Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Can the Reds finish above .500? Part 2

Sorry for part 2 of my Reds above .500 series being a day late, but I had to weigh in on the Shayne Graham issue, which strangely is tearing Cincinnati apart. The strange part was during lunch and on the way home listening to local radio personalities defend the tagging?! Lance McCallister and I do not always see eye to eye, but I could not help but feel he was just dead wrong about Shayne.

Moving on....Today the focus will be on the Reds defense. "What defense?" You might say to yourself or that fat co-worker next to you that swears he could play better defense for the reds. Of course, he should just concentrate on tying his own shoes, and you should not worry, it will be better this year.

"How will it be better this year?" This might be what you ask next and I will tell you, just don't get distracted my 'Ol Fatty mowing threw his 5th eclair of the morning.
  • Alex Gonzalez back at shortstop. The guy has Gold Glove potential, provided he can stay healthy. He is an upgrade defensively over Keppinger and Harriston, he has better range and a better fielding percentage over the last two years he was healthy.
  • Jay Bruce in right field. My grandfather is in his 90's and had both hips replaced and would have looked faster and more fluid than Ken Griffey Jr. did playing right field. I could go on and on with old, or broken jokes about Kenny, but why beat a dead horse? Lets instead get excited about the Jay Bruce era in Cincinnati. At least until his contract is up and he hires Scott Boras to negotiate his way to New York.
  • Dickerson/Harriston/Gomes in left field. There is nothing that would scare me more than to hear Marty say, "fly ball to left field, Adam Dunn in pursuit." I would close my eyes so tight that I would almost blackout praying to any god I know that Dunn would luck out and fall near the ball. I am not saying his defense was bad, but Jose Canseco thinks it is bad. Dunn is like a semi truck, once it got going there was no stopping it, but it does not start and stop on a dime. Now that he is gone literally anything is better out there, even Johny Gomes. I would prefer Dickerson or Harriston. After they way they both played last year I think they earned the right.
  • Willy Taveras in center. While I love Ryan Freel's hustle, they way he played center field was going to get himself killed, or someone else. He was a 20 car pile up on the free way waiting to happen. Patterson while great defensively, was soooooooo horrible with the bat the Reds were considering not even sending him to the plate, just taking an automatic out. Harrison was adequate, but not an everyday center fielder. Taveras will give us a good everyday center fielder that can get on base occasionally, provided he stays healthy as well.
  • Other than Tampa Bay, can you name a faster outfield than Dickerson/Taveras/Bruce/Harriston? Maybe Houston with Bourne and Pence? That is a lot of ground those boys will be able to cover, which will be fun to watch for a change!
  • Ramon Hernandez behind the plate. Ramon is another guy that has the potential to win a Gold Glove. Last year was a slight aberration, but he played on a crappy team, I just hope he re-finds himself here in Cincy. But even a down year for him is better than Paul Backo or Dan Ross's best year. Sadly this might be the best catcher Cincinnati has seen since Johnny Bench, and he is no where near that.
So lets see, The Reds upgraded all three outfield positions, if nothing else it was addition by subtraction by just getting rid of Dunn and Griffey. They upgraded at shortstop and behind the plate, to add to a Gold Glove winning second basemen already. They did all that and did not spend a lot of wasteful money in the off season, not bad. I do have some areas of concern though.
  • Edwin Encarnacion is still manning third base and will be next year too. This guy plays third base like David Beckham, kicking it all over the field. The guy is 26, so, there is not much hope of it getting any better either. This guy has a career .935 fielding percentage with more than 20 errors in a season twice in his young career. Yikes.
  • Votto at first base. Votto is not nearly as unwatchable as Edwin, but it is still not great. Fortunately he play first base, where such "athletes" as Prince Fielder, Adam Dunn, Kent Herbeck, Cecil Fielder have played, and the list goes on. I think Votto can get better, but really as long as he can catch the ball thrown at him then I am OK with him.
All things considered the Reds obviously did a good job of upgrading the defense and speed of the team, I don't think it translates into too many more wins that what I predicted in part 1, however.

I think we are still at this point looking at a 86-76 team, or are we? What about the offense? Well I will cover the offense in part three tomorrow or later in the week, as time permits, so stay tuned Reds fans!


Cleveland Andy said...

You can slowly see your GM (Krivsky?) trying to make this team into the Twins...which makes sense because they hired him from the Twins. The defense does look better overall, without being too familiar with the defensive abilities of Dickerson and Bruce. I imagine that Dickerson is a fast black guy that replacing a slow white guy in Dunn -- good move, for defense, anyway. Tavares is faaaast, but not really an upgrade over Freel defensively. And do any of these speedy outfielders (sans Bruce) have an arm that could throw anyone out?...honestly.

i know you've got your systematic three-part approach to breaking down the team, but nuts to that. here is the bottom line...the defense needs to be the best defense in the NL for this team to finish 86-76. Alex Gonzalez will never win a gold glove. he's solid, but 32 yrs old, and he never was an elite shortstop defensively. the rest of the pieces are ok to pretty good defensively, but the only potentially great defender on this squad is Phillips, and that doesn't matter a whole lot given he plays 2B. The IF defense is average overall and the OF defense is above average, but i bet they'll be spending a lot of time chasing balls they can't catch.

it may not matter much, because i still don't think they will be able to score any runs. the Dodgers, Cubs, Cards, Braves, Mets, and Phillies are all better teams, and the Fish, Brewers, and Astros are comparable. If you plug those into my math machine, the resulting record comes out to 71 wins. i hate to put lettuce, tomato, and onion on your Reds burger, George, but in my opinion, that's what the drive-thru is giving you this year.

George Herron said...

Krivsky is out Jockity is in. 'Ol Walt from St' Louis is in charge now but the philosophy is basically the same. Younger and faster, better defense.

Gonzolez might be older but still better range and an upgrade over Keppinger and Harriston, although you give back with the offense.

I believe the Cubs, Mets, Phils, Dodgers, Marlins and MAYBE the Cards are better teams. But the Cards staff does not scare me at all.

At this point I think I am looking at a burger with ketsup and mustard with maybe a pickle on it. I can scrape it off and still eat it, I just won't like it that much.