend to agree with John that they’ll go with 12 pitchers early and I would guess that maybe Balentien makes the team and Nix starts the year in AAA, simply b/c Balentien is out of options.

52 Responses

  1. Jason in Toronto

    And then what happens if they sign Gomes? Muddles an already unclear water. Maybe they deal Dickerson, who seems a little fragile. Then Balentien plays every day in left. Maybe there’s a deal or two still to realize. We’ll see.

  2. GregD

    Every place except LF has a designated starter.

    I think Fay has prematurely labeled Hernandez the starter.

    I don’t think Miles is a lock for a bench spot.

    As I said the other day, your starting LFer is probably a Dickerson/Balentien job with Nix on the bench unless Frazier/Heisey/Francisco wins the job in ST. Then, Nix stays in the minors, Dickerson & Balentien are on the bench.

    The infield bench is likely 2 of Miles, Sutton, and Janish.

  3. preach

    It’s a shame when the only guy Fay doesn’t have overt concerns about is Miguel Cairo.

  4. preach

    I think Hernandez will be given the opening day backstop start. Not saying he should, but I don’t see any possibility of holding a serious competition. Hannigan would have to hit .440 and throw guys out in CF.

  5. BJ Ruble

    @GregD: Greg, I don’t think Hernandez should be starter or that Miles should make the team. However, after listening to Walt, Ramon will be the starter. Also, after reading what Walt was saying after the trade for Miles, he will be on the bench.

    I think Sutton will get the bench nod over Janish because of versatility. Honestly, Miles should have gotten the same treatment that Taveras got with the A’s, but Walt loves him to death.

  6. GRF

    Hernandez will be the starter. Not saying he necessarily should be, particularly given our need for OBP, but he will be.

    As for the bench, I am not conviced Janish has an edge over Sutton, Cairo et all. He obviously does not necessarily project as a better PH, and both Sutton and Cairo have more experience as utility guys playing multiple positions.

  7. BJ Ruble

    I think Dickerson will start in LF. With Miles, Sutton, Balentien, Hanigan, and probably Nix on the bench.

    Frazier, Heisey, and Francisco all need AAA AB’s. Although I think one of those three will be starting by the end of the summer, maybe even before the break if they shine while everyone else stuggles.

    I hate that Miles and Cairo are options because they are downright terrible. Miles will last the whole season on the roster unless he gets injured.

  8. GRF

    Kip Wells really? Suppose as a minor league dealit can’t hurt, but I really hope he does not end up eating innings that should go to seeing if the kids have anything.

  9. RiverCity Redleg

    I’m in agreement with everyone else that Hanigan should at least get a look as the possible starter. But to be honest, I don’t think he or Henandez can handle full time starting a C. I think they should split sarts fairly evenly throughout the year to keep them both fresh.

    • RedinFla

      RiverCity Redleg: I’m in agreement with everyone else that Hanigan should at least get a look as the possible starter. But to be honest, I don’t think he or Henandez can handle full time starting a C. I think they should split sarts fairly evenly throughout the year to keep them both fresh.

      Agreed.
      Man, I wish we were the manager. 8)

  10. Sultan of Swaff

    Remember how Dusty buried Hanigan in the first half last year? If Hernandez wins the job, he’ll get 70% of the starts. If Hanigan wins, he’ll get 50%.
    I don’t see any scenario where Heisey makes the team. If they don’t keep Janish, it really mucks up the SS situation at Louisville.

    • Bill Lack

      Sultan of Swaff: Remember how Dusty buried Hanigan in the first half last year?If Hernandez wins the job, he’ll get 70% of the starts.If Hanigan wins, he’ll get 50%.
      I don’t see any scenario where Heisey makes the team.If they don’t keep Janish, it really mucks up the SS situation at Louisville.

      I think the last part is very true, but not just for Janish. If Nix doesn’t make the team, and goes to Louisville, does he start over Dorn? Or if Balentien would make it through waivers (though I doubt he would), where would he fit?

  11. Steve Price

    The Reds will start with 12 pitchers.

    Hernandez will be the catcher, with Hanigan playing 1/3 of the time. He just didn’t drive in enough runs to make Baker happy. We need his OBP and his throwing arm, though.

    Miles will be on the team…remember the GM has final say over the roster.

    Balentien will make the team, too.

    Nix may choose to leave the team if he does not make the 25-man roster. I don’t know the terms of his contract, but many “minor league deals” are signed with an escape clause if the player isn’t on the 25 man roster by a certain date.

    Player 13 is an infielder….if Dusty had used Janish at more spots in the infield last year, I’d say it could be him. Dusty needs Janish to replace Cabrera in the late innings, but he won’t do it for fear of hurting and offending the veteran. (please read that again…this is another reason why Dusty is not good for a developing team). However, with only 13…they need a pinch hitter. Since Cairo hit .267, he’s a possibility, and played for a winning team (more leadership), he has a chance…but that raises a roster crisis. Drew Sutton is number 13.

  12. John

    I just don’t understand the Balentien thing. He’s done nothing to show he can handle pitching at this level. He’s done nothing. And somehow there’s a debate as to whether he belongs on this team. People talk about his potential. I sort of like the potential of having a 20-homer guy off the bench. Balentien is not that person.

  13. RedBlooded

    Balentien did well after he came to the Reds. It’s a small sample size but he handled pitching at the ML level. Look it up. He fields pretty well and he’s just 25. If he can keep up or add to what he did for the Reds last year he is worth a look. He has the advantage out of SP because it’s use him or lose him. Most others have options. He will have a short window to produce. He will or he won’t.

  14. RedBlooded

    I also think the Reds will come out of SP with 11 pitchers not 12. They have a lot of relief pitchers with options. I think 5 starters and 6 relievers will be fine in the short run.

  15. GRF

    Anyone want to start guessing who the 11/12 pitchers will be?

    Harang, Arroyo, Bailey, Cueto, Cordero, Rhodes, Masset and Herrera would all seem like locks. I think Owings gets the 5 spot unless something dramatic happens. Do Lincoln and Bray make it back? Fisher maybe as the last?

  16. Steve Price

    1) About Balentien….Baseball Prospectus ranks him as the 10th best Reds player/prospect at age 25 or under….ahead of many of our prospects

    2) About pitching…we carried 13 pitchers for much of last season, and 12 for virtually all season.

    We’ll carry 12…

  17. RiverCity Redleg

    I do not believe Bray will be ready, physically, when ST breaks. When he’s ready, he’ll start out in the minors.

  18. Bill Lack

    I think 10 pitchers are certain. Harang, Arroyo, Cueto, Bailey, Cordero, Masset, Rhodes, Herrera, Owings, Burton..I think Lehr gets the #5 spot. I think the last spot is a dog fight…Lincoln is the favorite, but if he’s not healthy…Fisher, Ondrusek (take a look at what he did last year in 3 levels), or Del Rosario could be factors.

  19. preach

    “I do not believe Bray will be ready, physically, when ST breaks. When he’s ready, he’ll start out in the minors”

    You can use this comment every February.

  20. RiverCity Redleg

    Preach, unfortunately, you are absolutely correct. I’m a big Bill Bray fan, but he just can’t get/stay healthy.

  21. preach

    “Ondrusek (take a look at what he did last year in 3 levels),”

    I’m really intrigued on what he will do this season. After his last season he absolutely got lit up in the AZ Fall league, but a lot of guys do. Still, 4 homers in 10 innings is not good.

  22. JasonL

    Do you know what’s excellent? That, for the first time in recent memory, spring training is mostly about getting guys into shape. None of the spots we’re arguing about are going to be disasters because there are several pretty decent choices. I mean, when it comes down to it, Lehr vs. Maloney probably doesn’t matter. Wells is emergency filler, that’s all.

    Despite what it looks like out my window, it is about to be spring. Time for a little hope.

    • Bill Lack

      JasonL: Do you know what’s excellent? That, for the first time in recent memory, spring training is mostly about getting guys into shape. None of the spots we’re arguing about are going to be disasters because there are several pretty decent choices. I mean, when it comes down to it, Lehr vs. Maloney probably doesn’t matter. Wells is emergency filler, that’s all.Despite what it looks like out my window, it is about to be spring. Time for a little hope.

      I agree for the most part…though I agree with Chad, if Matt Klinker gets sent back to AA to make room for Wells, I’m going to be one unhappy camper.

  23. preach

    Y’know, Jason I was thinking the same thing.

    It wasn’t that long ago that our opening day starter was Jimmy Haynes.

  24. preach

    In fact, before Harang the last four opening day starters were:

    Joey Hamilton
    Jimmy Haynes
    Cory Lidle
    Paul Wilson

    Wow.

  25. JasonL

    @preach: Yeah, kind of puts the Kip Wells hand-wringing in perspective, doesn’t it? Man, what a bunch of stinkers. I can’t believe Cory Lidle was an opening day starter.

  26. indydoug

    Fay is obviously NOT a Math major; his math is off? He says,….Mles ,Hanigan, Janish & Nix assuming Dickerson is starter & Balentien if go with 11 pitchers. That’s 8 starters +5 bench =13 + 11 P’s = 24!

  27. Dan

    I think Balentien has a ton of potential. He’s like Gomes last year, except younger and cheaper.

    In my opinion, we need to keep him and give him a chance.

    Also, FWIW, the guy we traded for him (Robert Manuel) has now been released twice and is (I think) a free agent. So we could wind up w/ both of them if we want to.

  28. TC

    Too much has been said in this thread to comment on. My head hurts. 😕

    @Bill Lack: Thanks to you I’m now a big Matt fan, but if we are worried about him going back to AA the Reds have some depth, and that isn’t all that bad.

    They will at least try putting Balentien through waivers if he doesn’t look to be working out in ST. They’ll pull him back if he doesn’t make it through. I can’t fathom how he’d get through though. I disagree with John’s assessment of Balentien’s defense though. “We remember’n him now, now ain’t we? Yeah, we remember’n him now. Ain’t we?” (Denzel Washington in Glory, slightly modified)

    Hanigan starting is not going to be a problem. Pitchers can often choose their own battery mate. He will at least start one out of five because Arroyo likes him. One of the other pitchers will likely choose him too. Probably Bailey since they’ve played together. Harang likes Hernandez. Cueto doesn’t care which one he shrugs off. 🙄

    @JasonL: Thanks, man. I’m with you. Five days until spring. 8)

    @Dan: That would be perfect, wouldn’t it. Let’s bring back Freel while we’re at it. 😉

    • Bill Lack

      TC: Too much has been said in this thread to comment on.My head hurts.
      @Bill Lack: Thanks to you I’m now a big Matt fan, but if we are worried about him going back to AA the Reds have some depth, and that isn’t all that bad.

      No, you are a Matt Klinker fan thanks to Matt. He is really is as nice as he seems.

      And I disagree, I think that any plan that pushes any player back below the highest level he should be playing to make room for a “Kip Wells” level player is a bad plan.

  29. Glenn

    If Heisey or Fransisco have good springs and show they can play LF, Balentine may very well see his name 8) on the waiver wire.

  30. Chris Garber

    Once again, they have a truly godawful bench. No power, no speed, no OBP. Nice.

    And am I the only guy not convinced that we should hand the CF job to Drew Stubbs? Speed and defense are great and all, but can you win with .267 .323 .439?

  31. TC

    @Chris Garber: No, I agree. Stubbs performed well at the end of the year, but I’m not ready to write his name in with ink. Actually, I’d prefer to start the year with Dickerson. Your leadoff needs to get on base a bit better than 32% of the time.

  32. Travis G.

    @TC: Teams can’t place players on revocable waivers until after the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline.

    That said, I think it’s possible, if unlikely, that Balentien would clear waivers if the Reds didn’t break camp with him. Keep in mind that the claiming team would have to assign him to their 25-man roster, too, so that limits the pool of available teams. Backup COF aren’t exactly a rare commodity.

  33. RedinFla

    @TC:

    Your run-down of the battery mates is so right-on. 8)
    Made me laugh out loud. 😆
    Especially Cueto. 🙄

  34. preach

    “Once again, they have a truly godawful bench. No power, no speed, no OBP. Nice.”

    Uh, so it’s OK for a no power, no speed, no OBP guy like Janish to start, but it’s godawful to have him ride the bench?

    • RedinFla

      preach: “Once again, they have a truly godawful bench. No power, no speed, no OBP. Nice.”Uh, so it’s OK for a no power, no speed, no OBP guy like Janish to start, but it’s godawful to have him ride the bench?

      I’d say it’s “Godawful” (whatever that means)for soft-J’s defense to ride the bench. I’d like to see him traded to a team with a super-charged offense and a lousy (Godawful?) shortstop.

      He could patrol the infield, bat seventh or eighth, and probably make the Reds look really stupid by suddenly figuring it out and batting .250 8)

      Actually, I’m lying. What I’d truly like is for him to figure it out in a Reds uniform and be the everyday SS.

  35. preach

    Goodbye, Big Hurt:

    “Over his 19-season career, Thomas hit .301 with a .419 on-base and .555 slugging percentage, along with 521 homers. He’s one of only four players in history to have at least a .300 batting average, 500 homers, 1,500 RBIs, 1,000 runs scored and 1,500 walks.

    The other guys? Williams, Ruth and Ott.”

    Wow. And he always was a strong proponent of drug testing.

  36. TC

    “godawful”. That saying has always bugged me. What is awful about God? Anyway…

    @Travis G.: Thanks. Didn’t know that.

    @Bill Lack: You’re right on both accounts. After listening to Matt on RNR it is hard not to really like the guy. His post about a month ago also showed some depth. Mostly, I like his approach to the game. I like the depth, but you’re also right about holding guys back.

    @RedinFla: Glad I could return the favor. You and KM is Batman make me laugh all the time. When I’m tired and sober, I tend to get silly. When I’m tired and its been a Scotch night, I forget how to spell. Eh, so it goes.

  37. TC

    @preach: First ballot, all the way. One of only two guys I can think of at the moment that you can say that about right now.

  38. GregD

    @Chris Garber: What’s wrong with the bench? If it’s Nix and Balentien, there’s your power.

    Bench players don’t tend to have strong OBP’s or they’d be starters.

    Sutton stole 20 or more bases in three consecutive years in the minors (2006-08.) No burners on the base paths, but I like the potential makeup of this bench better than a bunch of fast guys who can’t hit.

  39. RedinFla

    @TC:

    The part about Cueto is just so true. I could maybe see him shaking off signs when he was dominating, but he continued to do it a lot even when he was clearly running out of good ideas. 😯

  40. TC

    @GregD: Brilliant! Five. Anyone else?

    The problem with most of the good players who just retired is most are haunted by the steriod question. I see several slow years of good quality new names being added to the HOF voting list (i.e. Clemons, Bonds, Sosa, McGuire). Should work to Larkin’s favor.

    How about Pedro? He’ll get in for sure… but a first ballot? I think he should, but you can’t say he’s a lock.

  41. Glenn

    As of right now this bench is pretty thin but WJ always seems to have something going on that nobody knows about. Hopefully, there’s something in the works that will firm this squad up before the season starts.

    Miles, Cairo, Burke et al is not going to get in done IMO.