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Rolen hits DL as Reds' offense sputters

The Reds have lost eight of their past 11 games to fall to 11-11 and third baseman Scott Rolen has landed on the DL with a strained left shoulder. In the short-term this won't hurt the Reds much as Rolen has been struggling with a .216/.246/.417 line. His replacement is 24-year-old left-handed hitter Juan Francisco, whom the organization has long billed as the future third baseman. Chad Dotson over at Redleg Nation isn't a fan of Francisco's, comparing him to Wily Mo Pena -- which means power potential, but lots of strikeouts with little awareness of the strike zone. I'm inclined to agree, although I think there are worse backups to rely upon.

The bigger question: How good is this Cincy offense? The team is hitting just .229/.309/.386 over those 11 games; and that's despite playing seven of those games at home against Pittsburgh and Arizona. Overall, the Reds still lead the NL in runs scored thanks to Joey Votto, Brandon Phillips and Jonny Gomes, but there is a bit of a mirage going on here: the Reds are hitting /285/.356/.469 at home, .229/.309/.349 on the road. The split wasn't so severe last season when the Reds had a .796 OPS at home and .754 on the road, but The Great American Ballpark is clearly a great hitters' park, enough so that it can cloud the evaluation of the Reds' hitters if you don't examine the numbers more closely.

The long-term issue with Rolen's injury is that he was really good last season, a key component to the Reds' division title. He had the second-best OPS on the team, played 133 games (his most since 2006) and produced 5.0 WAR (wins above replacement) according to FanGraphs. Francisco projects to not much better than replacement level, so the Reds could be looking at a significant win deficit if Rolen doesn't eventually return and come close to his 2010 level of play.

Follow David Schoenfield on Twitter at @dschoenfield. Follow the SweetSpot blog at @espn_sweet_spot.