Inbox: Frazier a fit at shortstop in '10?
Beat reporter Mark Sheldon fields fans' questions
Since I'm too cheap to buy everyone a present for the holidays, I thought a final 2009 edition of the Reds Inbox would suffice instead. It makes a great gift to your loved ones. All you have to do is print this edition out and stick it into a stocking. No muss, no fuss. No cost, no shipping and no waiting in the line at the store. To me, it's a win for everyone.But seriously, thank you to everyone out there for reading the countless Reds stories, blog items and Twitter postings I've written throughout the past year. Your readership and feedback -- both positive and negative -- is always greatly appreciated. Have a safe and happy holidays and I look forward to providing you with more stories about the Reds in 2010. Given that the Reds are still looking for an offensive upgrade at shortstop, would they give Todd Frazier a shot? We all know he can hit, plus he did come into the organization at that position.
-- Luke G., Hannibal, Mo. Fantastic question, Luke. Although he would certainly seem to be capable, the Reds don't appear to view Frazier as a future fit at shortstop. He didn't play there at all in 2009 at two Minor League levels. General manager Walt Jocketty admitted during the Winter Meetings that he has yet to see him play the position in person. Frazier -- rated the organization's top prospect by Baseball America -- did play first base, second base, third base and left field last season. He played 55 games at shortstop in 2008. The organization feels that prospects like Zach Cozart and Chris Valaika are ahead of Frazier at short. But there is also the feeling from the front office that Frazier would be very good at left field or second base and could be successful no matter which position he played. Currently, Paul Janish is the big league incumbent at the position heading into Spring Training. Is there any reason behind the restructuring of Scott Rolen's contract? Possibly, are the Reds looking into getting a big bat in their lineup?
-- Dan M., Oregon The reason behind the move last weekend was to give the Reds $5 million in payroll savings for 2010 since their budget is tight. In return, Rolen got two more guaranteed years added on. That $5 million the Reds saved for next season is being rolled into a signing bonus to be paid over the next three years. But as I wrote earlier in a story this week, the new deal likely won't equate to adding a free agent. What it can do is make it more possible for the Reds to keep their roster together and not have to shed payroll. Do you sense that Rolen has had a good effect on the clubhouse in terms of work ethic, professional attitude, and that kind of stuff?
-- L. Murley, Cordova, Tenn. Rolen isn't a loud, rah-rah type of player. Both on the field and behind the scenes, he prefers to just do his job and not make a big scene while doing it. But he has a very professional attitude and a work ethic that is worth emulating. Brandon Phillips was one player who said he took notice and that's not a bad thing. Being a quiet, hard worker is certainly not a detriment to a clubhouse. The Reds seem to place a large emphasis on Rolen's leadership skills. I think it'd be a good thing to add a couple of other guys that are hard workers who aren't so quiet and can keep the younger guys loose when things get tough. Former relievers David Weathers and Kent Mercker definitely fit that mold as well.
Have a question about the Reds?
E-mail your query to MLB.com Reds beat reporter Mark Sheldon for possible inclusion in a future Inbox column. Letters may be edited for brevity, length and/or content.
What is the availability of Ryan Freel as a shortstop option? We all know he is a fan favorite and can play every position.
-- Kevin A., Plainfield, Ind.
-- Rick P., Londonderry, Ohio Hardy was already traded to the Twins by the Brewers earlier in the offseason. The Reds did kick the tires with some interest on Hardy, but Milwaukee wasn't too interested in sending him to a division rival, among other reasons. Do you think Sean Casey will ever be back in Cincinnati as a coach or announcer? With George Grande leaving the TV booth, it seems like Casey would fill in nicely, not to mention the fans would love to see him back.
-- Mark, Springfield, Ohio The fire department might have to sign off before adding another body in the already crowded Reds radio and TV broadcast booth. Casey seems quite happy to be at MLB Network as an analyst and does a great job but I don't expect him to get into coaching any time soon. His current job lets him get more family time. Do the Reds have any interest in trying to get Kevin Youkilis from Boston? The way he hustles and plays the game would rub off on the rest of the team. Plus, he would put fans in the seats since he is a hometown kid. Youk seems like a perfect fit.
-- James, Cincinnati It's not quite a perfect fit but more of a square peg in a round hole based on the current situation. Youkilis would be a fine addition for any team, but he is owed $33 million over the next three seasons. The Reds are also set in their corner-infield positions with Rolen at third base and Joey Votto at first base. On top of that, I haven't heard that Boston has any desire to move Youkilis, a Sycamore High School graduate and former player for the Univ. of Cincinnati.
Mark Sheldon is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.