Cincinnati Reds: Mismanagement of the alternate site could be costly

CINCINNATI, OH - JULY 27: Tyler Stephenson #37 of the Cincinnati Reds rounds the bases after hitting a solo home run in his first Major League at bat. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)
CINCINNATI, OH - JULY 27: Tyler Stephenson #37 of the Cincinnati Reds rounds the bases after hitting a solo home run in his first Major League at bat. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images) /

The Reds at Prasco Park should have arrived sooner.

I’m not going to beat around the bush; I’m frustrated. The Cincinnati Reds came into the season with so much hype, and to say they have not delivered is an understatement. The front office’s mishandling of their young talent at the alternate site may be their biggest regret looking back at what could be a disastrous 2020 season.

Phillip Ervin had no business on this year’s Reds team. Ervin played in 19 games and that’s 20 more than he should’ve seen. In 35 at-bats, Ervin was able to hit safely just three times. After dominating left-handed pitching in 2019, Ervin hit just .095 off southpaws in 2020. There was no excuse for Aristides Aquino to be at Prasco Park while Ervin was playing in meaningful games.

Two questions; why was Aquino not called up sooner? And, why was Travis Jankowski even on the roster? In Aquino’s 56 career games last season, Aristides Aquino racked up 19 home runs and 47 RBIs. In 569 games, Jankowski and Ervin have combined to hit 25 home runs and record 106 RBIs.

The past few offseason, it was obvious that the Reds front office was looking to replace Tucker Barnhart behind the plate. Cincinnati pursued a trade for J.T. Realmuto before he landed in Philadelphia and almost secured the services of Yasmani Grandal last offseason before the former Reds farmhand signed with the Chicago White Sox.

The performance of top catching prospect Tyler Stephenson during the Arizona Fall League seemed to quiet the Reds desire to upgrade the position. His dominance in Cactus League play before spring training was shutdown due to the coronavirus pandemic only lessened the craving to add a new backstop.

In his brief stint with the club this year, Stephenson has two hits, a walk, a home run and two RBIs in just three plate appearances. Meanwhile, Tucker Barnhart is batting under.200 with 11 hits in 62 at-bats. Some fans will point to Barnhart’s Gold Glove defense, but it’s the Reds inability to score runs that have truly hurt the team this year.

Not re-signing José Iglesias may have been the Reds biggest failure this past offseason. Freddy Galvis may be the definition of an average baseball player. With a .731 OPS and six home runs, Galvis has certainly not been horrendous at the dish. However, for those who are unaware, Iglesias is slashing .4025/.415/.557.

In very un-Reds-like fashion, shortstop José García was called up to the big leagues after never even seeing the field at the Double-A level. It was said that García would see regular time in the Reds lineup, but that has yet to be the case since his promotion. It seems like the Reds definition of “everyday” shortstop appears to mean every other day.

With Galvis and Barnhart typically occupying the No. 8 and 9 spots in the Reds batting order respectively, they’ve combined to hit .180. I’d have to think that the combination of García and Stephenson could at least provide better numbers than that.

This is not a 162-game season and players do not have time, like last year’s World Series Champion Washington Nationals, to figure it out. However, it appears that someone forgot to tell the decision makers in the Reds front office that it’s crunch time and the 2020 season has been reduced to just 60 games.

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It feels like teams all around the league, except for the Cincinnati Reds, find ways to figure it out. This year’s roster is good enough to make the postseason in a normal, 162-game season, However, it’s also good enough to make the playoffs in a 60-game season. The mismanagement of the alternate site may be the downfall of this Reds season.