Considering the overwhelming number of transactions made this off-season, that Shin-Soo Choo now plays for the Cincinnati Reds might have slipped your mind. But he does! Choo, good for close to a .300/.400/.500 season like clockwork before injury slowed him in 2011.
Choo is both a fine hitter and decent outfielder, though advanced defensive metrics absolutely hated him in 2012. His well-regarded throwing arm is both accurate and strong, his range as a 30-year old may leave something to be desired.
What a great time for a bounce back season, the Reds must believe. Headed into free agency, the Reds have the bold idea that they will move Choo to center field. What could possibly go wrong? According to Shin-Soo Choo, plenty. Via the Cincinnati Enquirer:
“I’m not comfortable there yet,” he said. “At the major league level, I played 99 percent of my games in right field. I’ll try. I’ll work on it this spring training. We’ll see how they’re thinking. If they’re not (happy), somebody else will be playing in center field.
“I’ll try the best I can.”
And, Mr. Choo, that is all anyone can ask of you. When the Reds brought you win, trading their incumbent center fielder after inking Ryan Ludwick to a contract, they had to know this would be a difficult transition. Walk Jocketty knew the hornets’ nest he threw into manager Dusty Baker‘s lap, it is simply up to you to wear it.
The Reds feature three starters with above-average ground ball rates and one pretty much right on the number. Lackluster outfield defense might not “kill” them as much as a team like the Royals or Mariners, teams built to exploit their large ballparks and heavy, wet air.
Choo will be there on Opening Day, barring injury. Jay Bruce is too expensive and valuable to the Reds to burn him out in CF all year long. Choo might boost his free agent stock with a year of passable defense in center. Or he could submarine the pennant hopes of the “all-in” Reds. At the very least, there will be gifs.