Redlegs Rundown

February 1, 2010 12:44 PM

Lineup Is Close To Set

With the signing of Orlando Cabrera Saturday (1 yr $4 million, option on 2nd year), it appears as if the Reds Opening Day lineup is pretty much set unless they sign Jonny Gomes and well, if Chris Carpenter is throwing on Opening Day, Jonny Gomes won't be out in LF anyway. 

So, playing the role of Dusty Baker will be yours truly.  Let's go with what I suspect is the starting lineup.

Batting first, and playing center field...Drew Stubbs.  Stubbs.  We all know the potential this kid has and he really had a nice debut for the Reds albeit in 180 at-bats.  But in that span, he found his power to the tune of eight homers and a .439 slugging percentage.  Not bad from a guy most never thought would hit with any power.  In the field, he showed just why so many people had such high hopes for him.  He patrolled center field like a seasoned veteran and hopefully will for years to come.  With Willy Taveras being traded today (spectacular trade!!), I see no reason why Drew Stubbs isn't your Opening Day center fielder. 

Batting second, and playing shortstop...Orlando Cabrera.  Cabrera.  It's no secret that Paul Janish can't hit.  It's not a slap at the guy.  He just can't.  Even in hitting 21 doubles last season, he still only slugged .305 and hit just one homer and drove in 16 runs.  Cabrera on the other hand slugged .389, hitting nine homers and driving in 77 runs for the A's and Twins.  I'm sorry, but Janish won't drive in 77 runs in his career.  And while Janish is clearly the better glove, Cabrera will still be surrounded by the great Brandon Phillips and Scott Rolen, who can still pick it for a man his age.  Orlando Cabrera is a good signing for the Reds and he will be the shortstop provided he stays healthy, which he has proven he can.  Over the last three years, he's played 155, 160, and 161 games.


Batting third, and playing first base...Joey Votto.  Votto.  Superstar in the making.  Leader.  Stud.  .322 average.  .414 OBP.  .567 slugging.  Big time .981 OPS.  Despite missing so much time, Votto still drove in 84 runs and at times carried the team on his back.  There is NO doubt he is the first baseman this year.  Depending on what the organization wants to do with Yonder Alonso, Votto could be the Reds' first baseman for a long time to come. 

Batting fourth, and playing second base...Brandon Phillips.  Phillips.  Many are speculating that the Reds could be looking to trade Phillips in his prime.  He makes a lot of money, but he's still very valuable.  And with Todd Frazier expected to be ready, and playing a lot of second base in the minors, Phillips could be moved to save money and continue the Reds' "go young" strategy.  Either way, as long as the team is competing this year, Phillips goes nowhere.  And you can count on him to be there everyday, most likely in the 4-hole.  He drove in 98 runs last year, so perhaps he is getting accustomed to that spot in the lineup.  We shall see.  And we definitely will see him at second base come the start of the season...hopefully the end, too.

Batting fifth, and playing third base...Scott Rolen.  Rolen.  Many hours have been debated on whether or not it was a good move bringing in the veteran to shore up third base.  Edwin Encarnacion just wasn't getting it done...and probably never will.  And with no heir apparent at the hot corner, something had to be done.  After getting off to a rough start (getting plunked in the head and going on the DL), I believe Rolen was exactly what they wanted him to be: steady in the field and the clubhouse and drive in some runs.  Now, he probably won't drive in 100 runs, but he could provide good protection for Votto and Phillips if he has a good year. 

Batting sixth, and playing right field...Jay Bruce.  Bruuuuuuuuuuuuuuce.  While some are down on this kid.  Yes, I say kid since he's only going to be 23-years-old by Opening Day.  Anyway, some are down on him because of his propensity to strike out in Adam Dunn-like numbers.  However, before he broke his wrist last year, he was on pace to hit over 30 homers.  Not bad for a 22-year-old.  In addition, he was very solid in the field and even had 11 assists with only two errors.  Give this kid some time and let him hit behind Rolen, he'll get a chance to watch some professional at-bats for sure.  It'll do him a world of good.  He's not ready to carry the team just yet, but he could have a breakout year.

Batting seventh, and playing left field...Chris Dickerson...or Jonny Gomes...or Wladimir Balentien...or well you get the picture.  On February 1, no one really knows who will be facing the Cardinals on Opening Day.  It could be any of the above.  It could be Laynce Nix, although that would be a slight to major upset.  Either way, it's a tossup and may the best man win.  I'm on the record as saying I really don't see what the love is for Jonny Gomes.  For the money Gomes might command, I'd be happier with someone who can play better defense.  I like Jonny, but don't really want him as part of the left field platoon should that be the direction the Reds go.  Flip a coin...or six.

Batting eighth, and catching...Ramon Hernandez.  Hernandez.  Now, I'm again on the record as saying that I like this move a lot.  It's not that I don't think Hanigan can do the job.  Well, at the plate, simply put, he cannot.  11 RBI in 251 ABs is NOT getting it done. In fact Corky Miller had just one fewer RBI in 195 less ABs.  Ramon Hernandez batted .328 with RISP last year and seemed to come through in the clutch nearly every night.  And a lot of people forget the excellent job he did at first base filling in for Votto.  If he struggles and has clearly lost it, fine, but Hanigan in.  But, for now, I'm casting my vote with Hernandez to start the season.

That's my look at the starting eight for Opening Day.  I'm ready to go!!  Come on, February 18!    

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