The Reds are off to a miserable 2-9 start. The roster may be far from ideal, but it is becoming more and more likely that Bryan Price will not survive the 2018 season as the Reds manager. The bizarre decisions he has made over the first 11 games have turned even Price’s biggest supporters against him.
The first name you hear when discussing the next Reds manager is Barry Larkin. He is absolutely loved in Cincinnati, and rightfully so for his Hall of Fame career. Larkin has also not been shy about saying he wants to manage the Reds.
Larkin managing the Reds would certainly provide a much-needed jolt to the fan base. Reds fans are becoming less and less patient with the rebuild, and apathy is creeping in. If Larkin was to become the next Reds manager it would certainly energize the fan base.
There are several reasons why Larkin becoming the next Reds manager is troubling. The most expected answer here would be lack of experience, but that is not at all a reason why I am against it. There have been several cases of successful managers with limited or no managing experience.
It seems like a lifetime ago, but Larkin was part of ESPN’s coverage from 2011-2014. Many have forgotten how old school Larkin came across in his coverage. He once piled on during an ESPN telecast when Joey Votto was receiving ridiculous criticism for not driving in enough runs. He was always very pro-bunt. Most troubling is this quote: “The problem is when people try to make baseball decisions based on the analytics.”
The Reds front office has made a concentrated effort to become more analytical. If they were to hire Barry Larkin, it would be a step back. It is possible that Larkin has changed his ideas and philosophy on baseball in 2018 post-ESPN. Larkin has interviewed for a couple MLB jobs, and maybe he got feedback that he needed to join the times and has made a concerted effort to do so. If that is the case, then Larkin should get a good look for manager. But that is not the Barry Larkin that we saw on ESPN. The chances are that he still thinks and believes the same way.
Fear should not be a major motivator when hiring a manager, but just imagine this: Barry Larkin takes over as Reds manager and completely bombs. Fans become angry toward Larkin as most fans bases do at some point with any manager. Larkin and the Reds have a nasty breakup, and he is never able to get back the same reverence that he currently has with Reds fans. Hiring Larkin could be a short term fix with the fan base with long term consequences.
I love Barry Larkin, but it would be a hard pass for me if and when the Reds decide to look for a new manager.