The Cincinnati Reds called up 10 players for the September roster expansion. We are nearly a week into it and we have barely seen any of them play despite the fact that the Reds are going absolutely nowhere. Bryan Price has been asked about it and has made the same remarks we often hear about not playing call ups against contenders and sticking with the guys who were with the team all season.
The pitchers do seem to be getting into games, but the position players haven’t been able to see much time on the field. Yorman Rodriguez has made one start and he didn’t even get to finish the game as he was pinch hit for. Donald Lutz has made two starts in the last week. Both of those guys are very capable of playing left field. A position that is wide open for the taking right now. Jason Bourgeois actually got back-to-back starts, but has just one other plate appearance. He’s also an outfielder. Jake Elmore has gotten one start and one pinch hit appearance. Tucker Barnhart has gotten one start and came in for another game late. Even Kristopher Negron, who isn’t a call up, has struggled to find playing time in September.
Instead the Reds are playing Chris Heisey, Ramon Santiago, Skip Schumaker, Jack Hannahan, Ryan Ludwick and Brayan Pena. No disrespect to any of those guys, but we know what they are and what they aren’t. The Reds, or Bryan Price specifically, doesn’t know a whole lot about Yorman Rodriguez. He can’t possibly know much about Donald Lutz, who despite almost finishing up his second year in the big leagues has still never started in back-to-back games in his career. Lutz plays two positions and both of them are without a starter. Jason Bourgeois has been around for a while, but not so much with the Reds. Wouldn’t it be a good idea to see what he could bring to the bench next year and get him some playing time instead of running out Heisey, Schumaker or Ludwick over the final three weeks? Jake Elmore has played every position on the field, but realistically looks like a utility type of guy who can cover you on the infield or maybe in left field if you really need it. Kristopher Negron is a strong defender wherever he plays and he can play just about anywhere. Tucker Barnhart is in a bad position compared to the rest of the guys since his only position actually is covered and is being filled by a guy who is indeed playing quite well and also young.
Why should the Reds care about how the Cardinals or Brewers or Pirates feel about what guys they are placing on the Cincinnati lineup card? Why should the guys that have been here all year be playing simply because they’ve been here all year? This team can’t score runs to save their lives, are well below the .500 mark and it’s not like anyone outside of Todd Frazier or Devin Mesoraco are really playing all that well. Doing the same thing over and over, but expecting different results is one of the definitions of insanity. The Reds lineup continues to be the same thing over and over, and we aren’t getting different results. Let’s stop with the insanity. Even if it doesn’t work, and if someone were to make the argument that it won’t, it could be understandable. But try. There really is nothing to lose by trying something different when the other options have shown that they absolutely won’t work.
The Reds season is over. They know it and the fans know it. Give the guys just called up a chance to play that is more than four plate appearances a week. See what they can do. Give yourself some knowledge to work with about them as you move into the offseason. If Negron, Lutz, Elmore and Bourgeois don’t look like they can fill that bench role for you where they get two starts a week and a few pinch hitting chances, you at least know that when November and December roll around that you need to be looking for someone on the market that can. If they have a combined 40 plate appearances in September because the Cardinals might not be happy that those guys played against the Pirates and the team doesn’t have a clue about how those guys can handle that role, it’s just bad business. There are too many reasons to play these guys to let one reason that truly has nothing to do with your organization to keep you from doing it.
To pull a quote from the Bad News Bears in Breaking Training: Let them play.