With the Cincinnati Reds in First, What Do We Do with Alex Gonzalez?

StephenCorrespondent IMay 14, 2009

PHOENIX - MAY 12:  Brandon Phillips #4 of the Cincinnati Reds is congratulated by teammate Adam Rosales #23 in the dugout after Phillips hit a solo home run against the Arizona Diamondbacks during the sixth inning of the major league baseball game at Chase Field on May 12, 2009 in Phoenix, Arizona.  (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

The Reds are currently in first place in the NL Central. That just feels good to say.

I know, they’re tied with the Cards and the Brewers, but we’re there. I also realize that it’s early in the season. I know all of this, just let a Reds fan have his day in the sun.

Johnny Cueto had one of his worst starts of the year Wednesday night: seven innings, four hits, three runs, two walks and four strikeouts. If that’s what you call a “worst start,” I’ll take it.

At one point, Cueto retired 12 batters in a row.

To compare Cueto’s performance this year to last year is like comparing night to day. Last season, had he given up a home run to the second batter he faced, he probably wouldn’t have recovered from it.

Last night when that happened, he brushed it off and kept pitching his game. 

My boy Danny Herrera nailed down the eighth, striking out two, and Jared Burton finished the game in the ninth. The bullpen has been a shut-down force this season.

Zero complaints here.

Jerry Hairston is on a tear right now. With he and Willy Taveras producing the way they are, I see no need to hurry Alex Gonzalez back into the lineup.

Wednesday night, Hairston and Taveras were a combined 5-for-11 and crossed the plate five times. Without their input, that game is a much closer one.

However, it seems that Manager Dusty Baker will have Gonzo back in the lineup at some point during the San Diego series. More on this in a moment.

Brandon Phillips is swinging a hot bat too. Phillips had a couple of two-out RBI knocks, driving in four runs. That’s what happens when the top of your order can get on base and your cleanup hitter can do just that: hit.

With Joey Votto out of the lineup yet again, Ramon Hernandez provides the Reds with, in my opinion, an above-average backup first baseman.

While he did have an error in the ninth showing his inexperience at the position, Hernandez has also made plays you would expect from a 10-year veteran.

All in all, I’m very happy with the way the Reds have played these past few weeks. Though it’s not the first time in recent history they have been five games above .500 at some point in the season, it is the first time I believe the Reds have a chance to hang around there.

The difference: pitching.


The Hairston vs. Gonzalez Issue

Hairston is hot right now, and I think Baker should stick with him until he proves this is a mirage of last season.

If he does put Gonzo in the lineup at shortstop, where does Hairston play?

He could play third base, but Adam Rosales is hitting well and, despite some difficulties on defense, he hasn’t lost any games for the Redlegs thus far.

Besides, Hairston seems to have difficulty throwing from short to first, so why add the extra distance for him?

He could play left field, but what about Laynce Nix and Dusty’s boy, Chris Dickerson? Nix is hitting well and has the ability to make quality plays in the outfield. Dickerson is, well, he’s just sort of there.

The defensive abilities Hairston has displayed during his time at shortstop would go wasted in the outfield. And again, he has a sub-par arm. 

So what do you do with Alex Gonzalez if you’re anyone but Dusty Baker (we all know what Dusty will do).

I don’t know. You tell me.


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