If the Reds don't re-sign Orlando Cabrera, would you be satisfied if Paul Janish replaced him? Or would you want the Reds to sign a new starting shortstop? I know Janish has some amazing defensive skills, but his bat isn't that hot. What do you think? -- Art O., West Chester, Ohio
I think it would more than fine if the Reds opened the 2011 season with Janish at shortstop. He's earned the chance with his glove and has defensive ability that is without question. He's a strong character guy, a hard worker and a team-first player. Offensively, he's also made some very nice improvements. Janish batted .260 with five homers and 25 RBIs over 82 games, and filled in quite well over 27 games in August while Cabrera was on the disabled list. With the Reds being much better offensively, they could have Janish bat eighth and a .230-.250 average over a full season wouldn't be as big a liability.
Unfortunately for Janish, he might find himself in a similar position as last year, in which the regular shortstop job could be his all winter, but not when camp opens. The Reds could still sign Cabrera for a lower price than the $4-million option that was declined, or a different veteran could be found on the open market. A lot will depend on how much money is left on the payroll after raises, arbitration situations and other needs are addressed.
I'd like your thoughts on Aroldis Chapman as a starter. I don't think he is ready for it. -- Terry E., Fort Mitchell, Ky.
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Well, they didn't pay Chapman over $30 million to be a setup guy. Eventually, he will be in the rotation, and it could be as soon as this spring. But the club is open to returning him to a bullpen role, and manager Dusty Baker voiced his support for that. A guy throwing 100-105 mph in the late innings is quite a weapon, and the shorter outings could preserve Chapman's young arm.
Chapman only showed he wasn't ready to start in the Majors this year. With maturity and a higher degree of comfort with living in the United States, things could be different in 2011. If he blows everyone's doors off in camp come spring, they would have to consider that he might be ready to start.
Do you think the Reds will make the postseason next year? -- Jimmy B., Cincinnati
The Reds have the people in place to be contenders for a few years, but you can't assume a postseason berth right now. A few of the other National League Central teams -- the Cardinals, to name one -- will be retooling and don't plan on conceding anything. Cincinnati will have a big target on its back as the defending champion.
During the NLDS in Philadelphia, tens of thousands of Phillies fans waived white towels, and we all saw the results as Jay Bruce lost a seemingly routine fly ball somewhere in the white towels or lights. I keep wondering why is it OK to waive white towels? I played baseball all of my life, and I'm pretty sure trying to catch a line drive that rises from a rather dark background, into thousands of twirling white objects would be a distraction. -- Doug D., Cincinnati
Bruce actually lost the ball in the lights and did not blame the towels for being a factor. And in fairness, the Reds also dispensed white towels to their fans for Game 3 at Great American Ball Park. I do agree with you 100 percent, though. White towels may show up well on television, but it doesn't help players see the ball one iota.
Mark, no one ever mentions Daryl Thompson; I thought he was a prime prospect, and he seems to be throwing lights-out in the AFL. After his injuries, does he have a chance in this rotation? -- David G., Cincinnati
Thompson does seem to be finally getting himself back on the map in the Arizona Fall League. Check out the story I did on him this week.
The bottom line for Thompson is to prove he can stay healthy over the long haul, especially with his often troubled throwing shoulder. If he can do that and pitch well, he might be able to put himself back in the rotation conversation eventually. Right now, there are, quite frankly, several young pitchers ahead of him.
Is there any chance that Jim Edmonds will be back for 2011? -- Roy H., Guthrie, Okla.
When I asked Edmonds during the playoffs when he was sidelined with a sore Achilles, he seemed to be leaning heavily toward retirement. When I last asked GM Walt Jocketty, he hadn't heard anything definitive from Edmonds. Who knows? If he feels better, gets the green light from his family and wants to play, I'm sure the Reds would be interested in having Edmonds back.
The Reds quite often had problems scoring runs this year. Jonny Gomes cannot be counted on to play like he did in first half, and Scott Rolen is unfortunately aging and probably cannot play every day. This means that teams will pitch around Joey Votto like the Yankees did Josh Hamilton. The team needs a clutch RBI guy more than a leadoff hitter. Why not go for Lance Berkman? -- Eric R., Greenwood, Ind.
This is a fine example of how perceptions often don't match reality. Eric, the Reds led the National League in just about every offensive category in 2010, including runs scored. Yes, the Reds were dealt shutouts 13 times in the regular season, but good pitching often has a lot to do with that. Some of those shutouts were against guys like Matt Cain, Cliff Lee, Felix Hernandez and Cole Hamels. It's not like they were slouches. As for Berkman, where would you play him? He's a first baseman, primarily, and I think you'd agree that Votto has that spot locked down, right?
What is the status on re-signing Dusty Baker? I have not heard any news lately. -- Keith Y., Sabina, Ohio
Perhaps your euphoria of the Reds being in the playoffs distracted you, Keith. Or maybe you were too embroiled in a "Kate Plus 8" marathon the day after the regular season ended. On that Monday, Baker received a two-year extension that takes him and the Reds through the 2012 season.
Mark Sheldon is a reporter for MLB.com Read his blog, Mark My Word and follow him on Twitter @m_sheldon. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.