It is no secret that the Cincinnati Reds had many glaring holes in their roster coming into the 2021 season. A vacancy at shortstop, a bullpen that lacked many proven relievers, and a starting rotation that had a need for a fifth starter.
Now, a little over one month into the season and all three issues have reared their ugly heads at points. José De León struggled as the fifth starter and was moved to the bullpen. Eugenio Suárez has seemingly forgot how to hit a baseball (until yesterday) while playing shortstop, and the bullpen has been an utter mess.
Bob Castellini’s lack of spending has put Reds Manager David Bell in a bind.
Suárez he is striking out more than 38% of the time and is in just the 10th percentile of all hitters in the league in exit velocity. He currently has a slash line of .139/.237/.337 in 101 at-bats. Had Reds owner Bob Castellini spent some money on a shortstop his winter, Suárez would not have moved from third base to learn a new spot midway through spring training.
The bullpen problem falls solely on Castellini. The Reds chose to non-tender Archie Bradley, which puzzled many given his track record while also trading away closer Raisel Iglesias for basically peanuts.
The team then brought in former Washington Nationals’ pitcher Sean Doolittle, who has allowed balls to jump off the opponents’ bats, and left-hander Cionel Perez, who was optioned to the minors before the end of April. Given the Reds’ limited budget, there wasn’t much for GM Nick Krall to work with.
David Bell, in my opinion, has actually managed the situation quite well given what he has to work with. The naysayers have jumped all over Bell for such decisions as choosing to call on a struggling Amir Garrett in a two-run game last Monday night, only to watch him promptly give up the game-tying home run to Corey Seager.
As the Reds sit at 13-14 on the season heading into a two-game series against the Chicago White Sox, they still really only have one reliever in Tejay Antone (who should be a starter) that Bell can really trust. With one month down and five to go, it’s going to be a roller coaster of a season, folks.
This season will be defined by the question of “what if”. What if Bob Castellini and the Cincinnati Reds front office had spent some money this offseason to improve holes on their roster. We may never know the answer to that question.