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