|Hamilton is destined to be Cincy's leadoff|
man in the future, just not yet
Jerry Crasnick of ESPN.com recently published a pretty interesting read regarding the challenges facing the Reds and the St. Louis Cardinals this offseason. Since this is a blog dedicated to the Reds, and since no true Reds fan cares much for the Redbirds anyway, we're going to focus primarily on what Crasnick wrote about the reigning NL Central champs.
Keep in mind that the two biggest things on the agenda right now are acquiring a leadoff hitter and figuring out what to do with Aroldis Chapman. Here's a snippet from Crasnick's lengthy post:
After spending almost $300 million to sign Joey Votto and Phillips to long-term deals, the Reds aren't in the mix for free agents Michael Bourn or B.J. Upton -- and even Shane Victorino might be looking at a longer-term deal than Cincinnati would prefer. Jocketty said it's more likely the Reds will try to address their leadoff void through a trade for someone who can be a place-holder until Billy Hamilton arrives from the minors.
Who could that be? One name worth monitoring is Oakland's Coco Crisp. He's signed for $7 million in 2013 with a $7.5 million club option for 2014, and the A's have a surplus of outfielders with Yoenis Cespedes, Josh Reddick, Crisp, Seth Smith, Brandon Moss and the newly acquired Chris Young in the fold. As a side note, Jocketty was general manager in St. Louis when the Cardinals drafted Crisp in 1999, so he has some familiarity with him through the years. Oakland needs a shortstop, and the Reds have Cozart and prospect Didi Gregorius in the system. But it appears the Reds have no interest in trading Cozart, and the jury is out on whether Gregorius' bat will play in the big leagues.
Cubs outfielder David DeJesus, who has a .364 career OBP in the leadoff spot, also fits the description of an affordable short-term solution. He's signed for $4.25 million next season with a club option for 2014. But a source told ESPN.com that the Reds have yet to approach the Cubs about DeJesus, and Chicago most likely will hang on to him
Stubbs, 28, is an intriguing case. He's a skilled defensive center fielder with great speed and the ability to hit 25 home runs and steal 40 bases. But he hit a disappointing .213 with a .610 OPS and 166 strikeouts this year. And if he plans to stay in Cincinnati as an everyday player, he needs to resolve his troubling contact issues. Toward that end, Stubbs is working at his home in Texas this offseason with Ronnie Ortegon, a hitting instructor in the Cincinnati system.
"He's got everything you're looking for," Jocketty said of Stubbs. "He's a great center fielder, and he has the speed to make some things happen. But he's going to have to make some adjustments. I still believe he can. But to this point, he hasn't done that."
Bottom line: this team needs a more productive leadoff hitter in 2013 and beyond. I don't know if Crisp or DeJesus is the answer, but we definitely know that Stubbs is most certainly not. Look for the Reds to make some sort of move with respect to a No. 1 hitter this winter. It may not be a player who experts had on the radar, and the move may come in the most suprising of times, but you can take it to the bank that the club will do something.