When I wrote in my last post that I wanted to write about the Reds' flawed lineup, I didn't mean it in a strictly literal sense. I was mostly just trying to illustrate that there were a lot of things I wanted to write about: some serious, and some definitely not.
Then came yesterday's news that Joey Votto needed knee surgery and would be out for up to a month.
The Reds' lineup was flawed before Votto's injury, and yet they found themselves in first place in the National League Central Division when he went down. Take the best pure hitter in baseball out of that lineup, and there's a chance for real trouble. Needless to say, the Reds are going to need to find a way to score runs without his clutch hitting and huge on-base percentage. That being the case, Ryan Ludwick needs to be in the lineup and on the field, and Drew Stubbs needs to be on the bench.
Meaningless though it is, here's how I would personally structure the lineup in Votto's absence:
1. Phillips 2B
2. Cozart SS
3. Frazier 1B
4. Ludwick LF
5. Bruce RF
6. Heisey CF
7. Rolen 3B
8. Hanigan/Mesoraco C
Of course, there are plenty of rumors about the Reds looking for a leadoff hitter on the trade market. I'd go ahead and get Juan Pierre from Philadelphia and not think twice about it. Playing him in centerfield and leadoff would slide Phillips down to the 2 spot and Cozart down to 7. I think that would be a pretty solid lineup. Then, when Votto gets back, Todd Frazier can go back to splitting time with Rolen at third base, or take over for him if Rolen isn't hitting by then (which hopefully he will be).
This is a crucial time for the Reds. If the pitching holds and the offense can score enough to keep them in first or close to it when Votto returns, you have to like their chances to make the playoffs. If, on the other hand, they fall behind and fail to make the playoffs, you have to imagine they'll go in a different direction next year, managerially speaking. Now, there are those who will argue that would be a good thing. I'm not completely among them. I'm not saying a managerial change would be a bad thing, but I'm far from convinced that it would be a good thing either. Here's hoping they win enough games to make it a moot point.