All Things Bubba

Because how can you not love a baseball player named "Bubba"?

Wednesday, September 07, 2011

Giving the kids a look

Dusty Baker, after weeks of resisting the calls of fans and the media to play the young guys, suddenly posted a lineup that featured a bunch of young callups. I don't know if he's thrown in the towel or what, but it was a very un-Dusty-like lineup.

Perhaps most surprising was Chris Valaika at SS. Valaika was drafted as a SS, but hasn't really played there for years. Beat writer John Fay hints that the Reds might be looking for an alternative to Paul Janish for backup SS next year.

Poor Janish. He started the year hoping to be the Reds' starting SS for the next few years. Now he might not even make the roster next year. It must be something of a shock, since he had a lock on a roster spot as backup SS for a couple of years.

Still, my feeling is that the Reds aren't seriously considering replacing Janish with Valaika. Janish has the better glove, and while Valaika hit better in the minors, he's really struggled since reaching AAA. In fact, he's spent three years in Louisville; he OPS'd .650 this year. My guess is they're trying to decide whether to keep Valaika on the 40-man roster or risk losing him to waivers or Rule 5.

They may also be trying to decide if they have enough depth at SS for next year. Cozart's and Renteria's injuries left Janish the only healthy SS in the upper levels of the Reds system. Cozart will be healthy by spring training, but Renteria will presumably be gone. So that still leaves them awfully thin at SS.

In any case, Valaika didn't embarrass himself, but he didn't exactly set the world on fire, either. He did have a nice at-bat that ended in a walk, but was 0 for 3 otherwise. He didn't have many chances at SS, but handled everything hit to him. He looks more graceful than Todd Frazier at SS, but to my eye he seems slow compared to Janish.

And in the end, Dusty proved he trusted Janish. With a 2-0 lead in the ninth, he pulled Valaika and put Janish in as a LIDR. Janish easily fielded the first two groundouts, but Mike Leake, who looked like he was heading for a one-hit complete game shutout, gave up a dribbler to third, then a home run. Free baseball.

Dusty's decision to sub in Janish bore fruit in the 11th. Janish made a nice diving stop in the 11th that likely saved the game.

Valaika probably doesn't get that one.

Janish's turn to bat came in the 12th. I really thought Dusty would pinch-hit for him. Edgar Renteria was available. But Dusty let Janish bat. I don't know why. Maybe it was part of his "play the kids" plan for the day. In any case, it paid off. Janish hit a bunt single, finally snapping an 0 for 28 hitless streak.

In the end, the Reds prevailed in 13 innings, winning 4-2.

Janish has looked rather grumpy lately, but last night, he was all smiles.


posted by BubbaFan, 4:51 PM


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