As we near the end of July, the Reds are still in the division race but are heading toward some major roster decisions. Some will be a lot more difficult than others. These are my ideas of what to do with these players as of July 21. I reserve the right to change my mind in 30 minutes. Homer Bailey:
Homer has been out since May 24 but will be throwing bullpen sessions in the next few weeks with a targeted return sometime in early August. The problem is where to put Homer. His 1-2 record with 5.51 ERA weren't blowing anyone's socks off before he went on the D.L. and with Travis Wood and Edinson Volquez in the rotation, there may not be room for Homer. The problem with putting Homer in the bullpen is the fact that he takes a lot longer than others to warm up. It might not be a great fit. He could take over Micah Owings' role if Owings continues to struggle.
D.L. since July 6
with back spasms, Harang could be ready before Bailey and could also be the most difficult decision of all. It's no secret Harang is not the same pitcher the Reds signed to a big extension a few years back, but he's a veteran and we all know how Dusty likes his vets. I just can't see them keeping him on the D.L., putting him in the bullpen, trading him, or even releasing him. He'll likely go back into the rotation with Travis Wood going back to AAA. Not that I'm a fan of it, but that's my prediction.
Burton has pitched pretty well for Louisville. He currently is 1-2 with a 2.77 ERA for the Bats. He's almost become a forgotten man with the success of Nick Masset, Jordan Smith, and Logan Ondrusek. Burton could eventually be a candidate to take Micah Owings' spot, but in my estimation he might be further down on the list especially if Homer Bailey is in the running. It's unfortunate, but Burton lost his chance in spring training, then got hurt. Now, he's stuck in Louisville until someone falters mightily or gets injured.
Since moving to the bullpen, Chapman has been very inconsistent. His bullpen ERA is 4.76 and is still trying to fine tune his control and wildness. Unfortunately, I don't see Chapman in Cincinnati until September when the rosters expand. But, don't confuse that with me writing him off.
Coco has drawn the ire of Reds fans far and wide this season with his high-wire act. Unfortunately, the Reds do not currently have anyone else on the roster who has a lot of closing experience. Nick Masset has been much better of late, but I don't think it's time for him to assume that role especially coming down the stretch. Arthur Rhodes has closed before but I don't think they want to risk his foot with more work. One interesting option could be...
The 37-year-old former closer for the Cardinals has been out of the game since early 2009 when he opted to have Tommy John surgery. Now, Izzy is ready to return and threw for the Reds earlier this week with a subsequent contract offer made. It likely would take a few weeks to a month to get him ready for major league action again, but the experience and ability to get hitters out could be a nice alternative for Cordero should he continue to struggle.
Another veteran arm to have available should some of the kids falter. Springer has been very good at times. Last year his ERA was 4.11 but prior to then, he was 2.32 and 2.18 for the Cardinals. Currently he's at AAA Louisville but keep an eye out for him as he may be on the fast track.
Owings is currently the "long guy" for the Reds. With the starters throwing so well of late, Micah hasn't seen much action and it certainly showed in his outing Tuesday night. His fault? Yes and no. It's hard to stay sharp when you don't throw for 14 days, but as a major leaguer he should be held to a higher level of accountability. That's his role. My guess is he'll be let go if/when Homer/Springer are ready.
How in the world can the Reds possibly consider sending Wood back to AAA when Aaron Harang and/or Homer Bailey are ready to return? Since joining the rotation July 1, all Wood has done is put up a stellar 2.03 ERA, which if you're keeping track at home is much smaller than Harang/Bailey. Sure it's a smaller sample size, but anyone who has actually watched this kid throw know he's definitely ready to contribute for the big club. Still my prediction is he goes back to AAA and it'll be a shame.
Corky knows what his role is. He knows when Ramon Hernandez is ready to come off the disabled list that he's headed back to Louisville. And he and his mustache will accept it, go down to the minors again, and be ready for the next time he's called upon. Considering the circumstances, you cannot possibly be upset at the job he's done in Ryan Hanigan's and then Hernandez's absences. But, he will go back to Louisville eventually.
He's "blocked". Joey Votto isn't going anywhere. Unless Joey goes on the D.L., Alonso is going to be at AAA. They've tried him in left, he can't play third, so he's stuck. Honestly, he's trade bait. There really is no getting around it.
Technically, he's "blocked" too. Scott Rolen is the third baseman for the Reds provided he's healthy. Now, with Rolen battling a hamstring injury, it's possibly Francisco could be called up to split time with Miguel Cairo, but he's not going to be given the full-time job especially with how Miggy has played in Rolen's stead. In the long run, Francisco can hit 500-foot homers but he's a man without a position because his defense at third is spotty at best and unless he works on his left field defense, he likely won't be playing there either. Trade bait?
Out since April 30 with a broken hamate bone, Dickerson is currently on rehab with Louisville. He likely will be there the full 30 days due to the need for strength in that hand. My prediction is that he will get hurt again in those 30 days and the Reds won't have a decision to make. However, should he go through the first 30-day stretch in his career without an injury, do the Reds really send Chris Heisey back down? If I'm making the decisions, no way. But, my guess is they will either let Laynce Nix go or send Heisey down.
Batting .278 with five homers (4 as a pinch-hitter), how do you possibly send Heisey down? He's fast, has power, can play good defense, and is doing exactly what he likely will do his whole career - be a 4th outfielder. Unfortunately, the Reds will send him down when Dickerson is ready. But it will be a shame.
Gary Matthews Jr.:
The Reds have until Saturday to make a decision on Matthews. He can opt for free agency if he's not on the big league roster. He's taken, deservedly so, a lot of crap from the fans for being a bust. But, he's hitting .310 at Louisville and is a switch hitter with pop and speed. Would he be an upgrade from Laynce Nix?
Nix has not played much since Jonny Gomes caught fire and it has showed. Unfortunately, Laynce may be the odd man out soon with the Matthews decision looming. Even if he survives that one, he may be out when Dickerson returns. Baseball is a tough business and I'm glad I'm not making those tough decisions!
Seems Reds fans either hate him or they hate him. Not sure why Dusty gets such grief, but as they say it is what it is. Either way, his 3-year contract is up after this season and as much as Reds fans are rooting for their team it seems they are rooting against Dusty. Not sure why, but I digress. The popular opinion is that if the Reds win, he stays. They lose, he goes. What constitutes "win", well my guess is they have to be over .500 by a good margin (say 10 games). 82-80 will not earn Dusty an extension I wouldn't think. But, a playoff appearance, why not? I don't think Reds fans care who the manager is as long as they win, right? RIGHT???