Aug 17, 2014; Denver, CO, USA; Colorado Rockies left fielder Corey Dickerson (6) is forced out as Cincinnati Reds second baseman Skip Schumaker (25) turns a double play during the eighth inning at Coors Field. The Rockies won 10-9. Mandatory Credit: Chris Humphreys-USA TODAY Sports
So far in 2014, the Cincinnati Reds have treated fans to dramatic comebacks, surprising pitching heroes and tragic offensive shortcomings. If this past week is any indication, though, the team intends to finish this season in full-blown comedy mode: on Thursday, the Reds demoted 1-10 reliever JJ Hoover and promptly “replaced” him in the bullpen with utility man Skip Schumaker.
Hoover’s demotion came just a day after the beleaguered reliever plunked Jon Jay of the St. Louis Cardinals with the bases loaded to send the Reds to their fifth straight loss. Hoover then apologized for that gaff via Twitter, but it wasn’t enough to keep his big league job in the short term.
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For his part, Schumaker has been a pretty big disappointment in 2014 after signing as a free agent with the Reds last November. Even though his performance had been down in recent seasons with the Cards and Los Angeles Dodgers, much of that dip was attributed to injuries, and a healthy Schumaker was expected to contribute in the infield or at least as a valuable bench option.
Instead, Schumaker has hit just .243 in 73 games and has been mediocre on defense. He’s locked up through 2016, and those $2.5-million annual salaries look like a low-weight albatross a year into his Cincinnati tenure.
The comedy kicked into high gear last night, though, when manager Brian Price brought in Schumaker to mop up in the ninth inning of the Reds’ latest stinker, an 8-0 drubbing at the hands of the Atlanta Braves. Lo and behold, Schumaker pitched a scoreless inning, though he did give up a walk and recorded only six strikes in 17 pitches.
Still, it was an empty frame, something that Reds’ relievers have found harder and harder to come by lately.
Given Schumaker’s success last night, it seems that maybe the Reds have missed another obvious opportunity: “Now batting in place of Skip Schumaker and playing second base, number 60, JJ Hoooooover!”
I mean, in the grand scheme of 2014 Cincinnati Reds baseball, how bad could it be?