I was running some errands today, and it was such a nice day that I went the long way home, enjoying some ice cream as well. On my walk back, I turned a corner and ran into a group of six kittens with about seven eyeballs between 'em. They were all huddled up until I saw them, and then they scattered a bit. I felt bad, so I laid down the rest of my ice cream for them and walked off. They finished quickly, but then followed me for a good 50 meters or so, mewling pathetically the whole time. Anyways, I named them "The Reds' Bench."
Skip Schumaker has slashed.271/.332/.346 since 2010, good for an OPS+ of 89. Here is a list of all Reds bench players who have OPS+'ed 89 or greater since 2010 (100 PA minimum):
- Yonder Alonso
- Juan Francisco
- Xavier Paul
- Chris Heisey
- Laynce Nix
Paul and Heisey are of course still around, but also on their way towards getting expensive, having holes exposed in swings, and having BABIP-driven luck crater. The Reds need to turn things around. Ideally they would do this by giving some spots to not-so-young-anymore players to try out, but guys like Neftali Soto and Henry Rodriguez have not been pushing the issue like at all. In the outfield, Phipps, Lamarre, Feilhauer, and Perez all did their least to make a claim for a roster spot.
Meanwhile, the lineup stalwarts have been, well, stalwart. But Bruce, Votto, Phillips all slumped in September (though Cozart/Choo/Frazier all had better-than-average-rate stats, so what the heck do I know?), and the less said about the last week of the season, the happier we'll all be. The Reds need someone who can bridge the gap to the September callups.
Does this mean that Skip is worth $5 million? Absolutely not. I'm flummoxed/bothered/upset/all worked up that the Reds have made a policy of not using the 25th roster spot on a young guy with upside, seemingly afraid to risk cutting bait on a guy if he shows himself to be sub-Schumakerian if it means that he can be actually Carpenterian. Or in other words, the Cardinals had to go through a few Schumakers, Descalsos, and Kozmas to eventually stumble into Matt Carpenter, and that really worked out okay.
But it is not that the Reds have built their team backwards. I liked this team much more when their depth was up-the-middle rather than corner outfielders and their discontents, but the team does have cornerstones in Frazier and Votto, as well as Bruce obvii. Working inside with bench players and an expensive bullpen isn't the worst next step. It would be nice if the big pressing questions asked by BK earlier today were solved, but until then, the Reds have an un-embarrassing bench bat. There's worse things in the world than that.