Friday, March 30, 2007

To preview this year’s club, I’ve broken the team down positionally into categories of how they can best benefit me. I believe this is the best and most relevant way to preview any team.

5. Which Reds infielder would like to take part in the staging of Those Glorious Gals-my original production dramatizing the on and off-screen relationship of the women of The Golden Girls?

Juan Castro: Castro’s still the same mean mistreater that he was during his first tenure with the Reds (2000-2004). Big glove with a little stick (career .233 average), but this year he ain’t going to steal my jellyroll. After winning the starting job with the Twins last season, his offense was as expected but his golden glove seemed to be missing a digit. Krivsky seized this opportunity to replace the offense of Kearns and Lopez with an eighth inning defensive replacement. Well, he’s back for 2007 and I’m going to do my best to put our history behind us, but in the end, it’s really up to him. I’ve already put everything I’ve got into this relationship and he’s never made any attempt to hit for a respectable average. It’s a shame because he really would make a very believable Rue McClanahan.

Edwin Encarnacion: of the group, I think Encarnacion’s the one who’ll best be able to handle the rigors of the performing arts. He loves being in front of an audience and keeping it on its toes. He’ll go behind the bag at third and throw a strike from the third base coach’s circle or he’ll charge and barehand a bunt and then fire a rocket off-balance to first but then, being the genius that he is, he mixes it up. Instead of fielding the routine roller or two-hopper and simply throwing the runner out at first (boring right?) he gloves it and throws it ten rows deep into the crowd or really charges up that cannon and targets the right field corner. That’s what makes live theater so invigorating, the unpredictability. Will they remember their lines? Maybe they’ll trip and knock over the backdrop. Will Narron’s head explode? No, he knows and understands. Edwin Encarnacion you are greatest person in the entire world.

Scott Hatteberg: what we all saw last year was a career year for Hatteberg. While you might expect more production from a first baseman from Washington State (or at least the use of a batting helmet in the field), with the exception of the last month of the season, he hit (.289 for a career .268 hitter) and was able to consistently get on base (.389 OBS) while not being a major defensive liability. But everyone wants power out of their first baseman, something Votto will likely provide when he’s ready. But assuming no major attrition, H-Bomb gets to hang around and spray singles. And you know, I like that.

Alex Gonzalez: the author was recently reading a fantasy preview and Gonzalez was not listed as one of the top 33 shortstops in baseball, fantasy-wise anyway. The author is certainly not going to argue that the members of the yahoo fantasy think tank are anything other than the smartest people around, so we’ll have to assume they’re right. Gonzalez, though universally praised for his defensive ability, is, apparently, a worse offensive option than Angel Berroa (outrighted to AAA), Nick Punto (8 career home runs), and Jack Wilson (I don't even need to provide any stats). And if this wasn't bad enough, I only make casting decisions after first consulting with the very same gentlemen from Yahoo. Alex, we'd love to have you, really, but we've already promised the role to Willie Bloomquist.

Brandon Phillips: it’s a real shame that we’re about to start new a season and there’s no one named Aurilia or Womack in the mix to suck it up at second base. Early last season Krivsky hypnotized the Indians front office into trading Phillips for a handful of Alf Pogs (Alf's back, in Pog form!). While I’m sure they miss the pogs, who wouldn’t, they're a highly collectable item, Phillips proved to be one of the more reliable components of last year's team.
He gave Womack a savage beating (statistically, of course) and sent him back home to mama. He then, very politely, informed Aurilia and Freel that second base was his and if they had a problem with that they could go ahead and shove it up their collective ass. While some experts feel his offensive numbers were higher than we should expect on an annual basis (.276/.324/.427 with 17 gonzos), he also stole bases (25), which he hadn’t had any interest in doing in the past, played defense, and generally brightened up the room with that Kool-Aid brand smile. If it wasn’t for Encarnacion’s natural theatrical gifts, it would be Philips' role to lose.

Jeff Conine: Conine looks like a pretty cool guy and should provide some offense as the right hand of the first base platoon and occasional outfield replacement but I just can’t picture him fitting in anywhere in the production. Maybe Stanley, but that role is more or less a walk-on, something in which he probably wouldn't be too interested.