March 14, 2007

A Case for Griffey to Spot Start and primarly Pinch Hit

I really like what we are getting out of Bubba Crosby and Josh Hamilton in the pre-season. Either one of them OR Freel are superior to Griffey defensively in the all important CF position. We've all heard the cliche that it is imperative to be strong defensively up the middle, and all that is lacking right now is superb defense in CF. Griffey isn't bad, mind you, but he is a step slower and any acrobatic catch has a significant chance of resulting in injury. He does us no good nursing an injury.

Griffey's best moments last year, if you recall, were in dramatic game-changing at-bats. He hit a game winning home run, a game winning double, game tying homeruns, etc. He would be the best LF pinch hitter in the league and you pick his spot when he can change a game's outcome, i.e. runners on late in the game. I would certainly give him some spot starts, especially when favorable pitching match ups arise and we feel we can slug it out rather than scratch it out with small ball.

So I prefer the strategy of utilizing Junior as a PH and spot starter. He may not like it, but his body has betrayed him time and time again and at his age and with his history this is the only way to make sure he is around for a stretch drive and into the post season. He's already off to a slow start, and in my opinion the writing is on the wall. If Hamilton and Crosby both struggle we can re-think the strategy, but in my mind this is the best approach.

My lineup would look something like this:

CF Freel
2B Phillips
LF Dunn
3B Encarnacion
RF Hamilton
1B Hatteberg
C Ross

Crosby would replace Freel when Ryan needs a break or when he needs to play infield.

8 comments to “A Case for Griffey to Spot Start and primarly Pinch Hit”

  1. Red Hot Mama says:

    Good points, smartelf.

    The performances from Crosby and Hamilton have been eye-openers about the kind of outfield the Reds *could* have. Hopefully Griffey has seen it, too, and recognizes that some change is going to have to be made.

    Maybe it’s silly, but I hate to take the ABs away from Jr., though, as he continues collecting home runs and other numbers. I hope he’ll give 1B a try to keep that body of his a little more protected. And, seriously, you’ve got to think that an AL team might be a good thing for him.

  2. smartelf says:

    Well its funny how things sometimes just take care of themselves… Griff’s hand injury is lingering to the point where he probably won’t be the opening day centerfielder.. thus Hamilton or Crosby or both are gonna have an opportunity to show what they can do.

  3. KC2HMZ says:

    I kind of floated this idea in a game thread a few weeks back, comparing Griffey’s current situation to Al Kaline with the Tigers back in 1968, so it should come as no surprise that I’m in agreement with the concept.

    However: Dunn, Griffey, and Hamilton are all lefthanded hitters. Frankly, I can’t see Crosby making the team as a fourth lefthanded hitting outfielder, that would basically leave Freel as the only righthanded hitter among Reds flychasers…unless you want to count Conine as an outfielder. I’d rather count him as an infielder, and hope that we don’t see Conine in the OF all that often.

    Anyway, if Hamilton makes the team, I may have to rethink my predictions concerning whether Denorfia makes the team or not. I just think it’s more likely the Reds would keep him – or Hopper, who like Denorfia is a righty hitter – than to have four lefty hitters in the outfield mix.

    FWIW, one of the guys who posts from time to time in ASBCR played minor league ball in the Reds organization some years ago, and now lives in Sarasota, where he coaches youth league baseball (among other things). He’s at Ed Smith on a daily basis. This guy had Austin Kearns pegged as a future major leaguer from the first time he saw the guy swing a bat, and he says Hamilton is a “stud”, and that he’s “the best outfielder the Reds have in camp”. I’m pretty sure he was referring to Hamilton’s defense with that last bit. But when a guy goes 1-for-3 and it *lowers* his BA by 23 points, you know he’s been hitting.

  4. smartelf says:

    Yea but all the infielders are right-handed except hatteberg, who has a platoon partner anyhow… so you still have a balanced lineup. Denorfia has minor league options while Crosby does not. I think Crosby has to make the team. Let us not forget he was a first round can’t miss prospect not too long ago. Denorfia, as much as I like him, is no “stud” he’s a player that has to overcome physical limitations. He has very little power and yes he has some footspeed but that’s about all he has going for him. I just think you have to send him down and make him force his way back up… same with Hopper.

  5. smartelf says:

    …and Denorfia promptly proves me wrong by leading off today’s game with a home run. He’s starting to look good. Maybe he sees the opening with Crosby injured.

  6. BubbaFan says:

    Deno has definitely turned it around. Two hits in that game, both going the other way.

    Now [url=]Fox[/url] is reporting that the decision to move Griffey to RF was made before spring training started. Griffey was expecting them to trade for a “real CFer” first.

    Dunno what this means. Except that some outfield depth would probably be a good thing, with Jr., Freel, and Hamilton all being somewhat injury-prone.

  7. BubbaFan says:

    Oh, and…both Trent Rosecrans and John Fay think Hopper will make the team before Deno does. Don’t know if Deno’s recent improvement has changed any minds.

  8. Red Hot Mama says:

    I think it depends on who the other guys are. We’ll be finding out sooner than later!