Monday, April 21, 2008

Good Riddance, Juan Castro!

April 21, 2008: The Reds designate Juan Castro for assignment. Taking his spot on the roster is 31-year-old vagabond infielder Jerry Hairston, Jr. He's expected to bring much needed pop off the bench from the right side. In 2,534 career at-bats, Hairston has hit 33 HRs with 216 RBI, with a slugging pct. of .358.

Jerry Hairston, savior.

March 31, 2008: Opening Day. That was the day I made sixteen Reds predictions for the upcoming season.

I want you to take a look at one of 'em:

10. Juan Castro will make me wonder why the Reds cut Jorge Cantu.

Defensive replacements are stupid. Dirt cheap, perfectly healthy 25-year-olds with a 117 RBI season on their baseball card are not. Question: Is Juan Castro the luckiest man on the planet?

Before I tell you how smart I am, let me admit to being wrong about something: Cantu is 26, not 25; his day of birth was in January. My apologies.

My old roommate used to accuse me of looking for credit when I was right about something. He was right, but that doesn't mean I've learned my lesson.

Actually, let's forget about my narcissism for a moment, and focus on a couple of facts about Jorge Cantu...

a. He's right-handed. I repeat, he's right-handed.

b. He's dirt cheap. This matters for a budget-conscious organization.

c. He was a productive bat in his limited time last season in a Reds uniform (six pinch hits in twelve pinch hit opportunities).

g. He's got pop in his bat, which distinguishes himself from Freel and Hopper (and now, Hairston), the other right-handed bats off the bench.

m. He's versatile. While not known for his glove, he's capable of playing 2B, 3B and 1B. This means that if he were really hot, you could get him a start at each position on consecutive days without stealing a ton of ABs from Votto, Phillips or Encarnacion.

w. While not good enough, somehow, to be the 25th man on the Reds' roster, Cantu is the starting 3B for the Marlins. He's hitting .302, not that it matters.

Reds fans, you have a right to be angry. And Wayne Krivsky has a question to answer.

Making matters worse, I listened to Marty Brennaman's pre-game interview with Dusty Baker earlier. While talking about the move to bring up Hairston, Baker mentioned how it's damn near impossible to find right-handed pop off the bench. Great.

This team would be better with Jorge Cantu on the roster.

And it would also be better with Jay Bruce and Bill Bray.

The Reds are now 8-12, and while I don't think it's time to panic, well, I'm panicking. This is a good team, I know it. They're the best team since 2000, Griffey's first year, and they might actually be better than that, depending on Cueto and Volquez. Anyway, I'd hate for them to get buried early while a superstar (Bruce) is wasting time in AAA Louisville. As for Bray getting the same treatment, while Todd Coffey gets opportunity after heart-stopping're guess is as good as mine.

Gimme Bruce and Bray, lose Hairston and Coffey. And Josh Foggstein, Homer Bailey's on his way.

-Brad Spieser (