Another Neglected Red

Earlier this afternoon I explored the case for Paul Janish, the shortstop who is outperforming Orlando Cabrera while the latter sits on the DL. Janish is one of many Reds bench players who has contributed to the team’s success this year. A few commenters in the post point out a couple of other bench players who might provide an upgrade if given more playing time.

The Reds outfield this year has been not so good. The three players with the most PA — Jonny Gomes, Jay Bruce, and Drew Stubbs — have wOBAs of .330, .322, and .319. Keeping Bruce and Stubbs in the outfield is understandable. They’re struggling, but they’re also young and considered part of the franchise’s future. Gomes might have the best wOBA among them, but he’s a year-to-year player at this point. In any case, his wOBA is heavily influenced by his torrid May, during which he produced a .445 wOBA. In the three months since he’s hit .304, .297, and .318.

Jim Edmonds was brought in to help, at least in a platoon with Gomes. He hasn’t hit too well since his move, but that’s a measly 15 PA sample. Chances are he’ll help fortify the outfield unit once he hits his stride. The Reds do have another guy who could help: rookie Chris Heisey. A 17th-round pick in 2002, Heisey has never been a highly regarded prospect despite quality minor league production. In 133 PA this season he’s produced a .381 wOBA. As in the case of Janish that’s likely unsustainable and could certainly drop when he’s exposed to regular playing time. But considering the way Gomes and Stubbs have hit there seems little risk in going with Edmonds, Heisey, and Bruce in the outfield on most days.

(And, if Dusty wanted to get cute he could platoon Gomes and Bruce.)

There was a mention in the comments, too, about the team’s catching situation. Ryan Hanigan and Ramon Hernandez have nearly identical wOBAs, so it shouldn’t come as much of a surprise that Hanigan has picked up a few more PA, especially of late. His season numbers, especially his .380 OBP, make an argument that he should see more time than Hernandez. But Hernandez has the edge in the power department, and his .359 OBP ranks seventh among NL catchers with at least 200 PA. Hanigan has also slumped since returning from a stint on the DL, producing a .258 wOBA in July and a .189 wOBA in August. Hernandez has a .361 wOBA in August, so if Dusty wants to stay with the hot hand he’ll give Hernandez more playing time.

This brings us to another interesting comment, that Dusty doesn’t want to mess with what’s working. There’s some merit to that, in that it sounds like a bad idea to piss off some key clubhouse guys. But I wonder what the on-field effect would be. That is, how would production suffer if a clubhouse presence like Cabrera were offended by Janish playing more often. Or if Gomes were upset over losing his spot to Heisey. If the aforementioned bench players can maintain their production when pressed into more regular duty, it would seem like they would help the team create more runs. At this point, in the middle of a pennant race, it seems like it’s at least worth a shot.

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Joe also writes about the Yankees at River Ave. Blues.

6 Responses to “Another Neglected Red”

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  1. Ryan D says:

    the catchers rotate depending on the language of the starting pitcher. since they’re both producing at the plate seems to be working well.

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  2. WY says:

    “(And, if Dusty wanted to get cute he could platoon Gomes and Bruce.)”

    Actually, Gomes has exclusively played LF this season (due to his poor defense), while Bruce has almost exclusively played RF this year (due to his strong throwing arm). Given that, they don’t seem to be likely platoon partners.

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  3. West says:

    “In Dusty we trusty!” god I hate Cub fans for starting that.

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  4. blackout says:

    Yeah, I think the *chemistry* question is the big one here. I do think that Cabrera may have to accept a back-up, or at least diminished, role when he returns. Janish is making the most of his opportunity right now.

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  5. CPops says:

    Gomes is giving the Reds average offensive production (.330 wOBA) while being a defensive train wreck. In left field, no less. There seems to be an assumption that Laynce Nix (or Heisey) will be the odd man out when Cabrera comes off the DL. I say, “Why not Gomes?” (Because his appearance and intensity make him a fan favorite)

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  6. RichardL says:

    These are all nice problems for the Reds when you have multi talented players vying for all positions. Bruce has been tinkered around the least even through his non-productive period and getting to become a streaky player. Similarly with Stubbs who cannot seem to be capable of handling his job daily. Having said that these players are young and perhaps their concentration wanders and a rest here and there is best to give them time to re-focus. Given the opportunity, Janish has performed well. I think he was ready but was caught surprised when the Reds brought in Cabrera. Competition is good because it keeps them on their feet to perform. When we made comparison, we need to keep an eye on the level of compensation for the players as well. Hernandez at $4 million and Hanigan at $400,000 is not being fairly compared to. When it comes time to evaluate, I am sure value is an important factor as well, especially when you have Mesoraco coming up.

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