Early-Season Grades for Cincinnati Reds' Offseason Acquisitions

Kyle NewportFeatured ColumnistApril 8, 2014

Early-Season Grades for Cincinnati Reds' Offseason Acquisitions

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    Michael Keating

    The Cincinnati Reds have been banged up to start the 2014 MLB season, so some of the offseason acquisitions who were supposed to be backups have seen more action than expected early on this year. This season is just more than a week old, but that's enough time to evaluate the team's offseason acquisitions early on.

    Entering spring training, the Reds felt like they had a pretty good idea of who would be contributing to the team this year. However, injuries have made it difficult for the club to play up to its potential.

    Cincinnati didn't make many moves this past offseason. The roster was pretty much set, so splashy moves weren't necessary. Although the club didn't make huge moves this past winter, there are a few players who are new to the team.

    Here are the players who will be graded:

    The players will be graded based on what they have done both at the plate and in the field. They will also be evaluated based on realistic expectations that they face. These players won't be graded the same way a player like Joey Votto would be because they aren't expected to have as big of an impact.

    Let's take a look at how each of Cincinnati's offseason acquisitions grades out through the first week or so of the 2014 MLB season. 

    *All stats are via MLB.com as of 4/7/2014

C Brayan Pena

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    Al Bello/Getty Images

    2014 stats: 5 G, 5-for-16, 2 2B, 0 RBI, 1 R, 4 BB (2 IBB), 3 K, 1 SB (1 CS)

    Due to an oblique injury to starting catcher Devin Mesoraco, Brayan Pena was expected to take over behind the plate. The results early on have been acceptable.

    The Reds brought Pena in for a couple of reasons. For starters, it was time to see what Mesoraco could do as the everyday catcher. Also, Pena was a cheaper alternative to veteran Ryan Hanigan.

    Cincinnati expects its catchers to handle the pitching staff and play strong defense. Anything that the catchers provide at the plate is a bonus. Through the first week, the Reds should be content with what they have gotten out of Pena.

    Hanigan was terrific at handling the pitching staff, and so far, Pena has worked well with his new pitchers. Here are the numbers that the pitchers have put up while throwing to Pena:

    3/31St. Louis Cardinals  1
    4/2St. Louis Cardinals  0
    4/4New York Mets  4
    4/6New York Mets  1
    4/7St. Louis Cardinals  5

    In Pena's last start, Tony Cingrani allowed only a bases-clearing double in the first inning. After that, Pena and Cingrani got on the same page and didn't allow the St. Louis Cardinals to score another run while the southpaw was in the game.

    The 32-year-old has also thrown out one of the two runners who have tried to steal on him this season. 

    Sure, Pena is coming off a season in which he hit .297 for the Detroit Tigers. Reds fans would like to see him swing the bat like that, especially with the struggles the offense has had in the early part of the season. However, he is only a career .257 hitter.

    On a bit of a humorous note, Pena leads the team in stolen base attempts (two) through the first eight games. He also has more stolen bases (one) than Billy Hamilton (zero).

    Mesoraco is off the disabled list, so Pena is back to being the backup catcher. If he can find a way to continue to put good wood on the ball, the Reds will be satisfied with their signing.

    Grade: B

OF Roger Bernadina

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    Mike McGinnis/Getty Images

    2014 stats: 7 G, 1-for-10, 1 2B, 1 RBI, 1 R, 3 BB, 4 K

    Like Pena, Roger Bernadina has been called upon more than expected early on this season because of injury. When starting center fielder Billy Hamilton injured his finger on his first stolen base attempt of the season, Bernadina received a boost in playing time.

    The 29-year-old made the Opening Day roster after he hit the cover off the ball in the spring. Unfortunately for the Reds, his bat has yet to make the trip north.

    Bernadina received two starts over the weekend and finally got his first hit and RBI of the season on Monday. Although he hasn't been able to get many hits, he has drawn three walks while batting at the top of the lineup. He's done a decent job of getting on base, but the Reds haven't been able to push him across the plate very often.

    Hamilton is back in the lineup after recovering from his injury, so Bernadina will have to make the most of his opportunities when he gets into games now. His value can be seen both at the plate and in the field. He will be one of the first hitters off the bench, and he can also be used as a defensive replacement for Ryan Ludwick late in games.

    Bernadina's spring numbers indicated that he might bring a hot bat into the regular season, but that hasn't been the case so far. The Reds should at least be happy that Bernadina has been able to draw a few walks and play solid defense.

    Grade: C

INF Ramon Santiago

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    Darron Cummings

    2014 stats: 1 G, 0-for-4, 0 RBI, 0 R, 0 BB, 1 K

    Two of the Reds' three offseason acquisitions have seen quite a bit of action this season, but Ramon Santiago is not one of those players.

    Santiago was brought in to be a player who can play shortstop well in order to give starter Zack Cozart a day off on occasion. The club liked his glove and his ability to hit from both sides of the plate.

    Despite Cozart's early-season struggles, Santiago hasn't received much playing time. He got one start during the season's first week, but he didn't contribute at the plate.  

    The veteran infielder is tough to evaluate through this point. Not only has he played in just one game, but Cincinnati brought him in mainly for defensive purposes. Santiago is a career .242 hitter and has very limited pop. 

    Fans can argue that Santiago deserves an "incomplete" grade due to lack of action. However, he will be graded based on what he did when was penciled into the lineup.

    Grade: C-