I engaged in a little fantasy over at Cincinnati Magazine:
Let’s pretend for a moment that it’s late-October, and I’m the General Manager of the Cincinnati Reds. (First, take a moment to recover from the horror of learning that the Reds have handed GM duties of your favorite club to an unqualified baseball writer.) One of the big decisions I’ll have to face this off-season is regarding next year’s field manager of the club. Bryan Price’s contract just expired at the end of the 2016 season.
In other words: is Bryan Price going to be fired as the manager of the Reds?
If you have a few minutes, go read the entire piece and let me know what you think.
First things first: if the Reds can find another manager who is clearly better than Bryan Price, a manager who can lead the team for the next five years, they should go hire that guy.
But a point I wish I had underscored a little more forcefully in that piece is this: Be careful what you wish for. I had this discussion on twitter last night and this morning (see below). I really believe that most fans underestimate how almost every other manager is just like Bryan Price in most respects. Price’s dumb decisions are magnified because we watch the Reds every day and obsess over every little thing.
You know, we complained loudly about Price’s criminal under-utilization of Aroldis Chapman over the last couple of years. Well, take a look at the way Managerial Genius (TM) Joe Maddon is using Chapman in Chicago right now. I can’t see much of a difference.
Besides the fact that I’m not entirely sure that Price has “earned” a dismissal — management has not given him much of a roster to work with — I’d be surprised if any manager Joe Fan might want would be willing to take the job. Although maybe Joe Fan isn’t the right person to ask:
Anyway, this whole exposition is less a defense of Price — it’s hard to make the argument that Price is anything more than an average manager, at best — as it is a chance to point out that (a) you can’t blame this whole mess on him, or even most of it, and (b) if you can’t find a manager who is clearly better than Price, what’s the point? Because, while the Reds might be able to convince someone better than Price to take the job…I’m absolutely positive they can find someone worse. (Bob Boone, anyone?)