When the Cincinnati Reds traded for Shin-Soo Choo in the off-season, it was done to give the team the lead-off hitter that the team had been lacking.
With career OPS of .381 and 20-steal speed, GM Walt Jocketty may have found just that.
Whether he has found a replacement center fielder to take over Drew Stubb‘s spot, however, is another question entirely.
Given that Choo had only played 10 games center over his career, and none in the last three years, the Reds’ plan to move him into center field upon arrival was met with an understandable degree of incredulity.
Choo had been, at best, a mediocre fielder at the corner outfield, and that he was one of the most-watched arrivals when Spring Training camp opened might say a little something about how many doubters think that he may not be long for that position.
Those folks may end up being right.
According to Jim Bowden of ESPN, the scouts that were responsible for evaluating Choo and the Cleveland Indians have suggested that it’s doubtful for the 30-year old can provide average defense for the Reds in the coming season, and that the team will eventually be force to move him off the position.
Should that happen, it will be current right fielder Jay Bruce who will take Choo’s place. The problem? Bruce hasn’t played there since five years ago, either. That said Bruce’s 6 DRS over 285 innings at center is probably an improvement to Choo’s zero and -5.6 UZR/150, even if it’s far from being an ideal situation.
Hitting matters, of course, but so too does defense, and the Reds are going to find out exactly how much it matters in 2013. The team wanted a leadoff hitter enough to trade two MLB-ready pieces to get it, and as it turns out, they might have acquired a season’s worth of adventures in the outfield too.