Rumors have circulated for a few months that Barry Larkin is in line to replace Bryan Price as manager of the Cincinnati Reds. The added bit of news last week was that #11 has been reaching out to former teammates about coaching for him. It’s hard to imagine Larkin would be assembling a staff if the Reds hadn’t already talked to him (or winked) about the manager job.

[No matter what one thinks of the job Bryan Price has done, he and his staff deserve better. It’s disrespectful for the Reds to be talking to replacements during the season while Price is still employed. And it’s unseemly (and a worrying sign) for Larkin to allow rumors of his communication with possible replacements to become public. This could have waited. Add it to the litany of unprofessional business practices by the Reds baseball people.]

[And I’m against the Larkin hire for substantive reasons. I agree with Doug Gray’s thinking (“gigantic mistake”). Larkin has no significant managerial or coaching experience. He has no proven track record for motivation, organization, patience, game strategy or openness to new ideas. What exactly is the basis for hiring him other than his Hall of Fame playing career and popularity with Reds fans? And he’s too anti-analytics for my taste.]

But that’s not what this post is about.

It’s about the Reds culture of narrowness and how it produces serial failure.

When the season comes to its merciful conclusion, odds are that Bob Castellini will fire Bryan Price and keep Walt Jocketty. Jocketty will announce Larkin’s hiring (surprise!). Castellini will express warm, manly feelings about bringing back a hometown hero. Jocketty will say a real hiring process wasn’t necessary because, you know, the obvious guy is obvious.

Sound familiar? Hiring Barry Larkin as the next Reds manager, without seriously and formally considering other candidates, will fit a long pattern – a culture – of insular decision-making by the baseball side of Bob Castellini’s organization.

InsularityInsularity is a narrowness that occurs when your organization separates itself from others, when your organization doesn’t know or have an interest in new ideas. Many organizations develop insularity over time. They rely on input and solutions from people in the organization to the exclusion of outside perspectives. It leads to stale and ineffective thinking. Ask anyone who studies organizational behavior.

The Reds’ culture of narrowness dates back at least as far as when Castellini brought in Walt Jocketty as a special advisor. Jocketty and Castellini were friends when they were both with the Cardinals organization. When Castellini decided a few months later to replace general manager Wayne Krivsky, there was no search, just a new title and office for Jocketty.

We saw the same insularity when the Reds fired Dusty Baker. The only person who received an interview was an internal candidate, Bryan Price.

We also see the narrowness in the recycling of former Cardinals players onto the Reds roster. The general manager sees a pool of available players that consists largely of those who played for him a decade ago. That tunnel vision put Jason Marquis in this season’s starting rotation based on a dozen innings in spring training.

We witness the Reds’ small-mindedness when the general manager hires assistant general managers who have lock-step old-school views about building a baseball team – views identical to his own. Barry Larkin apparently fits this pattern.

We see it in the stated preferential treatment given to homegrown players when it comes to generous contract extensions. One way to describe that is loyalty. Another is chauvinism.

If the Reds hire Barry Larkin like they hired Bryan Price, they’ll be repeating the same mistake as before; another example of their narrow, insular culture.

By firing Bryan Price after just two years as manager, the front office will implicitly be acknowledging a huge mistake on their part. Sure, they’ll point to failures by Price. But the take-away isn’t about Bryan Price; the real lesson is about their myopic process two years ago.

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Photo/Al Behrman, Associated Press

As one of the most respected coaches in the game and one who was familiar with the roster, maybe Bryan Price was the right choice for the Reds in 2014. Other teams seemed eager to hire Price as their manager if the Reds didn’t. But the Reds front office didn’t come anywhere close to finding out if Bryan Price was the best choice. They talked to one person and hired him on the spot. They didn’t take seriously the possibility an outsider could impress them more.

If the Reds bother to take a fair and honest look at how they hired Price (and it’s another sign of their dysfunction if they don’t), they can’t possibly conclude they did it right. If the abbreviated process produced a bad hire then, it’s folly to repeat it.

Hiring Barry Larkin is a public relations Band-Aid when life-saving surgery is needed. The owner probably won’t see it this way, but the Hall of Fame shortstop will be a shiny object that distracts attention from the steps and missteps of the first true rebuilding process of Walt Jocketty’s career.

In the past decade – even more in the last five years – we’ve seen rapid change throughout baseball. New technology has been developed and adopted that allows us to measure everything from batted ball exit velocity, to outfielder route efficiency to biomechanical stress on elbows. New thinking about the game has produced more accurate ways to value players and assemble teams.

Organizations that have embraced this transformation in baseball are beginning to separate themselves from the ones who haven’t. The Tigers, Brewers and Mariners have recently fired general managers to look for replacements more open to modern analytics. For organizations to survive, let alone succeed, it is essential they be open to new, outside perspectives. Baseball clubs must look at decisions through the broadest lens possible. Innovative ideas must reach the table for consideration. Narrowness in viewpoint must be rejected.

Bob Castellini must change the baseball operations culture he has nurtured with the Reds. The happy news is that different leadership can accomplish that. The current owner isn’t going anywhere, but he can take a lesson from the way his non-baseball operation works and insist on a modern, open approach from his baseball brain trust.

evolve-or-dieLeaders set the agenda, determine how an organization operates, decide what to value, where resources are allocated and how people work with each other. But leaders who are so narrow to think methods and solutions from 10 years ago will work today won’t get the job done. That’s a tough lesson to learn, but you only need to take a peek at the NL Central standings, if you dare, to see its importance.

Bob Castellini can’t expect the cultural overhaul to take place without replacing the top executives. It’s human nature to resist altering one’s behavior even in the face of overwhelming evidence that says we should. For example, doctors say that only 10 percent of people who have heart bypass surgery sustain major lifestyle changes for more than a short time.

But while hiring new people might be necessary to fix the problem, it’s not enough. There’s a difference between changing employees and changing culture. If the Reds fire Price and hire Larkin, or even fire Jocketty and hire another old-school GM, nothing meaningful will change. If underlying norms and procedures aren’t modernized, new faces won’t address the problems that have produced a poor record of performance.

And tinkering around with tactics won’t work. Tactical reforms at odds with the underlying culture are doomed. If the culture of your baseball team is based on principles from 2005, then saying you want to acquire more hitters with a high OBP won’t happen. If the culture of your baseball team is Pitching Über Alles, trying to acquire position players in a few trades won’t happen. Engrained habits frustrate efforts to make contrary mid-course tactical adjustments.

Some think the solution is to change the culture of the clubhouse. Whether or not that’s a legitimate issue, this isn’t an either-or proposition. It’s sloppy to single out the players without looking deeper. Walt Jocketty has used the word reboot in describing what the Reds need. Well, the word reboot usually refers to restarting the operating system. The OS of a baseball team is the front office, not the right fielder. Reboot, indeed.

An Agenda For Culture Change

Cultural change for the Reds starts with hiring a new general manager and assistants who view the opportunities presented by what’s new in baseball with enthusiasm, not something to instinctively resist. Part of the reboot is hiring men and women who excel at running organizations – people who are familiar with sound, modern communication practices, not old baseball hands who don’t understand the impact of social media.

The Reds need to establish norms that encourage innovation and new ideas. An important part of that is an upgraded and expanded analytics department that can assimilate and interpret the non-stop mountain of raw data arriving in every major league front office. That includes adopting modern approaches to reducing injuries.

To paraphrase the bumper sticker: If you think analytics are expensive, try ignorance.

Then, and only then, a new front office, armed with sophisticated data architecture, should conduct an open, robust hiring process for the Reds next manager, including Barry Larkin if he’s interested.

If Larkin demonstrates he’s the best qualified after a rigorous comparison of applications and interviews, fine. After all, another University of Michigan product, Mike Matheny, who had no previous managing experience, has kept the St. Louis Cardinals on track.

But before we take too much comfort in the Matheny hire with respect to Barry Larkin, remember there are large differences. The Cardinals were looking for a manager to provide continuity for a World Series caliber team, not a fresh voice for a club that will lose more than 90 games. The Cardinals conducted a broad search then winnowed the pool down to six final candidates before choosing Matheny, including two – Terry Francona and Ryne Sandberg – from outside the organization.

Instead of recognizing how flawed insularity led to hiring Price in the first place, the Reds appear to be using the identical process and rushing into a similar mistake. The Reds know even less about how Larkin will handle MLB players than they did Price. Barry Larkin will give them a warm, comfortable feeling. So did Bryan Price.

Employment decisions based on comfort provided by insider status have become the Reds culture under Bob Castellini and his general manager Walt Jocketty. Without fixing that culture of narrowness, they’ll repeat the same mistakes and revisit the same old losing ways.

Steve grew up in Cincinnati as 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. He has resumed a first-person love affair with the Cincinnati Reds and is a season ticket holder at Great American Ball Park. The only place to find Steve’s thoughts of more than 140 characters is Redleg Nation. Follow his tweets @spmancuso.

Join the conversation! 113 Comments

  1. Great article, unfortunately you are dead on. Why is Cincy sports always representing the definition of out of touch.

  2. “Hiring Barry Larkin is a public relations Band-Aid when life-saving surgery is needed. The owner probably won’t see it this way, but the Hall of Fame shortstop will be a shiny object that distracts attention from the steps and missteps of the first true rebuilding process of Walt Jocketty’s career”

    This. And I fully expect this to be the ONE major move Walt makes in the offseason.

  3. Steve you are right as rain in everything you have said,I hope Larkin isn’t hired because he has no experience at any level and he is an old school player.This would be just another trip down memory lane and wouldn’t work especially if Walt is still here.Great stuff Steve and please send a copy of your article to Bob.

  4. A change needs to be made, and it wouldn’t surprise me to see a new GM either, but Barry is not the answer. That said, I look for Price to be shown the door soon after the season and Walt to stay on. And if he Doris, he had better have his trading shoes on because this club needs help.

  5. As we say in the Tennis World, you are “spot on”. Being successful is a matter of growing with change, adapting, embracing all information, etc.

  6. Is it possible to give any citations about these rumors?

    It is my experience with successful business people that they rarely make the same mistake serially.

    For all its flaws communicating to prayers about their status between AAA and the majors and whether or not they are on the DL,, the Reds have been very good about not letting information concerning major personnel hires and fires and changes go public before they want it to. So, if indeed Barry Larkin is being considered as a manager, I doubt if he is being considered as a manager for the Cincinnati Reds.

    • He did: “sources said”.

    • The link is to an article by Ken Rosenthal. He cites “sources” about Larkin contacting former *Reds* teammates about coaching jobs. I trust Rosenthal as much as any national baseball guy. That doesn’t mean he never gets it wrong, but more often than not he’s got it.

      • But does that mean that it is for the Reds job. Everyone is connecting the dots to the Reds with the failure of Bryan Price, and the fact that he was a long time Red. There were hundreds of rumors a few years ago that the Tigers wanted to hire Larkin but he stated he wasn’t ready and wanted to spend more time with family – they hired ausmus instead. The fact he is reaching out the former Reds teammates is simply because he doesn’t have any former non-reds teammates. This could just signal that Larkin is now “ready” to manage and he is exploring the type of staff he could put together. For all we know the Tigers called him thinking they won’t be bringing back Ausmus – they have already discussed him here in the past.

  7. Excellent article, Steve, which we have come to expect. As we all know, a change in the culture of insularity regarding the Reds must be initiated from the principal owner and that is Mr. Castellini.

    • Steve, thanks for the quick response.

      Oh I read is that in the last couple of months which is probably just as likely before the All-Star break as after the All-Star break Barry Larkin might have asked some people if they would be his coaches he became a manager.

      This could very well be tied to the rumors that turned out not to be true that Barry Larkin was going to be the manager of the Reds after the All-Star break.

      He, himself sites no sources. Mentions old rumors. I’m just saying I wouldn’t put a lot of weight into this.

      Please don’t think I don’t agree with most of your article. I think will chocolatey is the wrong general manager for this team going forward. And while I don’t think Brian Price is responsible for World War I World War II and Vietnam war, I do think he should not be the manager of the Reds next year.

  8. Yes Steve. This is exactly what I referenced in our brief exchange.

    If and when a change of culture occurs, it must start with a President of Baseball Operations. With the Pesident in place, the new GM must be hired, by the President. After the GM is hired, the new Manager must be hired by the President and GM. Once the Manager is hired, the Coaches must be hired by the Manager and GM. If Larkin is hired without wholesale oreganization =al changes, the cart is already before the horse. BC already tried that approach when he hired Baker and ended up with a disfuntional management team that never achieved the results the organization should have achieved. Was it Baker’s fault? Was it WJ’s fault? No, it was the organizations’ fault and that organization was put together by BC.

    BC could be, an excellent baseball President and CEO, if he just seperated his personal feelings from the business at hand. Enough of the good buddy, old boys club mentality. CLEAN HOUSE!!! Assemble a search team with the agenda to find a new President of Baseball OPerations with a complete understanding and appreciation of modern baseball (analytics included) along with the business operations requirements. The international scouting and recruiting (meaning Asia, Latin America and Europe) have become essential to the modern game. After forming the search team, BC seperates himself from the process entirely, except for a thumbs up or thumbs down at the final selection. The individuals to build and run a modern baseball operations organization are out there and just waiting for the opportunity. No one presently employed by the Reds has the ability or qualifications to build or run a modern baseball operations organization.

    I had not heard the mussings Steve referenced regarding the coaching staff inquiries. If the references Steve made are true, then any ties to Larkin as the next manager should be terminated immediately, at least until a new baseball operations department is in place and the new manager search begins. At that time, the current manager should also be considered by the new President of Baseball Operations and the new GM, along with Larkin and all other desired candidates. I don’t believe Larkin or Price would be the best mangerial candidate, but if a strong GM can rein in Clint Hurdle and utlize his managerial strengths in a modern basebal organization, then maybe Price or Larkin might work too.

    I like the approach made by the Brewers and Mariners. Cut bait immediately and name an interim GM while the search for a new President of Baseball Operations begins. No other changes need to be made immediately, just get the ball rolling. A new president of baseball operations could be in place by the end of the world series and the Reds future would begin with the 2015-2016 off season. The entire organization would be revamped before the winter meetings with a new course in place before spring training opens.

    If BC refuses to move the Reds into the modern age of baseball, then we are doomed as Reds fans to watch the organization repeat their same mistakes.

    • Well said Cossack. It makes no sense organizationally to fire Price and keep Jocketty. Aren’t both of them on their final contract year? Does Larkin need the job so badly that he would jump into that situation?

      • They would both be entering their final contract year in 2016.

        • Right, I was thinking of them both entering final contract year in 16. Would Mr. C seriously consider extending WJ again?

        • now there are rumors on mlbtraderumors that bob c. is considering moving jocketty out of the GM role, because of the contract they speculate they could move him back to a special advisory role and hire another GM like they did in Milwaukee with Melvin.

    • All very sound and very interesting. The sad thing is that I don’t see it happening this way. This is why my modest season ticket package won’t be renewed.

  9. Bobbleheads: Check
    Posters: Check
    Pizza for strikeouts: Check
    Barry Larkin coming back to manage? Fits right in with what would keep fans coming.

    Know what really drives attendance high? Winning consistently. Maybe the Reds should try that.

  10. Good article.

    The Reds are in a very difficult spot. They have 2 very different philosophies to select from:
    1. Blow it up and be as bad as possible to become as good as possible.
    2. Add a piece here and a piece there and hope things work out.

    While option 1 would make the most sense to create sustained success, they’ll likely go with option 2 for financial reasons.

    A 100 loss no-name team draws 1.7-1.9 million next year. That’s a drop in revenue of at least 30 million. If they could get their payroll under 50 million and invest in development that would work. However, Votto, Bruce and Bailey alone are 50 million and none of the 3 are tradeable without taking on most of their salaries …so the minimum pay role is somewhere around 75 million and there’s no profit to reinvest. Also, the negotiations for the new cable deal are a fiasco and that doesn’t help.

    A 75 win band aid of a team managed by Barry Larkin draws 2 million. Most of the meatheads will think ” The Reds are trying” and nothing will improve.

    • I don’t think the Reds would need to eat salary to move Bruce. They just likely won’t get much of a return for him. If the goal is to just dump the contract (which if the plan is to be competitive after 2017 makes sense), then Bruce is easily movable. The contract isn’t bad.

  11. Excellent article. I think the Reds need a change and I think it goes further than Bryan Price. If they don’t make changes at the top, it probably does not matter who they bring in. Price has been a disappointment to me. He seems to be mostly Dusty 2.0 without the ability to motivate the players that apparently Dusty possessed at one time. I don’t think Larkin is the man for the job, primarily from the experience standpoint. Whether he is too “old school”, I don’t know, the lack of experience makes it hard to evaluate his philosophy. The lack of experience may very well mean that he has not developed a philosophy, yet. Bryan Price appeared to talk the talk when he was hired, but as we have seen, he has not walked the walk. He had the opportunity to be open to new ideas and concepts and develop his own unique philosophy, but as things that were admittedly out of his control caused things to fall apart, he reverted to the old way (or worse) of doing things.

    By the way Steve, I don’t think any of us object to mentioning Votto, Brennaman or elite in the context of the game. It would be hard to not mention Votto when reporting on games. He generally does something worth reporting on.

    I don’t listen to Marty anymore, but if Marty says something else inanely stupid and you guys want to report it, fine. However, as someone else said, the first 20 sarcastic references to MB’s elite quote were funny, after that, not so funny. What I don’t like is when someone like Marty bashes a Reds player (the reason I quit listening to him years ago) and people on this site decide to bash the Reds players that Marty or whoever thinks highly of to make a point. Why join Marty in that? The way I look at it, critiquing a player is ok, bashing is not. Over the years, Marty has transitioned from reporting the game, which includes critiquing a player, to just flat out bashing of certain players who get in his doghouse. There is a fine line between critiquing a player and bashing a player. Marty has crossed that line many times. I have many fond memories growing up listening to Marty and Joe, probably listened on the radio to 150 games or more, most years until the early ‘90s. Then before the Internet, it became almost impossible to pick up a station that carried the Reds. When I was able to get the broadcasts again, I was surprised and disappointed at how bitter and rancorous Marty had become.

  12. Very good article. Larkin has no resume at all and the “band aid” quote is accurate. Somewhere out there is a young, sharp guy with experience and a boldness to make things work right. Doesn’t matter to me where he comes from. The problem is our older, wiser GM. We have a good nucleus, good young pitching but no depth at all and a bullpen that is broken.

    • It will forever be the band aid until Bob C decides to blow things up which equates taking the reigns from Walt. As Steve noted, Walt is Bob’s Tom Hagen. My dream is that he let’s Walt spend all year in Florida and reduces his role back to Front Office consultant and brings in someone new. I am guessing Steve would predict Towers as our next GM – probably right.

      Maybe, like when the next generation of ownership is at the helm, they will see that their dad’s guy just isn’t a fit but that could be a long time to wait – I am not wishing for Bob to keel over chasing his grand kid through the garden for a change to occur but there has to a succession plan in place by now, right? Right?

      • I may be wrong but the impression I’ve had is that Towers has his head just as far in the sand as Jocketty when it comes to “modern” player evaluations. If so, then firing Walt and hiring Kevin Towers leaves the club in the same predicament it currently finds itself in.

        • Yes, you are correct in this assessment and I believe that was the point Steve was making. Removing WJ from his President of Baseball Operations and GM role will not provide the culture and philosophy change needed if he is simply replaced with another person with an antiquated approach whoe has failed miserably in the same role with another organization (and is a card-carrying member of the like-minded, old boys club already assembled).

  13. This is a serious question, not a challenge to or dismissal of what’s been said. I no longer live in Cincinnati, so many of you have more info about what goes on with the Reds than i do.

    My question is this: what information do you have to support the idea that Barry Larkin is an old school baseball guy? I’m in Louisville where we don’t hear much in-depth information about the Reds, aside from their connection to the Bats. Steve, could you post some info about Larkin’s attitude re: analytics? I know Jocketty is very old school and have been disappointed by how old school Price seems to be. Larkin, as a Hall of Famer and Reds icon, seems to be immune from extensive examination of his baseball philosophy by the regular media. Any background you can give would be greatly appreciated.

    Finally, I always appreciate your thoughtful and in-depth articles. Thanks for the time and dedication you devote to the Reds.

    • The link in the post is to a video interview with Larkin. He’s asked about his view of analytics. He says: “The problem is when people try to make baseball decisions based on the analytics.”

      That’s consistent with how people describe the views he expressed as a TV commentator, which I didn’t see.

      Former players (and this is a generalization) are often the most anti-information people out there. In part, it’s self serving because it makes the “gut” decisions more important. And former players and managers have a monopoly on gut decisions.

      • Thanks, Steve. I missed the link earlier but will check it out.

      • For those wishing to form their own opinion of Larkin’s philosophy, here’s a broader sample of quotes from the CNBC interview.

        “I think there’s a place for the Sabermetrics, I think there’s a place for the numbers, but there’s also a place for the ‘eyeball test,’ is what we call it, you have to pass the ‘eyeball test.’

        Let the play and let the players kind of dictate, and then let the numbers support, and I think if you keep it like that, the horse before the buggy, I think you’ll have no problems.”

        And the full quote from the sentence that Mr. Mancuso excerpted: “The problem is when people try to make baseball decisions based on the analytics as opposed to based on the ebb and flow of the game or the feel of what’s happening.”

        “So, I think that’s kind of the ‘clash of the titans’ at this time, it’s like, ‘which one should we rely on more?’ and I believe it’s the baseball side and then the numbers will support that. I think if you keep it like that, then baseball people won’t revolt, and they will be accepting of those numbers. But they’re both very important.”

        Larkin’s views seem much more balanced between old and new school than I would have expected based on Mr. Mancuso’s article and comments. He certainly slants more towards old school than most here would like, but he also explicitly acknowledges the importance of the ‘numbers.’

  14. When you take a rumor and turn it into an indictment, you undermine your own position.

  15. Shumaker would be a good choice for a manager. He has the potential to be Sparky II. Sparky was about his age with no experience. Like Sparky no one would have to guess who is in charge if a hard-nosed guy like Shumaker was in charge. Larkin might qualify as a general manager

    • It doesn’t matter “‘who is in charge ” when the talent sucks. Sparkey Anderson happened to be at the right place at the right time. Dave Bristol, Dave Miley or just about any other manager in history would’ve won about the same number of games as Sparkey given the talent at his disposal. There is no evidence to suggest that Sparkey added anything.

      Why does Cincinnati love the “‘gritty , firey guys” so much? Too bad Ryan Freel is no longer with us….he’d be the manager forever.

      There is no evidence to suggest that any manager is capable of consistently winning at a rate higher than his talent base so if the talent is equal what does Larkin add? Complaining about Price is the equivalent to criticizing the food on the Titantic. Dry chicken is bad but the boat sank.

      • “There is no evidence to suggest that Sparky (sp) added anything.”

        Chuck, as much as I enjoy reading your comments, I disagree with you 100% here. Sparky was known as “Captain Hook,” and he had a knack for pulling his pitchers at the right time, and turning it over to his pen. That’s intelligent managing.

        Bryan Price, and Dusty to a lesser extent, both let their starters make a mess of things before getting the bullpen involved. That has cost the team wins.

        Sparky also persuaded Pete Rose to play 3rd base in 1975, in order to get George Foster in the lineup. Think Price, Bristol, Baker or Miley could have done that? No way. Baker couldn’t get Votto to even consider playing LF in 2011.

        Sparky had a style that worked with the 1970’s Reds. Sure they had talent, but so did the 2012-2013 Reds and look what happened.

        If Miley, Bristol, or Baker are managing the Big Red Machine, it might not have been very big. Sparky’s style added a lot.

        • The points you make are very solid and well reasoned but I respectfully disagree.

          The ” Captain Hook”‘stuff worked because his team could out score anyone and his bullpen was good and deep. Had he done the same thing with the 1975 Padres they still would’ve lost 100 games.

          Yes, he did convince Pete Rose to move to third. The same Pete Rose who was playing on a year to year contract, had just had his salary cut and to that point had never won a WS. Rose may be a stupid person but he was never a stupid player. A player in 1975….even Pete Rose…..wasn’t in a position financially or otherwise to say no. Different era.

          Joey Votto has more power than any manager….when you’re owed 200 million you call the shots…..not saying it’s right, but it is what it is.

          If Sparky had been hired by the Astros in 1969 he’d be long forgotten. If George Scherger had been named Reds manager in 1970, he’d be on the HOF.

      • We are arguing over the Reds’ hiring/performance of a middle manager. Didn’t we learn anything from Moneyball? This is Walt, Terry Reynolds, and Chris Buckley’s show.

  16. I couldn’t agree more with this article. My only hope is that Walt really knows that the next two years are going to be bad, and thinks that Larkin would sell some tickets and create good will with the fans until the Reds actually have a chance to contend again. … And, oh yeah, a rookie manager will be less likely to clash with the GM over players, whereas we’ve thought from time to time that Dusty and Walt didn’t have the same agenda.

    As for the ‘narrowness’ in looking only at Bryan Price after Dusty was let go: I think the players really wanted Price, and it’s obvious that this team values clubhouse chemistry very, very highly. Remember a few years ago, the Cardinals players were beside themselves with anger when Mozeliak traded away Allen Craig. I can’t see Reds’ management rocking the boat, when a few players were singing Price’s praises.

    • Rookie managers in general might be less prone to fight with the front office about players; but, I think Barry Larkin doesn’t fit the mold as in general. I don’t think Larkin would be shy at all about using his bully pulpit credentials as an HoF former player. World Series winner, former MVP, and long time team captain to put across his viewpoints on personnel. I think he would do it in the same “quiet” style he used as a leader on the field and in the clubhouse during his playing days; but, I think behind closed doors there would be little doubt among the decision makers about what he thought and wanted and why, That said, I’m with the camp that the job shouldn’t be handed to anybody without a thorough prior search inside and outside of the org.

      I think it was largely the pitchers who wanted Price as manager; and, he has managed for the most part like a pitching coach put in charge of things versus adopting a wider overall managerial point of view. And of course he perfectly fit the emerging organizational philosophy that offense is always tertiary to pitching and defense.

  17. I have no problem IF they hire Larkin. Who else you got in mind? As for the rumor circulating while Price is still Manager….as if that’s never happened before.

    • I also believe most managers or hopeful managers always reach out to see what their staff could look like prior to interviews and deciding whether they even want to take that next step. If he is interested in managing what is Larkin supposed to do crawl under a rock and just hope to compile a good staff when the time comes.

  18. There is certainly the possibility that Larkin maybe is being considered for the Washington Nationals manager’s position. And not the Reds. He did serve in one capacity in the Nationals front office at one time. And their manager, Matt Williams is hanging by a thread. He won’t be the Nats manager after this season.

    • Hmm. That is interesting.

      • don’t forget the tigers also targeted him a few years go, went with ausmus because larkin said he wasn’t ready to do baseball everyday. ausmus is also very likely to be fired and the new GM was on the old GM’s staff and was likely part of those discussions. they have the UM connection also.

  19. Yes. Oh yes. Spike the football. Spike the Heck out of it. Good Stuff.

  20. Excellent article and on target. If Jocketty retires, resigns or is fired this fall, there is one thing that fits your “insular” profile that really scares me because I think it has a 50/50 chance to come to fruition.
    That being Phil Castellini becoming the new GM, and not with an interim tag.

    • If there is front office change, I think you’re correct that Phil C. could be the new GM.

  21. The article was splendid and to a certain degree I think it is smart baseball. I do however think that as passionate as Steve is and the game is changing to more modern measuring stick. Lets not get carried away with the computer and slide rule approach. I have stated on here before I really like this site because the younger writers take a more anlytical approach but there is still room for a fly by the seat of his pants guy. I don’t know if there is any traction to the Larkin story it keeps hanging around and growing so maybe. I don’t like it because it would leave a bad taste about Larkin IMO. They want to hire someone without managing expeirence and Reds history try Ron Oester. I don’t have a clue why I think that is the answer other than he picked Sparky’s brain every minute of every game when he wasn’t on the field. He has always struck me as a baseball mind.

    • Sparky was Ron Oester’s manager for 3 weeks…..so I can only imagine the “brain picking”

      Sparky: ” Ronnie, boy…ain’t no reason to listen to nobody about nothing besides Sparky.”

      Oester: ” Yes, sir..Mr. Anderson, sir.

      Sparky: ” I’ve got 1 rule….take over a loaded team and then add Joe Morgan and George Foster. I’ll be signing autographs and eating for free forever because of rule 1.”

    • Poor Ron Oester, left to doing commercials for emergency hot water tanks lately. “When you need hot water…”

    • I recall a number of years ago when Ron Oester was in the running to be the Reds manager but he complained about the salary offered and didn’t get the job. Oester, as a player, was always in the game and I liked his passion.

    • I’m not entirely sure what a “fly by the seat of his pants guy” is, but I think you make a worthwhile point worth addressing. Those of us who want a more analytical manager and general manager aren’t necessary asking that those new hires make all their decisions based solely on the newest and best data.

      I want someone who is going to take that data seriously though and use it as a key part of their decision-making process. They can still use their “gut” from time to time and understanding player personalities and life circumstances are important parts of both the manager and general manager’s job. But not using the most up to date information at all or in a very limited capacity is bad practice.

      • In the proverbial nutshell Nick…

      • At its current state of development, I view analytics as most useful in constructing a roster and general game setup (line up, rotation, defensive shifts, how to pitch particular batters).

        I believe that within loose general guidelines formulated using analytics, many, even most, in game decisions should be made by the manager and coaches as “gut” calls since the mgr and coaches are the ones who (should) know how their players and the opposition players (and in some cases umpires even) are performing on any given night.

        • I would expand on that thought with the inclusion of organizational philosophy, making the role of President of Baseball Operations and the role of GM much more important regarding the analytics than the manager. From that point, if the GM and manager don’t see eye-to-eye regarding in game decisions, that defaults to meetings and discussions beetween those two individuals as it impacts the team performance.

  22. Great article, but I do have a question. How do we know Larkin is ‘an old school guy’? I remember watching him play, and he is exactly what we want. He was Votto at SS. Professional, high obp, hit to all fields, focused, smart etc… Has he said anything to give us concern?

    • The link in the post is to a video interview with Larkin. He’s asked about his view of analytics. He says: “The problem is when people try to make baseball decisions based on the analytics.”

      That’s consistent with how people describe the views he expressed as a TV commentator, which I didn’t see.

      Former players (and this is a generalization) are often the most anti-information people out there. In part, it’s self serving because it makes the “gut” decisions more important. And former players and managers have a monopoly on gut decisions.

      I agree Larkin is smart (University of Michigan education!) but I don’t understand why being a good baseball player necessarily correlates to being a good manager. Joe Morgan was the dream player from an analytics standpoint, but his views of how to win baseball games are really old-fashioned.

  23. Isn’t the closest analog Pete Rose? A Reds great brought back to manage a team that had fallen on hard times.

    • Rose walked into a better situation.

      The farm system had Larkin, O’Neill, Jones, Stillwell, Browning etc. From 85′ on the Reds had a solid young core, that grew each year, under finacial control through the early 90’s. As bad as that 82′-84′ era was, good long term decisions were made. Also, they didn’t have the financial constraints that Votto and Baileys contracts impose…. So trading for a Danny Jackson is not possible.

      • The Rdds have pitching depth in the org now that probably exceeds the positional depth you cited from the mid to late 1980’s. Barring a slew of injuries, a top flight affordable rotation should be in place no later than the end of 2017 comprised of arms already in the org. A recovered Bailey would reasonably project as a (right handed) Danny Jackson.

        The task at hand is to pick the correct pitching prospects to keep and then flip some of the others for their position player deficits to fill in along side Votto who is worth in WAR every cent they pay him.

        • I agree with your points. Though it seems hitting is now valued more than pitching so whether that plan is feasible or not remains to be seen.

          Votto is worth every penny….agreed. If I purchased a house in Indian Hill it would be a great investment, a great place to live and worth every penny. However, in buying that house, I couldn’t afford a car, furniture, utilities, medical insurance or food. It would be a great investment…I just would have to forgo every additional aspect of life. Votto is worth every cent they pay him, but they really can’t afford anything else.

        • I guess where we disagree is over whether they can afford Votto. The numbers indicate they would have to pay more in total than they pay him to replace the production he provides. One way of looking at the situation is that that a team could recoup the production by spreading it (and the cost) over several positions.

          Another point of view is that unless a team wants to spend its existence constantly looking to catch lightning in a bottle (Tampa Bay for instance; seemingly ever so close but never quite getting it done), they have pay to play as contenders and part of the cost is having at least one guy like Votto. What teams on a budget can’t afford is having yoyo players like Bruce and Frazier get paid more toward the high end of their cycles versus the mid points.

  24. Mike Matheny and Brad Ausmus have done a pretty good job without managerial experience. Coaching staff hired along with Larkin will help. Barry has been successful at what ever he has done. Who would be a better choice?

    • Addressed Matheny in the post.

      I think you missed the point. The Reds need to conduct a broad search, not just promote Larkin from the inside. Maybe Larkin is the best candidate, but they should find out by looking at a large number of applicants. “Successful at whatever he has done” wouldn’t get Larkin hired as a doctor, lawyer etc. It’s about specific qualifications.

      • Exactly. Maybe Larkin IS the guy but not a one candidate “we didn’t need to go further” approach. Isn’t that exactly what the Price hire (which as I read these boards, doesn’t have any overwhelming fans) was?
        This article is a about a systemic change in thinking for the Reds. It has to be top down and while I am far from understanding baseball analytics in full, data is KING in all aspects of business now. Why wouldn’t it be in sports? Sure you have to know X & O’s and Jimmies & Joes but analytics are a huge part of those equations. IMO Girardi is a good example of old school with modern edge. Not talking about the payroll per se, but he’s a tough, hard nosed baseball guy that has adopted modern applications. Larkin MAY be able to do same, but is it a closed race for the position? I agree with Steve.

    • The main point isn’t whether Larkin is a good choice or bad….it’s whether anyone could actually be successful given the overall state of the organization. Ausmus and Mutheny took over contending teams with far greater financial flexibility…..Larkin would walk into an entirely different situation.

      • I generally agree with you about the relative importance of managers vs. players, but no team (including the Reds, alas) can fix all problems in one fell swoop. Price’s slavish adherence to defined bullpen rolls seems like an issue, and if he really has lost control of the team, that’s another issue. The manager on a failed team has to be critically evaluated. So do the players, of course, but the fact that the team doesn’t have enough talent to contend (for whatever reason) shouldn’t preclude figuring out whether the manager needs to be replaced. But that shouldn’t be the only move they make, or even the most important one.

  25. Really great piece, Steve. This insularity may be the flip side to Castellini viewing the Reds more as a public trust and therefore not quite as critically as if it were his primary business. It’s a call for someone to make the hard decisions for this organization. It’s easier to sign the long term contracts than get lambasted for selling off talent. It was easier to keep Chapman and Frazier, it’s been easier to keep Walt and the same philosophy going because there were just enough positive results. It was easier to pretend things were going well to make it to the A.S. game in tact for a publicity tour.

    Fans will get over their heartache of losing players if the moves are productive. They will always respond better to winning consistently than showing up for a 105mph fastball long term. They’ve played the middle far too long here, and playing the middle often sets the ceiling right there in the middle with lots of room to slide down.

  26. Further evidence of a deeper rot going on… really need Jocketty gone and someone who has the moxie and intellect and nous to work effectively with Castellini.

  27. I think managers should continue to play hunches. And having an analytics-centered GM is more important than an analytics-centered manager. But let me give four quick examples of old-school managing that people who are open minded to data would reject:

    1. Sacrifice bunts by anyone other than the pitcher

    2. Using batter-pitcher match-up history when determining playing time and batting order.

    3. Thinking of the #2 hitter as someone who needs to have “bat control” and “move runners over” and “bunt” and “hit the other way.”

    4. Thinking of the #1 hitter as someone who needs to be fast and steal bases.

    There are more, but those really stand out to me.

    • Strongly agree with 1-3, and yes there are more big ones (“closer rules”).

      I still like a #1 hitter that is fast and can steal bases. However, that’s secondary to actually being able to get on base.

      Great article BTW.

    • I think you could safely add justifying a roster or rotation spot due to spring training performance, in spite of recent track record performance.

      • Yep.

      • Roster spots are often influenced by the manager but the GM in most cases, has the final say. Aside from that, I’m on board with everything said above.

  28. Chuck: I beg to differ with you about talent on a team vs management. The fielding, and batting statistics of the ’69 Reds under Bristol and ’70 team under Sparky were practically identical. There were exceptions. Chaney didn’t get a chance to make a boatload of errors at shortstop nor did Johnson in left. Perez made a lot of errors in both years at 3rd but this was corrected in ’72 or ’73 with the Lee May trade to Houston and Perez moved back to his natural position. Sparky platooned shortstop and left field for better defense but only Carbo had a stellar year with the bat. It was the management of the pitching staff that got Sparky off to 70 wins and 30 losses in the first half of the season. The ’70 pitching staff had a 17 WAR vs a 4 during ’69. This despite losing their ’69 ace, Jim Maloney to a career ending injury. Rookie Wayne Simpson, and Jim McLothlin(trade from Angels) more than made up for Maloney. Merritt broke his non-pitching arm a month or so before spring training but he pitched with a castand won 20 games. Pittsburgh was the best team in the NL in ’70. Murtaugh was a great manager of HOF players like Stargell and Clemente but Captain Hook had the drive of a General George Patton and the Reds never looked back.

    • If the same pitchers that accumulated 4 WAR in 1969 accumulated 17 in 1970 then I’d fully agree with your position….but different, seemingly better pitchers were in place.

      Perhaps Sparky had a magic touch that year…perhaps he had better pitchers than Dave Bristol…I’ll go with the later, but I could always be wrong.

      The Reds started off 70-30 and finished 32-30. Simpson, amongst others were hurt. They were demolished by Baltimore in the WS and then went 71-91 the next year…..so they went 103-121 after the great start. It’s amazing they beat Pittsburgh in the NLCS

      The point is that when Anderson had a full compliment of pitchers he won and when he didn’t he lost. His management of the staff was good when the staff was good…. Their performance was consistent with the talent he had to work with. The first 100 games he had a talented staff and won..the next 225 games he had a far less talented rotation and lost.

  29. “Add it to the litany of unprofessional business practices by the Reds baseball people”.

    I think this is misleading and based on a simple rumor as of now there is not an OFFICIAL report that states Larkin will be the next Reds Manager. On the contrary, I’ve read in the Reds’ OFFICIAL site that WJ has denied having ANY kind of conversations about it.

    Nonetheless, the debate is always welcomed. For example, Is analytics going to change Bruce’s or Frazier’s approach ? Don’t think so. Lack of fundamentals, dumb base running or constantly missing bunts, etc will not be solved by any guy sitting in front of a PC. That’s what I want a good Manager for: To enforce a culture of PLAYING BASEBALL THE RIGHT WAY, some fire into a incredible passive clubhouse. I agree that this new Manager should use information like defense shift, making the right lineup or using pitchers. But leadership and demanding that “110%” is what I want to see at every play. As much as I dislike him, a Yadier Molina kind of player is sorely missing. And if you ask me a Clint Hurdle type of Manager is what this team needs.

    • I think a move toward analytics will have a more profound impact on type of players the Reds draft and otherwise acquire going forward, and any benefit it has on the deployment of the current roster, so much the better. It’s about finding better baseball players with skills not necessarily being emphasized by the current program.

      • I think the Reds have done very well drafting, in fact is one of the best teams in doing so for the last 10 years. The move toward analytics should be done, no doubt, especially in the free agent/trade front working closer with the scouting Dept. At the end though, a small market team lives and dies by the players they develop internally and the correct evaluation of contracts (no handing 10 years-200MM deals for instance even to elite players!!).

        • 2014 draft was not good at all. Nick Howard at #19 overall, a big reach. Then in the supplemental round they get a SS that can’t play SS, Blandino. The Reds TWICE passed on former UK star AJ Reed, who Houston drafted with the first pick in the 2nd round. He was a 1B at UK, but could have been the Reds LF of the very near future.

        • WV….

          I think the Reds have gotten themselves into a draft athletes/ skills mode and tend to pick guys based on what they see as raw skills versus developed baseball talent.

          I heard Chris Buckley as much as say this in an interview during the run up to this year’s draft. If there is an obvious Harper or Bryant et al on the board when they pick. they’d go for that person. Otherwise they are looking “toolsy” ahead of refinement and development. And also just as some college college football teams seem to invariably put nearly their best athletes on the same side of the ball and fill the other side down the line, the Reds clearly look at anybody who has perceived big time stuff as a pitcher first, regardless of what they have previously done as position player.

    • The continued focus on the core 3-4 players remains bewildering to me. The problem is the other 21-22 players. The Reds need more Frazier’s, not less of them.

      • The other 21-22 include the pitchers and as rookies, they done an acceptable job (except Holmberg/Sampson). I guess you mean bench players and some starters like BHam, relievers, etc. I agree. But the core players (the ones who get the dough) and Co. have allowed to be an embarrassing offensive team.

        Please don’t come back with stats like runs scored. They scored 12 in a game and then 5 the next 4 games.

        • I’ll come back with the fact that Joey Votto, Todd Frazier, and Jay Bruce have 174 wRC+, 124 wRC+, and 98 wRC+ respectively. Outside of Suarez who has a 107 wRC+, no one else is league average hitter.

  30. Since we are talking organizational stuff, it seems to me that the move to disable Boesch after the game Sunday rates as one of the head scratchers in a season of them.

    Boesch hadn’t been in a game since Aug 22 but they played short up to the eve of the roster expansion then put him on the DL with only one game to be played before the roster expansion.

    Does anyone know if this move has some sort of financial or service time implications? Did another Reds OF appear to be get dinged up a bit Sunday and thus possibly unavailable for Monday?

    I was at a family function for the weekend and driving all day yesterday; and. it struck me as really strange to read this move had been made and that a replacement for Boesch should be named for Monday’s game

  31. I’m sorry, but I see many conclusions in this article that are drawn from “sources.” This is the kind of bunk I would expect from our local newspaper rag. For a site and authors who normally go out of their way to back up statements with provable data I am a little disappointed. I am not saying a Larkin hiring would be god/bad or right/wrong or that Jocketty shouldn’t be shown the door. I am simply stating that basing this article and the subsequent front office bashing on unknown sources is misguided. It may be that all of the information is completely correct but without verifiable info that relates the rumblings directly to the Reds front office this article is nothing more the Jocketty bashing. Walt Jocketty and the front office have done plenty to deserve the fans ire but lets stick to provable facts and direct statements
    .

    • A lot of what was written here applies whether or not they are thinking of Larkin or not. I have no problem with the premise of an 0p-ed that says “if true…”

      If the Reds go in a different direction, Steve will also be the first to laud them for being willing to change gears in the face of the rest of the case he so well laid out.

    • Ken Rosenthal is a professional journalist, one of the most respected in his field. He works for a reputable sports bureau. He cites sources, not one source, but plural. Anonymous sources are part of reporting. Readers can evaluate their credibility however they want. I’m citing Rosenthal and his conversations. You’re free to find those credible or not.

      When you express opinions like referring to the local newspaper as a rag, or allege facts like saying Redleg Nation hasn’t used anonymous sourced reporting in the past, makes me think you’re not paying close attention.

      It’s inaccurate for you to say this article is “based” on the Larkin rumors. Even if the Larkin rumors prove unfounded, if the Reds hire him (or any other insider candidate) without an full and open search, it’s another example of the pattern. The rest of the pattern is based on many things that have already happened. That past pattern makes my point about the culture of the Reds baseball front office even without the Larkin piece.

      • Steve: Simply put this site “typically” rises above sources/rumors and really takes a hard look at the numbers, how they apply to the game and decision making good and bad. The writers do an excellent job of writing on a level that is sometimes above the average fan level of interest. That’s why I frequent this site.

        Reality is that I completely agree with where you were heading in this piece I simply disagreed with how you laid it out and got to your conclusion. If you would have started with your 4th full paragraph “When the season comes to it’s…..” and then backed up your line of thinking with the example of “if” Larkin is hired based on the sources of Rosenthal I would have been okay with that. Instead we had three full lead in paragraphs of Larkin that are then tied into what your point is. Why start with Larkin if he isn’t going to be the basis for where your are heading with you piece? You backed up the point beautifully with the Cardinal re-treads, the Price hire etc. Use the Larkin information as further evidence.

        Rosenthal is indeed a fine and trusted reporter. That said, he is paid to report. P Doc, C Trent and J Fay are excellent writers as well. They are paid to report and sometimes they have to run with the latest “juicy” story, founded or unfounded. They would be remiss to not at least touch on rumors that are circulating. Because of the need it now information world that we live in, I personally don’t put much measure on indirect statements, rumors and sources. That’s the stuff for TMZ. This site has a luxury, in my opinion, of not having to run with the latest rumor. This is a very insightful and thought provoking site. You and the other writers have swayed my thinking several times with good, fact driven, data based writing. Am I saying “just the facts ma’am?.” Most likely.

        • Like I said, the post was transparent about where the information came from. Readers judge for themselves if it’s credible. I find Rosenthal’s reporting credible, so I used it in my post. I presented it’s truth as conditional several times in the post.

          Speaking of unsupported opinion – how about your claim that “sometimes they have to run with the latest juicy story, founded or unfounded” – what’s you evidence for that?

          Sounds like you disagree with the order of the paragraphs. You’re entitled to your opinion on that. Although it’s … interesting … that you would go to a website and lecture it about what it should and shouldn’t write about. You’re free to skip over the posts you don’t like.

  32. Hiring Barry Larkin would be huge mistake by the Reds for all the reasons already mentioned. He won’t sell tickets. Wins sell tickets.

    Barry Larkin is not looking to manage the Reds. He is not dumb. Why take over a ream that will lose 90+ games for the next 3-4 years at least. He would quit or be fired after year 2. Check out Ryne Sandberg. Larkin has no reason to return here. If his agent has any sense he will try to get him a job with a team with lots of money. Washington fits…so does Boston and LA. If he wants to get fired close to home, Miami or Tampa would work. Barry knows managing the Reds would have him end up as the latest punching bag for disappointed fans. Maybe Barry needs money but that’s not a good reason to come to Cincy. The Reds should spend all the extra money they have on scouts and player development.

    • The Reds don’t have to be the Phillies! Houston lost 110 games in 2013. The only guy they had at the time was Altuve. The Reds have a ton of pitching and there is no reason that they can’t be competitive in 2017 although consistently beating the Cubs seems hopeless anytime soon? Still you add Mesoraco, Winkler, and a Schwarber type hitter from the 2016 draft and they might have something? Hopefully Bruce & BP will be gone by then?

      • I posted this above.
        In 2014, the Reds TWICE passed on former UK star AJ Reed, who Houston drafted with the first pick in the 2nd round. He was a 1B at UK, but could have been the Reds LF of the very near future.
        Reed may end up being better than Schwarber.

        • Reed hasn’t played a single inning in the OF…ever? Honestly, he looks like a future DH.

        • And there is no disputing that the guy looks like he can flat out rake the ball, but the Reds do have to take into account fielding. I don’t know how you can even compare Reed and Schwarber at this point. A hitting catcher, outside of a Correa-type SS, is the most valuable combination in baseball.

        • He could also be Yonder Alonso in left. We’ll see.

          Sometimes teams miss. I’m not going to run the Reds scouting department out of town because they whiffed on Nick Howard (so far) and passed on a college first baseman that 30 or so other teams passed on too.

    • Barry Larkin is a Cincinnati native and he was an outstanding Reds player for 19 years. If he’s offered the Reds managerial position, he’ll take it.

  33. I think there is no small amount of smugness in thinking that we are smart enough to see the obvious while people with 30 or 40 years of actual baseball experience are oblivious at best and incompetent at worst. An external cycle of youth thinking the old know nothing and have nothing to contribute.

    • This comment must be cross-posted from other places you’ve used it. The original post here didn’t mention age or experience or oblivious or incompetent or nothing to contribute. You made up those characterizations – that weren’t presented – so it would be possible for you to make your point and use the word smug. Your comment also doesn’t address any of the specific examples of narrow-minded thinking that were given. It expresses an *unsupported* certitude from nothing more than generalities that one might interpret as, um, smugness.

  34. For a complete culture change (no pun intended) how about considering Kim Ng, the senior vice president for Baseball Operations with MLB. She has been a finalist for several GM openings in the last few years according to the entry on her Wikipedia page …
    In 2005, Ng was interviewed for the vacant position of Dodgers general manager. No female has ever been a GM in any major sport. The Dodgers hired Ned Colletti as their GM, who immediately kept Ng on as his assistant.[18] In 2008, she was interviewed for the general manager position with the Seattle Mariners, but the position went to Jack Zduriencik. In 2009, she interviewed for the San Diego Padres’ General Manager position, which went to Jed Hoyer.[19][20] On March 8, 2011, Ng announced that she was leaving the Dodgers to take on the position of “Senior Vice President of Baseball Operations” for Major League Baseball, where she would report to former Dodgers manager Joe Torre.[21] In October 2011, she interviewed for the Los Angeles Angels general manager position but the Angels hired Jerry Dipoto.[22] In July 2014, Ng interviewed for the Padres’ GM position, and was one of four finalists for the position.[20] The Padres hired A.J. Preller.

    might be breath of fresh air ….

  35. First off, great article.

    This one is really tough for me. I 100% agree with Steve’s observations about the this organization’s overall approach. It’s clear to anyone paying attention that the Reds are getting left behind. They had a chance to hire a forward thinking manager, and instead they got one who basically plays things exactly like Dusty without the charisma.

    The owner needs to take a step back and realize that this is a business, and he’s getting really poor results considering the amount of money he’s spending. He needs to hire a new GM, and has needed to for several years. Jocketty isn’t terrible, he just doesn’t seem to have many good ideas for how to build a team. He pays guys for their past performance, he signs bad players because they are “winners,” etc etc. It’s all the old school malarkey that is getting more debunked every day. When everyone was doing it, Jocketty might have been one of the best at it. Now that other teams are choosing smarter approaches, he looks like a dinosaur.

    However, all that said, I would love for Larkin to be the manager. I’ve advocated for him to be the manager since he was a player, I wanted him to follow in Pete’s footsteps (up to a point). I agree with Steve that hiring him would seem like part of the same pattern, but I just happen to believe in Larkin.

    I don’t think it’s fair to say Larkin doesn’t have a track record for motivation or patience. He was a great captain for many years. He learned Spanish to be able to speak with more of his teammates and even gave part of his HOF induction speech in Spanish. I’ve never known a more respected player in the game. He is the type of person that other people follow. As for patience, has everyone forgotten about the Marge Schott years?

    I’ve stated many times that I think their should be a new GM, and that the new manager should have the same vision for the team as that new GM. If that isn’t Larkin, so be it. But if we fired Jocketty, got a younger GM with an understanding of how to use resources effectively to build a good team, and we hired Larkin, I’d be pretty happy.

  36. Well thought out, excellent article. Thanks Steve.

  37. The lack of analytics comments are laughable to me. Jocketty signs the highest OBP player in the league long term. Trades for Choo, not to mentions let him walk at the right time, trades Simon for Suarez, Latos for Disco, and IMO the Cueto and Leake deals will prove to be solid. The griping about Walt usually pertains to players that, with no prior warning signs got hurt, or last player off the bench types like Skip. All the analytics in the world couldn’t predict the rash of injuries the past two seasons. And in regards to those injuries, unless blessed with an insane amount of money or stacked team in the first place, no team could have pulled their way out of the 2014 hole. As far as analytics in drafting, from Winker forward I think there has been a paradigm shift from 5 tool ability to he ability to hit and get on base in drafting offensive players. Winker, Ervin, Blandino(who yes from reports is fairing well at SS, and if he lands at 2nd the Reds have Suarez), and SMB all get on base at a high rate. Somehow that is discounted. Also the quality of the pitching prospects is looked down at too. It’s like most comments here say Howard (who likely was pitching injured)sucks and ignore all the good work done elsewhere.
    As far as Larkin, the guy would have the attention and respect of every player in the clubhouse based on his playing resume alone. He displayed leadership skills as the team captain, and won a couple games with an upstart Brazil team in the WBC. It looks like his comments on analytics have been shortened and dressed up to fit a narrative. His approach seems to be balanced with slight old school leanings. Not a head burried in the sand screw stats approach. Sadly it looks to me that every internet baseball meme of making fun of old school stuff is crammed into most of what’s been written here instead of looking at Jockettys actual recent player moves, trends in Reds drafting, and Larkins personality, playing career and and finally the comments he made in their true full context.

  38. Did Bob Brenly have managing experience? Just asking. Not all low-coaching experience managers flameout. Nearly all great managers started off as no-experience managers.

    I am not sure how I feel about Larkin. I would need to query him with 50+ questions to get a feel for whether I’d like him as a professional team manager, but stating hiring him would be a mistake is just as insular as stating hiring him is.

    • …by the last sentence, I meant that saying the Reds excluding outsiders and hiring Larkin. I couldn’t think of a proper way to word it, but simply put, Larkin’s experience shouldn’t matter if he has the makings of a good manager. We can find all sorts of candidates with LOTS of experience and outside the organization. Most of these are referred to as “retreads”. I want the best manager we can get, no matter what the experience or past-relationships with the Reds. If it’s Larkin, fine with me, if not, fine with me. I only agree that interviewing several candidates is wise, because it only broadens the criteria and makes the hire better.

  39. Just when you think you’ve read everything, then this comes out:

    From none other than Tony La Russa: “But once the game starts, you’ve got to really make sure that you don’t let some of the preparation change what your guts and brain are telling you when you look out at the field. During the game, you observe. That supersedes what you would have learned from the preparation going in. … You have to allow your managers and coaches to make adjustments. That’s how you can win extra games.”

    http://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2015/09/diamondbacks-analytics-daniel-hudson-role-giants-padres-gyorko-shortstop.html

    Please give it a read about his take about analytics, game preparation, etc. Coming from one of the best Managers in history, one who played for a considered ultra strong on analytics organization, really put things in perspective.

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About Steve Mancuso

Steve grew up in Cincinnati as 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. He has resumed a first-person love affair with the Cincinnati Reds and is a season ticket holder at Great American Ball Park. The only place to find Steve's thoughts of more than 140 characters is Redleg Nation. Follow his tweets @spmancuso.

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2015 Reds