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Kirk Herbstreit is one of the most respected college football analysts in the country. He appears on ESPN’s very popular “College GameDay” and does color commentary for their biggest game of the week. But this week, he got heated over something entirely different: his beloved Cincinnati Reds.
Herbstreit grew up in Centerville, Ohio. That’s just outside of Dayton and less than 50 miles from Cincinnati.
Cincinnati is a baseball town and Herbstreit is no exception. He is a massive Reds fan.
The Reds, despite arguably the worst ownership in professional sports, are competing this season with a very young team. They sit just three games back of the NL Central leading Milwaukee Brewers.
But the biggest decision facing the team is when to call superstar prospect Elly De La Cruz up to the Major Leagues.
He’s a consensus Top 3 prospect in baseball, ranked #1 overall by many outlets. He’s also destroying AAA pitching this season, batting over .300 with a slugging percentage of nearly .650.
It’s not a matter of “if” the Reds call him up, but “when.” The one issue facing the team when they do call up De La Cruz is where they are going to play him.
His most likely long-term position in the big leagues is second base.
The Reds have a second baseman and his name is Jonathan India. India won Rookie of the Year in 2021 and has bounced back from a tough — and injury-riddled — 2022. He’s also the team’s clubhouse leader.
To that end, The Athletic posted an article about the conundrum, written by C. Trent Rosecrans and Ken Rosenthal. The headline reads, “Elly De La Cruz is coming soon — and that may leave Jonathan India without a spot.”
Kirk Herbstreit took major exception to the idea that De La Cruz might displace India in the team’s starting lineup. He tweeted at the pair of The Athletic writers and spoke about his issues on the “Foul Territory” podcast.
For what it’s worth, Rosenthal said he mostly agrees with Herbstreit.
As a former football player, Kirk Herbstreit understands the value of a leader. Jonathan India is the Reds’ leader.
Herbstreit talks about India’s value going beyond just what he does in the batter’s box or in the infield. And, he’s right.
But this is probably all much ado about nothing. The Reds aren’t going to take India out of their starting lineup. He might have to switch positions, but he’s their three-hole hitter.
De La Cruz might have to play in the outfield, as Herbstreit suggests. Ultimately, the Cincinnati Reds need both players in their lineup.
Call up De La Cruz. Then the speculation stops. Immediately.
Let the kid play, whether that’s in the infield or the outfield.
He’s ready. And so are Reds fans.
Follow Dan Zaksheske on X – formerly known as Twitter: @RealDanZak