February 25, 2007

I’ve Got A Bad Feeling About This

In Sunday's Reds' Notebook in The Enquirer, the first sentence concerns Jeff Conine.

Jeff Conine is Jerry Narron's kind of ballplayer. He plays hard. He plays the right way.

Now I'm all for baseball players that play hard, smart, and to the fullest of their abilities. But why does this statement scare me so much?

Are we doomed to another year of Encarnación being blocked because of an older player who knew how to play the game right?

18 comments to “I’ve Got A Bad Feeling About This”

  1. smartelf says:

    It won’t be Encarnacion, since Conine only plays 1B and corner outfield. On the depth chart he is listed as Hatteberg’s back up and Freel’s back up. I wouldn’t worry too much about it. No, I am pretty sure Encarnacion is expected to be the heart of the offense and is a lock for everyday playing time and batting clean up or thereabouts.

  2. smartelf says:

    I think the point of this statement is that Narron stresses fundamentals and playing the game the right way… a veteran guy like Conine knows all the fundamentals… If you have a roster of all young players fresh out of the minors you have to do a lot of tutoring throughout the season, so guys like Randa, Aurilia, hatteberg, Conine sort of flesh out your roster and help teach the younger guys by example. I have no problems with this type of thinking, it has worked and most championship teams have a blend of youth and veteran presence.

  3. BubbaFan says:

    Agree with Smartelf. I think Conine will get a lot of playing time, but not at Encarnacion’s expense. If anything, it will be at the OFers’ expense: Crosby, Denorfia, Hopper, Hamilton, etc. Note that the depth chart shows Conine as the first backup for both corner OF spots.

    I’d rather he play 1B than OF. Judging from his BP “rate,” he’s a worse OFer than the 2006 version of Bernie Williams. As you might expect, given his age. OTOH, you don’t pay a guy $2 million to sit on the bench, so I think we’ll see a lot of him in the outfield.

  4. smartelf says:

    Well, I am hoping they use him as they did Aurilia, which would be a platoon with Hatteberg and as a PH in crucial situations… unfortunately I think he may get outfield time as well, and he is probably the worst defensive option of the group you mentioned… so I’d rather see him in late situations, but if he is gonna get some starts out there, hopefully they make some defensive switches with a lead. We’ll have to see how it unfolds. I don’t mind the veteran presence though.

  5. Zeldink says:

    If Conine only platoons with Hatteberg, I’ll be okay with that. But I think you underestimate Narron’s willingness to play people in positions they haven’t before. I don’t believe Aurilia had experience at 1B, 2B, or 3B before he was used there, either.

  6. BubbaFan says:

    According to [url=http://www.baseballprospectus.com/dt/aurilri01.php]Baseball Prospectus[/url], Aurilia played 1B, 2B, 3B, and SS before coming to Cincinnati. He hadn’t played much 1B, but 1B is the easiest position to play. Most players who can handle 2B and 3B have no problem with 1B, so moving him there was not a big deal.

    Conine has played some 3B, but he hasn’t had serious time there since 2000. 3B is much more difficult to play than 1B. I really don’t see him being used there except in a “break glass in case of emergency” type deal.

  7. BubbaFan says:

    Hmmm. I still don’t think Conine will be playing 3B. But…[url=http://cincinnati.reds.mlb.com/news/article.jsp?ymd=20070226&content_id=1816891&vkey=news_cin&fext=.jsp&c_id=cin]Narron[/url] apparently said something today about possibly moving Freel back to the infield. I assume that means Conine would be the starting RFer. But where would Freel play then?

  8. smartelf says:

    Nah, Narron just meant Freel is the primary back up at 2B and 3B so when guys get rested he MIGHT get a day in the infield, which means Conine probably plays RF on those days, unless Trammell or Denorfia impresses. I am still not too worried about it. If a guy is producing Jerry won’t bench him unless he really requires a day off (i.e. Griffey gets rested a lot).

  9. smartelf says:

    Jesus, I said Trammell again. Someone shoot me.

  10. BubbaFan says:

    But Narron said he’d carry a sixth OFer if Freel got moved back to the infield. That doesn’t sound like a “might get a day in the infield” situation.

  11. smartelf says:

    Well, I think he means if Phillips or Encarnacion go down for an extended time with an injury… then Freel moves to infield opening up a need for another outfielder.

  12. BubbaFan says:

    Look at how AP is reporting it:

    [url=http://www.fortwayne.com/mld/newssentinel/sports/16789182.htm]Reds may start season with six outfielders[/url]

  13. smartelf says:

    AP is probably the most uninformed of all the reporting… you have to look at the Reds own beat riders for guys in the loop. Narron just got quoted today that Freel is an everyday player in his mind, and for now he is the right fielder.

    I am 99.9% certain he does not get moved to the infield unless there is an injury, except maybe to give a guy a day off for rest.

  14. smartelf says:

    sorry I meant BEAT WRITERS

  15. BubbaFan says:

    Well, I would rather have Freel in the OF than Conine, that’s for sure.

    Though having only Conine and Hamilton as backups when Dunn, Freel, and Griffey are the starters doesn’t seem prudent. Perhaps that’s what the six outfielders thing is about.

  16. smartelf says:

    EXACTLY, you got it. I’d rather carry 6 Outfielders than 3 catchers, especially since Hatteberg isn’t that far removed from playing catcher..he can serve as emergency catcher IMO.

  17. Zeldink says:

    [url=http://news.enquirer.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20070227/SPT04/702270327/1071]This is promising[/url]. Freel predominantly in the outfield, and some combination of Crosby, Denorfia, or Hopper to spell him.

    Hopefully, that means Conine won’t be out there much, if at all. Keep him at first, and I’ll be okay with things.

  18. BubbaFan says:

    [url=http://news.cincypost.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20070227/SPT05/702270337]Lonnie Wheeler[/url] said something similar in his blog.

    Interestingly, he thinks the handwriting is on the wall: Griffey will be moving to RF. And he doesn’t think Freel is able or willing to be the everyday CFer. Conine is probably out the question for CF. Which will probably mean either Crosby or Denorfia will spell Freel. Unless Hopper or Hamilton really impress in spring training.