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Monday, April 10, 2006

Ohio Sports Time Rant: Time for Reds to Sit Womack--Play Freel, Aurilia

Dan O'Brien made some short-sighted moves during his short lived tenure as the Cincinnati Reds GM. No acquisition made as little sense as when the Reds traded spare parts to the New York Yankees for Tony Womack this offseason. Sure the asking price was low, but O'Brien added to his surplus of middle infielders by adding Womack to a group that already consisted of All-Star SS Felipe Lopez, speedy utility man Ryan Freel, and solid veteran hitter Rich Aurilia. With the Reds committed to giving prospect Edwin Encarnacion a look at 3rd base, it meant that Womack, Freel, and Aurilia would be forced to share 2nd base.

The season is only a week old, and Freel and Aurilia have already begun making the case that they should be in the Cincinnati Reds everyday lineups. Consider the following stats:

  • Ryan Freel - 11 AB's, .545 BA, .706 OPB, 8 runs, 5 steals
  • Rich Aurilia - 20 AB's, .250 BA, 2 HRs, 7 RBIs

Freel has been playing 2nd base and batting leadoff against left-handed pitchers, bringing a dynamic to the Cincinnati Reds lineup that nobody else is capable of adding. He has been a force on the basepaths for the Reds and his total steals stat doesn't account for the 2 or 3 runs that he has already stolen on short flyouts and infield groundouts that slower players wouldn't have even considered trying to score on.

Aurilia has been playing 1st base and batting cleanup against left-handed pitchers. His batting average isn't excellent, but he is a polished big league hitter who knows how to drive in runs in important situations; something that often escapes chunks of this lineup, despite all the home runs and high scoring games.

It's time for the Reds to notice the important dynamics that both Ryan Freel and Rich Aurilia bring to the lineup each day, and to make sure that they're playing against more than just lefthanded pitchers. If Cincinnati could deal Womack to add an arm to their bullpen even better, but I'm not expecting much in the way of a trade.

The addition of the mercurial Brandon Phillips makes the trade of Tony Womack much more possible for the Reds. Although, it's a trade that I don't expect the Reds to make because of worry about Freel's durability and the lack of another traditional leadoff hitter on the roster if Womack were traded and Freel were to get hurt. Injury concerns aside, I think the smartest thing that the Reds could do right now is to move Womack, clearing more playing time for Freel and Aurilia.


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