I still think of getting to second base as an achievement, but on this series of posts it means we're only 30% of the way there. Here's another no-think-em: Brandon Phillips is coming off a career year, with 4 of his last 6 seasons posting appearances of 150 games or more. He's not invincible, but most of the trends look promising for Phillips. He's increased his OBP every year since 2008 and held his walk-rate steady while making the second and third most season plate appearance of his career during the last two seasons.
We should pause and appreciate the fact that, on the merits of 2011 performance at least, the Reds probably have the best right side of the infield in the National League, complete with dueling Gold Gloves.
What makes this one difficult is the "BU/S" column, which is meant to indicate what role a player would take if they found themselves at the top of the chart this season. Back-ups would be leapfrogged by starters if Brandon Phillips went on the DL, but I'm not sure exactly who's who. One of the consequences of playing to win this season is a frightening lack of depth at some positions.
Phillips' defense is still elite, but he should be careful how acrobatic he gets out there. Miguel Cairo could be an acceptable stopgap replacement - this is the position where he has the most experience and arguably fields the best - but the drop-off is still pretty sizable if something unthinkable should happen. Don't let it.
|| 40 man?
||Zips projected OPS+
||S/BU?||PT (%)||Expected level on OD 2012
Ceiling: 99% of MLB starts
BP may have lost a step on the basepaths, at least from a stolen base standpoint: his lowest SB total of his career since becoming a fulltime player came last season, along with an abysmal 61% success rate. But pretty much every other trend for BP has been positive. I don't expect him to fall off a cliff just because he's 31, though if he does fall off something and injure himself, he may not recover the way he has from minor scrapes and beanball in seasons past.
BP has recorded at least 500 professional PAs in every season since being a teenager in the Expos system 11 years a go. He's decidedly more durable than the vast majority of players at demanding positions.
2012 ceiling: 60% of MLB starts
Cairo is a much more acceptable back-up at 2B than 1B.
Previously: "(Cairo)'s proven to be a fine wine: stored in a bottle between innings, people like to say pretentious things about him and two of his three best seasons have been played in Cincinnati since joining as a minor league invite in 2010 as a 36-year-old. Last year, he hit a career high 8 HRs while filling in at 3B, 2B and 1B.
After the uniquely parabolic career arc Cairo has sketched, it's hard to say whether he has another year of being a model utility infielder left. He's honed his craft over 16 seasons and seems healthy, so think another solid 250 PAs are perfectly reasonable"
2012 ceiling: 20% of MLB starts
Though he's a LIDR-type at this stage of his career, he's arguably a better overall infield defender than Cairo. A lot of that comes pinned to his cannon of an arm, so the two might be more evenly-matched defensively at 2B - in which case, advantage: Cairo. Valdez put in most of his time as a Philly last season playing 2B, including 33 starts in Chase Utley's absence, so it's not hard to imagine he'd be used as a starter or co-starter (with Cairo) if BP went down.
2012 ceiling: 10% of MLB starts
Valaika sustained an ACL tear in mid-August of last year that sidelined him for the season. His health is up-in-the-air - and he's probably no longer a viable permanent replacement for BP - but he has (surprisingly) played over 80 MLB innings at 2B. He's both major-league ready and has some youth and upside to spare.
2012 ceiling: 5% of MLB starts
We've said a lot about Frazier already. Recent history says he's no longer a 2B, as he's played less time there with each passing season of his professional career. But if the Reds want the shortest step down from BP offensively and can settle for mediocre defense, Frazier might be the best replacement here. I would take his bat in 2012 over any other back-up here, though Cairo's defense might give him a slight advantage in overall value at the position.
2012 ceiling: 5% of MLB starts
It's not clear whether Harris will be around past the Spring, but if the Reds see some injuries or trading of bench players, he could easily find himself in the super-utility role.
2012 ceiling: 1% of MLB starts
Things are not coming up Janish right now. Even his old role as back-up middle infielder/junior equipment manager is blocked. With an option to burn, Janish is due to start the season in AAA. He's arguably the slickest fielder of anyone other than BP - and a relatively known quantity - so if he finds his way back onto the team, he could see a few innings at 2B.
2012 ceiling: 0% of MLB starts
This will be H-Rod's sixth season in the Reds' organization, but he's only 22 and has yet to play a game of AAA ball. With Torreyes gone to play Win Epstein's Money, Rodriguez is the undisputed heir to BP's thrown. 2013 is the earliest we'll see him there, but he's worth book-ending the list as a player with a future at the position.