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Reds Are On The Ropes

Updated on July 18, 2012

Reds Are On The Ropes

by Robb Hoff

July 18, 2012

Hard to believe that splitting a four-game series at home against the Arizona Diamondbacks is wishful thinking for a team that looked as poised to coast through the summer the way the Cincinnati Reds did just a few days ago......but here we are.

After duds from Bronson Arroyo and Mat Latos, the Reds are back in the limbo they managed to fight off for most of the year in their climb to first place, which they now once again share with the Pittsburgh Pirates.

Likewise, the prolonged hitting funk that produced are an anemic offense is once again front and center.

The Reds can't afford for Latos to revert to the bad form he showed earlier in the year. If he's not going to rise to the occasion and seize the reins on being a Number 2 in the rotation, the Reds won't survive the divisional round of the playoffs.

And if the Reds can't add a left-handed hitter better than outfielder Xavier Paul while injured superstar Joey Votto is sidelined, the Reds will not win many games in Votto's absence.

So what can the Reds hope to do?

Clearly, the Reds need a left-handed hitter more than they need just a first baseman -- ideally a fit for both would be best -- but if the Reds trade for a player of value, the player can't be limited to playing only first base because he'll have to stick on the roster after Votto returns.

Or the Reds could open the audition to farmhands before the roster expands.

Reds GM Jocketty recently shot down the idea that speed demon Billy Hamilton might get the nod. Hamilton and another switch-hitting middle infielder Henry Rodriguez really don't have any position to play for the parent club anyway.

First baseman Neftali Soto has a full season of AAA ball under his belt, but he's a right-handed hitter.

That leaves an interesting choice -- Donald Lutz.

As a graduate of the Major League Baseball European Academy, Lutz is actually on the Reds 40-man roster. He's just ascended -- like Hamilton -- to Double A ball, but he may fit the bill in the short term for the Reds better than anyone else.

Lutz is a power hitter and an ideal choice to bat fifth in the order behind Phillips against righties. He's had the benefit of managers Delino DeShields and Ken Griffey, Sr. in the Reds organization plus spring training action this year under his belt, so he might be ready for an espresso right now rather than a cup of coffee later.


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