Frazier offers congrats to BP after a Phillips homer against his former club. (Frank Victores-US PRESSWIRE)

The Utility Player: Dusty and Derek, Frazier (Of Course), BP!

So the big “deal” surrounding the recently completed Indians-Reds series (and the battle for the Ohio Cup) is this fluff between Indians pitcher Derek Lowe and Reds skipper Dusty Baker. Now, neither will completely divulge the reasons behind their loving feelings toward one another, but Lowe was the first to speak about it…and Dusty would not get caught up in the Lowe’s wake.

Well, not initially.

Here’s the extremely quick version. Lowe has no respect for Dusty. The feeling is mutual. According to Lowe, it revolves around something during Lowe’s final year as a Dodger (2008). Whatever “that” was, both are somewhat mum on it. Dusty admitted he told Mat Latos to “buzz” Lowe. When this occurred, Lowe pointed at Dusty (with his bat, no less) and Dusty pulled a Mutombo by waving his finger at Lowe. Latos responded that had he wanted, he could have hit Lowe.

Differing thoughts as some speculation leans toward a time when Lowe, then a member of the Atlanta Braves, hit Joey Votto in 2009. Other speculation is of an extremely personal nature than that of a simple HBP. Lowe said he has no respect for Baker. Baker says he could care less as there are many that don’t respect him. Whatever ax there is for the two to grind, Baker has not wanted that to become public. Since Lowe had initially brought up the issue after Wednesday night’s game, Dusty indeed responded yesterday.

“You go ask him, since he made it public. Go ask him what he did,” Baker said. “The word was that whatever he did and said, there was probably a good chance he was drinking at the ballpark at that time … so he doesn’t remember what he said or what he did, OK?”

– Dusty on Derek Lowe (via mlb.com)

Harsh response from Dusty. Lowe obviously pressed a button as this is an unusual response from Dusty.

After hearing of Baker’s retort, Lowe was asked about the comment. Lowe refused to answer any more questions about the matter.

Lowe is currently slated to be the starter on Monday night when the Reds visit Progressive Field. Ironically enough, Latos will be on the bump for the Good Guys. Lowe won’t be using a bat this time around as AL rules dictate a DH to be used for the series. He can plunk all he wants until a warning is issued. If I’m the crew chief for this series, I tell both teams before the first pitch is even delivered that any shenanigans will not be tolerated. Since Lowe will not be batting, there’s no cause or reason to let this escalate any more than it has. Let Dusty and Derek settle this, not their teams.

And one last thing…if you’re calling for a brawl between the teams, and I read far more than one tweet (from both “sides”) calling for this crap, you seriously need to get a grip on your mental faculties. This is baseball. The sport does not benefit from bench clearing action. Ever.

Our fave, Todd Frazier

Todd Frazier is emerging as a fan favorite. You’ve probably noticed that. Hold on a second…

SOMEONE NEEDS TO DO A TODDFATHER SHIRT!!!

Okay. Now, take a look at this…

Year G PA AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI SB CS BB SO BA OBP SLG TB
2011 41 121 112 17 26 5 0 6 15 1 0 7 27 .232 .289 .438 49
2012 41 132 121 14 33 10 3 7 22 1 1 9 34 .273 .326 .579 70
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 6/15/2012.

No doubt Frazier is flourishing as a “substitute” in the absence of Scott Rolen. It was bantered that Frazier could be in the mix for left field once Rolen returns. Does it even needs to be considered?

I know Rolen means a lot to this team from a leadership standpoint, but the Good Guys are finally getting production for the position. In looking at how 3B produced last season, the Reds split for 3B looked like this (with NL ranks):

.243 (12th)/.294 (13th)/.397 (6th) with 77 runs scored (T5), 16 HR (T5) and 84 RBI (6th).

Not bad, not great either. A definitive improvement is warranted. Here’s what 3B production looks like so far in 2012.

.192 (16th)/.249 (16th)/.383 (10th) with 24 runs (14th), 9 HR (T5) and 30 RBI (T8).

Ugh. That looks far less promising and productive than the 2011 numbers. All is not lost. Here’s Frazier contributions to those 3B numbers.

.243/.298/.523 with 14 runs, 7 HR and 19 RBI. The BA and OBP are right on with what the 3B supplied last year, but the difference in SLG is simply alarming. Rolen hit the disabled list on May 12 and is due back on June 18th (roughly).

Since that time (May 12), Frazier has produced a slash of .253/.299/.535 with 6 of his 7 HR and 19 of his 22 RBI. He’s also scored 13 of his 14 runs. The only downside is the number of strikeouts and the number of walks. We know the ToddFather doesn’t possess the defensive prowess of Rolen, but I think the trade off isn’t as steep as believed. We see a glove (usually that of Wilson Valdez) enter a game if it’s a tight situation.

Rolen will rehab in Louisville for a couple of games starting tonight.

Granted, Rolen had surgery and also missed a fair portion of 2011. The Reds used seven different players at that position last season. Seven, including Frazier.  Getting the playing time has gotten Frazier’s bat moving in a positive direction. Why stem that positive production (positive in comparison to last year’s 3B) with a “benching” or even limiting Frazier’s playing time? Sure, he could fall off due to fatigue, but then you have that vet at your disposal should that event occur.

With the obvious sight of the Reds owning a weak bench, you could enhance it with a veteran bat even though it hasn’t been it’s normal self. If Rolen can produce at the plate, then we have issues as we all know where that will lead.

BP against his former club

I doubt there’s a person on earth that would dispute that Brandon Phillips gets up for series any against the Indians. In his career in facing the organization that decided he was only worth a Jeff Stevens, BP has posted a slash of .356/.395/.577 with 9 HR and 30 RBI. He’s also scored 31 runs in 38 games against the Tribe.

Well, the Gold Glover pounded Cleveland this time around. He was 8-for-13 (.615) in 14 plate appearances with 2 HR and 7 RBI. He scored three times as well. Well, he drove himself in twice. And we saw the usual array of defensive plays that makes BP arguably the best second sacker in baseball.

Jeff Stevens, you ask? Where’s he at now? He’s now at Triple-A Buffalo in the Nets organization. Last season, Stevens was in the Cubs organization and even made four appearances for the Cubs. When Stevens was finally named as the PTBNL, he was in Dayton. A Low-A guy for an MLB player hardly seems far especially since we’re using our 20-20 goggles. Seems like the Indians dealt BP a slap in the face far greater than any slap he stated the Reds delivered.

Yes, possibly the best trade the Reds ever made.

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Tags: Baseball Brandon Phillips Cincinnati Reds Cleveland Indians Derek Lowe Dusty Baker MLB Todd Frazier

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