Aug. 28, 2012; Phoenix, AZ, USA: Rolen against the Arizona Diamondbacks at Chase Field. (Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports)

The Scott Rolen ‘Spot’

Scott Rolen would be welcome back to the Cincinnati Reds. What he has provided for the Reds does go far beyond what his numbers indicate. As far as playing time, it’s a safe bet his role would be different from what he has filled in the past. In fact, according to John Fay, it’s a given. Here’s what Reds GM Walt Jocketty told Fay regarding a potential Rolen return.

“I think you have to at least consider it. At the end of the season, I told him if he did come back it would be in a different role. But he’s been so important to our success the last couple of years. He’s been an instrumental part of our club. If he wants to play, we have to see if we can work something out to his satisfaction as well as ours.”

That’s even more of a dilemma now with the signing of Jack Hannahan and the hiring of Ronnie Ortegon as the Reds assistant hitting coach, a role some feel would have been perfect for Rolen. After the signings and deals, the Reds roster is a bit tight.

Votto Cueto Broxton Mesoraco
Phillips Latos Marshall Heisey
Cozart Bailey LeCure Paul
Frazier Arroyo Simon Hannahan
Ludwick Leake Arredondo Donald
Choo Chapman Redmond  
Bruce   Hoover  
Hanigan   Ondrusek  

That’s 28 players…for 25 spots. Exactly where could the Reds even find a spot for Rolen? Even if I remove Nick Masset from this list (which is quite possible since he is recovering from surgery and hopes to be throwing off a mound by Spring Training), that still leaves 27 for 25…and that “move” does not free up a bench position.

You have to remove one of the bench players…and who would that be?

Can’t be Devin Mesoraco as he’s the backup catcher (on paper, that is). Can’t be Chris Heisey as he plays all three outfield positions and looks to see an increased defensive role for 2013. Can’t be Hannahan. Why give a guy a two-year deal (or any deal) if this is the case?

That leaves two: Xavier Paul or Jason Donald…and I don’t care for the prospects of not having either on the 25-man. Paul might not be the choice as Dusty loves having multiple lefty bats at his disposal. With Paul and Hannahan, Dusty has that. Donald has even more defensive flexibility than Paul, Hannahan and Heisey as he can play multiple infield and outfield positions. Well, he did last season.

In other words, you’ve already constructed a bench that is armed with two lefty bats and with the exception of Mesoraco, has extreme defensive flexibility. Kind of reminds me a little bit of what Joe Maddon has in Tampa. Not on that level, but it’s building.

Even with Donald posting a triple slash of .202/.246/.282 last season, it is still an overall offensive upgrade over Wilson Valdez (.206/.236/.227) and Miguel Cairo (.187/.212/.280). With Rolen being limited to only one defensive position, how can this be a fit on this roster?

I honestly can’t see it, can you?

And it pains me to have that as my answer.

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Tags: Cincinnati Reds Scott Rolen

  • beeker

    Spot on, Steve. There are already 13 position players on the list without Rolen. Adding Rolen means either cutting 4 guys from the bullpen and living with only 11 pitchers [should not, can not, will not happen], or sending Donald to the minors so that Rolen can ride the bench.

    It stinks to see things come to this for a guy like Rolen. A guy of his caliber ought to go out on his own terms, not being told “No thanks”. But part of that is knowing when the time has come. Pennants aren’t won on nostalgia. On the flip side, though, finding a place anywhere in the organization for gifted players is wise. Any shot we see a new position created… assistant “hot corner” coach? :)

    • Steve O’Red

      Agree. beeker. As I said in my last line, hate that I feel this way about such a great person and player. If they can find any role for him other than playing, I am 100% on board with it.

  • mfdesquire

    Option One: Trade Paul (or offer him a minor-league contract, which I doubt he will accept). I think you could leave the X-man off the roster pretty easily. Frazier and Donald can both play the outfield, and Hannahan provides a lefty off the bench.

    Option Two: Trade Donald (or persuade him to accept assignment to Louisville, which he might do). Leaving Donald off the roster is a little tougher, but if Cozart and Phillips are going to play pretty much every day, then Hannahan can serve as the emergency backup (he’s played SS and 2B), and if someone gets hurt, then you call up Donald (if he accepts the minor-league deal) or Henry Rodriguez or deal for a glove guy (a la Janish).

    Option Three: Option Hannahan (he has one left, I think).

    Personally, I would try to get Donald to accept an assignment to Louisville and stash him there in case Cozart or Phillips gets hurt.

    • Steve O’Red

      So you’re in the same boat as LetsGoReds4…you give Rolen a spot?

  • LetsGoReds4

    You forgot to mention that Dusty is obsessed (for good reason) with having a true SS on the bench. That means Donald isn’t going anywhere. The way it looks now is that the last spot will come down to Heisey or Paul, since 5 outfielders plus the versatile Donald is a little too much. That is very unfortunate since both guys are solid bench players, but it is a good problem to have. If Masset is healthy, that might mean the end of Simon for now, but I’m sure he will stick around in the minors in case Hoover struggles or Masset goes down again.

    • Steve O’Red

      So you give Rolen a spot? That’s what I take away from this.

  • Just some guy

    Simon is listed twice under relievers. Not sure if that was part of your calculations.

    • Steve O’Red

      Thanks for the catch on the duplication of Simon. Didn’t hurt my calculation, but did take away a sentence or two about Todd Redmond…I know, off the 25-man. That’s what I get for going away from my freehand version…smh

  • metalhead65

    with the history of injury with masset why does simon have to be the one to go? and as far as rolen I say it’s over and thanks for the memories. besides if he is on the team he will be the starter and cleanup hitter the first time Frazier has a ofer as long as dusty is in charge. he can’t help himself look at what happened last year when rolen was able to walk without using his walker. Frazier was benched and how did that work out for the reds in the playoffs?