Nearly twenty percent of the 2012 season has passed, so it is not too early for teams to make some changes. General managers need to keep in mind the adage, "He who hesitates is lost."
One change that the Reds should consider involves their starting third baseman. Scott Rolen, who missed most of last year due to injury, has been hitting below .200 all season. He is 38, and he is taking playing time away from Todd Frazier.
After leading the Reds in home runs and R.B.I. throughout the spring, Frazier stayed just as hot after being recalled from Louisville in late April. He is hitting .364 with a .440 on-base percentage after clubbing six home runs in just over 100 at bats last season. He has clearly earned the right to be in the regular lineup.
Cincinnati should contact Philadelphia about a possible trade for Rolen. The defending N.L. East champs must improve an offense greatly weakened by injuries to Ryan Howard and Chase Utley.
A return to Philadelphia would be good for both the team and for Rolen. He began his career in the Phillies' organization and had his best years as a big leaguer in Philadelphia, where he hit .282 with 150 home runs and 559 R.B.I.
Rolen would join an impressive list of Major League stars who, in the twilight of their careers, have returned to the organization with which they had their most success. The game's all-time hits leader, Pete Rose, finished his career in Cincinnati after several stops in between. Rangers legend Buddy Bell, who spent a few seasons with the Reds, returned to Texas at the end of his career.
More recently, Mariners' great Ken Griffey Jr. finished his Hall-of-Fame career back where it had begun after several seasons in Cincinnati and Chicago. Just last season, long-time Indian Jim Thome left Minnesota to help Cleveland in a pennant chase.
Even beyomd its emotional lift, the acquisition of Rolen would strengthen the Phillies in several ways. His defensive prowess at third would allow Philadelphia to move Placido Polanco to second base, a gaping hole since the club lost All-Star Chase Utley to injury. Polanco has played 1027 games at second, more than any other position during his career. Rolen also provides the Phillies with right-handed power, a characteristic the lineup has missed since Jayson Werth departed for the Nationals.
In return for Rolen, Cincinnati could get utility man Lance Nix. The former Reds' outfielder would give the Reds a much-needed left-handed bat off the bench.
Nix is under contract for $1.5 million, which would help offset Rolen's salary. Each club would likely split the cost of that contract, which would be about $3 million each.
The deal should benefit two clubs with expectations of reaching the post-season. Both lineups get stronger, and the overall cost is minimal.
Doug Poe once delivered newspapers to Johnny Bench, Tony Perez, and Joe Morgan, three customers who have made him a lifelong fan of the Reds.
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