Former Reds manager Dusty Baker seldom, if ever, criticized his players in public for a lack of effort. That philosophy caused many outsiders to question whether Baker was holding the team sufficiently accountable. At the start of the season, new manager Bryan Price promised to supply plenty of that quality. Reds fans have been watching to see if that supposed change would become apparent.

Last night, it did.

Price took the opportunity presented by his post-game press conference (video) to call-out Reds players for a “disappointing and unacceptable” performance, citing a “lack of fight and lethargy.” He enumerated exactly the type of the behavior he was criticizing:

“What was disappointing and unacceptable tonight was that we didn’t have our head in the game at all, especially in the first five innings. We had two guys who didn’t remember how many outs there were, we had a pitcher that didn’t cover first base on a ground ball to the right side. We had five base runners in the first three innings, and with that three-run homer, it seemed like the game was over.” (C. Trent Rosecrans, Cincinnati Enquirer)

Price was quick to add the team has generally not been guilty of a lack of effort this year and he expected it to be the last time:

We did rally a bit and come to life a bit in the last couple of innings offensively and with a little bit of energy in the dugout, but it was unacceptable. We haven’t done that much this year, but what happened tonight was unacceptable from an effort and mental perspective, it’s not the way we play, it’s not the way we’ll play again. But we need a lot better than that.” (Rosecrans)

The contrast with how Baker handled criticism of players was stark. That’s not to say one style or philosophy is definitely more effective. Managers with varying styles have been successful. Different teams might need distinct approaches. Or one team might require contrasting treatment over the course of a season. Regardless of the wisdom and effectiveness, Bryan Price followed through with his pre-season pledge.

The Reds poor performance last night followed their series win in Miami. It marked the team’s tenth consecutive loss at Progressive Field and their sixth straight loss in American League ballparks this summer.

Steve grew up in Cincinnati a die-hard fan of Sparky’s Big Red Machine. After 25 years living outside of Ohio, mostly in Ann Arbor, he returned to the Queen City in 2004. Contemporary Reds thrills: witnessing Jay Bruce’s 2010 homer and Homer Bailey’s 2013 no-hitter in person. The only place to find Steve’s thoughts of more than 280 characters about the Reds is Redleg Nation, although you can follow his tweets @spmancuso.

About The Author

Steve grew up in Cincinnati a die-hard fan of Sparky's Big Red Machine. After 25 years living outside of Ohio, mostly in Ann Arbor, he returned to the Queen City in 2004. Contemporary Reds thrills: witnessing Jay Bruce's 2010 homer and Homer Bailey's 2013 no-hitter in person. The only place to find Steve's thoughts of more than 280 characters about the Reds is Redleg Nation, although you can follow his tweets @spmancuso.

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51 Responses

  1. droomac

    I have no problem with what Price said. However, I do hope he said it to the players first. Though I can’t see him doing a Bull Durham “lollygaggers” stunt, I would hope he has already addressed the issues with the team or, at least, with the individuals.

    • BB1975

      Mr Mancuso made the comment, “That’s not to say one style or philosophy is definitely more effective.”

      Let’s say now, Bryan Price’s style and philosophy was definitely less effective than Dusty Baker’s.

      Bryan Price ran this team into the ground with his rock-headed style and clueless philosophy. The same pitchers who were the “best bullpen in baseball” under Dusty Baker became the “worst bullpen in baseball” under Bryan Price.

      Bryan Price’s accountability regime did nothing to motivate this team. You can’t motivate millionaires by yelling at them or shaming them in the press. Dusty Baker didn’t have to be told that. Bryan Price never seemed to get it, and it’s too late to tell him now.

      As a tactician, Bryan Price was as effective as the dog in Aesop’s fables barking at his own reflection. He made a lot of noise and lost what he had gained in the process.

  2. Bruno

    I think it was a well timed…….kick in the pants.Price is nothing like Dusty. I hope his “kick” lands and we see a motivated effort.I think they will respond.

  3. lwblogger2

    Depends on the player really. Stuff like this, even if I wasn’t one of the guilty players, used to cause me to press and make the situation worse. Other players, do well with that kick in the pants. So, it isn’t even a matter of some teams need this style or that style but some players need this style or that style.

    What all the players should know and should see, is Price was calling it like he was seeing it. Not remembering how many outs there are and not covering 1B are things to point to. He also saw his team hanging their heads after the HR. Of course this is where he or one of the leaders on the team needs to say “Guys, we’re not out of this game yet. Let’s start with just one and build from there.”

  4. Tom Roberts

    Talk is cheap Every one has seen this from this team, so what is he going to do about it? Hopefully we will see some action, and players held accountable for their actions.

    • lwblogger2

      All right, what should he do about it? Bench someone? Convince WJ to cut someone?

      • sultanofswaff

        Exactly. That’s where the rubber meets the road. To me, Price’s ‘rant’ is more like a scolding from a parent………a parent who won’t kick a kid out of the house for bringing home an F on a quiz.

        Let the punishment fit the crime, and in this case it does.

      • CP

        What type of parent kicks a kid out of the house for bringing home an F on a quiz…?

      • sultanofswaff

        I was responding to Tom’s comment above to ‘do something about it’. My analogy was what NOT to do.

      • jdx19

        Sometimes I thought my folks wanted to kick me out of the house for such things!

    • zaglamir

      The problem with that is…what can he do? Bench the offending player and call someone up from AA? Half of the AAA team is already in Cincinnati. It’s one thing if your normal starters are slacking and you can start a bench player… but he’s already starting the bench due to injuries and bad play from LF.

      Price is still “fighting” for his job, I think. If he starts the AA club to “make a point” and the Reds fall further out of the race, Mr. Castellini would likely have his head. I get the feeling the Reds FO hasn’t given up on the season, so he has no room to make a point for next year.

    • BB1975

      For the record, “accountability” is loser talk.

  5. vegastypo

    Forgot how many outs there were? Forgot to cover first? …..Add these to the list of boneheaded base-running moves and on and on. Don’t get me wrong, I’m glad he spoke up, especially if Price got the idea that the Reds themselves appeared to have given up early in the game.

    But that lineup last night was not geared to score a lot of runs. And once in a while, a pitcher is going to give up a three-run homer. Life happens. Just seems like management — including Price — shouldn’t get a free pass for running that lineup out there and then not scoring more. Yes, we had opportunities to score, but the whole bottom half of that lineup is really, really bad. Hard to win that way.

    I’ve never known how true it is that teams get a boost in morale when management goes out and improves the team at the trade deadline. Sure seems like that would be the case. But if that is truly how it works, then we have to allow for the opposite as well — the deflating feeling when a team that is struggling badly is given no help at the deadline, either.

  6. WVRedlegs

    I saw Price’s interview with Jim Day after the game. Price is a smart guy. He chooses his words in public carefully. It was no accident he said what he said when he said it. But I did have to say “Whoa, its about time” afterwards. The best part was when Jim Day asked him if he was going to address that issue with the team collectively or with each individual player. Price didn’t hesitate with an emphatic “Yes”. Jim Day kind of went OK, and went to a question about whether Simon was hitting the wall or not. No follow up question offered or was needed.

    • sultanofswaff

      Interesting. I dunno, it seems like a pall has settled over the team ever since Posey’s HR in the playoffs. The Reds were zombies last year, and save for 3 good weeks this year it’s been more of the same. I admire guys like Mez/Frazier/Hamilton/Cueto/Leake who all seem to burn a little hotter than most, but the same driftless, too-collegial malaise is still the default setting. I can’t remember which team I was reading about, maybe the Giants, but the GM was considering wholesale changes simply because the clubhouse got along too well. I’ve thought the Reds under Dusty and now Price fit that description, that too many roles on the team are set in stone, and it robs the manager of one of his most effective motivational tools, playing time. Then again, Price has shown a misplaced fondness for players who’ve been with the team for a while…..guys like Ondruskek/Hoover/Heisey, so maybe Price is the wrong guy to send this message.

      • Grand Salami

        I agree with you as far as the bullpen is concerned. He seems to limit his philosophy bc of past relationships there.

        Hoover is a friend of his and it shows b/c he gets a lot of chances (too many?)

        If he didn’t know these guys from Adam, Aroldis would have a lot more innings outside the 9th and Broxton would be a go to high leverage arm, not just eighth inning or Chapman warm up act.

      • Tom Reed

        Yes, the shock of the 2012 playoffs still lingers with the Reds. That’s why I felt strongly that a trade for even a one year rental hitter, with Simon and Broxton available, was needed to jolt the Reds to the realization that everything is not ok as is.

      • ohiojimw

        “…..so maybe Price is the wrong guy to send this message”
        *************************************************************************

        Agreed. IOM, firing the manager for the team being out of control (and the hitting coach) and then installing the right hand man as the new boss without even taking a serious look at the available field of replacements and bringing back the rest of the coaches sends the message that the problem was the entirely the departed manager and not the behavior of the players (or other coaches).

  7. Grand Salami

    3 walks and 8 hits should net more. As Price said, the team’s collective head wasn’t in the game. Good for him for ‘calling out’ the team in a subtle but stern way.

    I think Price needs to be drastic:

    Devin plays everyday. Tonight he will be (better be) the DH. When not catching put him at 1st or even in LF. I am not calling for a position change but he needs to communicate to his team that he will squeeze out all their offensive capability until reinforcements arrive. Sparky played Bench elsewhere so there is good precedent.

    Pena plays nearly every day. He is the best bench bat on the team, bar none. At least two bench guys will be playing everyday – one should always be Pena.

    2nd Base should be Negron and Santiago exclusively. Schu’s bat doesn’t outweigh his glove.

    Hannahan and Lutz should rarely, if ever, get plate appearances. This team can’t afford it from an offensive perspective until Phillips and Votto are back. Hannahan needs to get in baseball shape somewhere else, not with the Reds in ABs that matter.

    • vegastypo

      If Devin is the DH with Pena catching, and Pena should have to leave the game, the Reds lose their DH when Mes goes behind the plate. I hope I’m wrong, but I suspect that Mes sits.

      Besides, I have it on good authority that we’ve got Jack for that.

      • Grand Salami

        That’s makes sense. Why isn’t Barnhart up instead of Lutz so Devin can be used on days like today (or any time Pena catches for that matter)?!

      • lwblogger2

        I am loving “We’ve got Jack for that” … I think Steve started it after Walt Jocketty said it during an interview regarding Votto’s injury. I’m so glad it’s caught on.

      • Grand Salami

        It should probably be made into a T-Shirt and sent to Walt’s office.

      • ohiojimw

        It should probably be made into a T-Shirt and sent to Walt’s office.
        ***************************************************************************
        Yes!

      • ohiojimw

        “If Devin is the DH with Pena catching, and Pena should have to leave the game, the Reds lose their DH when Mes goes behind the plate”
        ***********************************************************

        True. But when you look at what they’ve got to use as DH other than Meso and weigh the risk, it seems worth it to me.

  8. Redgoggles

    Does anyone know the unnamed 2 who forgot how many outs there were? Curious to see if they are sitting tonight.

    • VaRedsFan

      1 was Bruce. He started walking off 2nd base and Smith had to yell at him to go back. The Marlins broadcast made note of this.

    • eric3287

      I think one was Pena. After the DP where Cozart caught the sinking liner and doubled the guy off first it looked like Pena was heading to the dugout. He may have lost his balance a little but when I saw it live I thought he was about to walk off the field.

  9. JM

    DFA Hannahan and Skip/ Call up Felix and Navarro.

    • lwblogger2

      They are not going to DFA Schumaker. He’s under contract for next season too and they love what he brings to the clubhouse. Schumaker’s problem is he’s overexposed because he’s playing too much.

      Hannahan on the other hand…

      • ToddAlmighty

        Yeah, who doesn’t love a player who brings both a bad bat and a bad glove? Invaluable -0.8 WAR so far. But plenty of Grit.

      • lwblogger2

        He’s a bench player. He’s certainly not my favorite but I’m ok with him on the bench. The 2-year deal didn’t thrill me as he was never particularly good and he isn’t getting any younger. I was ok with the Reds bringing him in but didn’t like the 2nd year. He’s been playing way too much and his below average defense and sub-par hitting are definitely being exposed right now. If it were up to me, Heisey and Ludwick would both see time over him in the OF and Santiago would see time over him in at 2B because of the glove.

        I like him off the bench (as a pinch-hitter or occasional starter), and in the clubhouse (the grittiness factor – Trademark Pending).

        The problem isn’t that he’s on the team, it’s that he’s being played way too much for a very mediocre player.

  10. ToddAlmighty

    It might not be proven which of the two style of managing is more effective, but it has been proven that Dusty’s style didn’t work to kick them in gear, so time to try this and see. If quietly handling things doesn’t work, and calling them out doesn’t work, it seriously might be time to change enough pieces in the clubhouse during the winter meetings to change the mentality of it. Can’t just continue on with zero changes and expect vastly different results.

    • lwblogger2

      Keep in mind that if you want to blow up the team over the winter, you need to bring in good, MLB-ready or MLB players. Hosting the AS game next year, the Reds are going to want to be competitive. Looking at next year’s free-agent class, I think something would need to be done via trade if the Reds want to turn the roster over without it ending up a “rebuilding” year. It will be quite challenging. You have to hope that the team, as it is, can put some things together. That way you can bring in one or two select pieces next season to make the run. I know I don’t want to move any of the starting pitching unless I get blown away by the return.

      • ToddAlmighty

        I keep hearing this AS game being the deciding factor. The Twins hosted it this year and they’re 10 games below ,500.. nobody cared. There was the derby’s moment where the long time Twins player returned to the stadium, and there was a lot of Jeter. Nobody even talked about the Twins lack of success and it didn’t detract from the AS game.

        I think if the choice is ruin your future to look good for the AS game, or get the rebuilding out of the way that’ll have to happen eventually anyway, but it’ll be less painful now compared to later when you have nothing of value to rebuild with, then it’s easy. I’d rather have a year or two of struggles than another year of mediocrity and then three or four years of huge struggles.

      • Kevin J. Brown (@ZebtheRed)

        Skip hasn’t had a good year, but coming in he was a .285 lifetime hitter who had been an important piece on several winning teams. Given our hitting struggles lately, I’d start whoever was hitting NOW and not obsess about defense in LF.

        The lineup tonight has both Heisey and Ludwick in it probably because both have had some success in limited appearances against Tomlin (H: 3-6; L: 2-4). Negron gets another start at 2B which I’m OK with. Pena is catching Cueto as usual, so Frazier moves to 1B and Santiago plays 3B. We’ll see what this lineup does against a so-so pitcher; if Heisey and Negron want to play consistently, they are going to have to hit (the same rule should apply to everybody).

      • pinson343

        Also RHed hitters are batting .305 against Tomlin and LHed hitters .235. So the lineup is “stacked” with Rhed hitters, including Negron.

  11. ohiojimw

    if Heisey and Negron want to play consistently, they are going to have to hit (the same rule should apply to everybody).
    ****************************************************************************
    Agree, Cozart would have to be a double platinum glove defender to truly justify him being played every day as he is. Entitlement and never feeling the threat of bench splinters in one’s behind helps to nurture the kind of attitude Price was upset about.

    • Kevin J. Brown (@ZebtheRed)

      There is really no replacement for Cozart though; Santiago has been slumping and isn’t hitting much better than Zack.

      Cozart is 4 for 6 against Tomlin so maybe he can get a couple of knocks tonight.

      • ohiojimw

        I don’t disagree but Santiago is on the team because he is a true SS (back up) yet he virtually never plays SS. Or 4 for 6 lifetime for Cozart v. Tomlin could mean he is due for an 0fer with 3 or 4K’s.

        Just looking at tonight with versus a RH starter, they could put Negron at 3B, Schu at 2B and Santiago at SS or the simplest, Lutz at 1B, Frazier in his natural position and Santiago at SS.

      • Kevin J. Brown (@ZebtheRed)

        Also see pinson343’s comment above; Tomlin has an odd reverse platoon differential this year with righties hitting much better against him than lefties.

  12. Kevin J. Brown (@ZebtheRed)

    That’s a plausible lineup but Lutz hasn’t hit well as a starter (4 for 25) plus he looked pretty bad at 1B (and made a lot of error in the minors at that position).

    Skip hasn’t played well at 2B though the way he’s been hitting lately I thought he might get a start. But Negron getting a shot doesn’t bother me; he’s looked good at times and he got robbed of a big hit by Staunton last time he got in a game.

    4 for 6 against a pitcher usually gets you a start.

    • ohiojimw

      I agree Negron looks like he could be a legit MLB bench player which is more than I thought before he came up.

      And I’ll admit it has rankled me for some time that Cozart was basically handed the SS job on the basis of a 13 game trial the year he came up then suffered the elbow injury; and yet despite mediocre (and steadily declining) offensive performance since never once have they made a move to have a look at anybody else at SS or provide him with any incentive via competition.

      • Kevin J. Brown (@ZebtheRed)

        I think they are willing to sacrifice offense at SS for the superior defense Cozart gives them plus this year is by far the worst Cozart has hit. There’s also the cost factor.

        I expect Navarro to push Cozart next ST.

      • ohiojimw

        Starting this off season Cozart will be arb eligible; so, cost will no longer work to his advantage except perhaps if they are weighing a trade that would include a veteran SS coming the Reds way.

        I also think the front office deluded itself into believing they could afford his lack of offense because they deluded themselves about just how bad the offense over all was. Given that Hamilton’s defense is even more outstanding at possibly an even more premium defensive position, realistically the only spots where the Reds can hope to improve offensively next season would seem to be SS and LF.

  13. Teddy D. Lawson

    I think the first mistake made in yesterday’s game was that Ludwick was on the bench after doing better than anyone versus the Marlins. Alot of problems stem from an inept manager. When you use Hanaran as a pinch hitter with major league players on the bench then its the manager.

    • Kevin J. Brown (@ZebtheRed)

      Yeah that was the difference in a 7-1 ballgame.

      Ludwick came in winth men on 2B and 3B with one out and popped up. It was worth a try to play Hannahan given Kluber’s large platoon differential. But it hardly mattered in that game.

  14. Kevin J. Brown (@ZebtheRed)

    Until this year Cozart was only slightly below league average OPS for a SS. His defensive value plus occasional power (15 and 12 HRs) made him a good value.

    But his offense has fallen off the charts this year.