Making a Case

With Opening Day a mere 15 days away, the Reds brass has a few more tough decisions to consider. Starter, bullpen, extra outfielder, extra infielder. What must a player do to head to Cincy for Game 1? Again, tough choices. Tough in that there are a number of players that have performed maybe a little better than we thought. Maybe even better than Dusty Baker and Waly Jocketty thought as well.

I honestly can’t remember so many guys putting their names in the mix for a roster spot. And we all thought the starting rotation would be a tough gig to get. It is seriously like that all over the roster.

Well, if you’re some these guys, you can only hope you made the proper impression.

Jeremy Hermida
There was a little pomp upon his signing a minor league deal during the winter. At one time, Hermida was considered as an everyday MLB player. Somehow, that vanished. He went from Florida to Boston to Oakland. The A’s cut him loose after the 2010 season, and the Reds may have stumbled over some treasure here. For the spring, Hermida has 2 HR, 3 RBI and has posted blistering splits of .350/.500/.600. To go along with those numbers, he’s walked 6 times and struck out 5. The defense has been a tad suspect, but during Hermida’s MLB career he played in right in over 80% of his games.

His competition is Chris Heisey, who after getting off to a slow start is now in stride, and Fred Lewis. If the Reds decide to carry five outfielders (a move that may surprise a person or two), I would think Hermida has an excellent chance, even over Lewis. Lewis? He was signed for his speed and OBP, right? 0 SB and 3 CS and an OBP of .250.

And one day, maybe even this season, we’ll see Dave Sappelt.

Chris Valaika
We talk about how it appears Mike Leake is the odd man out for the starting staff, but what about Valaika? The Reds brought in Edgar Renteria and re-signed Miguel Cairo. All Valaika has done this spring is hit and hit some more. A homer and 4 RBI and his splits of .400/.444/.500 are simply wonderful to see. He’s second to Dave Sappelt (12) in hits with 10.

Talk about a guy with lots of competition, he has to battle it out with Yonder Alonso and Juan Francisco, too? Alonso has been no slouch this spring while Francisco has struggled. Valaika has made a case for his inclusion.

Devin Mesoraco
If there was ever a case for having three catchers on the big league roster, Mesoraco has clearly made that case. He’s been getting a ton of looks from Baker and all Mesoraco has done is perform (1 HR, 3 RBI, .400/.429/.550). But it’s not been just his bat that has impressed all of those in the Reds camp. The pitchers love to have him behind the plate. Ask Daryl Thompason (via’s Mark Sheldon):

“From the first time he caught me, I didn’t have a problem with it at all, as far as pitch calling and selection,” said pitcher Daryl Thompson, who worked with Mesoraco at Double-A, Triple-A and the Arizona Fall League last season. “I like having him back there. He’s really improved a whole lot, not saying he was bad before. He’s good. He’s caught me twice since I’ve been down here and he’s looking good. You can tell he’s improved since last year, even after the Fall League. Everything was good. I can’t complain about anything.”

Another factor in Mesoraco’s development will be that he will have the luxury of working with Corky Miller in Louisville. That would be a brain to pick. While there’s no chance that three catchers will make the final roster, Mesoraco has made a point this spring. He is what we thought he was when he was drafted.

Matt Maloney
If the Reds weren’t already so deep with starters, you would think Maloney had sewn up a spot with the spring he’s having. Talk about a victim of a numbers game. In his nine innings of work, he’s allowed only six hits and one walk. His 8 SO trails only Travis Wood and Sam LeCure for the team lead (9).

Sam LeCure
LeCure is in line for the long relief role. It’s one he seemed to grasp at the end of last season and performed well. This spring has been no different either. Seven inning with nary a run against him. Oh, and he does lead the team in SO as previously mentioned. LeCure has an excellent shot at landing the role of long relief should one of the three that don’t sang a starters spot being in Louisville.

(Note: Apparently, John Fay feels the same of LeCure as I do. Fay posted at around 6:30 PM ET about how LeCure is making life a little difficult among the Reds brass.)

No one ever said making the final cuts was an easy task, but these guys, even if they don’t make those cuts, have given us all something think about going forward.