Paul Janish had another start today, and another pretty good day at the office. He ended up 1 for 3 with a double, a sac fly, a RBI, and a run scored. The sac fly was almost a home run; it was caught on the warning track. (I'm still hoping he'll hit at least one home run this year.)
It was the ninth game in a row that Janish has gotten on base. He's looking a lot better these days, at the plate and in the field. He just seems a lot more relaxed out there. If he'd played this way all season, I think the Reds would have been content to have him as the starting shortstop.
But he didn't, and now it's uncertain whether the Reds will even keep him. He's arbitration-eligible this year.
The Cincinnati Enquirer's Reds beat writer, John Fay, is doing a series that's basically a position by position rundown for next year. Tomorrow's article, second in the series, is about what the Reds are going to do about the shortstop position.
Can Cozart be Reds' main man at shortstop?
Shortstop is Cozart's job to lose next year. But it's far from certain he'll stick. The article notes:
Before this season, Janish’s and Cozart’s numbers were not that different in the minor leagues.
Cozart had a breakout year in Louisville this year, OPSing .825. But I'm not sure I trust that. For some reason, the Bats were mashing this year. Even Janish OPS’d .750 in Louisville this season - despite starting out in a deep slump (1 for his first 22). His last ten games, he was hitting .303 / .400 / .455, good for a .855 OPS.
The Reds plan to contend next year, and the window may be short. (Joey Votto is only signed for two more years.) That being the case, they can't risk sending the inexperienced Cozart out there without a net. Not to mention the possibility of injury. Walt Jocketty is therefore planning to sign a veteran shortstop to back up Cozart.
Fay doesn't think the Reds will re-sign Renteria.
Renteria is 36 years old. His range is severely limited, so it’s unlikely that the Reds will bring him back.
But they'll sign someone; I don't think they trust Janish to back up Cozart.
So what happens to Soft-J? Fay says that Janish doesn’t hit well enough to be a bench player. Cozart has a solid glove, so they don't need Janish as a LIDR. Fay thinks Todd Frazier is a better option than Janish, but by my count, barring an unexpected trade or injury, there’s no room on the roster for Frazier, either. Assuming 12 pitchers and 2 catchers, you have room for 11 position players. That’s going to be:
Joey Votto, Brandon Phillips, Scott Rolen, Juan Francisco, Zack Cozart, Yonder Alonso, Drew Stubbs, Jay Bruce, Chris Heisey, Miguel Cairo, and whatever veteran SS they get.
My feeling is that the Reds will try to keep Janish. He won't get a lot in arbitration, if it gets to that. He has options, so they could stash him in Louisville in case of emergency. After what happened this year, I think Jocketty will be concerned about depth. There's no one in the upper levels of the Reds farm system who could reasonable step in, if something happened to Cozart and/or his backup.
Janish should try to get a major league deal, even if it's for league minimum. The Reds can afford that, and being stuck in AAA will be a more lot palatable if he's not making minor league money. And of course, you never know what will happen. One way or another, he'll probably get another chance.
Labels: Paul Janish