Thursday, April 19, 2007

Josh Hamilton it too early to order my #33 Josh Hamilton jersey? The Reds are 4-1 when he starts a game this year, and his impact thus far has caused enough of a stir that newly re-signed CF Ryan Freel began taking ground balls in the infield early last week without being asked to do so.

"I know that for the Reds' sake, for our team, you've got to have that guy's bat in the lineup," Freel said Tuesday to someone other than my blogging punkass. "I'm not going to hit 30 home runs. I know there's people still questioning (Hamilton), saying, 'Let's see how this pans out.' This kid's ready."

Not sure about other Cincinnati fans, but when your resident alcoholic goes out to reassure faith in a former drug addict / alcoholic, that's speaking from experience and carries a little bit of weight with me.

Hamilton's carnage so far:

This does bring up an interesting situation - what happens to the lineup if Hamilton produces throughout the season as he appears capable of doing? The Reds are high on infield prospects Brandon Phillips and Edwin Encarnacion, and they obviously have 7 million reasons to get Freel into the lineup as often as his style of play permits. Alex Gonzalez is an incredibly streaky hitter, however his defense is the epitomy of what new GM Wayne Krivsky emphasizes in pitching and defense. So what's the Reds next move? Thank Xenu the internet gives the faceless internet the ability to solve life's most important problems.

Edwin Encarnacion is the type of player that's going to play every day, and while doing so he's going to drive in a lot of runs. Despite his early struggles, he's still going to be in the lineup against both RHP & LHP - and on top of that he also provides that outstanding bat that breaks up Adam Dunn and Ken Griffey Jr. in the lineup (I say this on the assumption that manager Jerry Narron sticks with a lineup eventually) that will benefit by seeing a lot of hitter's pitches. Gonzalez will in the least prevent a midseason switch of Phillips to SS as was rumored prior to signing Alex, which leaves first base. Currently the Reds are platooning Scott Hatteberg against RHP and Jeff Conine against LHP, which is working out well as Conine has started on fire and Hatteberg is still working counts and producing by hitting pitches in favorable counts.

So what's the answer?

Ehh, we don't have one. Encarnacion has been rumored (I may have started the rumor in a sewing circle that may not have made its way out of my hometown yet) to be a candidate to move to 1B, however a midseason switch on a young player doesn't usually turn out too well. Alongside that, Joey Votto is coming off a season in which he hit .319/.408/.547 with 22 HR's and 77 RBI's in AA and has started the season in AAA to work on his "defense" (despite Narron saying he was impressed with a few plays Votto made in the spring). What's going to happen is Freel is going to dart around the field spelling various people for days off, take a few days off himself because of his "wreckless style" (which I still don't buy), and as much as I hate to say it, this entire lineup snafu is going to go on until Griffey comes up lame jogging out a ground ball.

All for this guy:


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