If there is one problem that looms above all others for Reds fans this winter, it is what to do with Drew Stubbs. His offensive production has fallen in each of his seasons in MLB. In 2011, he led the league in strikeouts, while this year he barely hit above the Mendoza line, leading many Reds fans to squeal for his trade or demotion.
Yet, Stubbs does still have assets. He is an excellent fielder with a strong arm and great speed and is a base stealing threat every time he gets on. He is also young, cheap, under team control and not likely to receive much of a raise in arbitration, due to his dismal year this year.
For the same reason, he is unlikely to have much trade value, especially in a market saturated with OF FAs. Besides, many teams, including contending teams, retain offensively sub-par players at defensively premium positions like center-field and shortstop.
So what makes Drew Stubbs such a special disappointment?
Much of Reds fans’ ire over their center-fielder comes down to two things: first, his failure to materialize into the five-tool player he was scouted to be and, second, the black hole he has created at the top of the order. The first is a fact that management and fans will simply have to accept. Not all players pan out to be what we expect them to be when they are drafted. The second is a real problem that needs to be addressed by management.
But Stubbs has value for this team if management is able to recognize him for what he is and not what they hoped he would be and if they are willing to be a little more creative in how he is used. Trading or optioning him is not the answer.
So, how can the Reds transform last year’s liability into this year’s asset? By playing Drew Stubbs in ways that maximize his strengths while limiting his exposure to his weaknesses. Here are five suggestions…