Reds Ruminations: 2012, A (Roster) Space Odyssey

2001: A Space Odyssey, Warner Bros. (1968)

As the 2011 season draws closer to conclusion we continue our in-depth look towards the 2012 Reds’ roster. Last week we asked for your help deciding off-season moves. This week, we predict the 2012 opening day roster. This will be a two part series: today we look at position players (pitchers will come later).

When looking at the potential 2012 roster, it appears the Reds only have a few questions to answer. For this piece, we are making a few assumptions: 1) none of the starting players will be traded and 2) the Reds will bring Brandon Phillips back (option or extension). If you’ll grant us those assumptions, the following players are already penciled in for 2012: Joey Votto (starting first base), Brandon Phillips (starting second base), Scott Rolen (starting/part-time third base), Ryan Hanigan (part-time catcher), Devin Mesoraco (part-time catcher), Drew Stubbs (starting centerfield) Jay Bruce (starting right field), and Miguel Cairo (utility/bench). If the Reds keep with tradition and allow for 13 position players on the active roster, this leaves the organization with 5 spots up for grabs. This includes the starting short stop, a back-up infielder, and three outfielders.

Short Stop

Zack Cozart is the favorite to start at short on opening day, 2012. However, the promising youngster recently underwent Tommy John surgery, leaving some questions about his availability. The Reds say he’ll be fully recovered by spring training. While Dusty Baker stopped short of naming Cozart the 2012 starter, he made it clear that Cozart will have every opportunity to earn the job. With few options at the position, we predict that Cozart will win the job.

Back-up Infielder

The last infield spot will likely go to Paul Janish. While Yonder Alonso, Todd Frazier, Chris Valaika, and Juan Francisco all represent better bats than Janish, the Reds need a 2nd short stop on the roster. Janish’s defensive versatility also allows for some flexibility. Due to these factors, we have Paul Janish as the last infielder to make the 2012 roster.

Remaining Outfielders

The starting left-fielder for 2012 remains the biggest question facing the team. The Reds may explore free agents, but the list of potential free agent outfielders is less than overwhelming. Upgrading the position from outside the organization would likely require a trade. With several MLB-ready prospects (cough… Alonso) unable to crack the MLB roster, an off-season trade seems likely. If the Reds decided to go with players in-house, Chris Heisey, Todd Frazier, and Dave Sappelt will likely fill out the roster.

That would mean the 25-man, active roster will look like this on opening day:

– 12 pitchers (breakdown coming later this week)

– Infield: Votto, Phillips, Rolen, Cozart, Janish, Cairo

– Outfield: Bruce, Stubbs, Heisey, Sappelt, Frazier

– Catcher: Mesoraco, Hanigan

This would mean the “most common” 2012 lineup would probably look like this:

Heisey/Sappelt LF
Phillips 2B
Votto 1B
Bruce RF
Rolen 3B
Stubbs CF
Mesoraco C
Cozart SS

Very similar to 2011, but better. If Cozart can play a full season, he will most definitely be an upgrade at short. It seems likely that Rolen will be given more time off next years, which means Frazier could see some time at third along with left-field. Mesoraco could be moved up in the order once he “proves” to Dusty he can handle MLB pitching.

Unfortunately, this leaves Yonder Alonso off the team. Alonso’s only hope to crack the roster is at third base. If he is able to convince the decision makers that he is capable of playing adequate defense at third, the Reds could opt to release Cairo and give Alonso a spot on the bench, spelling Rolen occasionally. However, an off-season trade involving Alonso seems more likely.

What are your thoughts? Anyone I am forgetting?

 

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Tags: Baseball Cincinnati Reds Cincinnati Reds Roster MLB

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