Miguel Cairo or Todd Frazier?

It’s quite possible this choice will confront the Reds next spring.

Assuming that 2012 infield roster spots are guaranteed for Joey Votto, Brandon Phillips, Zack Cozart and Scott Rolen, the Reds will add two utility infielders to the bench.  One of those two players must be a credible shortstop who could backup Cozart (38 major league plate appearances).  Neither Cairo or Frazier falls into that category, which puts them in direct competition for the remaining bench slot.

(Note: This presumes that Juan Francisco won’t be on the Reds Opening Day roster.  If Francisco makes the team, presumably to hit balls into the Ohio River, it’s hard to imagine Cairo or Frazier could make the team, because either of those choices would leave the Reds with only Cozart able to play SS.  Did I mention Cozart has only 38 plate appearances?)

Back to the non-Juan world, where the Reds sign a veteran backup shortstop and then face a choice between Cairo and Frazier.  Frazier has an edge in terms of defense.  Cairo looked pretty stiff at 2B in the few games he played there, and is barely passable at 3B.  Frazier has looked decent at 3B.  His best position may be 2B.  He has already played all four infield spots and left field for the Reds in 2011.

2012 will be Cairo’s age 38 season, Frazier will be 26.

At the plate, Frazier has a higher SLG and OPS, Cairo has a better OBP.  Frazier has hit 6 HR and has 14 RBI in just over 100 plate appearances.  Cairo’s career high in HR (7) and his 32 RBI have come in 270 plate appearances.

You might say that Cairo has already won the job, since he has a guaranteed $1 million contract for 2012.  But if the Reds decide they prefer Frazier, Cairo would be relatively easy to trade.  It’s also possible the Reds could trade Frazier, given his position flexibility and youth.

Many of us have been assuming that Cairo was a lock to make the 2012 roster, and perhaps that’s still true.  But, after a second look, there’s certainly a strong case that the Reds can and should move Cairo instead.

What say you, Nation?