Let me begin by saying that I LIKE Walt Jocketty.
I think he is an intelligent baseball man, and I respect him for it. But I require a little bit of clarification on just why Jocketty has not devoted 100 percent of his energy towards signing Rocco Baldelli.
As has been much publicized, Baldelli has a mitochondrial disorder that has drastically cut his playing time over the last few years. I understand that, a year ago, this would have made him extremely unattractive to teams like the Reds. However, we now know that:
1). This is not some sort of neo-Lou Gherig's Disease,
2). Baldelli is not going to die,
3). Whatever this disorder is, it is apparently much less serious than was originally thought.
So, with this new evidence presented, let's take into account Baldelli's stats.
Over the three years ('03, '04, '06) that he played over half a season, Baldelli has averaged about .290/15/75 across the "big" numbers (more on them later). He's also averaged around 30 doubles, 20 steals, and a .330 OBP. His (outstanding) defense forgotten for the moment, a healthy Baldelli is a solid, solid offensive player.
Right now, the Reds' Opening Day outfield looks like this: Dickerson, Hopper, Bruce. Chris Dickerson is damn close to a five-tool player, as is Bruce. Norris Hopper, hustler though he may be, isn't really a hitter. He's a bunter. Granted, he's a bunter with a career (400 AB) .316 average, but such a player is not really suited to everyday work.
Hopper could be an invaluable weapon for Dusty Baker off the bench, but playing everyday, he's a two-tool guy. Baldelli brings a comparable level of contact, with better gap and HR power, and incredible defense.
An outfield of Dickerson, Hopper and Bruce is a good outfield. An outfield of Bruce, Dickerson and Baldelli is a GREAT outfield. I understand that Jocketty and the Reds have other options, but Juan Rivera (the only other serious contender for the right-field job) just signed with the Angels for three years.
Excuse me, Mr. Jocketty, but this one seems like a no-brainer.