After hitting .360 between Double-A Chattanooga and Triple-A Louisville the Cincinnati Reds called up infielder Alejo Lopez on Monday morning to join the big league club.
“Childhood dream come true,” said Lopez prior to the game. “A lot of emotions going on – a lot that I can’t explain right now. Very thrilled, very excited to get out there and play baseball.”
When the lineup was released on Monday afternoon, Alejo Lopez wasn’t in the lineup. That’s not unprecedented. Many managers will let a guy have that first day in the big leagues get acclimated in the clubhouse, in the dugout during the game, and just allow them to take things in for a bit. The Reds did that with Tony Santillan earlier this month when they officially called him up a day before his debut so he could take the game in from the dugout and have that experience before actually getting on the field.
With the Reds trailing 4-2 in the 7th inning David Bell went to the bench to call on Alejo Lopez for his Major League debut to pinch hit for Mike Freeman. Phillies pitcher Bailey Falter threw a 1st pitch slider to Lopez and he did exactly what he has been doing all year – lined a single into the outfield grass.
That single started a rally that culminated in Nick Castellanos hitting a go-ahead grand slam later in the inning with Lopez scoring one of those runs. Cincinnati piled on after that, scoring six more runs in the 8th inning. Lopez didn’t get in the field as he was simply used as a pinch hitter on the night.
“When that ball dropped, a lot of pressure just released off of my shoulders, so that was nice,” Lopez said after the game. “They say the 1st one is always the hardest one and then you can go ahead and do your thing. So I just really wanted it and anything over the plate I was swinging.”
The Reds are welcoming in the San Diego Padres tonight. But that’s not the only guests they’ll have – Alejo Lopez said that his parents would be in for the game on Tuesday night (they were not in Cincinnati on Monday). While that doesn’t guarantee that he will get his name written onto the lineup card, it’s usually something managers will find a way to make happen. Exactly where he’ll play is a bit of a bigger question, particularly with a lefty on the mound for San Diego which could make it a bit tougher to sit a right-handed bat. As was speculated yesterday, though, perhaps Lopez can play some third base with Eugenio Suárez moving back to shortstop. We’ll find out in a few hours.
Since India, Wink and Nick have batting order 1 through 3 locked up, it would be interesting to see Lopez inserted in the 9th slot and playing 3rd base giving Geno a day off or, regretfully playing him at SS.
Three young, aggressive, and exciting players is making Reds’ baseball faster and more interesting to follow. Now, if Senzel could stay on the field.
Welcome to the show Mr. Lopez. Start him at 3rd tonight, with Suarez (unfortunately) at shortstop. It’s exciting when a young man plays so well in the minors that he forces his way onto the roster. Here’s hoping he continues to hit and forces his way into the lineup.
On a related note, the Reds have a roster problem getting worse instead of better. With a little rehab time they will have five good options for 3B / 2B (Suarez, India, Lopez, Moustakas, and Senzel) and zero good options for shortstop. How will Krall sort this out, and Bell utilize his manpower? Is there a shortstop of the future in the minors – Barrera? Rodriguez? And who gets traded away, if anyone? It’s not like we couldn’t see this coming. The depth at 3B / 2B is great, especially given injuries to Moose and Nick (and Blandino) but something needs to budge to improve the team on the field. Oh, and about that bullpen…
As bad as Suarez has been at the plate lately (with the exception of the occasional dinger), his defense has been stellar! Last night, another excellent play after a play a few nights ago which was one of the best plays I’ve ever seen by a 3B. I think Farmer has done a very good job defensively at SS but his hitting has been far below what I thought he’d be doing. Maybe best as a utility player (remember, he’s also a 3rd catcher). India to SS? At least for the short term? Lopez at 2nd? May be a necessity.
Where India, Suarez and Lopez play defensively should be where there is less pain with SS being the weak link(we don’t have a true SS on the roster right now) to get the bats in the lineup. No one is sure what the best mix is but maybe Suarez back to SS is the best solution. I would bring up Rodriquez for an occasional start at SS and late inning defensive replacement. If Lopez fails to hit(which is doubtful ) it makes it somewhat easier.
Idk if India has ANY experience at SS. Not an experiment that you want to conduct at the MLB level during a season where you are contending. Same goes for Lopez, though I do think he had some limited experience in the minors at SS.
I think we need to wait on Jose Barrero. In the meantime, would love to see a trade for a controllable reliever.
The team is so much more fun now. We just have to get healthy and win. Lopez proved to be a spark already! Need to get Gray back and hopefully as effective as he was last year. Not sure about Santillan just yet but we’ll learn more tonight.
Doug has been reporting on and singing the praises of Alejo all season. Doug for assistant GM (or special assistant to the chair instead of Buddy)! Doug, who should be the next prospect that they should be giving a chance to instead of failed retreads??
A left side of the infield of Suarez and Farmer is TWO black holes at the plate. Their combined batting average is about .190. They each have a negative WAR on the season and we’re almost at July.
And we may not see Moose or Senzel back this season. So it’s time to do something NOW.
So here’s our best lineup at the moment:
Yes, I know they won’t push Suarez and Votto that low. And they’ll probably bat Lopez 8th (or even 9th) to take pressure off him. So don’t come at me–this is just my pipedream.
But c’mon. Joey’s OPS+ is 97. Eugenio’s is 64. We just can’t keep hitting them both in the middle of the lineup.
Good points. I kind of like the idea of Lopez 9th to lead into the top of the order. They will NEVER drop Votto that low. I think 5th is it. But yeah you are right about Farmer-Suarez. Farmer needs to be benched and put in a utility role.
see my dream below. pretty similar, but i think Lopez can handle the leadoff. Crazy to think Votto and Suarez should be at bottom of the order considering they were at one point our best two hitters but i agree
Agree on best lineup. We know we don’t have a SS ready yet. Maybe some trades will clear things up and also free up some money to resign Castellanos. It may have to be some salary dumps with players kicked in to sweeten the deal in order to move some of the contracts. We could also eat some of the salary.
I don’t see how you complain that Votto’s OPS+ is “only” 97 (batting him 8th), while you’re batting Naquin and his OPS+ of 103 in the 5 spot. Votto got off to his traditional slow start while Naquin started off hot and has cooled off. Lopez should bat 8th, with Joey 5th and Naquin 6th. But that’s just my opinion, for what’s it’s worth.
Votto’s 97 is below league average; Naquin’s 103 is above league average. Naquin may not be the ideal 5-hole hitter, but his .468 SLG and 46 RBI have saved our bacon numerous times this year.
1) Lopez (S) @ SS/2B
2) India (R) @ 2B/SS
3) Winker (L) @ LF
4) Castellanos (R) @ RF
5) Naquin (L) @ CF
6) Stephenson (R) @ C
7) Votto (L) @ 1B
8) Suarez (R) @ 3B
Make it Happen
I agree with he players, but, like previously stated they will never move the money that low, and Barnhart will also always play against RH pitchers, those, cough cough, Gold Gloves warrant that..not. I think to get those 8 players on the field they have to unfortunately put Suarez at SS. India is really comfortable in his role in the lineup and defensively. He is still a rookie and they need to be careful not to upset his apple cart. Suarez’s hitting cannot get worse, I think they will have to suffer with the defense. Those 8 statistically are the current best 8.
I don’t understand the Votto and Barnhart bashing. Those two have greatly contributed to this years record. Barnhart is doing and has done a lot of work with Stephenson behind the scenes and is helping the kid become a major league catcher, at the cost of his own playing time, and Joey just keeps on keeping on, making great plays in the field and contributing at the plate, and no, he should NOT be batting below the 5 hole. I do agree on Suarez as he just cannot seem to get it in gear, but who do you replace him with , the Rookie? Maybe, but dont’ think that’s going to happen due to his salary.
Simply trade Suarez for a SS. Platoon Votto against lefties until he realizes the sun has set on his career. He said back in 2020, something along the lines that he wouldn’t keep playing just for the money if he wasn’t producing. Well that ship has sailed.
My getting to watch the Reds every game for the first time this year has given me a different perspective on Votto. No he isn’t worth what he is getting paid nor is the player he used to be, but he is still an asset. He hits the ball hard most at bats(even when he makes an out). The DH next season has his name written all over it. That is just a half season away.
Too many folks these days focus on barrel %, EV, xBA, BABIP, etc. and conclude that a particular player is “smoking the ball”, just unlucky, etc. In reality, at some point, results have to matter. JV no longer hits lefties, just a .172 BA and .548 OPS this year. DH isn’t going to solve that problem. And the Reds still would have a 1B issue.
A trade requires someone who wants what you have. Not sure there is much demand for Suarez based on his current performance.
Who’s going to give us a SS, that you’d want to start for Suarez? Also who platoons with Votto? Suarez, Votto, and Moustakes are not going to be traded. There is an outside chance you could pair one (not Votto) with Castellanos in a trade. That would be giving up on the season, and diminishing the return you could have got for Castellanos.
Who? I’m still willing to bet that Colorado would give up Story for Suarez. They won’t resign him. It simply requires that Castellini commits to signing Story. It could be done.
So Votto is thru? I would like to know how you can say that after watching last nights game, or is is just something we should all know?
Just look at baseball reference and look at his progressive decline. The numbers, particularly against lefties, are unambiguous.
Lineup dreams aside what this year should teach us is that “experts” are really “guessers” just like fans. For years we Reds fans have heard how awful the drafting has been and the weakness of the farm system. Oops!!! This year has been amazing watching J.I., T.S., V.G., T.S.and now A.L., albeit only one game in. The exciting part is we still have H.G. and N.L. alongside several other promising guys. We can criticize the way players are used on the major league team but David Bell is not going to set up players to fail and I really believe it comes down to performance. I hope Nick C. starts believing that a lot of his success is GABP and I hope the front office at least tries to keep him.
Random but right forum…..if and WHEN Castellanos opts out after this year, do Reds receive any compensation if he opts out? Can they get draft pick for qualifying offer as with Bauer? If not, should just trade if if/when not in playoff contention?
I think Joey Votto should sit against left – handers, and play Eugenio Suarez at 1st base, and let Alejo Lopez play third. He needs to get in there and play.
Suarez is a liability at Short stop, regardless of the fact he came up as a Shortstop. he just doesn’t have the agility and foot work to play the position well.
As the season grinds on, a lot of guys will need days off.
India should get some days off, as should Suarez and Votto. On days off for Votto (he should be getting at least one a week, even if a lefty isn’t pitching against the Reds), and Suarez can play first. Lopez gets to play third and second on those days off, and maybe get some days in Left field.
What I expect is Bell using him intermittently, and he rusts on the bench.
I think that he is the 3rd basemen “of the future!”, and expect them to trade Suarez this winter.
Except that Suarez can’t hit lefties, either. This team has no shortstop at all, and no first baseman who can hit LH pitching. (Stephenson can, but playing him there by necessity puts Barnhart against the same LH pitcher.)
They need to trade Akiyama to a team with a spare 1B whose only talent is hitting LH pitching. I don’t know if there is such a person.
Their biggest long-term problem is dumping as much of the Moustakas contract (thank, Dick Williams) as they can, to use toward an offer for Castellanos. It’s one of the worst contracts in baseball right now, because he doesn’t even have a place to play on this team, even if he weren’t perpetually injured. Naquin is an equal hitter, at 10% of the price of Moustakas; Senzel is better at third, at 8% of the price; and India (and probably both Lopez and Schrock) are better at second, at 4% of the price. He’s probably about as good as Votto at first, assuming both are healthy, but Votto isn’t going anywhere.
The Castellini Crew just up and decided to donate $64 million to Mike Moustakas, for reasons that defy logic.
The Reds very possibly will need a DH next year, and he would be one of the candidates.
If the DH is used next year, Winker is one to consider. Votto still wouldn’t hit lefties. First base is a problem that the Reds need to solve now and quit procrastinating. Same with SS. Nothing guarantees that Barrero will be starting next year. He’s doing well at Chattanooga but needs to move up to Louisville and maintain his hitting before he can lay claim to next year’s starting job. And who is the first baseman of the future?
If you have any designs on Jesse Winker staying a Red past 2023- dont put him at DH. Winker has said repeatedly hes not a DH and doesnt wabt to be a DH.
Castellanos stated one reason he signed with the Reds was they wanted him for RF. He let David Bell know his first series that hes playing RF all the time and not being pulled or rotated.
Bell could play Winker at DH last year. He cant this year and while he probably can next year- Jesse Winker will not sign an extension with the Reds if hes a regular DH
Winker has a history of injuries and there’s no reason to expect that will change as he gets older. Besides, in terms of raw talent, he doesn’t have much besides hitting. If you have to spend money on either Winker or Casty, choose Casty now and let the Winker situation play out in the future.
Whoa, it’s one game! Let’s wait at least until after he STARTS games for a couple of weeks before we blow up the infield.
What infield? They have Jonathan India at 2B performing up to industry standards, and nobody else is close to even average performance at their position.
Everybody talks about the bullpen, but the infield x-India has been worse.
That’s sadly accurate
If López shows he belongs for an extended peek, meaning he hits better than either Farmer or Suárez, what is the reaction to the idea of the rookie start at 3B for awhile, and shuffling Farmer and Suárez at SS? That keeps both of their sinkhole stats from being in the lineup simultaneously, with minimal disruption
I see no point in starting Farmer in that scenario. Maybe Farmers role would be defensive replacement, when the team has the lead in the 7 inning on. Turning them into a platoon of right handed batters helps neither, or the Reds.
Oppo, no less. Notice Castellanos give him a little extra when he came around after the Grand Slam? I know this is a story about Lopez, but that was a class act by the vet there to the rook who got it started with 1 out.
Castellanos is a quiet guy who gives his all on the field. It’s his decision to stay or go. I sense that he sees potential in the Reds and something might be worked out, especially since baseball is coming out of the pandemic crisis and there won’t be too many clubs offering more than the Reds offer. If that’s not the case, the Reds have to be ready to trade him for a haul.
It seems a lot of people are forgetting a similar situation last year, Josh Van Meter. Tearing up AAA, came up to the Reds had opportunities and was, less than folks at RLN thought he would be. Alejo has been here one game and it is a far cry to say he is the 3B of the future. As all, I wonder if he will be given a “fair” opportunity to show if he really does belong, or if he is just another AAAA guy, to stash away for emergencies.
Someone on Red Reporter yesterday made this perceptive comment about comping Lopez and JVM:
There is a difference between the two.
VanMeter was always a more patient hitter but was not a high contact guy, struck out more often, and was not a traditional power hitter. What brought VanMeter to the scene was he all of the sudden started hitting for extreme, traditional home run power, and he got a big BABIP bump.
Alejo Lopez had traditionally been a contact hitter with good on base skills and limited walks. He didn’t just discover something new and it popped out like VanMeter. He’s more of a guy that seems to have perfected a craft. Low strikeout numbers and high walk numbers typically transition to MLB well. A magic manifestation of power does not.
Lopez did not just start hitting dingers to raise his OPS. He did it the hard way.
Lopez is a hitter and will find ways to get hits. No comparison in my mind to VanMeter.
Lineup just posted. Lopez is not in it.
J India (R) 2B
J Winker (L) LF
N Castellanos (R) RF
T Stephenson (R) C
J Votto (L) 1B
E Suárez (R) 3B
A Aquino (R) CF
K Farmer (R) SS
T Santillan (R) P
Business as usual
That is a whole lot of outs after Stephenson. Splits against LH pitching:
Aquino .211/.286/.684 (3 HR in 19 ABs)
Suarez’s stats are historically bad for a RH against a LH. Knuckleballer Wilbur Wood hit .084 for his career, and was likely a better bunter, so they are about as well off hitting Wilbur Wood, even now at age 79, as Suarez.
Chris Welsh’s slashed .182/.225/.245 for his career, or just .014 worse OPS than Suarez this year against left-handed pitching.
What price Alejo?
Geno was an enforcer vs lhp coming into this season. He’s still at a .860 ops for his career.
That just tells you how bad he’s pulling off the ball because lefties always work away vs righties and you have to look that way!
Joey will be 38 in September. Why is so hard for them to just give him a few days off vs lefties? Keep his legs fresh! Thats been alot of his problem. He walked a ton, but his knees/legs were so bad that he needed a triple to score from 2nd. It does seem like he’s running better this year, but maybe thats because he missed a month.
I’m a huge Votto fan but even I must admit that he has struggled against lefties on recent years, to the point where at the very least all his days off (at least from starting) should be against lefties. I don’t mean to suggest he should never start against lefties, but he should probably sit more than he starts. On the other hand, he should always start against righties. Here’s his line against righties:
.276 / .364 / .500 / .864. In 2021. That equates to an OPS+ of 142. That’s still a small sample size, about 200 PA split about 2/3 – 1/3 righties – lefties. My thought would be to sit him against lefties at least half the time, and to start him only if the opponent has a right handed heavy bullpen, and to start him every time a righty starts.
Another thought on Votto. He started slow, but since returning from the IL on June 8th he’s slugging .456 with an OPs of .807. That rate puts him in the top 1/3 in the NL (compared to all qualified hitters, which of course he is not due to the HBP).
And here’s one odd stat for the doubters. Against teams with a losing record at the time the Reds played them, about 54% of his plate appearances, his 2021 OPS is a meager .556. Against winning teams? It’s 1.010. Pretty good for a guy who will be 38 in September.
Bottom line I’m just fine with Votto hitting 5th, especially if he can get a rest against (half) the lefties.