Cincinnati Reds Gut Check: Is It Finally Time for Scott Rolen To Retire?

Cliff EasthamSenior Writer IIJuly 28, 2011

PITTSBURGH - JULY 20:  Scott Rolen #27 of the Cincinnati Reds throws to first base against the Pittsburgh Pirates during the game on July 20, 2011 at PNC Park in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Jared Wickerham/Getty Images)
Jared Wickerham/Getty Images

One of the best writers on Bleacher Report, Illya Harrell, and I had fun bantering about the proclivity for which Scott Rolen had for the disabled list. Of course that was upon the All-Star third baseman's arrival to the Queen City.

Looking back, it now seems prophetic. Rolen, 36, is currently on his second term to sick bay this season. He is having a frustrating year at the plate, although his defense is still superb.

He has joined the ranks of other players whose primary address is the infirmary. That list includes but is not limited to: Nick Johnson, Jim Thome, Travis Hafner and Homer Bailey.

Rolen's best years are behind him and that is an indisputable fact. From 1996 to 2004 he averaged 31 HR with 114 RBI and batted .286 (based on 162 game season averages).

Since then he has averaged only 12 HR with 60 RBI and a .277 batting average.

I really like Rolen and appreciate the contributions he has made to the Reds on the field and in the clubhouse. When taking off the rosy-lensed glasses I can see that it is time to reload at his position.

The Reds have talent all over the place at Triple-A Louisville. Blue chipper Juan Francisco had been groomed to replace Rolen at the hot corner, yet every time he goes down we see journeyman Miguel Cairo on the field.

This is not an indictment against Cairo, merely a wake-up call to the muckety mucks at Great American Ball Park. It falls back to Dusty Baker and his affection for experienced, albeit mediocre players (see Corey Patterson, Willy Taveras and yes, Jonny Gomes).

I am not calling for a trade of Rolen, that is much too harsh for a man whom I believe should be headed to Cooperstown. I just think the time has come to allow Francisco (if he is the heir apparent) to come up and be thrown into the fire.

I am not a fan of the Wily Mo Pena mirror, but if he is the man, then by God treat him like the man. Show some confidence, cinch up your apple sacks and see what happens. What they are doing now is clearly not working.

Cairo is valuable enough to play nearly anywhere. Keep him in that role as a reserve and pinch hitter. We don't have to see all of the position players every game.

Now I am forced to digress from the Rolen piece for a moment.

If left-handed batter Yonder Alonso is up from Louisville, why did he not start against a right-handed pitcher last night, in lieu of the banged-up Chris Heisey?

Alonso is mentioned in nearly every trade rumor concerning the Reds. Yet Baker treats him like a red-headed stepson (apologies to red haired stepchildren everywhere).

Obviously since Gomes has now been buried the job belongs to Heisey, while Alonso sits and the SOS Stubbs continues to strike out from the leadoff position. Why not put Heisey in center field and Alonso in left?

Back to Rolen. If he isn't ready to retire use him as a pinch-hitter and have some continuity in the freakin' lineup. I don't think Baker has given the same lineup card to the home plate umpire at all this year. It is always a different one.

The Reds are now so far out of the race, it is making me physically sick. I have to stop typing before I puke all over my new laptop.