We've done the pitchers; now let's take a look at the hitters.
The obvious guys are:
C - Hernandez
1B - Votto
2B - BP
3B - Edwina
SS - A-Gon (if healthy)
CF - Taveras
RF - Bruce
The only real competition for a starting job in spring training is in left field. A-Gon, probably because of his contract, has the job at SS if he's healthy. If not, Keppy and Haiston will be fighting for it.
I think it's a mistake to just hand the centerfield/lead-off job to Tavares, but that is apparently what Dusty has done. In fact, there's talk in the paper today of having another "speed" guy like Haiston in the second spot, 1. in case Tavares isn't getting on base and 2. for a double steal. First, if Taveras isn't getting on base, another "speed" guy should replace him in the lead-off spot, not bat second and go three places in the order before reaching a decent hitter. Second, how many times a season are we going to double steal? It makes no sense. I'm not saying they shouldn't have signed Tavares (which they shouldn't have) (there, I said it). What I'm saying is don't just hand him the job. Make him earn it and then be flexible if he doesn't deserve to keep it. Or at least consider him for the 8th spot, not lead-off. Anyway, there's no question he's on the 25-man roster.
That leaves left field. Assuming A-Gon is healthy, Dickerson (Dusty's camp favorite at this point), Hairston, Hopper, and Gomes, with a possiblity of Jaque Jones. The Reds also have Nix in camp, but I see him as AAA bound. Dickerson certainly had a nice debut last year and it's very tempting to see if he can handle the position on a full-time basis. Plus he seemed like a decent defender. But probably anybody, with exception of maybe Gomes, will be better than Dunn defensively. What I like is a platoon with Dickerson and Gomes. Dickerson gets the bulk of the at bats, facing righties, and Gomes, a veteran who's used to riding pine, can add some pop against lefties where we're vulnerable because of the left-leaning Votto and Bruce.
The tough part, and it seems like this has been true for several years with the Reds, is picking a line-up. If it were me this would be my regular line-up against righties:
3B Easy Eddy
Salaries: Hernandez - $6 mil. ($8 mil. with $2 mil. pd. by Baltimore); Gonzalez - $5.375 mil.; BP - $4.75 mil.; Eddy $3.1 mil.; Tavares - $2.25 mil.; Dickerson, Votto, and Bruce - $.5 mil. each. Gomes is on a minor league deal, so I'm not sure what he gets if he makes the team. Let's call it $1 mil. That's a total of just shy of $24 mil.
Bench: Hairston - $2 mil.; Keppinger - $.5 mil.; and Ward (minor league deal). Gomes has one of the other spots (or Dickerson against lefty starters.) That's a pretty versatile bench with Keppy capable of playing all four infield spots, Hairston playing anywhere but 1B and catcher and Ward playing 1B or the outfield and providing good pop off the bench.
That leaves the back-up catcher spot. Hanigan played well last year, but I could see the Reds sending him to AAA so he can play everyday. Rumor has it Hernandez may play some first base against tough left-handers so that Votto can sit and Hanigan can catch. I think this is a terrible idea, but it shouldn't be for too many games. If Hanigan starts in AAA, Humberto Cota will probably be the back up cathcher and not play very often.
So that's only about $28 mil. for the hitters. That's less than the Reds are paying Harang, Arroyo, and Cordero. With the pitchers, that's a total of about $71 mil.
Up next, predictions for in-season moves.
Mike Mussina, Hall of Famer
3 weeks ago