Bryan Price was relieved of his duties on April 19, and since that day, Jim Riggleman has handled the reins. While Price compiled an admirable three wins against 18 losses, Riggleman has risen to the occasion, proving his mettle and superior managerial instincts with a 31-31 record at the helm. Riggleman is the next Sparky Anderson. The reincarnation of Lou Pinella. Joe Torre mixed with Tony LaRussa and just a dash of Joe Maddon. He’s the next great thing if you squint and count mediocrity as great.
Is this what our standards have fallen to?
Now don’t get me wrong, Jim Riggleman has done a nice job with a less-than-superior team and is probably a great guy. None of that means he should lose the interim tag. Steve had a lovely post on this earlier this week and Chad has had more than a few Twitter thoughts, so I’ll spare any further anti-extend Riggleman takes. But I did want to investigate, if the Reds do hold true to their promise and do a full managerial search, who could emerge as the next Reds’ helmsman?
As loath as I am to even consider Riggleman for long term, he’s obviously going to get a look if the Reds play .500 ball under him for the rest of the season. On the one hand, showing prolonged success, no matter how mediocre, is a good sign for a manager. On the other, managerial decisions rarely matter over the course of a season. But still, might as well take the proven track record. But then you may consider how uneasy the fanbase is and go for a big signing to appease them. Yet if you think of it like….
Managers don’t really make too much of a difference and Riggleman doesn’t deserve this posturing. Personally, I’d rather see the Reds bring in a fresh new outside candidate that the fanbase can rally around.
Oh boy. I guess there’s something to be said for former players as managers and Larkin is certainly a darling son in Reds country, but…he’s already made people mad by campaigning for the job and hasn’t really shown any aptitude for in-game decisions?
Also, as Nick Kirby pointed out when Larkin’s name first started popping up, the old shortstop doesn’t really like newfangled analytics. Now some may consider that a good thing, but reading the league’s tea leaves, more analytics is the way of the future. Promoting stats-guy Nick Krall to General Manager certainly didn’t help Larkin’s case either.
Bo Porter, former Astros’ manager
Bo Porter has the auspicious career managerial record of 110-190, putting him at a .367 win percentage. Not exactly a track record that makes clubs ready to throw the pocketbook at him. Yet that season and a half of managing experience was at the helm of the truly tanking Astros, so not too much can truly be attributed to Porter.
At the start of the season, Porter was my pick to helm the Reds in 2019 and I stand by that. When you look into the type of manager Porter is, he’s exactly what the Reds need. A young, clubhouse-facing guy who is willing to implement sabermetric-influenced decisions. He’s been described as upbeat and a “motivational speaker,” and emerged as the Astros’ manager after newly-minted GM Jeff Luhnow claimed to be looking for Joe Maddon-esque candidate. And ultimately, Porter is just too unproven to be written off as a dud after a season and a half of tanking baseball.
Don Wakamatsu, Rangers’ bench coach
Another guy with only a season and a half of managerial experience, Wakamatsu at least broke .400 with the Mariners, compiling a 127-147 record. Currently the Rangers’ bench coach, Wakamatsu also spent four seasons as the Royals’ bench coach and held the position during both of their World Series runs.
Famous, or infamous really, for accelerating Junior Griffey’s retirement, Wakamatsu doesn’t carry the reputation of a clubhouse guy. He’s more of the type to make necessary decisions for the overall team good even if it angers his players, which, depending on your view of the Reds, could be a good thing. Waka, like Porter, is also known as a guy open to statistical managing. While he was with the Royals, he reportedly kept some of Ned Yost’s more old-school baseball strategies in check (re: bunting, always). Can he manage a clubhouse, especially one as young as the Reds? Who knows, but could be worth the shot.
Kevin Long, Nationals’ hitting coach
Probably the most well-regarded on this entire list, Long has no managerial experience but a whole lot of people in his corner. When he was hired by the Nationals prior to the season to become their hitting coach, Daniel Murphy offered this nugget in support: “Kevin will make you feel like a killer.”
Espousing a hitting philosophy of launch angle over everything, Long dramatically turned around Murphy’s career and also helped lead the Yankees and Mets to the World Series during his hitting coach stints with both teams. But Long also says that he approaches each hitter differently, helping them to reach their fullest potential. Oh and one more thing, Long sometimes uses Joey Votto as a hitter to emulate. Can he manage as well as instruct hitting? That’s the million-dollar question that the Reds might as well try to answer.
As long as the Reds conduct a thorough search, there should be no complaints in Reds Country. If Riggleman is the best man, then so be it. If it’s Larkin, it’ll be one heck of a joyride. If it’s one of the other three or any other external candidate, I’m on board given they have a vision and a plan of execution. Ultimately, that’s what matters. Not in-game experience or sabermetric inclinations or clubhouse comfort. The Reds just need a vision that fans understand and can get behind.
Prospect to Watch: Peter Alonso, a first baseman playing for the Mets’ AAA affiliate, has 18 home runs across 76 games in 2018. 15 came in 65 games in AA with the last three coming across 11 AAA contests. That’s a homer nearly every four games, which, if I’m doing my math right, seems good. Given the Mets abysmal on-field product at the moment, Alonso could come up at the end of this season, but if you’re in a dynasty league, it’d be good to stash him for next year now.
As for views, I’ll momentarily cease my rivalry with Matt Wilkes and encourage all of you to check out my debut at The Hardball Times instead! I love college baseball, so the idea emerged from the countless hours spent watching the playoffs this year. Curious to hear your thoughts, whether you like the idea, and how you would change it if you were commissioner.
— Jason Linden (@JasonLinden) June 28, 2018
In a shocking development, today's THT piece has inspired generous, respectful debate in the comment section of an internet post. I am still recovering. https://t.co/Ekop1GoAe6
— Meg Rowley (@megrowler) June 28, 2018