A lot has been said about the Reds and their “young” talent. While there are many prospects in the organization with untapped potential, there are also veterans with a wealth of knowledge and experience. If the regulars can stay relatively healthy, the infield is one area that Dusty Baker should not have to worry about much this season.
Joey Votto was on his way to a MVPNNAP (Most Valuable Player Not Named Albert Pujols) season in 2009 when stress-related issues forced him to the disabled list. He missed 21 games before revealing he had been suffering from depression and panic attacks. Despite dealing with these issues, Votto remained the team’s best and most consistent player. He finished the year with a .322 batting average and 25 home runs. After returning from the disabled list, he played in 94 of the club’s final 95 games. Don’t pencil him in at first base – write it with a permanent marker.
Brandon Phillips is an interesting topic. He has all the talent in the world and a heart of gold. However, sometimes the ol’ noggin doesn’t quite get in line. There were a couple of instances last year when Phillips didn’t run out balls or ignored a sign. Early in Spring Training, he felt slighted that John Fay decided to feature stories about other players before him. If Phillips can avoid drama and stay focused on baseball, he could have a big year. He is a good offensive player and a gold-glove second baseman.
Scott Rolen was acquired by the Reds at last year’s trade deadline in a move that had much of Reds Country scratching their heads. A small-market team that was supposed to be focused on young prospects now possessed a well-compensated, 34-year old third baseman. They also now had a leader. However, his professionalism and personality should not hide the fact that he is a productive player. He hit a respectable .270 in 40 games with the Reds while spending time on the disabled list after being hit in the head with a pitch. He also plays a gold-glove third base. More importantly, the team was 27-13 with Rolen in the lineup.
The Reds added another gold-glover to the infield when the signed Orlando Cabrera to play shortstop. Much like Rolen, Cabrera is a veteran with post-season experience that will be looked upon to provide leadership to some of the younger players. The main difference is Cabrera has the reputation of being more of a vocal leader who is not afraid to let someone know if, you know, their ol’ noggin doesn’t quite get in line.
Three out of four gold-glovers ain’t bad, huh? The Reds should be one of the better defensive teams in the National League. I would look for Paul Janish and Aaron Miles to be reserve infielders.
The catching situation hasn’t been talked about that much during Spring Training. That is because there isn’t really anything to talk about. Ramon Hernandez is the starting catcher with Ryan Hanigan serving as a more than capable backup.
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