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:
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.
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.