When the Reds acquired Shin-Soo Choo, it was widely understood that Cincinnati would significantly upgrade the lead-off spot but their defense would take a hit. He’s not Drew Stubbs out there and we all knew going into this season that we should not expect gold glove defense in center field. This has been shown to be the case so far in 2013. Choo’s bat has more than compensated for his deficiencies in center field. However, when he botches one it tends to stick out.
The left fielder to start the season was Ryan Ludwick. Choo was arguably the best choice in center field back then. Unfortunately, Ludwick won’t be back until the middle of August at the earliest. Even then, he may not be a productive player. Does Choo have to play center field until Ludwick returns?
Can he be moved?
One thing we know about Reds manager Dusty Baker is that he is consistent. Choo was brought here to be a center fielder and that’s what he is going to be. Moving him may not be a matter of right or wrong. The Reds may not want to disrespect Choo by moving him at this point. Also, bouncing him back and forth between outfield positions could cause him to get worse.
Your three options are Chris Heisey, Jay Bruce, and Derrick Robinson.
Robinson is certainly faster than Choo but he has not exactly wowed anyone with his defense in left field. Also, he is a guy who is only going to play every 5th day which is not much of an option. He may not even be on the roster in August. Choo needs all the experience he can get if he will be out there for the playoff stretch with Ludwick in left field.
Heisey is hurt now so obviously he won’t be headed out there anytime soon. Even when he returns, he is not much of an upgrade over Choo. Heisey is pretty bad at the dish, also. Last year, the Reds gave him 375 at bats and he put up an ugly .265/.315/.401.
Many think Bruce should be moved there. Coming into the season, Bruce had played more center field than Choo. Way back in 2008, Bruce played 35 games in center field for the Reds while Choo only played ten games there. Of course, Bruce hasn’t played center field since then.
Switching Choo and Bruce would not accomplish a lot. There is no guarantee that Bruce would be much better in center field and we know that he’s been pretty good in right field so far. This move may serve to do no more than remove a strength while not giving the team a real upgrade in center field. The other consideration is their throwing arms. Assume for a minute that Bruce and Choo switched positions. Choo has a pretty good arm but Bruce’s cannon is a huge advantage in right field. If opposing teams don’t respect the right fielder’s arm, it can open the door for a guy moving from first to third more often. This move would cause more problems than it is worth.
Choo stays in center field
Choo is not as bad as he’s made out to be. The internal options available internally aren’t a sure thing. If there was an obvious switch that could be made, the Reds would make it.
Including spring training games, Choo has played center field in close to 100 games and is the Reds best option for the remainder of the season. Moving Choo to either corner now is crazy talk.
Matt David is a die-hard Reds fan. You can follow him on Twitter here. Still want more? Go to his blog.