Quantifying how hot any particular manager’s or front office executive’s or face of the franchise’s seat is at any given time is a foolhardy endeavor with no good answers. Unless you are the owner of the franchise. Then it’s not so much a hot seat as much as how you’re going to do payroll for the next month.
All of which to say, this exercise I’m undertaking of speculating how much time various Reds personnel have left with the Reds should they not perform adequately in 2018 is stupid. It’s dumb. I have no idea how much time any one has left. I’m not Bob Castellini. I’m just a guy with a laptop and some opinions.
But my opinions are better than most if I do say so myself, so Mr. Castellini read up: Your payroll will eventually depend on it.
How cooked is he?: Well done and nearing an inedible brick
No matter what happens over the course of the 2018 season, Bryan Price will not be the manager of the Cincinnati Reds in 2019. The best case scenario for Mr. Price is to sneak into a Wild Card game and land a decent job somewhere else — let’s say Minnesota.
I know it seems ridiculous to declare Price dead on arrival, but hear me out. The Tennessee Titans, the football franchise of which I am a nominal fan, has just charted a course eerily similar to the Reds, but about a year ahead. The Titans had a long-tenured, beloved head coach in Jeff Fisher who was just a bit too old school to succeed anymore. The Reds had a long-tenured, occasionally beloved manager in Dusty Baker who was just a bit too old school to succeed anymore. After a couple of misfires, the Titans landed on Mike Mularkey, who was forward-thinking enough but still stuck in the old ways. The Reds landed on Bryan Price immediately after Dusty, but while Price has been forward-thinking enough, he’s clearly stuck in the old ways.
Even if Bryan Price gets the Reds to the playoffs this year (much as Mularkey did for the Titans), Castellini should cut bait and find someone who will not only get the Reds there, but set the expectation that they should be there.
How cooked is he?: Imagine a single match cooking a roast pig
Dick Williams could trade Joey Votto for a bag of baseballs and Zack Cozart’s donkey and get away with by sheepishly pointing at Bryan Price and hiding behind a chair.
He’s only been General Manager for two years, so Williams still has that fresh out the wrapping paper shine that us baseball fans love to oogle at. He’s statistically minded and he’s made some savvy trades already (Dan Straily anyone?). It will honestly take Bryan Price’s ouster before anyone takes a supercritical look into Williams’ track record, so he has nothing to worry about for another year at least.
How cooked is he?: Medium, but like a Schrodinger’s Medium where he could be anything
I don’t understand Jim Riggleman. He’s had two winning seasons in his entire Major League managerial career, has never won a playoff game, and quit mid-season when he didn’t get the contract he wanted despite only having two winning seasons in his entire Major League managerial career! Before the 2016 season, it came out that Riggleman wanted to manage again, which like sure, I want to take another crack at my professional baseball career, but that doesn’t mean anyone else wants me to.
Even with the Louisville Bats, Riggleman redefined mediocre. 137-150. That was his record across two seasons. If you want to look on the bright side he consistently lost 75 games. I’m told consistency is worth something these days.
Riggleman’s seat should be so hot by now that he just paces during games to avoid it, but the man seems downright comfortable. I don’t get it. If the Reds fire Price and hire Riggleman, I will mutiny.
How cooked is he?: There’s smoke but it could just be a nice seasoning
Phrasing it this way seems a bit crude, but Mack Jenkins’ entire existence depends on a bunch of 25 year olds. If any two of Luis Castillo, Amir Garrett, Cody Reed, Brandon Finnegan, Tyler Mahle, or Robert Stephenson have strong, solid seasons to shore up the back of the rotation, then Jenkins will probably return. If all five of the guys not named Luis Castillo continue to flake on their potential, Mack Jenkins will be long gone.*
Of course, if my prediction that Bryan Price is toast at the end of the season regardless comes true, then Mr. Jenkins probably doesn’t stand a chance on the virtue of a new coach wanting his own guys. However, if three of the above emerge as mid-rotation pitchers or better, Mr. Jenkins might have himself a long Reds career.
*Before the post was updated, I had confused Don Long as the Reds’ pitching coach. It’s a pretty innocent mistake that is easily corrected (as you can tell), but still losing the sentence “Don Long will be long gone” saddens me.
How cooked is he?: Still raw and bloody
I include Joey here with the coaching and managerial positions because Joey is the face of the franchise and sometimes the face of the franchise can run into a hot seat problem. Just look at Evan Longoria or Giancarlo Stanton or Andrew McCutchen or even Matt Kemp from back in the day. Faces get traded sometimes for not fulfilling their far too lofty expectations.
But there’s simply no way Joey is going anywhere. Sorry National League pitchers.
How cooked is he?: Three-day old leftovers that were cooked but are now hiding in the fridge
Maybe it’s wrong of me, but I consider Billy Hamilton to be the Face of the Franche Lite. Or maybe Face of the Franchise Jr. Or maybe Diet Face of the Franchise. You get the point.
For a very real minute this offseason, it seemed like Billy was on his way out west to pan for some Commissioner’s Trophy gold with the Even Year Giants. (The curse broke, didn’t you hear?) It didn’t happen and now our old friend Andrew McCutchen is testing his luck with the California Fountain of Youth. But as for Billy, is he safe?
In a weird way, he probably is. Bryan Price loves his baseball roles more than anything, and unfortunately for Adam Duvall and Scott Schebler, they tend to fill the same role. Give Duvall left, Billy center, and Jesse Winker right, and you’re left with power, speed, and table-setting across the outfield. While power, speed, power might be more fun to say, even Price knows that he has to play Winker consistently this year.
The Face of the Franchise Jr. is probably here to stay for the duration of 2018, but if the Reds pull anything resembling contention together, I wouldn’t expect him to stick around much longer.