The Cincinnati Reds have to make some changes if they can expect any different results than the losing ways that have rendered them a .500 team, and one of those changes, at the top of the list, would be benching shortstop Zack Cozart in favor of Kristopher Negron.
The Reds need more offense than they’ve been producing and worst among the worst is the anemic-hitting Cozart, who appears incapable of making any kind of adjustment with his hands or bat level to produce more line drives and fewer pop ups.
The result of Cozart’s failure at the plate this year is a .224 average and a puny OPS of just .572. Cozart has been entrenched in the eighth spot for good reasons, but now it’s time to finally give someone else a turn.
And Negron has shown he’s ready. His .259 BA over a sampling of just 58 at-bats isn’t too impressive, but his .789 OPS for a run-starved team is much needed and a vast improvement over Cozart.
Negron has made nine starts at second base and three at third since the 28-year-old was called up to replace the injured Brandon Phillips. But he started 73 games at short in 2013 at Triple-A and 47 this year. What Negron may lack in terms of range and overall fielding ability at short when compared to Cozart, he could more than make up for with increased production on offense.
It’s hard to imagine that Negron could do much worse than Cozart at the plate. Skip Schumaker could take the majority of starts at second base until Phillips returns.
With Phillips likely to return in another week or two, the Reds will have to make a choice of middle infielders to keep on the roster. Negron might as well get his shot to stick when Phillips returns because the Reds lose virtually nothing by releasing Ramon Santiago.
And when Phillips does return, having Negron already acclimated at short would be a plus to help Phillips transition to a new double-play partner. And might mean the difference between a couple one-run wins and one-run losses in the meantime.