Tuesday, August 19, 2008

The Big Red Rant by Petey Hendrix - 8/19/08

The most recent post by Reds Rocket step-child Petey Hendrix addresses the future of the 2008 Reds team that you all have come to respect and enjoy. The author may not agree with all proposed action, and has not conceded the season to the other undesirables in the Central, but it's nice to see someone thinking about next season. Additionally, there is both an Ike Turner reference in the text for you to look forward to. I'll give Castellini a call on the vegetable phone at his office tomorrow and see about that opening in the front office.

No more donkey, no more Junior. Well, at least the replacement players will hustle.

So what does the team look like for next year? I think I’ve got a pretty good glimpse already: THE SAME. Let’s break it down:

Current Reds
C Ryan Hanigan (R)
1B Joey Votto (L)
2B Brandon Phillips (R)
SS Alex Gonzales (R)/Jeff Keppinger (R)
3B Edwin Encarnacion
CF Chris Dickerson (L)
RF Jay Bruce (L)

IF/OF Ryan Freel (R)
OF Norris Hopper (R)
IF Adam Rosales (R)
C Wilkin Castillo (R)

SP Edinson Volquez (R)
SP Aaron Harang (R)
SP Johnny Cueto (R)
SP Bronson Arroyo (R)
SP Micah Owings (R)

CL Francisco Cordero (R)
RP Bill Bray (L)
RP Jared Burton (R)
RP Nick Masset (R)
RP Homer Bailey (R)
RP Daryl Thompson (R)
RP Danny Herrera (L)

Where are the holes that Walt Jock-ER-TEE (pronunciation key by George Grande) will have to fill with his giant GM phallus? Well, there are positions to be addressed (think left field, not Cleveland Steamer), and there is the clubhouse. I often think the clubhouse talk is all garbage, but in this specific case, we have yet to eradicate the loafing, aloof poison that was Junior and his influence. That’s going to cost us extra money.

Catcher Ryan Hanigan ain’t gonna cut it, and the free agent class is limited. I say we bite the bullet here and sign Pudge Rodriguez to an overpriced, too-long, 2-year deal. This will give a great influence to Hanigan, as well as the young Reds starting staff. He will also bring veteran leadership and a working knowledge of the Spanish language. Yeah, that does make a difference to Volquez, Cueto, Cordero, Alex Gonzales (maybe), and Edwin Encarnacion. And it’s about time the Reds get a Spanish-speaking catcher who can order chicken mole without having to explain that his mustache is NOT a shout-out to Hitler (Javy, we still love you and your giant, dumpy body.)

That still leaves us a little lefty-heavy in the lineup (Votto, Bruce, Dickerson), so a righty-hitting OF is the next step. We could even get a first baseman and stick Joey Votto in LF if the player was right. Walt will likely make a go at the too-old Jim Edmonds to play center. But Jim is too old these days to be an everyday starter at age 39. So we have to throw Edmonds into the geezer free agent bin, along with Moises Alou, Frank Thomas, and Cliff Floyd. We’ll also need to avoid “headcases”, as we need veteran leadership, not spoiled, moping millionaires. So out of the picture go Manny Ramirez and Milton Bradley, which is a shame. Those two sluggers would treat pitches in Great American Ball Park like Ike Turner preferred his ladies: lightly battered.

That leaves us with a select group of two players by my measure: 1B Mark Teixeira and LF Pat Burrell. Both would kill pitching at GABP. Pat plays LF about as well as Adam Dunn…or Joey Votto. Meanwhile, Teixeira is an excellent first baseman, sporting a .996 fielding percentage in over 800 games. Votto in LF and Teixeira at 1B is an upgrade defensively.

There’s your 2009 Reds starting 8:

CF Chris Dickerson (L)
SS Jeff Keppinger (R)
2B Brandon Phillips (R)
RF Jay Bruce (L)
LF Pat Burrell (R)
1B Joey Votto (L)
3B Edwin Encarnacion (R)
C Pudge Rodriguez (R)

We’ll need a lefty bat for the bench to match our new star pinch-hitter, Micah Owings (R), who carries a career .895 OPS. That’s a big, sexy number that reminds us of el grande burro.

Maybe that’s enough…but it seems a little light to me. But that’s a pretty cheap and easy way to get there, as Pat/Pudge or Tex/Pudge will likely combine to make about as much as Griffey/Dunn did. I wish Pudge was Mexican, so I could make a Tex/Mex joke here, but the truth is that Pat/Pudge and Tex/Pudge are funny sounding enough that no joke is necessary. I’d also like to see Arroyo & Alex Gonzales traded for a lefty starter, but I don’t see that happening.

How will Walt do this offseason? Well, it’s hard not to defer to the success he’s had and trust him. Then again, I trusted Ryan Freel to drive me to a strip club once, and that quickly became a total Training Day situation. So my judgment simply can’t be trusted…which is why it seldom is.

Help us, Obi-Walt Kenobi. You’re our only hope.

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