David Bell said on Sunday, what great deal of Cincinnati Reds fans have been saying all winter, "He (Kyle Farmer) coming in (to spring training) as the shortstop." The question is, how long will Bell toe that line before handing the shortstop position over to Jose Barrero?
We all love Farmer, and I firmly believe that he deserves a chance to remain the starting shortstop heading into 2022. But for Bell to pronounce that Farmer is the team's shortstop on the first day of spring training is ludicrous.
Jose Barrero should be the Reds starting shortstop on Opening Day.
I would say the same thing if David Bell came in on the first day of spring training and said that Jose Barrero was the Cincinnati Reds starting shortstop. The issue is, as well as Kyle Farmer played in 2021, his offensive statistics were average at best.
To be fair to Bell, there was a lot of "coach speak" in his first conversation with the media on Sunday. During the same timeframe that he proclaimed Farmer the starting shortstop, he also said, via MLB.com, that Barrero is going to force the issue and could be on the field on Opening Day.
""Barrero, we all know what a talented player he is. He's going force the issue somewhere on the field, there's no question. He's still a young player. It doesn't have to happen Opening Day -- it could. He did play some center field last year. We do consider him a shortstop coming into camp, and we'll just see what happens. If he forces the issue, we'll make a spot for him on the team.""- David Bell, Reds manager (via MLB.com)
If the Reds entered the 2022 season with Nick Castellanos in right field and a starting rotation of Sonny Gray, Wade Miley, Luis Castillo, Tyler Mahle, and Vladimir Gutierrez, then I wouldn't be so bullish on Barrero being Cincinnati's starting shortstop.
But, the Reds allowed Castellanos to walk, Miley was let go for absolutely nothing, Gray was dealt over the weekend for a young pitching prospect, Michael Lorenzen headed home to California, and Tucker Barnhart was traded to the Detroit Tigers. This is not the same Reds team that won 83 games in 2021 and was in the thick of the playoff hunt in September.
We're likely to see two rookies in the starting rotation and a second-year catcher behind the dish with no legitimate backup. The team's outfield depth is atrocious, and with the injury history of Nick Senzel and Jesse Winker, that's not a good thing.
To be clear, I'm not advocating that Kyle Farmer stay on the bench. In fact, there'll be days that I'd prefer to see him at third base and Eugenio Suárez ride the pine. Farmer could sub in for Joey Votto at first base and allow the former MVP to be the Reds' designated hitter from time to time.
Kyle Farmer has earned the right to compete, but not at the expense of Jose Barrero's development. Barrero has done everything the club has asked of him, and has outgrown the minor leagues. It's time to hand the reigns over to the 23-year-old.
And by the way, don't tell me that he can't hit major league pitching. Barrero has a grand total of 117 at-bats in the big leagues, 67 of which were during the 2020 season before he'd even played above A-Ball. Just like we never would've known how good Kyle Farmer was until he was given a chance last season, we'll never know how good Jose Barrero is until he's given a chance to prove himself.