The problem with the Cincinnati Reds according to Johnny Bench


Johnny Bench took time to speak to the media regarding his partnership with Stryker Orthopaedics and how they have changed his life. He credits Stryker as the reason why he is in such good shape today, as double hip replacement was not the fearful operation that it is viewed to be, but a blessing.

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Naturally, the conversation turned to the current state of Bench’s Cincinnati Reds.

The Cincinnati Reds‘ season has not gone according to plan. Pegged to be in contention with the St. Louis Cardinals, the Pittsburgh Pirates and the Chicago Cubs in a jam-packed National League Central, the Cincinnati Reds quickly gave in under the weight of the season and became sellers at the deadline. They dished ace Johnny Cueto as well as Mike Leake and all of a sudden, the perennially contending Cincinnati Reds are at the bottom of the division.

So what went wrong? How did a Cincinnati Reds’ team that has the likes of Joey Votto, Brandon Phillips, Todd Frazier and Aroldis Chapman fall from grace so quickly? The answer may be pretty simple. According to Hall of Fame catcher and Cincinnati Reds’ legend Johnny Bench, the answer lies in the farm system.

Based on Bleacher Report’s post-deadline farm system rankings, the Cincinnati Reds moved up a bit to 19th in baseball. That is a drastic improvement but it still puts this current Cincinnati Reds’ side years from contending consistently again. Plus, the majority of their acquisitions at the deadline were starting pitchers.

Johnny Bench is of the opinion that the Cincinnati Reds need “that 6’2″ 215 pound guy that the Chicago Cubs keep managing to produce” in order to repair the damage. The Reds simply have no depth from their own system and they have no prospects to look forward to. Jesse Winker is the closest to the majors, but even he is only in AA. As the top prospect in the system, at least he plays in the outfield, a position that the Cincinnati Reds are sorely lacking. Aside from Winker, none of the Reds’ top 10 non-pitching prospects are beyond Advanced-A ball.

Johnny Bench highlighted the qualities of Joey Votto and how much he brings to the team as well as Todd Frazier. He mentioned the enigma that is Jay Bruce. Aside from that though, the Cincinnati Reds do not have anyone that can clear the table. According to Bench, the Reds biggest loss was in the injuries to Devin Mesoraco.

Instead of being able to call up promising young prospects to fill holes, the Cincinnati Reds have had to rely on journeymen like Jason Bourgeois and Brennan Boesch. That is no sort of position that a contending team would want to be in.

The Cincinnati Reds took a step in the right direction with their acquisitions at the deadline. They can put a lot of hope in the return of Mesoraco. But in the end they are going to have to repair this system. It may cost them some years at the bottom of the Central but it must be done. They cannot produce prolonged success with the little bit of crop that they have.

Brandon Phillips is 34, Joey Votto is 32, Todd Frazier is 29 and Jay Bruce is 28. Eventually this club needs to start getting younger. Even the first base ‘prospect’ they acquired, Adam Duvall, is 27 years old.

Billy Hamilton is a good start but he is not going to be able to win games on his own. He needs someone to drive him in. That is where rejuvenating the system comes into it. They need to start acquiring the Kris Bryant‘s and the Anthony Rizzo‘s.

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