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?)

71 Responses

  1. lwblogger2

    I’m hoping Williams knows what’s going on behind the scenes better than I do. Does he still have the respect of the players? Is he still running the clubhouse? Is “still” even an operative word; I mean did he ever have/do those things?

    Williams needs to bring in his own guy at some point as he didn’t hire Price. The question is rather or not that should be done prior to 2017 or later. I’m thinking it should be done, if possible prior to 2017. Williams may need to get the prospective manager to buy into the fact that 2017 may, at best, be a .500 season, but that better times are on the horizon and they are coming soon. Basically, he needs the sell “the plan” and that it will pay dividends sooner rather than later. Selling the plan and getting “HIS” manager in here sooner rather than later is what may prove his own worth as a GM.

  2. Davis Stuns Goliath

    I’ll vote no (with an asterisk) for three reasons: Peraza, bunting and bullpen mismanagement. In short, there was no excuse to have Peraza rot away on the bench earlier this year; I want to scream bloody murder every time a position player squares up; and the Simon/Ohlendorf usage this year and Chapman under-usage in the past is/was maddening. Yes, others might do the same (or worse), but settling for mediocrity seems counterintuitive to the idea of the rebuild. I also think there’s something to be said for sending a message to players and fans that a new chapter is beginning.

    I’m a realist, though. Since no one will jump at the chance to manage this team next year, the only way to justify cutting bait is if they can find someone without any long-term managerial aspirations (if not Pinella, maybe Riggleman?) to take a flyer for a year.

    Long story short, yes, they can do worse than Price in 2017… but that doesn’t mean they shouldn’t make an effort to do better.

    • lwblogger2

      Price > Riggleman and it’s not even close. Riggleman is a lousy manager and worse yet, basically abandoned his team in the middle of a season. Sorry, if that comes on strongly but I really, really don’t like him.

    • jazzmanbbfan

      If you’re going to put Riggleman in the manager’s seat next year there is no reason to let Price go. I have mixed feelings on Price, not a hater but the three things you mentioned are high on my list of frustrations with him. On the other hand, I don’t think the players have quit on him and there are times when it might have been easy for them to, as miserable as this season was through June.

    • Chuck Schick

      Do you actually believe that Peraza’s useage or non-useage was actually Price’s decision? You actually believe that a guy in the last year of his contract willingly sent Ohlendorfer and Simon out to pitch?

      • Gaffer

        Yes!!! That is why he has disqualified himself for this job!!

      • RedAlert

        Chuck has commented the entire year hat the front office is essentially determining who plays each game. That is a ludicrous and absurd assumption that I have really grown tired of hearing. Price fills out the lineup card and manuevers players in and out if games – THAT’S HIS JOB, NOT THE FRONT OFFICE !

      • greenmtred

        I don’t know, having never been a manager or general manager, but I would guess that the truth is somewhere between: Price does fill out the lineup card and probably makes day-to-day decisions, but it’s also likely–it seems to me–that he is following a framework of guidelines sent from on high (“you need to get Phillips/Cozart/Ohlendorf/etc. playing time because we want other teams to see them”). The manager, any manager, has much more awareness of players’ physical constraints and state of mind than we do, and I’m sure that leads to some of the decisions that we find illogical. I also very much take Chad’s point that, as fans watching the Reds a great deal, we scrutinize Price’s decisions in far closer detail than any manager could stand up to. And last, I mildly resent the implied criticism of geezers. Some of my best friends….

      • lwblogger2

        I will say one thing. This becomes pretty much a moot point if Price really doesn’t have any authority about who plays, batting order, and tactical decisions. There should be input and overall mandates from the front-office but not out and out micromanagement. That would make it very easy to decline a 1-year contract or even a 2-year contract. Why not just go back to being a pitching coach at that point? The money isn’t as good but the stress and job security are much, much better.

      • ohiojimw

        In some ways, I think Price might have the personality of a guy who is best suited to be a coordinator in the football sense of the word. Give him his staff and his general operating parameters then get out of his way and let him do his job.

        Unfortunately for him, the baseball model doesn’t really empower a pitching coach to that degree and pay them really big bucks to do the job; so that left pursuing a manager’s job as his career pinnacle path.

  3. Wizeman

    Team has improved. With a dcimated pitching staff early ther were. Horrific. 30-26last two months pretty much proves they have not quit on him
    Improvements in many players.
    I would like to see them keep him.

  4. WVRedlegs

    I read your article this morning. Very good. Stoke the debate fires. It is hard not to give Price one more year. The team has responded well to the coaches and Price with a healthy roster. I would rather Dick Williams concentrate on getting a big upgrade in one corner OF spot not named Winker, trade or non tender Cozart, and trade or release BP. Those are more pressing needs. Trades can happen before the winter meetings. I would rather say this team is a couple of players away from being pretty good, instead of saying this team is a couple of years away from being pretty good. Then go out and get a couple of those players DW.
    Who really are the Price haters going to get to manage? Either it is a re-tread or someone with no MLB managing experience. Both should go in the Be Careful What You Wish For category.
    Now if we are talking Louisville and dumping Delino DeShields, I’m ALL in favor of such a move. I would go get Omar Vizquel from Detroit to groom as a manger in waiting for the post-Price era. If not Vizquel, former Reds catcher Joe Oliver is the RedSox A+ manager. DeShields is a bigger liability than Price ever will be.

    • lwblogger2

      I’ll remind you (and everyone else really) that Baker was brought in to manage a losing ball-club that was getting close to being a contender. He took the job. It may be a bit of a tough sell to get a a guy that isn’t either a re-tread or novice manager but it is far from impossible. Now, one can argue that Baker wasn’t really a very good manager but that’s a debate for a different time.

    • Tom Diesman

      I’d like to see Corky Miller be given a minor league managers position next year and see how he does at the helm of a team.

      • lwblogger2

        I think he’d be a good coach and likely a good manager. He was generally a leader on the field and in the clubhouse and he knows a ton about the game of baseball. I think that’s a great idea Tom.

  5. lost11found

    I’d keep him around. I don’t see many games so can’t comment on day-to-day things but the maturation of the young pitching staff has been interesting and is trending upward and its really the organizations best aspect of the last few years. How much is Price and his philosophy and how much is the raw talent. *shrug* don’t know, but why take a organizational strength and chuck it out the window?

  6. James

    I remember when Sveum was fired by the Cubs it was because the young players weren’t developing as projected. I think there should be a similar criteria for Price: how have the young players developed? I see improvements/development from Suarez, Peraza, Hamilton, Duvall, Schebler, Finnegan, Straily, Lorenzen, Igleisias, DeSclafani, Wood. That’s pretty good. It is good enough?

  7. ArtWayne

    Bryan has taken more innovative steps such as placing an additional infielder from the outfield when the occasion called for it. Riggleman has been an outstanding bench coach. He and Bryan seem to hit it off. Can’t wait until ’18 after finishing 3rd next year.

  8. Playtowin

    Dick Williams should retain Bryan Price. He has done a good job with a weak roster. The bullpen was a disaster early in the season which was not his fault. The team is playing winning baseball in the 2nd half after he got some pitchers who can do the job. Continuity is a plus as he knows the players in the Reds organization and can build on what he has seen this season. I believe changing managers at this stage would be a mistake. Price does not hit, pitch, or field. He puts players in a position to succeed and his success can be seen in the improvement in Hamilton, Duvall, Schebler, Suarez, Peraza, Barnhart, Straily, DeSclafani, Finnegan, Iglesias, Lorenzen, Wood and another excellent year by Votto.

  9. Steve Mancuso

    Not sure I buy the “no one would take the job” argument. If the front office has a good plan and the owner commits to spending the money to make the team competitive in the future, I don’t know why a good candidate wouldn’t want to sign up for 2017, knowing it will likely be better than 2016.

    If they find a match for a 3-4 year contract, I wouldn’t hesitate. If they don’t, I’d approach Price about a 1-year extension. I can’t see offering Price more than one year, although they can always fire him after a year, I suppose.

    • Reaganspad

      Ditto. Price for one year.

      Maybe that manager for the 3-4 year contract is Bryan Price when he takes a 500 team projected to the playoffs in 2017

      that would be win/win

    • lwblogger2

      Pretty much what I said above. Need to get a prospective manager to buy into the plan for 2018/2019 and get him in here. Dusty Baker was the perfect example of that. He took over a team that was not ready for prime time but getting close.

  10. cupofcoffee1955

    I vote to retain Price and I think they will. Last year I would not have said that because it looked like the players had given up. The Reds have played much better since the All-Star break. They could have really tanked like last year but they haven’t. Not everything has gone right. It is still a work in process. Next year hopefully will be a little better & the picture will be a little clearer.

    BTW, Chad, I think you would make a fine GM.

      • lwblogger2

        You do have a law degree. That’s a good place to start for a front-office position. You certainly know a little about the game of baseball. You’re a pretty likeable guy in the interactions I’ve had with you. Um, he’s right, you may indeed make a good GM.

  11. TR

    I think a new GM in 2017 goes along with a new manager, but the Reds have played interesting ball since July although I feel it’s due more to a return of some of the cavalry and not so much due to Bryan Price. Since 2016 is ending on an upswing, and if Price will accept a one year contract, so be it.

  12. RedsFaninPitt

    After the Cubs win the World Series, I would go after Dave Martinez, the Cubs bench coach. He has sat under Joe Madden’s tutelage for a few years and hopefully would know that it is time for the young guys to play at the expense of the old guys. I would expect his lineup construction and bullpen mgmt would be a lot more progressive as well.

    • lwblogger2

      I think Dave Martinez will make an excellent manager. He’s ready to be given the chance by someone.

    • Kyle Farmer

      Love this idea. Might be the only guy out there who might be willing to take the position who I would see as an automatic upgrade.

  13. Dan

    It will either be Price or Larkin and im ok with that.

    • Gaffer

      Those are the only 2 unacceptable options, IMO.

  14. Gaffer

    Why is this even a question, the Reds have had bad managers and good but none as blind, deaf and dumb as Price. When we were trying to be in contention, he showed his weaknesses as a game coordinator time after time. When we were trying to develop players (frankly trying to lose) he made zero effort to develop players (although inadvertently he kept making decisions that helped us lose). What possible reason exists to think he is either a guy who will help us win in the future or help us once we get there????

      • wkuchad

        Worse than Narron? Yes.

        Worse than Boone or Knight? Probably not, but I still don’t want him back.

      • Dan

        I think many take the w and l and place it on the managers shoulder. I dont think it mattets to be honest.

    • greenmtred

      When we “were trying to be in contention,” if memory serves, we were devastated by injuries. It’s hard to evaluate a manager who loses a bunch of important players. I also didn’t see the Reds frankly trying to lose–at least not the players or Price. They simply didn’t have enough skilled players to do anything else.

  15. vegastypo

    Hey, somebody had to be the first one to give Maddon a job. Who’s to say the Reds couldn’t find somebody willing to consider doing things a bit differently. (Yes, I see how that could be a disaster also, but just sayin’.)

    I’m also not sure it’s fair to compare Maddon’s usage of Chapman vs. how the Reds used him. The Cubs have the division wrapped up, and effectively have had it wrapped up for months now. The question would be, how would Maddon have used Chapman if they were in a dogfight for a playoff spot. Then does he appear in more high-leverage situations, or 4- or 5-out saves or whatever? Or is he still the 1-inning-max guy?

    If I’m your assistant GM and you asked me, I’d send Price on his way.

    • lwblogger2

      If I recall, didn’t Maddon use Chapman for more than 3 outs right after they got him? Didn’t Chapman publicly object but basically give in saying “he’s the manager”? I agree that it may be hard to compare how Maddon has used him as opposed to how Price did. I must add though that Chapman’s attitude towards more innings sounds like it would be difficult to get anyone to get him to buy in on working more than 3 outs regularly.

  16. Scott Carter

    I have been totally frustrated by some of Price’s decisions ands many are the same ones mentioned here, but I would have no problem giving him another year with a better pitching staff and now more experienced lineup and hopefully some bench. Managing is a baseball team is a difficult job to quantify, many managers have made some of the same “dumb” decisions that Price has made, many have mismanaged bullpens (i believe that was one of the criticisms of Sparky). If your players perform, you are a genius, if they don’t you’re an idiot. The only real issue I would have with Price is that players have been allowed to continually make mental mistakes. I realize that some of these players are young but that is the one thing that needs to be done. Now the question is has Price been forced to play players like Philipps who continually run into outs or does he play them because they are the “veterans. I do not know the answer to that question but if we can see Price learning from his mistakes, that might be a good thing. Dean Smith the legendary UNC basketball coach was hanged in effigy early in his career. As a Carolina fan I am glad that the Carolina heads did not fire him or let him go. You never know.

  17. Greatredlegsfan

    I think it all depends how far front office expects to go in the next 2-3 years. If they’re willing to make some smash moves in order to compete in the short term, then Price is not the guy. If they wish to continue in rebuild mode, allowing for more player development while keeping the old players around, then they should extend him.

  18. ohiojimw

    If Williams can get a guy he sees as his long term guy, He should go on and get him.

    If not, things get kind of sticky. What if Williams knows Price is not his long term guy, for whatever reason(s) but keeps Price on a one year deal and the team wins 80+ games which is not an unrealistic prospect given how they’ve played since the ASB. That could create a real problem in moving Price out after the season from both the public relations aspect; and, even more importantly, inside the clubhouse and with DW’s reputation among MLB orgs.

    Thus I think a question Dick Williams needs to be sure he knows the answer to is whether or not he could ever be comfortable with Price long term. If the answer is yes and DW cannot land someone who is his long term ideal, then bring Price back on a 1 year deal knowing it could be opening the door for him being around longer. If the answer is no, then he has to make a change now.

    I’m with the folks that do not agree that “nobody will take the job”. There are only 30 of these jobs in the world and lots of folks lining up to get a chance at them. The issue isn’t whether anybody will take the job; it is figuring out which of the comers has the potential to be the next Sparky Anderson of Joe Maddon in the situation they will begin from.

  19. sezwhom

    If Price wasn’t so bunt happy, I’d say keep him. Case in point: Tuesday night, I believe, two on and nobody out with Peraza up and he asked him to bunt. Really? In September? When we’re hopelessly out of it plus 5000 games behind the Cubs? Really? Come on.

  20. DEN

    Is Price’s contract up at season end? If so I doubt there is any chance he signs a one year deal, that is dead man walking basically. So IF his contract is up you either ink him to say a 3 year deal or you go in a new direction.

    • lwblogger2

      His contract is indeed up after the season. A couple articles here at RLN have tackled the idea of why Price might actually be willing to accept a 1-year deal. I’m not sure I agree 100% but the articles made sound arguments.

      • DEN

        Can anyone think of the last time any top level sports manager in any sport signed a 1 year deal? I can’t and I doubt there has been one, managers know they have zero control with that one year deal.

      • lwblogger2

        I can’t think of one off the top of my head.

      • ohiojimw

        What we don’t know is what the amounts and terms of the buyouts are on some of those long term coaching/ managing deals. The way the Browns, for instance, have gone thru head coach after head coach, it is hard to think that the team was potentially on the hook for the full term announced face values of the contracts. NBA and NHL are the same way, they switch coaches seemingly overnight at times.

      • TR

        I’m not sure it was the last time, but Walter Alston, the HOF manager of the Brooklyn/Los Angeles Dodgers from 1954 to 1976 signed 23 one-year contracts and his teams won 7 pennants and 4 world series.

    • wkuchad

      The reason is simple: there’s no chance he’ll get another offer to manage a MLB team for 2017.

      • ohiojimw

        +1000! I suppose however if the Reds have been really low balling Price on salary, a big money org might offer him a longer term more lucrative deal to be pitching coach.

      • KetteringRedsFan

        There are other choices between one year only and multi (i.e. 3 to 4) year, -especially- if the price is right for a small-market budget-constrained club.

        One year -plus- one year club option. Option structured so it’s either a bailout option or a rolling one-year renewal (with option) while looking through the market for a longer term option. Particularly if MLB gets even more insistent on diversity/interviewing standards, which, although they are not roadblocks, are apt to add to the decision cycle time on identifying and emplacing a replacement..

      • DEN

        There is no way in knowing what other offers might be out there for him. Other managers who have done worse have found second, third or even forth jobs…

      • wkuchad

        agree to disagree; no chance another club gives Price an offer to manage a MLB club to start the ’17 season

    • jazzmanbbfan

      There’s only 30 of these jobs. I think if they offer 1 year he will take it.

  21. ohiojimw

    Got a little bit of a head scratcher I am going to pile on here because this is a front office sort of post/ thread

    Within the last hour, the Reds have announced that BHam and Cody Reed have been put on the 15 day DL retroactive to 5 Sept. This is a bit puzzling to say the least since during the expanded roster period, there is really no purpose served by the 15 day DL because all 40 men on the MLB roster are eligible to activated.

    Mark Sheldon (@m_sheldon) has tweeted that the Reds told him it was a procedural move made because neither player was available to play. He doesn’t seem any less confused after hearing that explanation than before he heard it.

    I wouldn’t be surprised if this is a prelude to one or both of the players being shuffled off to the 60 day DL to create an opening or 2 on the 40 man roster. But why? Late call up or trade? Anticipated waiver claim award?

    • WVRedlegs

      Just a precursor for the Reds to sign Lourdes Gurriel Jr. to a contract. But that won’t happen until after October 10th when he turns 23. Reds look at him as a 2B/LF.
      Just kidding, don’t know what these moves mean. Unless it is a procedural move involving payroll or accounting in some way.

      • ohiojimw

        There has been a bit of chatter that MLB is making a push for clubs to handle all injuries in same way they would if it wasn’t September. IOW, if the guy can’t play and you would DL him if this were June, then DL him now,

        This smells like fallout from the Preller/ Padres situation, maybe even a new way of doing business going forward..

    • jveith1991

      I believe Mark Sheldon mentioned during his interview with Marty during the Reds’ broadcast that the reason possibly has to do with future arbitration hearings. That way, a team could support their position of not giving a player as much money due to time missed on the DL.

  22. jaY jOHNSON

    I strongly say dump him.
    2 points.
    He wasnt given a terrible team when he took over for Dusty,but they proceeded to be awful
    Secondly in your article you point out the Reds improved record in the second half and imply Price had something to do with that.Yet on the other hand you say the Reds wont contend in 2017.
    Seems like a contradiction.
    Personally I think they will have a chance at a wild card next year if properly run both up top in the front office and on the field.
    The front office at this point is an unknown
    but Price has not displayed the ability to win or make quality decisions.There are many examples already stated repeatedly.
    Fire him for someone who has shown the ability to use common sense and has won at some level.

    • KetteringRedsFan

      Valid point but one qualifier. In his first season, Pryce was an absolute rookie manager struggling to make the shift away from being a hands-on pitching coach, which may have been a more difficult transition/competitor for his attention up until the middle of this season. Particularly with the emphasis switching from teardown through introducing the next generation of pitching before replenishing position players.

      With time, Pryce’s decision making seems to be improving (maybe not fast enough to suit any of us, but still improving) and, with Ted Power promoted to the big club, has greater ability to delegate on the pitching situation.

      That said, open minded on his future … but it depends on what serious alternatives are out there — which may not clarify for another month or so while playoffs are underway.

      • KetteringRedsFan

        …..er….. -Price-, not -Pryce-

        There is always the question of “y”

    • WVRedlegs

      Man, you seem to forget the circumstances the Reds were in during the 2014 season, Price’s first season as manager. The Reds were contending until late July. Injuries racked the team and it finally succumbed in early August after Homer Bailey hurt his flexor mass. The wheels fell off then. Joey Votto was hurt and didn’t play in the second half. BP was banged up most of the season and played only 121 games. Jay Bruce hurt his knee, had surgery, and played hurt the rest of the season. Bailey got hurt in early August during a very hot streak of his and was DLed for the rest of the year. Mat Latos began the season on the DL, was on it 2 more times and missed half of the season. Frazier had a second half swoon. BHam was a rookie and just getting acclimated to ML baseball. No left fielder to speak of. Cozart had a bad year at the plate. Tony Cingrani flamed out as a starter that year and spent much of the year on the DL or at AAA.
      In 2015 what did the front office do for Price? They traded 2 starting pitchers before the season started and got Marlon Byrd for LF. Then they traded 2 more starting pitchers at the trade deadline. Rinse and repeat for 2016.
      To be fair, this is most probably not what Price signed up for when he signed his contract.
      This might explain a little bit for you why the Reds “proceeded to be awful” in 2014 in Price’s first year. But don’t let some little ole facts get in the way of condemning an innocent man.

      • ohiojimw

        But what did Price do about the things that were under his control? From the onset of his tenure, until roughly the ASB this season, the Reds looked a team that was loosely (poorly?) organized and run on the field day to day. TOOTBLANs out the wahzoo almost nightly. Players missing or not getting signs. Throws made to incorrect bases. Poor plate discipline. etc.

        Has Price turned the corner in a positive direction? That’s a lot of what the decision probably comes down to.

      • WVRedlegs

        You are right. It hasn’t all been pretty. If he had assembled a very good coaching staff at the outset, things might have been somewhat different. Each season his coaching staff has had at least one major shakeup. The bench coach wasn’t retained. They lost a hitting coach. Lost a pitching coach. Lost another pitching coach this year. I like the staff that is now in place. Things are starting to gel from the coaching staff to roster full of new players. Price and his staff have turned the corner I think.
        The best way for GM Dick Williams to help this team is to go out and get one top-notch offensive player to go with the current roster. Dick Williams probably will want to put his stamp on this team this winter by making a big trade. He also has to establish himself among the other GM’s that he is his own man. Not a Jocketty puppet anymore.

      • ohiojimw

        And it is not beyond the realm of reasonably possible that the changing power structure above Price has played a role in his seeming turnaround during this season.

        It will be interesting to see how this all turns out. Chances are we will never have a clue about exactly why whatever choice is taken was chosen.

      • jaY jOHNSON

        His on the field managing is terrible.I cringe almost every game at his decisions.The errors by his players are at a little league level.Hard for me to see how anyone can defend his management skills.
        He must go.

  23. BigRedMike

    Just watched the Reds sacrifice in the 5th inning in a 4-3 game, no reason to bring Price back.