Wednesday, July 25, 2012

5 players who could solve Cincinnati's struggles at the leadoff spot

Anyone who has followed the Reds at all this season is well aware of the team's lack of production out of the leadoff spot. Entering play on Tuesday, Reds leadoff hitters ranked dead last in the National League in average (.202) and on-base percentage (.248), and second-to-last in slugging (.308), OPS (.557), total bases (128) and RBI (19). Those are very unpleasant numbers for a team looking to make a deep run in the postseason. And in order to do that, they must improve upon setting the table for their run-producers. This means addressing arguably their biggest weakness at the moment: the one-hole.

Despite repeated attempts at shuffling the man at the top, the combination of Drew Stubbs, Zack Cozart and others have failed to get the job done, statistically-speaking of course. Cozart has had the most at-bats there of anyone by far (286), but has only produced a a slash line of .217/.259/.360. Stubbs hasn't fared much better in his 57 ABs in the leadoff slot either. He is currently sporting a dismal line of .158/.226/.175. With no real options to turn to internally, the club may have to take a hard look around the league for an external solution. Mainly, pulling the trigger on a deal before the July 31st trade deadline.

With that in mind, here are five players the Reds should consider to help address the leadoff spot:

Juan Pierre OF (PHI)
+ At age 34, the 13-year veteran continues to produce. He's boasting a .305/.346/.370 line with 23 stolen bases this season at a bargain cost of $800k. That means a chunk of change around $350k would secure his services for the remainder of the campaign. He brings speed, playoff experience, and good defense to the table. In my opinion, Pierre should be the Reds' main priority of the five.

Shane Victorino OF (PHI)
+ The switch-hitting 31-year old is is currently playing on a last-place team with virtually no shot of making the playoffs. The "Flyin' Hawaiian's" experience and career .342 OBP (.316 in '12) would be a welcome addition to Cincinnati. The main deterrent in trying to acquire Victorino is the roughly $4.25MM in salary he is owed for the remainder of 2012.

Denard Span OF (MIN)
+ Span is having a great year (.280 BA/.344 OBP) for a team that's definitely looking to sell at the deadline. The Twins want prospects to help in their rebuilding process and that demand may be worth it given Span's value. The left-hander is under contract through 2015 at a modest price and could remain with the team who trades for him beyond 2012.

David DeJesus OF (CHC)
+ If GM Walt Jocketty is looking for a guy who gets on base, you can't go wrong with DeJesus. The 32-year old is getting on base at a clip of .353 this year and can play any of the three outfield positions. He won't give you much pop (2 HR, 23 RBI), but the Reds shouldn't need that as long as others are doing their job.

Coco Crisp OF (OAK)
+ If I had a nickel for every time Crisp's name was linked to the Reds, I'd have a lot of nickels. The 32-year old isn't setting the world on fire (.248 BA, .309 OBP) and the A's aren't exactly in a position to sell (51-44), however, you can never rule out a deal as long as Billy Beane is at the helm. I'd rather not see the Reds pursue Crisp, but stranger things have happened before.

San Diego's Carlos Quentin would have topped this list a week ago, but his recent 3yr/$27MM extension with the Padres pretty much eliminated any chance that they would trade him. Yes, I know he wouldn't have solved the problem at leadoff, but having his bat in the middle of the lineup may have been more beneficial than acquiring any of the five guys above.

So, tell me what you think. Who would you like to see the Reds go after, or is there a player I didn't include that you feel would be a better fit? Drop a line in the comment section below.

1 comment:

Nathan Owens said...

I would love to get Span as a long term player for this club. Though he would cost a lot in return. The Pierre trade is a good short term rental & shouldn't cost too much. The player I would love to have is Hunter Pence. I would love to have for the next couple of years splitting Votto & Bruce up in the 4 hole. This would move BP to the 2 hole, which would be a good move. I realize the Pence move would cost players & lots of $, but this would be a solid 2 through 5 part of lineup... dangerous. Fun stuff to think about.