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 Ã¢â‚¬â€ 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 SmithÃ‚Â 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.