The Reds announced on Monday evening that third base coach Steve Smith will not be returning for the 2015 season. C Trent Rosecrans wrote about the Reds decision to let Smith go, who was on a 1-year contract for the 2014 season.

Smith said he had been told on Sept. 30, two days after the season ended, that he would not be back with the team. Smith was on a one-year contract with the team.

“I was the fall guy,” Smith said. “I don’t want to sound like I’m being critical — I loved my one year with Cincinnati, loved the players, loved everything.”

With Smith at third base, the Reds had a Major League-most 28 runners thrown out at home on non-force plays, the most by a Reds team since 1977 (36).

Late in the season, Reds manager Bryan Price defended Smith, saying the reason for that many outs at the plate was the team was struggling to score runs and used the contact play at almost all times with a runner at third.

During the season, statistician Joel Luckhaupt broke down the outs at home and found 12 of the 28 were on the contact play. Price and Smith both noted that 10 of the 28 were Smith’s responsibility, the same number that Luckhaupt found.

“It’s just trying to make the right decision,” Price said in September. “We’ve had 10 guys thrown out trying to score where Smitty’s been in charge of sending them, and I don’t think that’s a ridiculous number, by any means.”

The Reds also announced that the rest of the coaching staff is expected to return in 2015. I don’t believe this move was at all about Smith being the “fall guy,” but more about getting the job done. Smith’s performance last season was really bad. One of the best examples from this was on July 12th against the Pirates. This was from my game recap “Thanks Steve Smith” from that night:

Reds third-base coach Steve Smith made a horrendous decision in the 10th inning with 0 outs. He decided to send Ramon Santiago home on a hard hit single by Jay Bruce. Santiago was out at the plate on a great throw by Gregory Polanco. Devin Mesoarco (and his .964 OPS) would have come to the plate with the bases loaded, and no outs, in a tie game. It was just an inexcusable decision by Smith. You have to be 110% sure the runner will score if you send him there.

I guess this is some of that accountability Bryan Price spoke so strongly about.

37 Responses

    • misconcepcion

      I would just like to add that it WAS a witch hunt and probably even political. And I think the witch was located. Bye-bye, SS.

  1. Ryan Lykins (@ryan_lykins)

    Does he not realize that the team was terrible when it came to bring thrown out at home? Like historically bad and yet he thinks he was just the fall guy? Not saying anybody deserves to lose their job but he didn’t deserve his job after last season. Glad to see the team make the right move.

  2. Chris

    Was this actually Price’s decision? Nick mentions Price spoke of “accountability” earlier this season but the comments Price makes about Smith seem to indicate support for Steve Smith:

    “Bryan Price defended Smith, saying the reason for that many outs at the plate was the team was struggling to score runs and used the contact play at almost all times with a runner at third…We’ve had 10 guys thrown out trying to score where Smitty’s been in charge of sending them, and I don’t think that’s a ridiculous number, by any means.”

    I’m confused. My guess is this move came from above Bryan.

    • droomac

      I concur. There is little chance this came from Price. Smith did seem to send guys to their doom many times last year, but this is little more than window dressing and, perhaps, a signal from on high. I wonder, are there any sabermetric analyses of third base coach efficiency/value? . . . I’m only half kidding.

    • Nick Kirby

      I wasn’t trying to insinuate that this was Price’s decision. I doubt this was his decision at all either.

    • pinson343

      Price’s public defense of Smith does not indicate he felt Smith was doing a good job. “Not a ridiculous number” was not exactly a ringing endorsement. Smith had poor judgment, the Reds runners most likely lost faith in him. I remember Leake scoring a key run late in the season by running thru a stop sign from Smith.

  3. Tom Reed

    A first step to fix the offense for 2015.

  4. jessecuster44

    “I was the fall guy.” ??? Good riddance, Steve Smith. If you are looking for a new job, stroll down to Paul Brown Stadium. That team is always looking for cheap, incompetent labor.

  5. preacherj

    Truly a case of ‘addition by subtraction’. More low-hanging fruit you will not find.

  6. Thegaffer

    This may have been a PR move to set us up for when they do nothing this offseason.

  7. RedAlert

    First move – don’t stop there – this team needs way more than that !!! – dude was horrible as third base coach

    • RedAlert

      And thinks he was the “fall guy ” ???!!! Are you freaking kidding me ???

  8. ohiojimw

    This may well set the stage for the return of Mark Berry. It had been whispered that his health seemed to have progressed to where he could handle being a full time coach again.

  9. The Next Janish

    Steve Smith was an inspiration. Every time he came out to the field wearing the old wishbone C it made me believe I could one day be a base coach for the
    Reds.;-)

  10. pinson343

    An obvious move but just the same a good one.

  11. Shchi Cossack

    This decision was a no-brainer, but the key factor was that the decision was made swiftly and immediately, even if the details weren’t made public immediately. In Smith’s own words, as quoted by C Trent, “Smith said he had been told on Sept. 30, two days after the season ended, that he would not be back with the team.” The Reds organization obviously witnessed the same atrocious performance from the 3B coaches box as the fans did. This move alone should have a positive impact on run production.

    • droomac

      I wonder, why was this not announced immediately? . . . It seems strange to not announce shortly after the decision was made.

  12. chezpayton

    YESSSSSS YESSSSSS YESS YESS BEST NEWS SINCE DUSTYS DEPARTURE THE REDS ARE BACK ON TRACK BABY

  13. cfd3000

    Yes this was an obvious move. Glad it’s done. But the timing of it tells me two good things. First, the fact that Smith was informed immediately after the end of the season tells me the front office does in fact pay attention. Not surprising but still a good thing. Second, the fact that we’re just now hearing about it means this move was made for the right reasons with no PR motive and no real interest in turning it into a PR move. Good for the Reds. Moving on to bigger issues now…

  14. WVRedlegs

    I don’t want to revel in a guy losing his job, but a change was necessary. He’ll land somewhere, they always do. He stunk so much, though, that after the season they needed a Hazmat team to come in and scrub down the 3rd base coach’s box to get the stench out of it.

  15. charlottencredsfan

    I agree that Smith was over his head but do not discount Price’s “being aggressive on the bases” approach. Bryan must realize this team is not comprised of speedsters. In fact; the Reds, as currently constituted, may be the slowest team in MLB.

    • lwblogger2

      Aggressive baserunning is one thing. What Price was pushing was beyond that though. It comes down to personnel and situations. You don’t have to be fast to be a good, aggressive baserunner. You do have to be smart though. The Reds, for the most part, were neither fast nor smart on the bases.

      • charlottencredsfan

        The Reds are going to have real problems playing small ball:

        1) They are, as a team, painfully slow and in may cases don’t seem to be aware of it

        2) Hit and runs are very dangerous because they don’t have many contact hitters (BP, Cozart, & Votto). They are not going to have Joey hit & run much if at all.

        3) They can’t hit the ball behind base runners to save their lives.

        So it may be equal prats that are the base running problems: smarts, speed, and not the kind of team that lends itself well to playing this style of baseball because of the type hitters. Hitters that don’t hit for much of an average and not a lot of power either.

    • redmountain

      Not even close to the slowest team in baseball. Even Mesoraco, for a catcher, runs pretty well. Bruce’s knee may have slowed him slightly, and Ludwick was not fast but there is decent to above average at the other positions.

      • charlottencredsfan

        Name a team and let’s take a closer look because I can’t think of one.

      • charlottencredsfan

        Here are some statistics to back up my claim. The first number is the players UBR, the second where the player ranks at his position:

        1B – Votto: -2.6, 84
        2B – Phillips: -0.3, 81
        SS – Cozart: 2.2, 11
        3b – Frazier: 3.0, 3
        LF – Ludwick: -3.1, 118
        CF – Hamilton: 4.4, 2
        RF – Bruce: -0.6, 91
        C – Mesoraco: -2.4, 83

        Trust me outside of Heisey, none of the bench players help even a little bit. Like I said, painfully slow. Let us evaluate our players with eyes wide open.

  16. vegastypo

    I’d also like to see less of the ‘contact play’ with a runner on third. To automatically send a guy from third on a hard-hit ground ball, regardless of whether the ball is going directly at an infielder, just seems ludicrous.

    • lwblogger2

      And it’s a fairly easy play at the plate for an MLB infielder. It isn’t like they aren’t going to throw you out.

  17. Matt WI

    36 Runners thrown out in ’77? Wow. Guess that shows the difference between a team OBP of .332 vs sub .296. Those outs, they are precious things.

  18. Steve Schoenbaechler

    While I don’t believe Smith was the cause of as much as people say (It wasn’t Smith who waved Frazier on, trying to make a long single into a double; it wasn’t Smith who had BP go home on a bobbled ball in the deep infield, getting thrown out by 6 feet), I do believe this will be a good move. It’s something like my mother; she use to make up so many stories about people, you just never could tell when she was telling the truth or lying. But, she would make so many mountains out of molehills, at times you started looking at the molehills and started seeing some things. That’s how I feel about Smith. So many are disgusted with Smith, whether right or wrong, I can believe there must be something to it.

    But, this definitely isn’t the entire cause of our problems. This isn’t it by a long shot. We need hitting. Smith didn’t affect the hitting.

  19. redmountain

    I think the benefit to the Reds will be mostly psychological, but I think it is a good move. The contact play is much more effective when it is a surprise rather than what each team knows the Reds will do in that position. Smith was not familiar enough with the players on the bases or in the field to make good judgments on when to send and when not to run. Mark Berry would be a popular choice, but maybe there is someone else in the organization that could do the job. Perhaps Billy Hatcher, or Delino DeShields.

  20. redmountain

    Or maybe Corky Miller….only kinda kidding.

  21. Kyle Farmer

    I don’t have any stats on hand but it also seems to me that the Reds had a number of runners thrown out at third by wide margins this year. More than I remember from previous years and this falls on the third base coach as well. I hope Mark Berry is doing well and can return for next season.

    Smith did something I never could have imagined. He made me wish Speier was coaching third again! In all seriousness, I hope he enjoys his retirement. It sounds as if he’s had an amazing baseball career.