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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?

INTERNAL CANDIDATES

Jim Riggleman

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.

Barry Larkin

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.

EXTERNAL CANDIDATES

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.

VERDICT

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.

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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.

Join the conversation! 22 Comments

  1. I posted this in the gam recap, but more appropriate here. A hard NO on Riggleman.
    Riggleman has gotten way, way too much credit for the Reds turnaround from far too many in the Cincinnati media. Just more Reds media schmoozing up and being cheerleaders instead of reporters, again. This Milwaukee series is going to expose Riggleman for who and what he is. Another manager stuck in the 1980’s and that he is a perfect example of what NOT to hire for the next Reds team (2019).
    No to Riggleman.
    No to Larkin.
    Yes to an external candidate. Just look across the country to SF.
    SF 3rd Base Coach Ron Wotus, was the SF bench coach from 1999-2017.
    New SF Bench Coach Hensley Meulens. Had been SF hitting coach since 2010. Was considered a finalist for Yankees job that Aaron Boone got. Interviewed for Boston job.
    Bring some freshness in to the managerial search. Not the staleness of Riggleman and Larkin.
    Wotus had this to say about BHam last October, so it is no mystery why SF was so interested in BHam over the winter.

    https://www.nbcsports.com/bayarea/giants/giants-bench-coach-wotus-you-get-billy-hamilton-type-guy

    Maybe Wotus could manage BHam properly and maximize his value. Meulens will be a hot name this off-season. One of these two could guide the Reds into a new day.

    • Agree especially on Ron Wotus.

      • The problem for Wotus is he is 57 and excluding Lou Brown not many 1st time managers getting hired in their late 50s. He was also demoted by the Giants after 18 years and last managed 21 years ago. Ship has probably sailed on getting manager gig and Muelens a hotter name. Reds management tends to be sentimental and favor comfort which might work for Ferrell. Not that I am hoping for but can see either a former Red (Larkin) or if Walt still has Bob’s ear a former Card or Card coach (Mike Shildt?) as next manager.

  2. Please no former Reds players or old school guys.We have enough of them already but seriously does anybody think the Reds do anything but that.We need a young guy that manages with data and doesn’t even know what a bunt is.Seriously I am an older guy and I can remember when but we need new blood to lead this team.I have always felt there are just too many guys that has Bob’s ear and they all are singing the same song.I hope they search far and wide and do it the proper way and then the GM can recommend to Bob who he feels is the right guy.

  3. I’d look at a first-timer, like David Ross or Omar Vizquel or even Ryan Hanigan.

    As I’ve said before, smart managerial candidates (pretty much all of them) can learn the “newfangled analytics” angle to managing in about 90 minutes. It is not rocket science: pitchers tend to do worse the third time through the order; if a guy hits all his grounders to his pull side, then shift a bit; don’t bunt much. The manager’s job requires some old-fashioned people skills — communication, common sense and open-mindedness.

    Analytics are for the primary use of the front office in evaluating players and projecting their performance. Trade Gennett? Promote Herrera? Which second baseman should switch positions? Who in an another organization is undervalued? How to evaluate Jackson Stephens’s great spin rate?

  4. Am I missing something here? Where the heck is Joe Girardi in the external list? He has to be the #1 target and he is recently quoted as saying “he ‘would listen to anything’ to get back in the dugout”.

    • I agree with you on Girardi. Hire him now. As far as Larkin is concerned people seem to forget things were sort of rocky at the end of his career.

    • Girardi would a) be expensive bc he is still a big name and b) he’s firing from the Yankees came in large part because he couldn’t manage younger players. Look around the Reds future — Winker, Senzel, Suarez, Peraza, Castillo, Mahle, Garrett, etc. The Reds don’t need a big name, they need a guy who knows how to lead a young group into becoming a formidable core. I was reluctant to put Wakamatsu on the list for that reason, but all signs point to him being a bad OLDER player manager, so maybe he could be better for the Reds. But no to Girardi for me.

      • I’ll pick Gurardi and his winning ways over those knuckleheads you put up. That’s what we need is more coaches who lose. Face palm .

        • 2008 yanks: 4 4+ WAR players, no playoffs
          2009 yanks: 7, won World Series
          2010 yanks: 6, lost ALCS
          2011 yanks: 5, lost ALDS
          2012 yanks: 3, swept in ALCS
          2013 yanks: 2, no playoffs
          2014 yanks: 0, no playoffs
          2015 yanks: 1, lost Wild Card
          2016 yanks: 1, no playoffs
          2017 yanks: 4, lost ALCS

          It seems that the winningness of the manager depends more on the quality of the players than anything. Since 2008, when Girardi began his stint, the Reds have never had more than 3 players finish with 4+ WAR in a season. Girardi only made the playoffs twice out of five attempts with team’s that bad. Dusty went 3 for 3 and Price 0 for 1. So by your own measure, we should probably just rehire Dusty because of his “winning ways”

          • In those 10 seasons the Yankees won a WS and made the playoffs 6 times. Maybe they should have performed better based on WAR but as a Reds fan I would take 10 years like that in a heartbeat.

          • My point is, Girardi didn’t do that. The 7 players who compiled 4+ WAR made that team good. By his own track records, if you give Girardi the type of team the Reds will inevitably have, he underperforms.

          • 2013 Yankees big guns (Jeter, Arod, Texeira, Granderson) collectively played a total of 137 games that year and still won 85 in a tough division. Excluding 2009, probably Girardi’s best managerial job considering the everyday line-up consisted mostly Lyle Overbay, Jayson Nix, and a washed-up Vernon Wells & Travis Hafner.

          • This is a fair, duly-noted point. However, it does not instill enough faith in me to want to give Girardi the reins over a less-heralded but potentially better manager

          • Matt, did you have a brother Chris, who was a regular contributor to this blog? If so, please accept my sympathies. I had a very enjoyable lunch with him one time in Chicago discussing the Reds.

          • KMartin

            Thank You really cool of you. Yes Chris (AKA Chuck) was my older brother. I do recall him telling me that he had lunch with you I want to say 2016 before he came back to Cincinnati for about a year. I assume he was in full Cubs gear when you 2 met. Hard to believe it has been 10 months.

          • Matt:

            No Cubs gear. He came over from the Fidelity building and met me at the Booth School of Business Gleacher Center. We had a great time. I always enjoyed his posts and now yours. You are keeping up the family tradition.

          • Wesley, that sums up my thinking on Girardi. He had VERY good teams more often than not and the Yanks were not exactly piling up WS trophies.

            It’s very easy to discount a bad record and overrated a good record for managers. If you managed the SD Padres for 20 years, you’d likely have a sub .500 record but could very well be one of the top 5 managers in MLB during that time.

            A .550 record might look good, unless it’s managing the Red Sox, Yankees, Dodgers Giants or Cubs, the five highest revenue franchises most years. More often than not, you’ll have a far superior collection of talent, so being .500 is disappointing, whereas being .500 with the Athletics, Padres, Rays, Marlins or or a few other typically bottom dwelling revenue teams is VERY impressive.

            Bottom line, Giradi is NOT impressive. He is just another so-so, mediocre manager. He might be a slight upgrade, but I’d rather shoot for the fences and not settle with another Baker or Price type.

  5. “…Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic writes (subscription required) that the Reds “plan to conduct a wide search” at season’s end regardless of how the club finishes out the year. As Rosenthal notes, Riggleman joined the organization as the team’s Double-A manager in 2012 under then-GM Walt Jocketty, but current president of baseball operations Dick Williams may prefer to hire his own preferred choice rather than stick with a manager who was not initially his own hire.” ~ Steve Adams, MLB Trade Rumors

  6. I really don’t think it matters what they do in the search it will be BC making the decision based on WJ recommendation. BIG6ED I mentioned David Ross earlier and I also like your mention of Ryan Hanigen.

  7. I’m not 100% sold on any one particular managerial candidate. But I will say this. There is something to be said for being around winning, & a winning atmosphere. That is where Girardi has been. I like the idea of having someone around who knows what it takes to win. Knows how to win. And most importantly, (IMO), can establish a winning culture & mindset. As cliche as it may sound, there is a such thing as knowing how to win. You have to have won to know how to win. Just my opinion.

  8. The Reds will chose the path of least resistance and the most obvious pick in plain view. Riggleman will be made permanent in late August/early September.

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2018 Reds, Regularly Scheduled Rain Delay

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