It’s a strange thing – though generally the Reds had very low turnover this offseason, the opening day roster will still feel very “new look”, thanks to the lack of Scott Rolen and Miguel Cairo. Neither player will be suiting up for the Reds in the 2013 season. Miguel Cairo has taken a position with the Reds, as a Special Assistant to the GM. While Scott Rolen has not said what he’ll be doing, he won’t be attending camp with the Reds, and it’s hard to see him joining the team midseason without significant injury to the current roster. Rolen’s ambivalence this off-season suggests that he’s not ready to leave baseball just yet. It’s not impossible for him to end up with some team in 2013, but I think it’s more likely that he’ll end up taking some time off, and maybe gradually inching into management positions – but he’s said he wants to spend more time with his family.
Cairo and Rolen haven’t defined the recent Reds teams, but they’ve been a mainstay since 2010 – as part of Walt Jocketty’s Veteran Presence Former-Cardinals Initiative. (It’s like the Avengers Initiative, but with less pecs and more shoulder injuries.) Rolen was brought in to provide a more stable presence (offensively and defensively) at third base in a trade that sent Edwin Encarnacion, Zack Stewart (who?) and Josh Roenicke (who?) to the Blue Jays, while Cairo came in as a free agent in the following offseason.
2010 was definitely the best year for CaiRolen – Rolen was great everywhere, at the plate, in the field, in the the clubhouse, and Cairo was pretty excellent for a bench player. 2011 went a little haywire: Cairo still provided league average offense, but had an increased responsibility, thanks to Rolen’s injury problems. That was only one of the multiple failures with the 2011 team, but it surely showed us one of the potential drawbacks of older players. 2012 was a bit of a return to form for Rolen, but the 37-year-old was still subpar, especially with a young fun like Frazier knocking down the door. Meanwhile, Cairo sank into the pit that was the 2012 Reds bench.
Here is Rolen’s final line with the Reds:
By the numbers, at least, Rolen and Cairo won’t be hard to replace. Rolen was worth about 1.1 WAR last year, while Frazier was worth 2.8 (in more playing time, overall). More time will exacerbate Frazier’s slightly below average fielding, but then again, settling into one position might improve Todd’s defensive skills. Still, the projections see Frazier as about a 3 win player in 2013, and I agree.
Cairo was rated as worth -1 wins last year. Infield bench replacements look likely to be Jack Hannahan, and Jason Donald. Hannahan was worth about 0.5 wins (~300 PA, 750 innings) with the Indians last year, and Donald was worth -0.4 wins (~130 PA, 300 innings). Neither are spectacular options, but bench guys rarely are. In any case, they can almost certainly match the work of Valdex and Cairo last year.
Of course, the line on both Cairo and Rolen has been their role as veteran clubhouse leaders. While I, like most interneters, have no direct knowledge of this, the stories do suggest that this was of some importance. I certainly appreciated their ability to not be involved in scandals, and even to not say anything that caused too much of a stir. A team of 25 of those guys might be a little boring, but a couple of solid presences is always appreciated.
In 2013, though, the team has changed in substance. Joey Votto is not promising youngster – he’s an MVP who’s been to the post-season twice, and overcome multiple struggles. Brandon Phillips is now a part of the fabric of this team, you have guys like Bruce and Hanigan who have been around for awhile. There are still older, experienced players around – like Arroyo in the rotation, and Ludwick in the outfield. Mostly, though, when I look at this team, I see a team that has grown together. They know each other’s quirks and idiosyncracies. They’ve won and lost together.