The Reds were up 8 games in the Central on September 1, 2010. They had the luxury of calling up players at a deliberate pace and they also had more depth from which to pull than this year's squad. That year, they initially called up Yonder Alonso, Corky Miller and Carlos Fisher (Chris Valaika and Juan Francisco were already with the team). Matt Maloney came up a little later and Jared Burton was activated from the DL mid-month.
Despite the advantage of a sizeable lead and superior in-house talent, the strategy is about the same then and now. On a contending team, any difference-maker in the high-minors is already up. You're looking for role-players and arm-savers: pinch hitters, relief specialists, late inning defensive replacements, maybe even a spot-starter.
There's been some recent chatter about Billy Hamilton getting the call. While no baseball fan with any joy in their heart could possibly be against this, I can't see the Reds putting him in the field while the division title is still in question. So he'd probably be most a pinch-runner. Which would be totally fresh. But they may not want to put him on the 40-man roster just for that.
So mostly, you're looking to see if there's anyone halfway decent on the 40-man roster. Or anyone you can boot off for someone else (it's currently full).
I've grouped them in three categories (after the jump):
A few notes:
- Unless I'm wrong, Kris Negron could be moved to the 60-day DL in September to open up a roster spot. That could clear the way for Masset or Hamilton.
- I couldn't find a change in the most recent CBA, so I'm going to assume September callups can still be eligible for the playoffs through the back-door as in past seasons. Hoover, for instance, could "take the place of" Masset, Bray (if moved to 60-day DL) or Madson.
J.J. Hoover (on 40-man) - J-Hoovah has already been up, performed well and then went back to Louisville to put up almost Chapmanian numbers. Barring an injury, he's the first in.
Dioner Navarro (40) - D-Nar didn't have a very impressive stint filling in from Mesoraco, but he's done good work at AAA. Besides Hanigan and Meso, he's currently the only other catcher on the 40-man. it might ruffle some 'staches, but he's likely to get the call over Corky.
Todd Redmond (40) - After the Fab Five, Redmond is the top starter on the depth chart. Even if he bombs in his MLB debut this weekend, he should be up in early September.
Didi Gregorius (40) - There's a very strong argument to be made that both Didi's glove and bat would play better in the majors at SS, right now, than those of Wilson Valdez.
The less likely
* Nick Masset (not on 40-man) - Masset isn't a "call-up" per se, but activating him from the 60-day DL is made easier in September (if he's ready), as the Reds won't have send someone down.
Pedro Villareal - He's really the only other starter besides Redmond that the Reds have at their immediate disposal. He could eat some low-leverage innings down the stretch.
Neftali Soto - His call-up might depend on how Joey Votto is progressing at the end of this month.
Henry Rodriguez & Chris Valaika - Neither are doing much offensively, but they do play multiple infield positions. It's more than most of us can say.
The possible surprises
Billy Hamilton (not on 40-man) - The consideration for Hamilton wouldn't be service time as much as parking him on the 40-man roster prematurely. That would get especially tricky if Nick Masset takes a spot.
Kyle Lotzkar (40) - Depending on what you think of Corcino and Cingrani's ceilings, Lotzkar could still be the most talented pitcher in the upper minors for the Reds. If he's called up, either something very bad has happened - or the Reds are having a little bit of fun.