So, I’ve decided to go ahead and quit doing the Hot Stove Updates. I’ve been real busy lately and with the Winter Meetings upon us, the free agency signings and trades are going to increases by a lot. If you’re still interested in them, they are always up at mlb.mlblogs.com.
On to the breakdown!
Since my last post, I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about the infield and what I see with it next year. Same thing with catchers, I’m gonna go position by position and break them all down.
I. First Base – Joey Votto – National League MVP, need I say more? Since posting solid numbers his rookie season and finishing second in the Rookie of the Year voting to winning a MVP title in his third full year, Votto has been one of the most consistent players for the Reds. He missed time in 2009 coping with the loss of his father and missed a week this year with a stiff neck. Imagine if he hadn’t and his numbers would have easily skyrocketed. Joey was 2nd in the NL in batting average, 6th in hits, 3rd in long balls, 3rd in RBIs, 1st in slugging percentage, on-base percentage, and in OPS, and was third in runs. Does that scream MVP to you? He finished in the top 10 of every offensive category in the National League and I still think there’s room for improvement. His career-high for games play is 151 and I think he could easily play 155 or 160 next year. I know he needs time off every now and then, but I still think he’ll get those extra 5 or 10 games. He’s a great hitter, he gets better every year in the field, and I’m hoping that he manages to stay in Cincinnati for as long as he can.
II. Second Base – Brandon Phillips – Diving to his left, his right, jumping in the air to snag a liner, fielding pop-ups and turning slick double plays is just something we Reds fans see on a daily basis from #4. Brandon Phillips has made a name for himself as one, if not, the best defensive second basemen in the National League. Offensively, it’s been quite interesting. He came over in 2006 and put great numbers for a guy who hadn’t played everyday in the bigs since ’03. He batted clean-up most of the time and put that to use in 2007 and 2009 when he had 30 bombs and 94 knocked in and 20 homers and 98 knocked in, respectively. He bounced around in 2010 from the four hole to batting second to leading off to being bumped down to the seven spot. Had his hand not been hurting, his numbers might have gone up a little more. I’m not real sure where I see BP fit next year in the lineup. If we can score a good leadoff man, then maybe see him in the number two spot. However, I could see him batting leadoff if need be or even batting lower in the order. I know Phillips has stated he wants to finish his career here and I hope it happens. It’s going to be a sad day when we can’t be spoiled by his flashy leather over at the keystone.
III. Third Base – Scott Rolen – Just four days after Opening Day 2011, Rolen’s going to be 36 years young. Scroll back up and read that first sentence I posted for Phillips and change the number to a #27. Rolen plays phenomenal defense at the Hot Corner and I’m excited that the Redlegs have two Gold Glovers in the mix for next year. Everyone questioned Rolen’s production coming into this year and he just made everyone look at him in awe with the way he had a nice comeback year. Like everyone has heard or said, Rolen will get even more days off next year to give him some rest and just let the other guys play. Scotty only played in 133 games next year, and I could really see him playing in about 120 in 2011. Nothing against him, it’s just that he’s getting older and if we want him to produce like he did in the first half of last year, we’ll sit him more often. We’ve got him under contract until 2012, so I’m not really too worried about our infield defense. I would love to see Rolen retire as Red, as well. The numbers he put up were amazing in the first half, but then it looked like the toil of the season got to him after the All Star Break and he kind of faded out. Also, I’m not too sure if batting him behind Votto is our best bet. If Jay Bruce is going to hit home runs the way he has, maybe he could get bumped up to the clean-up spot. Anyways, that will be discussed more in the next portion of the breakdown.
IV. Shortstop – Paul Janish – I love the way Janish plays and I honestly think if he gets to take over as the starting shortstop next year, we may have yet another Gold Glove infielder. I know I made a post earlier about Jose Reyes, but Janish may have more than proven himself in 2010. Paul hardly got any playing time in the first half, but got a lot more once Orlando Cabrera went down with his strained oblique. I still remember that game where Janish was put in because Votto got ejected and went a perfect 4-4 with a homer and three runs knocked in. I know it was just one game, but he looks like a different hitter this year. He’s never been know to have a lot of power, but I don’t really think it’s that bothersome. In 82 games, he .260 with 5 home runs and 25 RBIs, not that impressive, but solid numbers for a guy who’s sat the bench most of his career. Once Opening Day rolls around and if Janish is at short, I have no problem with it. If the Reds go out and grab a shortstop who can leadoff or feel that Zack Cozart’s ready, I’ll be okay too.
Sorry it’s not a whole lot, just my thoughts on it. I’ve been stressed out with school and finals and just worrying about getting home next week.
ON DECK: The Outfield! I’m real excited to do this one.
As usual, all comments are greatly appreciated. I’d love to hear some other people’s take on this.