2016 Reds

Reds make major coaching changes

The Reds made some serious moves among their coaching staff yesterday. The Reds fired pitching coach Jeff Pico and bench coach Jay Bell. They shuffled some other coaches around, and brought in a new pitching coach and first base coach. Here is the new coaching staff:

Pitching coach: Mark Riggins

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  • He was the Reds minor league pitching coordinator for the last four seasons.
  • Riggins was the Cardinals pitching coach for just one season in strike-shortened 1995 (Cardinals went 62-81 in the 1995, but was 7th in the MLB with a team 4.09 ERA). The Cardinals fired Joe Torre during the 1995 season, and hired Tony La Russa for 1996. La Russa brought in Dave Duncan who was his pitching coach when he was with the A’s.
  • Riggins remained in the Cardinals organization in 1996, and was their minor league pitching coordinator from 1996-2007. He then moved on to the Cubs and was their minor league pitching coordinator from 2008-2010.
  • He was hired as the Cubs pitching coach in 2010.  The Cubs had a team ERA of 4.18, which was 22nd in the MLB. Lou Piniella retired during the season in 2010, and Riggins didn’t return to the Cubs in 2011.
  • Riggins pitched in 183 games in the minors, but never made it to the big leagues.

Bench coach: Jim Riggleman

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  • He was the Reds third base coach in 2015
  • Riggleman was the Padres manager from 1992-1994, Cubs manager from 1995-1999, and the Nationals manager from 2009-2011.
  • Riggleman managed the Reds AA team in 2013, and the Reds AAA team in 2014.

First Base coach: Freddie Benavides

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  • He was the Reds infielder coordinator from 2014-2015.
  • Benavides was drafted by the Reds in the second round in 1987.
  • He played in 219 games in the majors, including 98 with the Reds between 1991-1992.
  • He will continue to coach the Reds infielders

Third Base coach: Billy Hatcher

  • Hatcher moves from first base coach to third base coach.
  • He was the Reds first base coach last season, and has been a coach with the Reds for the last ten seasons.
  • Hatcher will continue to work with the Reds outfielders.

Also returning:

Mack Jenkins (bullpen and assistant pitching coach), Don Long (hitting coach), Mike Stefanski (catching coordinator), and Dustin Hughes (bullpen catcher).

Also departing:

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In addition to the firing of Jeff Pico and Jay Bell, the Reds also let assistant hitting coach Lee Tinsley go. C. Trent Rosecrans pointed out yesterday that Tinsley was arrested for driving while impaired in June of 2015. Tony Jaramillo will replace Tinsley as the Reds assistant hitting coach in 2016. Jaramillo was the Louisville Bats hitting coach the last three seasons.

Jay Bell told the Cincinnati Enquirer that the decision to not return in his role to the Reds was “both mutual and amicable.” He also said  “I want to manage (again). This does not rule out maintaining a relationship with the Reds.”

44 thoughts on “Reds make major coaching changes

  1. Some people will say “Oh, they’re just rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic.” First of all, that is a terrible metaphor. This team is not sinking. This team is *soaring* – if anything, they’re rearranging the deck chairs on the Hindenburg!

    • He’s only been the hitting coach a year and the same was said about Brook Jacoby before him. At some point, you have to think it’s the hitters not the coach.

      • Brook Jacoby is now the hitting coach in Toronto. No grumbling from Jays fans about the hitting in Toronto.

        • All of the hitters in Toronto were good hitters before Jacoby got there. He didn’t help Jose Bautista figure out how to hit dingers after nearly every single perceived sleight on Jose’s part. That guy is crazy.

      • Agree with this. Sometimes bad hitters are just bad.

        Also, Votto has generally had good things to say about Don Long, so unless it is Votto just being polite, that’s about as high of praise as you can get.

        I think I remember a quote where Votto said Long helped him identify what was wrong with his swing during the ASB and then Votto had one of the best 2nd halfs in baseball history.

        • you are correct JDX about Votto crediting Long helping him with his swing. And Reds fans have been dumping on the hitting coaches at least since the Adam Dunn days. My conclusion is it’s not the coach, it’s the hitters.

      • It may in some part be the hitters but the approach to hitting is skewed IMO. JV understands the strike zone and good hitters hit strikes.The rest of the team all think theyare 40 HR hitters they don’t have a clue about situational hitting.That may have been a little harsh I think this past season BP understood his spot in the line up needed a different approach depending where he was hitting.

    • People complain abou Long as the hitting coach, but it is worth noting that the previous hitting coach is now the hitting coach for the Blue Jays. They seem to hit pretty well so maybe the problem is not in the coaching, but in the players. I am not sure that changing the hitting coach is going to help them hit better. The problems are with the hitters, not the coaching. On the other side, Jaramillo’s brother is one of the best hitting coaches around so…..

  2. Mark Riggins will be worth how many wins for the Reds this year? It’s hard to get excited about these minor moves when the organizational philosophy is still completely screwed up.

    • The title says “major coaching changes.” Changing most of your coaches is “major.” Not sure where your definition lies… the only “major” thing is getting rid of 100% of the coaches?

    • I would say a different pitching coach, bench coach, first base coach, third base coach, and assistant hitting coach would be making “major coaching changes.”

      • As far as I’m concerned Price is still the pitching coach. Riggleman being promoted to bench coach is really the only move. Replacing an assistant is like replacing your 3rd string quarterback.
        It boils down to one transaction.

  3. Did Leo Mazzone make Maddox, Glavine and Smoltz? Or did they make him? Dave Duncan does a pretty good job over there but man alive he’s got a lot of talent to work with.

    • You know what – Duncan turned Kyle Lohse into a decent pitcher for approximately 24 months – maybe MLB level position coaches can have a major impact.

      • Lohse had decent years with the Twins before Duncan and had decent years with Milwaukee after Duncan.

        Lohse has 26.7 career fWAR… he’s been an above average pitcher nearly his entire career, regardless of place.

        • My counter was going to be that Duncan’s influence generated more WAR after. However, upon review I find that to not be the case. Therefore — touchè.

    • Dave Duncan was last a Cardinals coach in 2011. He was hired by the Diamondbacks as pitching consultant to the GM, which was Kevin Towers at the time.

  4. The Dodgers might be striking gold if they hire Gabe Kapler as their next manager. Kapler is currently the Dodgers Director of Player Develpoment or Director of Minor Leagues. I’ve heard alot of positive comments on Kapler on MLB Network radio over the past year. Kapler preaches loudly from the SABR altar, too. Another team that went from old-school front office (Ned Colletti) to a new school(Friedman/Zaidi) and they now look like they are bringing in the most pro-SABR manager there will be in MLB.

  5. I wish that the new pitching coach wasn’t also an ex-Cardinal. I’m just tired of it.

    That said, I’m glad they got rid of Pico. Niether Cingrani nor Lorenzen were top flight prospects, but both have great arms. The fact that neither has been able to develop a consistent out pitch to go along with plus fastballs doesn’t reflect well on the coaching staff.

    It’s pretty common that you hear about a guy struggling, then going to a good team and learning a cutter, sinker, changeup, etc and turning into a valuable piece. I’m not saying Pico is to blame for the Reds pitching woes, but with so many pitching prospects coming up I’d rather go with someone new. It seems like more of the Reds pitchers have underperformed than performed up to expectations or beyond during the last two years.

  6. Riggins has also worked for the Cubs. But the allure of the Cardinals, it seems, is tough for Walt to look beyond.

  7. The fact that he’s a former Cardinal coach doesn’t bother me. It’s that he was there when Jocketty was there. It’s another hire based on Walt knowing someone personally. Also with the Reds for the last few years. Terrible way to run a business or any other organization to be so narrow in focus.

    I’m surprised to learn the Reds have a minor league pitching coordinator. I’ve heard from a source I trust that there are vast differences from affiliate to affiliate in how the Reds instruct pitching.

    • “I’m surprised to learn the Reds have a minor league pitching coordinator. I’ve heard from a source I trust that there are vast differences from affiliate to affiliate in how the Reds instruct pitching.”

      Of all the things you’ve written, those 2 sentences summarize the problem better than anything.

      People spend a lot of time questioning the competence of the manager, the ability of the players and whether the GM is a turbo prop in a world of jets….all valid and worthy of discussion…..but, the fact that an organization with limited resources…..an organization that NEEDS to develop players in order to compete….an organization that has been bad far more often than not for the past 20 years….. has no consistent development process for pitchers is utterly astonishing.

      Intelligent and reasonable people can differ on many many things…..but this is simply ineptitude

    • The Riggins hire may indicate a focus on developing all their ML ready (& soon to be ready) pitching, given his previous role with the Reds. I know it all comes from the flawed perspective of Jocketty, so nothing he does is likely to satisfy you, but this could indicate that the Reds understand the need to develop their young players at the ML level & are brining in coaches with relevant experience.

  8. If there were a fangraphs measure it would read something like this:

    Before the moves the Reds’ odds of winning the division in 2016 3.2%
    After the moves the odds of winning the division 3.2%

    This is hollow action. It’s a superficial attempt to look like the Reds are making changes. Nothing will improve until Walt packs his bags. Until then this franchise will continue to slowly die.

    • I’m assuming that after the coaching changes, more change is coming. Just not the change most of us would like to see (Bye Walt, Bye Bryan Price).

  9. What does everyone think about the new manager in Seattle? No coaching experience at any level, but ideologically aligned with their new GM. Is this where things are headed?

    • No coaching experience as a Manager but he does have baseball experience as a player and as a front-office person working the baseball operations side of things. He isn’t just a numbers guy.

      To answer your question, I think this very well is where things are headed. Time will tell if it’s the right direction or not. Personally, I would rather have a manager with more experience but who was still forward-thinking, creative, and had a fundamental grasp of modern baseball analysis. There are some managers that fit that bill. I’ve also seen a few of the more traditional type managers seriously buy into analytics so ruling out more experienced guys isn’t really the direction I’d go if I were a GM. I’d want someone with experience managing players and who had an understanding of my vision for the team and how I want things to be done.

    • If the Reds get off to a slow start, I imagine it will be because of the talent rather than the manager.

  10. Walt promoting Riggins is the good old boy network at work again.Just another guy he worked with in the past which means nothing if you believe that Price is going to spend more time with the pitchers and Riggleman is going to manage the team.I just don’t get it when you just move people around from within and expect different results.

  11. I’ve had my share of moments cursing Price as the balrog in the woodpile, but in my heart of hearts, I KNOW the onus rests upon Walt. Whether he is a clueless has-been on the skids or just lollygagging his way through BC’s coffers into a (perceived) well-earned retirement tossing thank-you-note contracts to former colleagues really doesn’t matter since it seems to be one, the other, or a combo of the two. He IS Mr. Irrelevant, and he and Bob (btw, many of us really love ya, Bob–you just need to get out more and meet new people) seem to survive on the fading embers of the fire he/they stoked in St. Louis. Walt reeks of that creepy “old man smoking stogies in the residence hotel” smell. And do you think high-end prospects, free agents and/or their agents don’t pick it up?

    Been a dyed-in-the-wool fan from here in Iowa since 1965, so I’m not likely to get buzzed off this perch by this gaggle of wombats, but I rue the wasted time that Walter’s ditzy choices have saddled us with. I still wish we’d stayed with Pete Mackanin and Krivsky. But Walt’s sentimental dumpster diving is really rough on the old brainpan.

    Still, I’m ever hopeful for 2016. Come back, Homer, and please, Reds, don’t dump Bruce till you can come up with someone who makes more sense. I know, I wanted him to be Larry Walker, too. But it’s not the worst thing that he turned out to be Rocky Colavito with a soft heart for Cincinnati.

    Haters suck, btw.

  12. Hope Brian and Jim sit in the dugout side by side. Two heads are better than one. Got to break out of the Dusty tradition of standing with clip-board in hand. It didn’t make Dusty any smarter.

    • Not many managers, these days, sit in the dugout although I recall Lou Pinella and Earle Weaver, among others, doing that. Price is usually standing with his arms folded as if to say ‘I’m in charge.’

  13. 2008- Yonder Alonso (6 war)
    2009- Mike Leake (12.5), Brad Boxberger (2.2), Billy Hamilton(4.2) Tucker Barnhart(0.3)
    2010- Yasmani Grandal (5.9)
    2011- Tony Cingrani (2.1)
    2012- none yet
    2013- Michael Lorenzen (-0.2)

    2008- Lance Lynn (11.2), Kevin Siegrist (2.7), Sam Freeman (1.6)
    2009- Shelby Miller (9.3), Joe Kelly (4.9), Matt Carpenter (14.2), Trevor Rosenthal (5.3), Matt Adams (3.6) — man they had a good draft
    2010- Carlos Martinez (free agent) (3.9)
    2011- Kolton Wong (3.9), Seth Manus (1.9)
    2012- Michael Wacha (5.8) , Stephen Piscotti (0.9)
    2013- none yet

  14. Fact, MLB hitting coaches do very little with the majority of their teams hitters. Hitters know their swings and video analysis becomes one of their coaches. What is interesting is that they all have someone who they rely on for feedback or advice, but majority of the time that person doesn’t wear the same uniform that they do. The exceptions are rookies who are struggling, or bench players who want to remain viable options.

    Another interesting dilemma at the minor league level is that many teams have roving hitting instructors who will come in and tweak or change players mid season. It usually leads to confusion because it’s not necessarily what is being taught by that teams hitting instructor. Teams that have had this problem in recent years are the Angels, Braves, and of course the Reds. So unless a team is blessed with a bunch of Votto’s there needs to be a better streamlining on an offensive approach.

  15. Why not give Ted Power a shot? The Reds must think he’s valuable enough at AAA with their pitchers or he would have been long gone. Doesn’t make sense to keep passing him over IF he wants the job.

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