Darnell McDonald tries hard. He doesn’t loaf on the basepaths, and he gives 100% effort in everything he tries to do for the Cincinnati Reds. He seems like a great guy.

Let’s not mince words, however. Darnell McDonald has no business being on a major league roster.

The Reds willingly played most of this weekend with a 22/23-man roster (with Votto and Phillips sick and Gonzalez unavailable because the Reds stupidly didn’t DL him). With McDonald on the roster, they were effectively playing with one fewer player.

McDonald’s stats are terrible, and when he was inserted into the game in a tense situation late Sunday, he looked like a high-schooler trying to hit a major league pitcher. He never came close to making contact.

I feel bad for the guy. Much like Corey Patterson last year, he’s trying hard but the Reds have put him in a no-win situation. He’s just not a major-league caliber talent. Everyone outside the Reds organization knew this on Opening Day. None of us thought he’d still be here in mid-May. It’s time for the Reds to open their eyes.

The Reds need to designate Darnell McDonald for assignment TODAY. Thank him for his effort, and send him on his way. It doesn’t matter who he is replaced with. We prefer Jonny Gomes (Nix/Gomes left field platoon, anyone?), but maybe the Reds would prefer Norris Hopper or Wes Bankston or even, heaven forbid, Wilkin Castillo.

Whomever it is, the move needs to be made immediately. McDonald has had a month and a half in the major leagues. It’s time to improve the roster, giving Dusty Baker more flexibility with his bench. If the Reds are going to willingly play with fewer available players than other teams, they need to make sure that the available players are actually major league talents.

Walt Jocketty, Redleg Nation urges you to do it now.

57 Responses

  1. jrs1972

    I feel badly for the guy, but he’s just over matched here. The Reds need to make a decision here for the good of this surprisingly competitive team.

  2. Sultan of Swaff

    I couldn’t agree more. He swung at the first two pitches, both balls, from a pitcher he’s never seen in his life. Just retarded. Get Gomes or Stubbs up here yesterday.

  3. Dan

    I take no joy in saying this… but I do agree completely. Sorry, Darnell.

    Gomes vs. LHP in Louisville (2009): .364/.481/.818

    Gomes vs. LHP in the majors (career): .266/.369/.510

    It just seems too obvious now, but let’s get him up here ASAP!

  4. james

    I hope Gomes is on his way to Arizona right now. The Reds can’t have that ole fashion west coast slump.

  5. GregD

    Just don’t leave Gomes in there to face RHP:

    Past three years
    vsLH: 264/368/527
    vsRH: 200/291/387

  6. Matt WI

    So let it be written, so let it be done.

  7. Bill Lack

    Playing short: Gonzalez is now a week into his “rehab” on the active list…so, if they DL’d him today (retroactive to last Monday), he’d be out for another week. He’s already been out for a week (and that forced the team to play short), but at least we could have someone on the roster rather than someone that can’t play.

    They act like the 15 day DL is forever…and they do this all the time.

    What am I missing here?

  8. Matt WI

    Maybe it’s a sad public relations/pride thing for the team. People are sick of Gonzalez being out (seemingly) all the time, so the team can officially say “He was never on the d.l.” Maybe it makes them feel better. But you’re very right Bill, at this point, what’s a week another week and actually getting to play with a full roster? Can Walt or Dusty say we’d really miss Gonzalez THAT much? I’d say only Votto would fit that bill on this team for the everyday players.

  9. John

    Talked to a Cardinals fan recently about Walt Jocketty. He said one of the common beefs Cards fans had with him was that he doesn’t do anything. I mean, they’ve made exactly one roster move this season — EE to the DL replaced by Rosales. He didn’t get a hitter over the winter and made only one trade. Now they have a player who is legitimately hurt and hasn’t played for a week and they won’t DL him to get someone up here.

    Dan O’Brien used to pull this stuff. Guy would get hurt and it’d be a week before they decided what to do. You just can’t play major league baseball successfully if you can’t wake up from your nap and do something.

  10. GRF

    I love Owings, but when your best RHB off the bench is a pitcher…

    Gomes up, and for goodness gracious if Gonzalez is not ready now, put him on the DL like Bill suggests (unless there is an option situation or some other reason on the 40 man they could not bring anyone up, confess I have not looked at that).

  11. Dan

    Here’s a thought for a possible overhaul of the offense…

    There’s some wackiness in here, but hear me out…

    vs. RHP
    CF Nix
    C Hanigan
    1B Votto
    LF Gomes
    RF Bruce
    SS Phillips
    3B Rosales
    2B Sutton

    vs. LHP
    CF Taveras
    SS Phillips
    1B Votto
    LF Gomes
    C Hernandez
    RF Bruce
    3B Rosales
    2B Sutton

  12. Dan

    It’s wacky in some ways, I know, but let’s consider some unconventional stuff at this point.

    Here’s some of my reasoning behind the above lineups:

    –Phillips is the best SS in the system, today. He must be. He’s got the quickness, the hands, and the arm.

    –Lots of guys could play 2B — could be Hairston, Rosales, Sutton.

    –What if Gomes could be an everyday slugger? I’m more optimistic than I should be about that, and frankly I’d just like to find out.

    –Think of the potential power we could suddenly have with a Gomes/Nix/Bruce outfield.

    –Taveras, Dickerson, and Hairston make for a talented bench. They’re not real inspiring at this point as starters, but they’d be one of the better benches out there, I think.

    –Doesn’t Hanigan seem a little bit Jason-Kendall-ish to you? Nice OBP, limited power. That sounds like a nice 2nd hitter to me.

    –Phillips HAS to hit lower vs. RHP’s. He’s doing his major platoon-split thing again. (.232/.325/.362 vs. RHP’s, .286/.341/.571 vs. LHP’s)

    –Bruce, sadly, also is doing NOTHING vs. LHP’s so far.

    –All in all, let’s make some moves favoring OFFENSE now, rather than favoring defense and speed at every possible opportunity.

  13. RiverCity Redleg

    Dan, Gomes is weak vs righties and doesn’t play good enouf defensively to justify his inclusion every day. I would like to see him in the lineup vs lefties.

  14. Dan

    Yeah, you’re almost certainly right, RiverCity… Still, the offense has been so bad (particularly by the right-handed hitters), I’d kind of like to give it a trial run and find out.

    I just feel like we’ve been so over-conservative, and now we have such an obvious problem to focus on… I’m in the mood to see the Reds try to be creative and try some bolder, riskier things.

    (Bolder, riskier things that do NOT involve trading away prospects in favor of 30-somethings, that is!!)

  15. pinson343

    Definitely, McDonald is not a ML baseball player.
    Like others I’d like to see Gomes, but if for some reason they don’t want to bring him up yet, Hopper can do all the things McDonald was supposed to do but can’t – bunt, make contact, play defense, steal a base occasionally. Castillo wouldn’t be such a bad move, he can play a lot of positions and be the 3rd catcher, allowing Hannigan to PH.

  16. crypticphrasing

    Chris Dickerson didn’t look great yesterday either. He needs to play everyday somewhere, so he should be sent to AAA. Release McDonald, call up Gomes and either another infielder or outfielder. Hairston can be the 5th outfielder if an infielder is called up.

  17. mike

    Dan, I notice you mention Sutton and yesterday in the Titanic Struggle post I made a similar comment. I didn’t create lineups but the ideas were the same.
    Yesterday I said….

    I don’t know much about Drew Sutton but he’s hitting well and while a 2B can play 3B and has played a little SS. .375 OBP this year and .377 for his minor league career.

    Gomez’s OPS is up to .863

    and from the video I watch I’d almost say Heisey could make the jump from AA and play any OF position.

    DL Gonzo and call up Sutton
    release McDonald and call up Gomez
    send Hairston to AAA and call up Heisey

    send Herrera down and call up Fisher

    trade Owens or Arroyo and a minor leaguer for a LF

    call up Bailey for the trade pitcher

    get EE healthy

  18. Mr. Redlegs

    Totally agree about McDonald, and the guy to replace him should be Hopper since he is now healthy and starting to hit. The key with a bench player is contact with the bat, defense and versatility–none of which describes Gomes.

    You all look at his power and what he hits against lefties, but in late-inning situations, any manager worth a toothpick is going to use a situational righty to counter Gomes or force Baker’s hand to make yet another bench move. Hopper makes infinitely more sense than Gomes in almost every aspect.

  19. mike

    by the way, I just saw that FanGraphs has updated their player projections and now have in-season projections. This makes discussion of players like Nix or Hairston or McDonald even more interesting.

    For example, I have been waiting for Nix to crash and return to his past self, which would put the Reds in a bind since they will then have NOBODY who can hit to play in LF.

    But looking at the updated Zips projections it thinks he will finish the season with a .827 OPS. That’s with a terrible .317 OBP. But .827?

    How bout the other options?
    Zips OPS projection which includes production so far this season
    .827 Nix
    .733 Hairston
    .717 McDonald
    .701 Dickerson (ouch!)

    and the SS options?
    .756 Phillips
    .667 Janish (not good but better than Gonzo)
    .625 Gonzo

    Rosales comes out to .708 and it has really been mentioned that since his hot start he’s done nothing with the bat

  20. Mark T

    I agree – my wife and I were watching the game, and Mr. Prescient here said that Phillips had to make it happen, because McDonald was up next, and that would be that.

    First time I’ve been right all year. Allow me to gloat a bit.

  21. GregD

    Dan, you don’t have to give it a trial run and find out. Gomes vs. RHP 2006-2008: 200avg/291obp/387slg

    Redlegs, I don’t bring him up for the late inning situations. I bring him up to platoon with the lh starter (currently Nix) pushing Hairston to the late inning situation bench player…though perhaps after yesterday’s 10th inning, that’s a bad idea!

    Mike, what past self are you waiting for Nix to crash to? His rookie ML numbers of 5+ years ago? That is not representative of what he has done as a professional the past 2-3 years nor, IMO, will that yield a fair projection of what he can do in the majors.

  22. mike

    GredD you pointed that out before about Nix and I do think you are somewhat right.
    Nix is also 28 which would put him at an age to be at his peak.
    I’ve started to come around to Nix, just slowly 🙂

  23. Chris

    This club does need some power off the bench, other than Micah Owings, but Mr. Redlegs makes a very good point about Gomes. With that extreme platoon split, and the composition of most bullpens, Gomes is rendered all but useless as a pinch hitter. The only time he’d actually see a lefty reliever is if he hit for the #2 hitter.

    And if Votto is on deck, a low OBP/high SLG pinch-hitter isn’t really what you need.

  24. Chris Garber

    I don’t bring him up for the late inning situations. I bring him up to platoon with the lh starter (currently Nix) pushing Hairston to the late inning situation bench player…

    But how much value is there in that role? There are what – seven LH starters in the division? Lilly, Marshall, Wandy Rodriguez, Hampton, Duke, Maholm, and Parra. 7 of 25 is 28% of the starters in the division, and we’ve conceded that he’ll never see a LH reliever.

    There’s a case for Gomes as the 24th or 25th man, but there are also probably more better solutions. Consider Hopper’s career numbers vs. LHP: .367 .406 .456. AND he can do a few other things.

  25. GregD

    Last year, the Reds faced 55 LH starters (34% of their games) So far this year, the Reds faced 10 LH starters (32%).

    On average, once per series.

  26. Dan

    The thing I don’t like about Hopper (and McDonald for that matter) is that he basically IS Willy Taveras! We just don’t more of these speedy, right-handed, completely powerless guys on the roster.

    Gomes would give us a new element — right-handed slugging power.

    I’ll admit I’m stretching things when I speculate about playing him every day. I’d like to think that with more playing time he could hit righties reasonably well — he did in his good rookie season in 2005 — but that might be asking too much.

    But we need more right-handed pop. The team is showing more promise than I thought it would this year, and I just hate stunting it by running out lineups that look like we think it’s 1982.

  27. Dan

    One more thing re: versatility: I agree that versatility is nice, but at this point every single outfielder we have can play center field. We can afford to carry ONE who’s just a slugging, corner-outfield guy.


    Yeah, every one of those guys can play CF. I don’t need one more option. I want a HR threat.

  28. Matt WI

    I think if management thought anything of Hopper, he’d be on the 40-man. At least Gomes joined the team only this year and had to get in line. Hopper is probably a trade throw-in waiting to happen. Not saying I agree with management’s perspective, but I doubt he’s anywhere near the top of the list.

    It’s tiring waiting to find out if any of them (Dickerson, Hopper, Gomes, or even Freel over the years) can get it done over the long-haul. People are making good arguments for and against Gomes here. It all really smacks of the real issue: The Reds need to go out and get somebody by next year. I have no problem cutting Dickerson or McDonald and making room for anybody else within the organization until then.

  29. Dan

    Easy there Matt — don’t lump Dickerson and McDonald together. Dickerson is a useful major leaguer. McDonald is not.

    Also, Dickerson is 27. McDonald is 31.

    Big difference here.

  30. Matt WI

    I know… but looking at the 40 man, if I had to make a tough move, that’s who I’d pick after McDonald.

  31. Bill Lack

    And we have options for next year….they’re in the minors. (I’m not saying I’m against a good trade for some prospects for a young slugging corner OF guy, but)….Stubbs, Heisey, Dorn (though he’s currently struggling), Frazier are all guys that could help this team shortly..and if Yonder continues to hit, he’ll be in AA by the second half..and force the Reds to think about where Votto’s future lies.

  32. Dan

    Really? That strikes me as too impatient after Dickerson had one bad month.

  33. Sultan of Swaff

    He must be a front runner. Dusty ain’t!!

  34. GregD

    That’s a good point Matt. Gomes isn’t THE solution. He’s just an answer based on what the Reds have now.

    And based on the Reds depth chart, Nix is ahead of Dickerson. So, if they replace Nix in LF with Nix slides back to a bench role, and Dickerson is the guy who goes to AAA (assuming McDonald is already gone.)

    It’s also interesting that the Red front office made a big deal about needing a RH bat, but their two “solutions” so far this year have been lefties Dickerson and Nix. I hope that if they do seek a solution this year, that they don’t get tunnel vision for a RH bat.

  35. Matt WI

    Dan… I know I’m being harsh on Dickerson… I guess today I just have no love for outfielders of marginal influence. You know, somebody that a reasonable baseball fan outside of Reds land doesn’t even think about. REally though, outside of getting rid of McDonald (who appears to be a great liability), I don’t care what they do with LF this year. I’m sticking with my mantra of “just be a little better than .500”

    Next year, I want somebody I can say “It’ll hurt not to have him in the line-up tonight.” Somebody that can just be CONSISTENT, power would be a plus. I feel like I’m running a singles ad…

    Married Reds Fan seeks hustling, high OBP outfielder to play 150 games. OPS over .800 preferred, OPS+ below .850 need not apply. Must enjoy talking “walks,” hitting LH and RH pitching, and getting to balls in the gap. In return, undying adulation. Long term signability a plus.

  36. RiverCity Redleg

    That’s pretty good, Matt.

  37. RiverCity Redleg

    The problem is that people always lie when they answer those things.

  38. Matt WI

    RCR… we could add that the applicant must meet a two/thirds approval vote of Redleg Nation. It’s the best we can do.

  39. mike

    I really wonder how much Nick Swisher would cost right now.

    Reds fans and media would hate him because he can hit, draw walks and strikes out a lot

  40. RiverCity Redleg

    Matt, that works for me. That’s kind of like asking them to meet your parents before you’ll go out with them, but what the hell, it’s worth a shot.

  41. RiverCity Redleg

    Mike, w’ Nady on the DL, Swisher may not be available anymore.

  42. mike

    Nady is not going to be out much longer
    and the Yanks are desperate for pitching

    the thing I worry about is that Swisher is having a great season so far so I wouldn’t want to have to over-pay for him.

    think the yanks would go for something like Arroyo and Fisher for Swisher?

  43. pinson343

    I was about to express the same opinion I did a couple days ago, DFA McDonald, send Dickerson to AAA to work on filling his batting holes that have been exposed, and bring up Gomes and Hopper. But I see a lot of the debate is about whether to bring up Gomes or Hopper.

    I still say bring up both. I’ve said (and agree with Mr. Redlegs) that Hopper is the logical choice to replace McDonald. Ans I vehemently concur with the obvious, that Gomes should be given the chance to fill a huge need.

    An issue that has been raised is that Hopper is not on the 40 man roster, but I just looked at our 40 man roster, it’s not exactly filled with untouchables. Is Craig Tatum in the plans for the Reds future ? And why isn’t Bray on the DL ?

  44. pinson343

    Willy Taveras has been doing a pretty good job in the leadoff slot and playing CF, I don’t understand the argument behind taking him out of the lineup.
    Jerry Hairston is a solid ML utility player, getting rid of him would make our bench even weaker.

    I’m very excited about Drew Stubbs, but don’t bring him up yet. At every minor league level, he’s had trouble at first adjusting to the pitching. Promote him to the major leagues when he’s ready to face that challenge and play every day. I’d like to see home get some at bats with the Reds in September.

  45. pinson343

    I like Swisher, but doesn’t he have a long-term expensive contract that goes on for a couple more years ?

    I don’t like the idea of trading Carlos Fisher. I understand you have to give up something to get something, but trading away a young pitching talent who’s dominating at AAA makes me very nervous.

  46. jason

    I really do feel badly for McDonald at this point as well, especially when you know everybody else on the club knows the writing is on the wall for him. That said, I feel even worse when I see him not being able to throw down a bunt in extra frames vs. Florida last week in a tense sithcy, along with stated horrible AB vs. the Redbirds. Send McDonald down and bring up Hopper, he can at least throw down a bunt.

  47. mike

    pinson343 I agree, giving up Fisher would be tough.
    BUT, we are talking about a reliever in AAA who is already 26. His value, since he’s unproven is NOWHERE NEAR that of a full time proven position player.

    Swisher’s contract is not that bad….it’s long but he’s not making that much.
    $5.3 million this season, then $6.75 million, and $9 million

    he is easily worth that much and this year and next year I’d even say he’s cheap

    the thing is I just threw out the idea of Arroyo and Fisher for Swisher but I have absolutely no idea what the Yankees asking price would be. Not even a guess. The only thing I think is certain is that they would want immediate pitching help.

  48. Glenn

    Now we can all see the reasons that McDonald spent all that time in the minor leagues. Nice guy, nice story, but he’s just overmatched as a hitter.

    Dickerson is the same story. He reminds me of Pete Jr., in a way. Good looking kids who look very good standing in the batters’ box but they are totally overmatched by major league pitching.

    Let’s at least move McDonald and get Gomes up here as fast as we can.

  49. pinson343

    Actually, Mike, if I heard that we’d picked up Swisher for Arroyo and Fisher, I’d probably jump for joy.
    As you say, the Yankees need immediate help, they’d want something like Arroyo plus a couple of major league proven relievers, something like Arroyo plus Rhodes and Burton. I don’t even know if that would be enough to land Swisher, with the way he’s been playing.

  50. earl

    Nick Swisher is the guy I have brought up a few times on the site, but his value is way up from spring training. The guy played baseball for Ohio State and he can play first, so he give someone who can back up Votto if something like last week happens. I think the Yanks would still be hungry for another starting pitcher. Big George always seemed to have a thing for players that beat him, so I would think Arroyo would have that fascination.

    Willie Taveras has earned his stripes with me for now, as he has lived up to what was advertised and hopefully he can keep it up.

  51. Mr. Redlegs

    What GM in their right mind would give up TWO starting pitchers or a starting pitcher and a key reliever for Nick Swisher, especially with his contract? The guy has had one good month in the last season and a half. Yeah. he could really help the Reds but we’re still talking about an erratic bat for a proven, veteran, innings-eater starting pitcher.

  52. pinson343

    I didn’t say I (or WJ) would give up Arroyo plus a good reliever for Swisher, but was conjecturing about what the Yankees might ask for.