The formula for winning is straightforward.

First, assemble a group of talented players. That’s the most important variable in the equation. Second, those players need to perform well. To do that, they need to stay healthy. Those are the main factors in success. Roster is reality.

Major league managers have little impact on wins and losses. Managers keep a close eye on the pot to make sure it doesn’t boil over or the food burn and they decide when to stir. But lineups, playing time, bunts, they barely matter. (That doesn’t mean those topics don’t make interesting fodder for places like this.) Major league managers make good decisions and bad decision in every game, many we don’t see, the net effect unclear. A handful of skippers add a pinch of salt or pepper to the recipe.

But with respect to the overall arc of a major league organization’s success, a manager doesn’t change the bend a bit. The owner, front office and players bear that responsibility.

That the Reds brass grasps this is the only plausible explanation for Bryan Price’s ongoing employment. The losing records have not been primarily Price’s fault. He wouldn’t even make a top-five list of reasons for the club’s recent failures.

Yet the brutal bottom line hails at us: Price has been the manager of the Cincinnati Reds for four deeply losing seasons. You can add the dismal two-week start to 2018 to his ledger. And it’s impossible to make the case Price has done the best with what he’s had. When Price was hired, he seemed open to new ideas and promised to take a fresh look at timeworn practices. But he has largely adhered to old-fashioned managing, sacrificing increments of advantage along the way.

Should Bryan Price pay for this horrendous start with losing his job this month?

Those new to the crowded Fire Price bandwagon must face this. Price is operating this April the same as he has for four years. If you’re angry about the dumb batting orders, counterproductive bunts, deference to veteran players at the expense of the future (and you should be angry about all of that) well that’s the way Price has done things since jumpstreet.

Before Price played Cliff Pennington ahead of Alex Blandino, he benched Jose Peraza for Scooter Gennett. Before he used Billy Hamilton to lead off against left-handed pitchers, he used Billy Hamilton to lead off against every pitcher – more than 1500 times. These aren’t new reasons to fire Bryan Price. That exact case existed last November and the November before that.

That said, we all have different breaking points when it comes to managers and coaches. And you can’t fire the team.

Any natural sympathy we have for Price and his family regarding the loss of a job should be tempered by the understanding that Bryan Price has been made a millionaire for managing a baseball team. Most of us would have been fired long ago if we supervised the lack of performance he has for four years.

If Price does get axed – maybe even tomorrow – the Reds would replace him with an interim manager from inside the organization, then conduct a broader search at the end of the season.

But know this. Bryan Price’s tactics don’t explain a fraction of the immense gulf between the Cardinals and the Reds we witnessed this weekend. The dismissal of Price and ascendance of Jim Riggleman or Buddy Bell or Barry Larkin won’t provide shelter from the storm.

What will make the Reds a better team? Anthony DeSclafani healthy and pitching. Eugenio Suarez and Scott Schebler playing the field and batting. Michael Lorenzen, David Hernandez and Kevin Shackelford coming out of the bullpen. Joey Votto and Adam Duvall hitting anywhere near the back of their baseball cards. The call-up of Nick Senzel.

These weeks – the first two of twenty-six – have been beyond painful. Yet it remains the case that the second half of the season will be better than the first. As I wrote a couple weeks ago, it’s the Reds team that takes the field in July and beyond that you need to care most about.

That’s tough because we fans are not a patient group. We’re fanatics, after all. Lordy, our patience has been tested. We once again summoned optimism to start the season only to see its horrifying crash on the rocks of injury and underperformance.

The rebuilding playbook for managerial hires is clear. Bring in the shiny new guy when the team is poised to make that jump into competitive hyperspace. The Cubs and Astros did that. So will the Reds. One final time, Bryan Price owes his job to low expectations for his team.

I’m not saying Bryan Price should be fired or that he should not be fired. I’m agnostic about it mid-season. If we knew for sure the new guy would play more of the young players, then fine. But that elation and salvation many will feel when Price does get sent packing? It’ll prove fleeting and lethal to your hope.

Roster is reality.

The dissatisfaction we’re channeling toward Bryan Price is about losing. The manager is a convenient but misplaced target. When the Reds acquire and develop better players, when those players perform to their potential, when they are healthy enough to be on the field, only then will the conditions be ripe for success.

Steve grew up in Cincinnati as a die-hard fan of Sparky’s Big Red Machine. After 25 years living outside of Ohio, mostly in Ann Arbor, he returned to the Queen City in 2004. He has resumed a first-person love affair with the Cincinnati Reds and is a season ticket holder at Great American Ball Park. The only place to find Steve’s thoughts of more than 140 characters is Redleg Nation. Follow his tweets @spmancuso.

Join the conversation! 61 Comments

  1. This is really some solid, analysis. As un-biased as a fan blogger can be, I’d say. Logical points lead to a solid conclusion.

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  2. The scariest aspect of this team is how direction-less it is. They’re not building something, but they’re also not tearing it down to start again. They’re just existing, half in, half out. Add in some bad injury luck and this is where we are. Time to blow it up.

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  3. Roster is reality, which is why fans should have anticipated these results when Williams let Cozart walk w/o anything in return- & that was the Reds major move of the off-season (besides extending
    Suarez).

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  4. I usually agree with your views but I cant agree with this one.The players are human beings .They have emotions.This current ensemble is playing with absolutely no enthusiasm.They couldnt care less about the outcome of the games,or so it seems.This my friend is on THE MANAGER.He seems to be a nice enough guy,but his ability to fire up a clubhouse just seems to be missing.If you look around the league at teams who are perpetual winners you almost always will find a manager that has his team having fun.Fired up,enthusiastic,energized.Certainly this does not definen our Reds.Its been missing for years.
    Yes periodically you will see a little bit of fun/fire/enthusiasm but it is infrequent.To say the least.
    I think Prices dismissal gives the Reds at least the possible attitude change that is so dearly missing.Today would not be soon enough.I truly believe that even Price would agree he should be gone.

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    • I think you’ve gone a little further than I would, but I agree in spirit. These guys are professional athletes and you don’t get to that point without caring whether you win or lose. Every one of those guys probably take the losses harder than we do.

      That being said, one of the things teams struggle with is complacency. Usually you see it on good teams (think 2013 Reds) where all the guys have been together for a few years and things just kind of get stale. It’s not something you typically see on bad teams, because bad teams generally don’t keep the roster as in tact as these Reds have. Schebler, Duvall, Billy, Suarez, Peraza, Votto, Barnhart and Mesoraco have all been on the Reds roster since 2016. That’s two consecutive 68 win teams. The only “new blood” is Scooter and Winker, and they were both with the team last year.

      The culture of the Reds is, and for the last 4 years has been, a losing culture. Not all of that can be blamed on the manager. In fact, most of it probably can’t be. But after 4 years of the message from the front office being, essentially, winning doesn’t matter, that attitude has seeped into the fabric of this team. I think Price needs to be fired if for nothing else to send the message to the players that losing is not acceptable and any of you can be replaced at any time.

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    • Have you seen Garrett’s fire , desire , enthusiasm and passion. The announcers were talking about his passion. Look what happens Garrett comes in after a great performance by Bailey and the team gets a spark! Bill Hamilton hits his first home run and Duval hits one and all of sudden the team comes alive but in the end it came down to Prices decision.

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    • This type of comment is repeated ad nauseam when the team’s offense stinks. Yes, it is hard to show fun/fire/enthusiam when you are scoring 2 runs or less per game.

      It’s nothing a nice hot streak by Joey Votto & Adam Dunn can’t cure.

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      • “Adam Dunn” whoops. I meant Adam Duvall.

        Yes, we would all love Adam Dunn back on this squad. Instead, we have Adam Dunn minus all power numbers with Jesse Winker.

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      • But dont you think they are scoring so few runs comes from their lack of fun/fire enthusiam?

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        • There are plenty of people who, after seeing some Reds do a handshake jive in the dugout after a dinger, would say something like “oh look, look at them goofing off while the team is imploding. These guys don’t care about anything but their paycheck.” Like CP said above, this is just very often an assessment that only gets flung when teams are losing.

          When the team is winning, Joey is a “stoic, lead by example guy.” When the team is losing, he’s “detached and doesn’t care about stuff other than his own numbers.”

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  5. Steve, I usually agree with most everything you write, but not this time. Managers are not more important than players but neither are they nothing. If I am wrong, then I would like to throw my hat into the ring for the next manager of the Reds.
    Everything I have ever seen in sports confirms that managers make a difference. Otherwise, why don’t we just do away with the position altogether?
    Some of the differences that managers make are to get players to play up to their potential or to not quit when things get tough or to play together with unity and esprit de corps.
    It is very obvious that Price has lost this team and is not getting it back. I don’t think the Reds are as talent-less as the 1962 Mets, but they are sure playing like they want to be mentioned in the same breath. That is on the manager—maybe not his boneheaded decisions, but his inability to get the team to all pull the rope in the same direction. I saw this bad potential in Price when he went on his foul-mouthed tirade in his first season. Price simply does not have what it takes to be a manager. This franchise will not get better under his management regardless how much talent is assembled at the major league level.
    So you can say it makes me no difference. I disagree and say it most certainly does. Price needs to go. Period.

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    • We don’t disagree much. I didn’t say managers have no effect. I said they have little effect. I said Price is not the primary cause of the Reds record. I said managers may make a difference at the margin, but not the fundamental arc of the organization. The roster, its performance and its health is *far and away* more important than the manager.

      I carry no brief for Price. I agree with you (and wrote) that his profane rant and non-apology apology were a bad sign. If the Reds had replaced Price for 2015 or 2016 or 2017 or 2018 that would have been fine with me. If they replace him tomorrow, that’s fine with me.

      My point is that we shouldn’t expect much difference in outcome or get our hopes up with a new manager until the roster changes.

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      • Steve
        I dont agree again.This roster could be winning games.
        But they dont seem to care.Another day another dollar another loss.They just dont care.
        That is on the manager.
        Its usually on some of the veterans in the clubhouse but not in this clubhouse.The veterans like Gosselin and Pennington are just thrilled to be wearing a uniform and collecting a check at this point.No leadership coming out of that pair.Joey had an interview about 5-6 losses ago where he bluntly said we need to start winning.We havent.So now what?
        You cant disagree that a change in the manager wont atleast give the team a chance to have a better attitude.Its too obvious to everyone.Atleast everyone not named Williams or Castellini

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        • There is just no way to know this. Are there quotes out there from the locker room or stories about guys goofing off we should be aware of? It’d be just as fair to say they are deeply embarrassed and mad.

          Just because Joey Votto said “we should start winning” means it happens. No matter how much they want it, you can’t just will the ball over the fence, or stop walking guys. It’s not a matter of just smashing some guy on the other side of the line of scrimmage like football.

          This team is in a deep funk, no doubts. But to say they don’t “care” about it is a step to far. It’s just a low hanging, flawed assessment people put on teams that aren’t winning.

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  6. Every time price is getting interviewed he just looks and sounds like a putz. I just want to see someone in the reds organization come out and show that they care even if that means calling people out.

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  7. Perspective. That’s what we’re talking here.

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  8. “But with respect to the overall arc of a major league organization’s success, a manager doesn’t change the bend a bit. The owner, front office and players bear that responsibility.”

    And that’s the harsh hammer of reality striking the anvil. We don’t want this to be true. We want a lifeline to pull ourselves from this morass. The owners hired the prior manager after that manager failed to produce any playoff success on two previous, loaded teams. The owners hired the GM that created this mess. The owners summarily fired the previous manager after he once again failed to produce any playoff success from a loaded team. The owners hired the new, unexperienced, in-house manager without any effort to identify the best, most qualified candidate for the position. The owners gave the GM that created this mess a pass and bumped him into an advisory position reporting directly to the owners. Without any evaluation process, the owners hired their in-house, nepotistic replacement as the new GM who served directly under the prior GM for a year as his apprentice GM in-waiting before taking over (?).

    The owners don’t fire themselves and they are sitting on a cash cow so they’re also not vacating. In this situation, the owners don’t fire the GM because family doesn’t fire family unless they have a falling out over something besides baseball. We’re stuck with the players available because the owners condone the mess created by their hand-picked management. There’s really little hope unless the players can turn things around themselves.

    If it was only as easy as firing an inept manager, we would actually have more hope for a turnaround.

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  9. The last dusty team seemed to me to be a team that lacked enthusiasm. I want a manager who is a proven winner. Maybe giardi or Farrell. Bryan price said he will hold players accountable I don’t see it Everything is the same the time is now to change if for no other reason that after four years of epic losing to show fans and players that the front office is at least trying

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  10. Q: what do Peraza, Hamilton, Pennington, and Gosselin have in common?
    A: right now, they all have a higher WRC+ than Saint Joey right now according to fangraphs.

    There are a lot of reasons this team is bad, but I think right now this is the single biggest.

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    • sorry I’m a bad editor. Should have left out “right now” a couple times from that post, it sounds ridiculous when I read it.

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  11. Steve
    As a STM I have watched Price for his entire managerial career. I believe you referred to him as being the same he was last year and the year before. That in my opinion is not only true but the problem as well. Injuries have decimated our club for the last 2 years but that doesn’t change the fact that he has and does play 1 year free agents who are utility players ahead of Blandino. That’s iwrong if not outright dumb. Give the kid a chance. He came into Saturday’s game on a double switch for Perazza and immediately made an impact. He fielded a ground ball that Perazza would have never got to. I have watched Perazza let ground balls go into the outfield time after time and not dive for any of them. To me that is lack of effort. Billy can’t hit but he leaves it all on the field. I only wish the rest of the team did the same thing. I can’t help but think that if the Cardinals has a SS like that Matheny would get the point across or he wouldn’t see his name in a line up until he did. That’s where Price is failing far worse than his questionable line ups, batting orders, and game decisions.

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  12. All fair points, but I can’t agree with a good deal of this article, and I don’t think Steve himself can either. To wit: https://redlegnation.com/2016/03/21/the-future-of-baseball/

    Steve said (and I agree):

    “Batting orders may not matter much. But every inch, every rotation of the ball, every mile per hour off the bat can make a difference in winning a game. Successful teams don’t ignore any edge they can gain.”

    Right now, the Reds are ignoring these small edges. I think we’d all agree that Price’s silly and inefficient strategies bear that out. Yes, this has been going on a for a long time. No, that doesn’t mean that it doesn’t matter or isn’t significant. Steve is correct in that a new manager will not magically heal Suarez or make Billy’s OBP get to that magical .350+ zone we’ve all been hoping for. But a manager that embraces the tenets of modern, data driven baseball will move the needle a bit at the margins and send a positive signal to fans, media, and players that there’s a unified message and methodology of how the Cincinnati Reds are approaching baseball.

    I get the concept that the Reds don’t want to make a change until the team is “ready” like how the Cubs did with Maddon. Timing your spending and hiring to certain points on the development/win curve is well understood by now. But sometimes what might be a valid rationale for a certain type of decision for someone else can turn into an excuse for a status quo which should’ve been done away with long ago. The Cubs wanted a splashy hire; it was very convenient that said hire also embraced modern baseball. We don’t need a splashy hire–merely someone who’s competent in practicing contemporary baseball strategy. As the quote above right said, successful teams don’t ignore any edge they can gain.

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    • Let me try to put this a different way. There is nothing inconsistent with believing that small increments matter (which I said in today’s post) and can make the difference in a few games each year. I’ve believed and written repeatedly since the start of Price’s tenure that he’s fallen short in those areas. His flaws are nothing new this year. But the Reds – with the current roster and injuries – aren’t just a few games away from contending. Anyone who thinks changing the manager will change the team’s record by 10-15 games is sure to be disappointed when Price is fired. Managers can affect winning and losing at the margins. Roster construction and player health explain a much higher percentage of the variance in records.

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      • Totally agree that it won’t change the record by 10-15 games. But when you want to communicate to your customers that you’re building new and improved, high tech cars, you don’t keep making Edsels, even if they don’t have a big impact on your bottom line one way or another.

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  13. is Price more responsible for this than say, Votto? Is he more responsible for this than the injuries ? More responsible for this than the loss of all star Zack Cozart without any return?

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    • No, Price is definitely not more responsible than Joey Votto, but Price is easier to replace, and his job will be sacrificed due to the players’ poor starts. Mostly to satisfy fan angst, but I’m sure there is some poor morale within the organization as well. Getting rid of the manager is much simpler than getting rid of the GM and cleaning house, which I wouldn’t be prepared to do until we see how the next wave of prospects really pan out.

      I don’t fault anyone for Cozart’s lack of return. Bad timing of injuries basically screwed the organization on that front.

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  14. Steve,

    https://twitter.com/whitesox

    Now that is a positive message to send to your fans sitting through a full rebuild.

    Renteria speaks Spanish, helpful with that roster, and demands every player hustles, including on all batted balls. The Reds path to this point will almost certainly not be replicated by future rebuilders.

    Price should have never been brought back for 2018. The announcement of his return, over Labor Day Weekend, was shady. Combine that with a winter of little front office activity, and the pall of apathy and sloppy play hanging over the club now was always a possibility.

    Your July 1 predictions seemed very aggressive at publication and look even moreso now. Because this rebuild won’t be finished next year, we may have to live with Price hanging around for a while longer. It’s sad that his firing is the focal point two weeks in.

    Price’s exit won’t solve the problems created by the front office. But, I cannot blame any passionate fan for wanting to see better execution in games and perhaps Price’s exit will facilitate that.

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    • The White Sox will turn it around due to the forceful, inspirational and spirit of their manager. In addition, the CWS front office is committed to building from the ground up! Their Coach is a dynamite spokesman, motivator, baseball man!

      Sliotar is exactly correct – the Reds had the opportunity to let go of Coach Price at the end of 2017 and start to set the tone for the next steps to building a solid ball club. Instead, they opted to stay with the same mental, technical & strategic approach to the game – and the result (as Chad points out) will be more of the same. Add onto that the FO that isn’t willing to act in the off-season, and you can see why the situation feels stagnant.

      I don’t expect worst-to-first miracles. I’d just like to see signs of improvement.

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  15. Fire Price, and replace him with someone who stresses fundamentals and gets the young kids on the field. This person doesn’t necessarily need to win games. I’m sick of Bryan Price because his decisions show that he often is fighting against the correct actions of a rebuild. If he’s not onboard, why is he still here?

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  16. Steve is right price may do things that seem moronic at times but in reality it’s like he said this team is playing horribly with or without price. But I wanted him fired a long time ago I just realize that it likely won’t solve too terribly much.

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  17. Steve, you’ve convinced me. Firing Price will solve nothing.

    The team needs to be sold to someone truly committed to winning.

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  18. The game ended with Billy Hamilton at bat with the tying run on second base. He got more at bats today than any other Red.

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  19. I believe they have faith in Price as far as him being a solid pitching coach. Those were really his only credentials when they hired him in the first place. The logic must be hey we aren’t going anywhere but we have a lot of young pitching that needs to be developed before we can think about contending and Price is the guy to do that. So his primary goal really isn’t to win but to develop the pitchers. Last year they showed some promise so it bought him some more time. We know his in game managing is terrible but it is much harder to assess how good his influence is on the pitchers, especially when they get hurt frequently. Of course if this is the case, the fact Garrett isn’t in the rotation is somewhat perplexing since he looks like one of the most promising young arms they have right now if not the best outside of Castillo.

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  20. I have a general theory on veteran-ness and managers. Almost every manager is a former player who thought he had to quit playing too early, when he believed he had enough in the tank to keep playing a bit longer. That thought is the manager’s last memory from their playing days. As a result, they develop a bias toward the veteran types, and they play Pennington instead of Blandino.

    But let’s face it: Blandino isn’t any good, either. First and second, nobody out in the bottom of the 4th yesterday, down 2-1; need at least 1 run. Blandino on the first pitch grounds into a double play. The bunt in the 9th was a bad idea, but Blandino could not execute it, and in fact looked like a relief pitcher trying to do it. A 25-year-old middle infielder coming up from the minors has had plenty of time to learn how to bunt correctly.

    This team really is as bad as the ’62 Mets. One difference is that instead of Roger Craig, Al Jackson, etc., the Reds have some good young arms. Alas, they are good young arms that need more MLB experience; they will almost all be better by the end of the year, and maybe even pretty good by mid-2019. But right now, they have an inconsistent, homer-prone rotation, an iffy bullpen, disastrous defense other than Barnhart and Hamilton (and Suarez when healthy), no power, no ability to draw walks, no depth, and a befuddling manager.

    And jeez, Votto, start performing. Quit being Matty Alou without the doubles.

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    • Important insight here. There are two broad criticisms of the Reds/Price. One is they aren’t playing the young players enough. Why start Pennington over Blandino, for example. The second thread of criticism is the Reds are losing too many games. Boy, Blandino had two terrible at bats yesterday.

      It’s possible those criticisms go together. That if the Reds played more young players instead of free agent minor-league signed veterans, they would win more games

      But it’s also possible – and more likely IMO – that at least in the short run, getting the rookies playing time makes the Reds a worse team. The bullpen explosions by Zack Weiss and Tanner Rainey are examples. So has been the terrible outfield play by Phillips Ervin. As you say, Alex Blandino is no savior.

      Yesterday in the 9th inning, deep in my bones I felt that Cliff Pennington would give a better AB than Alex Blandino, improving the chances of the Reds winning. But I also wanted to see what Blandino would do in that situation (stupid bunting aside) and give him that experience.

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      • Absolutely, Steve. Which is why it’s so frustrating that upper management is allowing Price to live in a kind of twilight zone where he’s not doing either thing right. Blandino should play nearly every day for now, regardless of result. Or Gosselton should play, because we’re desperate for wins. Instead, we chop up the playing time so no one is getting into any sort of rhythm.

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  21. Marvelous Marv Throneberry slashed .244/.306/.426 as the first sacker for the Amazin’s in 1962. Marvelous Joey Votto is slashing .236/.283/.236 right now. Billy Hamilton has a higher OBP and SLG than Votto.

    The ’62 Mets had a team OPS of .679 and slugged .361. Our heroes have a team OPS of .627 and slug .325.

    And Larry Bird is not walking through that door.

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  22. A lot of comments here today and every day that the young guys have to be in the lineup. Yesterday I saw Blandino look like a clown when asked to lay down a bunt. And please spare me the bunt rhetoric. It was a great time to lay one down. We needed a run. Then I watched Phil Ervin stand there and look at 3 pitches right down broadway. Looked like he had no idea what that wooden thing was for. Price does a lot of things that have me turning the channel. But, there is a lot of blame to spread around.

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    • Yeah, I gotta believe that Ervin is a DFA candidate, if they need a spot on the 40-man roster. He is an atrocious right fielder; he hasn’t hit; and he looks disinterested.

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      • Disinterested about sums it up. I was really pulling for him but man he looks like he has no clue on how to play the game. His swings are halfhearted to say the least. Deer in headlights. I would send him down for somebody else.

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    • We needed a run… but the guy was already in scoring position, and not in danger of a force play. Swing the bats… can’t be a worse outcome if the guy can’t effectively bunt anyway.

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  23. I agree with most of this, but are you really saying playing Gennett over Peraza last year was a bad thing????

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    • For a team going absolutely no where, yes. When you are losing 68 games, the only thing you should be concerned with is developing younger players. Maybe Peraza is further along if he played all year, or maybe the Reds would be ready to cut bait. Also, if the Reds had lost a few more games they might be drafting first or second instead of fifth.

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      • only problem with that is Gennett is only 27 (almost 28) and under team control through 2020 so still very reasonable to believe he is part of the next good reds team

        so what you are saying is Price should have been playing Peraza over Cozart …. pretty sure that wouldn’t have gone over well

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        • Scooter is arbitration eligible in 2019, Free Agent in 2020

          Gennett will not be a part of the next good Reds team. Senzel is the future 2B of the Reds. Gennett could be a back up I guess.

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  24. Make no mistake this is not a contending team even if they are healthy. They have proven that. This is the same team, with less talent, as last year.

    Fire Williams. Putting this team on the field and expecting a different result is truly insane.

    The only benefit I can see firing Price would be a possible boost in attitude of the players.

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  25. Speaking of incremental progress, does anyone know where I can find data on the pitch type for home runs given up by Reds pitchers? It seems that it’s almost always on a fastball but I’d like to research it. I remember reading that other team’s analytics departments have strongly discouraged overuse of the fastball on those grounds.

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    • On Brooks Baseball, you can get ISO for a pitcher by type.

      For Mahle as an example

      ISO in April

      4Seam .293
      Change .400
      Slider .077

      Finnegan

      4Seam .444
      Slider .600

      Bailey

      Split 2.00

      It might make more sense for the Reds to throw fewer 4Seam, not a lot of power arms

      Bailey is down in the 92 range this year
      Castillo is in the 96 range which is great
      Romano is down to the 94 range this year
      Mahle is in the 92/93 range
      Finnegan is in the 92 range

      It is a cold start to the season, velocities might increase, but, the Reds staff is not overpowering

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    • It’ll be tedious, but the best way to get it would be Baseball Savant’s game feeds. You’ll have to track down each individual home run pitch in the game feed, but once you do, you’ll have lots of information (pitch type, velocity, location, etc.). Brooks Baseball has a metric called “grooved” pitches in each pitcher’s card. That doesn’t correspond perfectly with home run pitches, but it might be similar enough to supplement your research. If you find something interesting, be sure to let us know.

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      • Baseball Savant > Applications > Date > Game > Game Pitch Velocity

        That’ll get you to the individual pitch data. You’ll have to know which batters hit home runs in which innings. Then you can look up the pitch. For example, Bader’s home run against Homer in the 2nd inning yesterday was a 92.5 mph four-seam fastball, right in the middle of the strike zone.

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  26. Sultan, here is an article along the lines of fastballs not being as dominant as they used to be.
    https://fivethirtyeight.com/features/a-fast-fastball-isnt-enough-anymore/

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  27. It seems clear that in baseball, managers can have only limited impacts on the game because the gameplay itself is defined by such narrow rules.

    In football, basketball, hockey, and soccer you have an open field/court/rink, and the manager/coach uses tactics to define the space the game is played within. Be that blocking, passing formations, different types of players, zone defenses, pick-and-rolls, screens, trick plays, etc.

    In baseball, the pitcher is the only one that can make a pitch, and he can only make it from one place and to another (very small) place. The batter is the only one that can hit a pitch, and no other player can disrupt this interaction. Every player must bat and play the field, except the DH. Baserunners must go to the bases in the same order every time and cannot leave the basepaths. Defenses can shift, but it doesn’t really matter much, because the bases have to be in the same place every time, so there are only a few defensive alignments that make any sense.

    So where could a manager possibly make much of a difference?

    But here’s my counterpoint to Steve. If keeping Price doesn’t matter much, then firing him wouldn’t matter much either. It’s not like someone else could do worse, right?

    Keeping him sends the message that we’re staying the course, and this course is awful. Firing him sends the message that we are trying to do something different, which we obviously should be. So fire him and replace him with whoever. Hire a sports management major from UC and see what happens, I really don’t care.

    But the time for Price to go has clearly come.

    Reply
    • This isn’t really a counterpoint because I don’t disagree. But answer this, what is the point of “sending the message” that the team is trying to do something different? Changing the manager isn’t doing something much different. Instead of worrying about sending the message, they need to *actually do something different*.

      Reply
      • Yeah, counterpoint was probably not the right word. Extension or something.

        Why send the message? I don’t have a great baseball answer for that really.

        I have stopped following the Reds as closely as I used to the last few years because it was just too hard to watch a team that was managed so poorly. Maybe I’m just looking for them to throw fans like me a bone; something we could point to as a possible ray of hope that the Reds might be run more effectively in the future.

        Keeping a bad manager because you have a bad team just feels lazy to me. If you want to win the WS, you can’t accept mediocrity in one area because another area is worse. It’s that kind of thinking that led me away from the Reds and baseball.

        If the Reds were just getting outspent I could deal with that. If the Reds made some high risk moves that seemed worth it, but didn’t work out, I’d be fine with that. But they seem to go out of their way to make moves that fly in the face of evidence.

        Of course actually doing something significant would be much better than firing the manager. I agree with you that the front office and players are 95% or more of the issue, so fire the front office and get some new players. I would support that all the way.

        Reply
  28. I totally agree with everything in here but the last point. I’m upset because he manages terribly, not the record. And it has gotten worse. Our Pythagorean record is only one win better than actual – we’re bad right now. When everyone outside Homer, Garrett, and Iglesias pitches terribly and the team hits .220, well….Playing Scooter over Peraza was a good move but the ones this year are mystifying (and maybe Williams’ fault?).

    Look, I’ve had lots of coaches in multiple sports say something to the effect of “physical errors happen and are forgivable. Mental errors shouldn’t happen and are inexcusable.” Know your reads in the pocket and make the right throw, know which base you’re throwing to if the ball is hit to you,, know which shots to take and which ones not to settle for, etc. Misfiring a throw or slugging under .300 for a stretch happens, as do dropped balls and missed throws. Not knowing when to bunt or to throw your best guys more than once a week or that your righty leadoff guy had a .241 OBP against lefties last year? Inexcusable mental errors or lack of learning/preparation. That’s why I’ve turned against Price.

    As for the impact of managers:

    https://www.google.com/amp/s/fivethirtyeight.com/features/most-managers-are-headed-to-the-hall-of-mediocrity/amp/

    https://www.google.com/amp/s/fivethirtyeight.com/features/the-orioles-always-win-more-than-they-should-theres-a-reason-for-that/amp/

    However, each of the projections I’ve seen the last few years had us around 74-79 wins (2014 on). We’ve gotten 76, 68, 64, and 64 the past 4 years. That’s underperforming every year by more than just a game or two (random chance).
    2, 5, 6, and 6. That’s the number of games we’re under our Pythagorean projection in Price’s tenure. From 2010-2013, we were dead on every year.

    https://www.baseball-reference.com/teams/CIN/

    Reply
  29. As a shorter post addressing only managerial effect, the pythagorean run formula is usually pretty accurate for figuring out a team’s win total, especially across seasons. From 2010-2014, we won the exact number our pythagorean number predicted – every year. From 2014-2017, we’ve underperformed by 2, 5, 6, and 6 (and 1, thus far in 2018). Only one of those seasons is within the 3 game expected margin-of-error.

    https://www.baseball-reference.com/teams/CIN/

    This suggests the manager is having a detrimental effect of a few games a season, much like Showalter’s pen usage and shifts allow Baltimore to regularly outperform expectations by winning closer games at a higher rate.

    Common sense/eyeballing it says that Buck doesn’t finish off his bench to have a guy bunt, bury his two best relievers for Yovani Gallardo types, or play a 5-man infield where the infielders are confused and the outfielders are too deep – they know where/how to shift. This manager matters more than most, and the results speak for themselves.

    Reply
  30. Steve , great logic & great presentation.
    The team will look very different the final 3 months of the season.
    The injured arms will have returned to the bullpen, new young arms will have been added.
    Senzel will have been added to the starting 8 and likely Garrett and DeSclafani to the rotation.
    This needs to the back half of 2018 and the whole of 2019.

    Reply
  31. They fired the wrong person. Williams should have been fired. He put this mess on the field.

    Reply
  32. I would argue that the manager plays an important role. It’s an isolated example, but look at the performance of the Red Sox under Bobby Valentine followed a year later by John Farrell. It matters, but it’s something that won’t come out through strictly quantitative analysis. This begs for qualitative approaches.

    Reply

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About Steve Mancuso

Steve grew up in Cincinnati as a die-hard fan of Sparky's Big Red Machine. After 25 years living outside of Ohio, mostly in Ann Arbor, he returned to the Queen City in 2004. He has resumed a first-person love affair with the Cincinnati Reds and is a season ticket holder at Great American Ball Park. The only place to find Steve's thoughts of more than 140 characters is Redleg Nation. Follow his tweets @spmancuso.

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