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.
- 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.
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!