The template couldn’t be clearer. 

Take a look at the managers leading teams that remain in the postseason, each hired in the last four years. 

  • Craig Counsell, 48, Milwaukee Brewers (2015-18)
  • A.J. Hinch, 44, Houston Astros (2015-18)
  • Dave Roberts, 46, LA Dodgers (2016-18)
  • Alex Cora, 42, Boston Red Sox (2018)

They had a combined three years of big-league managing experience prior to their current gigs. 

If you want, add Aaron Boone, 45, in his first year with the Yankees winning 100 games, and Kevin Cash, 40, in his fourth season with Tampa Bay, going 90-72 in the AL East. Neither had previous experience as a major league manager. They fit the pattern. 

What else do these managers have in common beside a lack of experience and success?

They were former major league players. They are 40-something. Each is lauded for communication skills that facilitate instruction being transmitted from front office to players. They are wide open to new thinking about tactics for winning games, such as when to pull starting pitchers, how to use bullpens, how to score runs and how to construct lineups. 

What you don’t see: long resumés, big personalities and set ways about how to win. No one in that group makes his lineup based on having played with Ralph Garr. 

***

In 2017, Dusty Baker, Joe Girardi and John Farrell, all accomplished major league managers, were fired after leading their respective teams to 90+ wins and making the postseason. Combined, they have 40 years managing major league teams. Each is a baseball lifer who had issues following directions from the front office. They are used to the manager running the show. 

But like so many other aspects of baseball, the primacy of the major league manager has changed in the blink of a paired t-test. 

In the last five years, many major league front offices have become intimately involved in the day-to-day management of their teams. Analytics departments develop best practices through research. GMs and Presidents of Baseball Operations expect their managers and coaching staffs to implement those tactics fully, without hesitation.

“You don’t need a manager that the players like, you need a manager that the players understand why things are being done a certain way,” major leaguer-turned-analyst, Mark Teixeira said. “In today’s day and age, this is new-school baseball.”

“Old-school baseball, with the manager running the clubhouse and the GM never being in the clubhouse, that’s over,” Teixeira said. “When I first came up, GMs weren’t in the clubhouse, never. Now the GM and the front office runs the team and the manager needs to be the communicator with the team: ‘This is why we’re running the team this way.’ We spend a lot of time and effort in sabermetrics, and when I tell you you’re not playing, I need to be able to explain to you and have a good enough relationship with you to say, ‘Hey, this is why you’re not playing or this is why I pulled you after five innings. It’s not personal, but this is what the numbers tell us.’ It is information-driven and that’s new-school baseball, and we’re all waking up to that fact.”

Successful managers — at least the ones listed above — follow the lead of the front office. They are comfortable with the stacks of data and analysis handed to them every day. They lead through communication. They bridge the tricky gap between front office plans and today’s players and coaches.

Yet, it’s easy to exaggerate the manager’s role in winning. Acquiring talented players matters more. That often means money. But payroll isn’t destiny. Salaries for the teams listed above range from highest (Red Sox) to lowest (Rays) and points in-between (Milwaukee, #22). When the Astros won the 2017 World Series, their payroll was below league average. In-game decision making is a small part of what makes a good manager. Skill in communicating to get the most out of their talented players is increasingly vital. 

***

Here’s a related cautionary tale.

John Farrell is 56. He managed two years (2011-12) for the Toronto Blue Jays and five years (2013-17) with the Boston Red Sox. Farrell led the Red Sox to a World Series Championship his first year in Boston. After losing seasons in 2014 and 2015, the Red Sox won 93 games in 2016 and 2017 under Farrell, making the postseason each time. 

In August 2015, Farrell was diagnosed with lymphoma, sat out the rest of the season receiving treatment and was back managing the club at the start of 2016. Farrell pitched in the big leagues from 1987-1996. 

The reasons surrounding his firing in Boston are a bit of a mystery. Dave Dombrowski, who began as the Red Sox President of Baseball Operations during the 2015 season, said the reasons were unrelated to wins and losses and left it at that.

Others close to the situation used words and phrases like “underperformance,” “too much intensity,” “clubhouse turmoil,” “bad chemistry with younger players,” and more.

But John Farrell was also surely a victim of baseball changing right out from under him. Alex Speier, who has covered the Red Sox before, during and after Farrell’s tenure, believes Farrell might have been a great hire in 2012. His time with the Boston Red Sox began in a traditional, low-data, manager-calls-the-shots environment. But by 2017, expectations had changed, with a front office aggressively pushing data down the chain of command.

Farrell interviewed last fall with the Philadelphia Phillies and Washington Nationals for their vacant manager positions. Both clubs went with former players who had never managed before. 

***

The current Reds manager search is already a vast improvement over five years ago when Walt Jocketty, hiring his first manager in nearly 20 years, talked only to a guy already in his office suite and patted himself on the back about how abbreviated the process was. Now another issue looms that threatens the success of even the best-executed manager search.

The Reds lack a common direction.  

Without fail, today’s successful baseball clubs talk about how crucial it is for everyone in the organization to have the same vision and implement it. They preach one consistent message from front office to coaching staff to the players. 

“The most important thing is you have to connect,” explained Red Sox Manager Alex Cora. “The baseball operations, the analytics department, the medical staff — if they don’t get together, what’s the point? How are we going to filter the information from these departments to the coaches and to the players? If you can’t accomplish that, then you’re in trouble.”

To succeed in such a tough business, with small increments of advantage, baseball organizations have to be single-minded. A distracted or inconsistent focus is fatal. 

“My job is to tie it all together and make it work,” says A.J. Hinch, who managed the Houston Astros to last year’s World Series championship. “Obviously we all have a role in this but, again, what I’ve witnessed in this organization from behind the scenes is how much passion the front office has in what they believe in and what they’re doing. And we’re combining that to have one message, one synergy that goes from front office to the manager, the coaching staff, to the players.”

That brings us back to 100 Joe Nuxhall Way.

Divisions among Reds ownership, Walt Jocketty, Dick Williams, Nick Krall and the analytics department prevent full effectiveness of any plans. Even though no one talks about it publicly (of course) the split is evident in inconsistent and paralyzed decision-making. Further, the team doesn’t have a regular, coherent way to communicate insights to coaches and players. The focus of the analytics department seems to be on helping the front office with personnel decisions, not looking for in-game edges.

The Reds lack a single, disciplined vision for how to run the team. Ownership is in a different place from the front office on analytics. The meddling of ownership (and its enablers) is a big factor in incoherent messaging. How effective can the front office be in getting a player to improve his game when ownership is expressing its love for that player through leaks to sportswriters?

That’s bad for many reasons. But it certainly frustrates the manager search. If the foundation of the Modern Baseball Manager’s job is to communicate front office insights to coaches and players, the manager is doomed to fail when a consistent message doesn’t exist from the start.  

This seems obvious. 

***

To be sure, veteran guys like Terry Francona, Joe Maddon, Bob Melvin and Bud Black still manage winning franchises. Inexperienced, fortysomething communication specialists aren’t the only way to win.  

But there’s no denying that’s the direction baseball is headed.

It’s where the four teams still playing this weekend already are. 

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! 81 Comments

  1. Terrific analysis. I couldn’t agree more.

    Reply
  2. It certainly seems that you are right on point about how the organization approaches winning baseball. The team hasn’t really had a unified message, or at least appears not to have a unified message. The new development handbook that Dick Williams spoke about may be a way to get the Reds on the right track but it’s still being developed. Then there is the fact that even after a plan is developed, it needs to be followed. I’m not sure my beloved Reds, in their current front-office alignment and with a passionate owner, with traditional baseball values and a fan’s view of the team; can execute strict adherence to the plan.

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  3. My sentiments too, “the Reds managerial search and why it may be doomed no matter who they choose.”
    Ah, the Reds Way.
    The Astros model is one I would try to emulate. Or the Cubs. Draft and develop the position players and sign as free agents or trade for the pitching.
    But trades were a huge, huge part of their rebuilds. The Astros obtained their top 3 starters while already having some good starters. They signed Charlie Morton prior to the 2017 season, traded for Justin Verlander at the trade deadline in the middle of the 2017 season, and traded for Gerrit Cole prior to the 2018 season. And the Astros won the 2017 World Series and the favorites by some to repeat in 2018.
    The Reds rebuild at this time resembles nobody’s rebuild. The front office still has on training wheels and a meddling owner that cannot, and will not, get out of the way. Doomed is a good word to describe things at 100 Nuxhall Way.

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  4. Okay, now I’m frustrated …

    Great article. I’m just afraid it tells the tale of why we can’t have nice things

    More power to our RLN Support Group! ⚾️⚾️⚾️⚾️

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  5. Very nice analysis.

    Two supporting points in recent days on how much the game has changed….

    1) “Mike Clevinger was the closest to being publicly vocal about his displeasure with the “analytical side” of the Indians’ preparations for this series. ”

    https://www.letsgotribe.com/2018/10/9/17954996/some-indians-players-feel-astros-were-better-prepared-for-alds

    2) In Game 3 vs. the Yankees, Brock Holt becomes the first player in MLB history to hit for the cycle.

    Holt does not get the start in Game 4, because of the L vs L matchup and Ian Kinsler’s historic success vs. C.C. Sabathia.

    No way are these stories written 10 years ago, maybe not even 5 years ago.

    Castellini visiting Riggleman after games to debate strategy and the spectre of Walt Jocketty around the team regularly shows how out of touch they are, compared to most other clubs.

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    • Nice link. Just another reason to copy the Astros rebuild plan. Some short-sighted Indians fans ready to run Francona out of Cleveland.
      If the Reds can lure any analytics people from Houston that would be nice. Just get them to change their computer log-on passwords if they come to Cincinnati.

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    • I’m not disagreeing with your general point, but Dusty was ridiculed for using the same reasoning (matchups) as the Sox did with Holt. SSS, and all, though the underlying reasons for those decisions may have been quite different. The managerial search matters as symbolism, I guess, and would matter as more than that if ownership and FO were on the same page, but until the Reds have better players taking the field, the other stuff won’t make much difference. They have to start somewhere, though.

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  6. IMO, a big tell on how much influence Dick Williams and Eric Krall have gained will be if Billy Hamilton is the starting CF in 2019.

    It’s an easy sell and “low-hanging fruit” to convince Castellini/Jocketty on revamping drafting, minor-league operations, etc. The result should be more and better developed cost-controlled players. The risk is minimal.

    Hamilton is projected to make $5.9M in his last arbitration year in 2019.

    Too expensive for a (still) rebuilding team to carry as a late-inning replacemient.

    Too light-hitting to justify playing every day in CF, for a team in a HR-friendly park, that doesn’t hit enough HR’s as an offense. Playing him is basically putting out a 7-person batting lineup.

    The good organizations know when to move on from marginal, getting-more-expensive players and plug in a cheaper and often more productive replacement.

    We will see if Williams/Krall/Analytics Dept. truly are changing the culture at the MLB level within the Reds.

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    • Well stated. I agree completely.

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    • Great points. Hamilton is an indicator of team direction. I would argue that Gennett is another, but, that appears to have been decided.

      The whole season was confusing to me in regards to the bench manager. Maybe it was not this way, but, it never made any sense that the manager and interim manager would have so much freedom to manage the team how they wanted. As Steve noted, there needs to be a complete buy in at all levels and that plan needs to be executed.

      If an organization does all the work to acquire and develop a team to do operate a certain way, it is crazy that a manager would not follow that plan.

      Reply
    • “Playing him (Billy) is basically putting out a 7-person batting lineup.”
      That is the truth. I can’t count the number of times I saw our #6 or #7 batter reach base, the pitcher bunt the runner over, and then Billy come to bat with 2 outs with a runner in scoring position.
      But somebody did count. Here is Billy’s slash line with a RISP and two outs (62 ABs):

      .167/.239/.210/.449

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      • Billy is just the greatest example ever of where this team is at in so many ways.He just finishes year 5 and now on to year 6 as a starting center fielder on a team that has lost over 90 games for 4 straight years.He does all of that because he is good,although he has never won a gold glove,on defense and can steal bases.He couldn’t start for anybody else and nobody would trade for him unless he was just a player added in to the trade.His offensive numbers are woeful and he still has a job yet not because of his performance on the field but because he is a favorite for somebody calling the shots.Rarely does a player play his entire career with one team but never ever does a player that can’t hit last 6 years in this league.The Reds fall in love with players and hold on to them long after they hit their peak but nobody holds on to a player that has no peak value or never will such as Billy.It can’t be about the player.It has to be about performance.

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    • Given that Billy can’t hit, I don’t understand why everybody thinks he’d get nearly 6 million in arbitration? I mean, I really don’t know. Not being argumentative.

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      • Billy will get a raise despite not raising his performance; this is just how the CBA works between teams and players. Arbitration takes of service and playing time into account far more than strict performance. Starting Billy most of this season – when he didn’t deserve to start – will get him paid more like a starting center fielder next season, even if the new manager or powers-that-be appropriately decide to make him a specifically-used bench player. The estimates on the various baseball sites may not be so accurate on free agent salary estimates, but the arbitration estimates tend to be pretty accurate for the off-season.

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      • He made $4.6-million this year and next year is his final arbitration year. Players almost always get raises, assuming they were healthy enough to play most the season. Even players who end up getting fewer plate appearances or who see their statistics drop significantly tend to get at least a small raise in arbitration. While I don’t think he’ll get $6-million, I do think he’ll be somewhere around $5.2-million. He played a career high 153 games and his hitting stayed in line with what he’s done in his career for the most part. His defense seemed to take a step back but that doesn’t seem to mean as much in arbitration as perhaps in free-agent deals.

        All of that said, $6-million seems high. MLBTradeRumors has people that do analysis in this area and they’ve been pretty accurate in their projections for the most part. They have Hamilton making $5-million in arbitration, which would represent a modest raise.

        https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2017/10/projected-arbitration-salaries-for-2018.html

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    • Agree 100%. ps Dick is not in charge, walt is.
      That is why we will lose 90+ next year and so on.

      Reply
  7. Please excuse me for being off topic, I just wanted to share this: Top acquisition of each team in LCS. Brewers: Christian Yelich. https://www.mlb.com/news/one-key-acquisition-for-each-lcs-team/c-297567248

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    • A resonating punctuation mark to the Reds season.

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    • The Brewers success has as much (maybe more) to do with the improvements to the pitching staff as yelich and Cain. 2017 their bats carried them until the pitching imploded late in the season. 2018, they hold the rockies to 2 runs over three games. add in the 3-1 win over the cubs in game 163, and its even better. That is some good run prevention, and its not being done with a gold glover at every position.

      Reply
      • The Brewers increased their Offensive WAR from 15th to 7th. The wRC+ increased from 93 to 99.

        The Brewers pitching WAR went down from 2017 to 2018. There was a decrease in WAR from Starters and an increase in relievers WAR.

        The Brewers are in the NLCS because they improved their position players and improved their bullpen. The Brewers do not have a #1 starter and are considered one of the most advanced teams in regards to use of analytics behind only the Dodgers.

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  8. Very thoughtful, clarifying analysis. The root matter is ownership – his vision, his role, his hires, and his pocketbook. Bob C needs to reform his ways.

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  9. Steve, let me echo great analysis and agree with others’ comments above.

    How in the world can Castellini/ownership be happy with four straight losing seasons!?

    How can they be happy with no signs of improvement in the win/loss record!?

    Are they drinking someone’s kool-aid about how success is just around the corner? In four years one passes four corners meaning you are back to where you started from!

    Do they actually think Jocketty, Williams, Krall and the rest have the long term solution and the only lack was field manager (Price and Riggleman)!?

    Is ownership happy with the decreasing (dare I say plummeting) attendance? Have they also bought into the promotional department’s kool-aid that giveaways, bars, between inning games, concerts, fire works, blah blah blah will cause attendance to increase?

    By now most owners of any business would have said this is not working and had a Trump moment: “YOU’RE FIRED!”

    What if anything could ownership be happy with?

    Reply
  10. An excellent, but depressing, post. Thank you.

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  11. I agree largely, but I think your point is based in a fallacy about 40-something managers: the managers currently in the league championship series are under 50; therefore, all managers under 50 are good managers. It would have been easy enough to point to the failures, or juries-still-out, among the 40-age set: Dave Martinez, Gabe Kapler, Mickey Callaway, Andy Green, Robin Ventura. Could have led to a richer discussion about what makes these younger managers succeed while the jury is still out on the others.

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    • Solid point. Although I didn’t say all managers under 50 are good managers. Mainly was just pointing out undeniable trend in baseball and the reasoning offered for it. That and Reds stuff.

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      • I wish that you’d at least leave the door open to the possibility that an old manager could be good, Steve. I’d hate to see the Silver Panthers targeting RLN.

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      • On sports talk radio here in Connecticut the other day, our own Rob Dibble pointed out that last year’s Yankees, under Girardi, overachieved, while this year under Boone, they underachieved. He criticized configurations where the manger either is not empowered to make tactical decisions, or doesn’t have that ability. So I thought that was apropos to this discussion.

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        • The Yankees won over 100 games. It’s hard to see that as underachievement. Losing to the Sox (a very good team with a better record) in the playoffs shows, among other things, that the post-season is a crapshoot that often comes down to a few hot pitchers or hitters.

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  12. as a fan, I AM just looking for a better brand of baseball from the reds next year. forget the wins and losses. I would say 2018 was the most frustrating year of this 5 year “rebuild”. the baserunning and defense was just horrible. I think this is the only year I can remember that the opposing team had more stolen bases then our reds squad and more putouts from the outfield.

    I would say that we looked like the bad news bears but that would be too insulting to the bad news bears. our 2019 manager needs to motivate our players to play harder and be more focused for an entire season. riggleman showed promise early but he seems to lose interest as the year went on.

    I’m not sure it matters if it an old school veteran manager or a young, up and coming “analytic” guy as long as he can get these players to play harder. It seems to me that the reds front office haven’t really gone “all in” into the new schools analytic model of baseball, (which is fine with me) so it would make more sense to have an “Old school” manager for now at least. of the candidates so far I like Giardi and Hatcher. I could see both of those guys really lighting a fire under these players butts!

    Reply
    • I’m not sure I have seen anything in Billy Hatcher that makes me think he is going to do or say anything to “light a fire” under players. If you are looking for someone who is going to yell at people and expect that lights a fire under their butts, I think you are sadly mistaken. I want a manager who knows how to manage the varying personalities that come with 25 (or more) people from many different backgrounds and cultures. One type of communication doesn’t fit all in this day and age.

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      • Just an instinct I have with Billy Hatcher. Not sure why? the players just seem to have respect for him. I don’t think we need a yeller necessarily. just a coach the players will play harder under. that is all I CAN ask for as a fan. Dusty wasn’t a yeller but I never saw a player lolly gag around the bases under Baker like they have under Price and Riggleman.

        Adam Dunn was slow but I FEEL he ran out plays the fastest he could. can’t say the same for SUarez, Cozart, Winer, Votto. It has been real disappointing for me to see these guys not hustle. even more than all the losses.

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        • Just gotta comment: the Big Donkey did not appear to run everything out to the best of his ability. The guy was a tight end at the U of Texas and stole a bunch of bases in the minors. He wasn’t slow, and surely did not seem to hustle.

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          • FWIW, Dunn was actually a quarterback in high school and his first couple of years at Texas. When UT recruited a highly ranked QB, Chris Simms, they moved Dunn to tight end. Dunn then quit football to concentrate on baseball. I don’t think he ever ended up playing any TE at all.

          • I don’t remember much hustle from Dunn, either. Cozart didn’t appear to hustle when he was hurt and couldn’t run, but I’ll give him a pass on that.

        • JREIS: I distinctly remember Brandon Phillips jogging on the bases more than once and people upset that Dusty didn’t pull him from the game immediately. Maybe he said something to him after the game(s) when this happened but it happened more than once.

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          • Phillips constantly did things like this as well as “show boating” on defense and Dusty rarely did anything about it. I do remember him sitting him in one game, but he also allowed Phillips to walk into his office and cuss out a reporter for writing an article about his low OBP. He also made negative comments about Votto and the front office. Dusty definitely didn’t have control of Phillips, not that anyone would have, but Dusty was known as being the guy the players liked not the guy they feared

  13. The cousins over at Red Reporter say another Reds unit besides the rotation rank near the bottom in MLB in many categories. The Outfield. The OF needs revamped in a big way this winter.

    https://www.redreporter.com/2018/10/10/17960508/cincinnati-reds-rumors-outfield-billy-hamilton-nick-senzel-winker-schebler

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    • The question is where does the OF rank by fixing CF? Combined it provide -1.7 WAR, the MLB average was .3 WAR. RF was also -1.7 and LF -1.5, both positions had a MLB average of 0. The majority of LF PA came from Duvall, with Winker 2nd. RF the majority went to Schebler, with Winker 2nd. Overall Winker provided -.1 WAR, Schebler 1.1 WAR, and Hamilton .3 WAR.

      Can a healthy Winker and Schebler put up 2-3 WAR a piece? Does Senzel play CF or does he stay in LF? If Winkers defense doesn’t improve does Senzel take his place?

      I really think 2019 is a bridging year to get to 2020 when Bailey’s contract goes away and Trammell or someone else can take over CF. Schebler will be arbitration eligible at that point, and probably becomes expendable or the 4th OF, unless Winker’s bat can’t make up for his defense. In 2019 the Reds should probably use what money they have on a SP and throw Schebler or Senzel in CF for the year. Then in 2020 make a move for another legitimate bat, similar to what the Brewers did with Yelich or Cain, if the offense needs an upgrade.

      Reply
      • Lance McCalister had a great segment on the Reds on his radio show tonight.
        He pointed out that the avg MLB payroll is $139 million. The Reds highest payroll ever is $115 million and this years was $101 million. But, the Reds have 7 players slated to make big arbitration raises in 2019 plus Votto at $25 million and Bailey $23 million. Projections are Scooter at $10.7 million and Hamilton at $6 million plus a big jump for Peraza to $3.7 million plus Casali and Lorenzen and more. The point being the money isn’t there for big pitchers in 2019 unless the Reds are prepared to go over the avg $139 million.

        I would suggest the Reds go all in for 2020 and purge the 2019 payroll now. Invest in young players and finish the rebuild while purging the contracts of Homer and Gennett and Hamilton and target a 2020 rebuild with FA money ready to spend at $145-$150 million in 2020.

        Reply
        • A starter from the second tier of free agents is probably realistic. Of course trades of Hamilton or Gennett could free up more money, but it doesn’t seem to be in their plans.

          I would explore a Gennett trade and keep Senzel at 2B. Trade Hamilton for whatever I could get. That would free up around $15 million and improve the infield defense. If the return on the Gennett trade was someone who could play CF and the $10 million was spent on pitching the team would probably be better overall. Then in 2020 the $25 million from Bailey could get after whatever weaknesses needed addressed.

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          • You summarized what I have been thinking most of the season. $18-$20 million a year for Hamilton and Gennett really makes no sense. The Reds have replacements at those positions.

            The Reds plan is to pay more money for the same players that generate 90+ loss seasons. Then point out that the money is not there to get pitching.

            The recent MLB Statcast podcast was a great listen for Reds fans who are in denial in regards to were baseball is heading.

            The Brewers are a model for the Reds to follow, maybe they should just use the starters they have and build up a powerful bullpen. Improve the offense by finding more HR power.

        • I agree with purging these salaries now. We will be bad again next yr. You can add votto to this list too. Below average defense ,terriable base runner and declining power. He did have a 412 on base percentage which led the league. The reds waisted his offensive abilities on bad teams. Get rid of his crippling salary if he woild ok a trade. He is past his prime.

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          • Votto isn’t going to ok a trade unless all the losing has finally caused a change of heart. Even if he did, I think the Reds would have to pick up a substantial portion of his contract in order to find someone to trade with, or take someone else’s albatross off their backs.

  14. I enjoyed the article. Many excellent points regarding the Red’s manager choice. The key factor for me is that ownership tends to the business bottom line, and allows baseball professionals (those knowledgeable in analytics) to make the decisions regarding personnel and everyday strategy. I hope Edvardo Perez is given real consideration along with other young candidates.

    Reply
  15. Steve;

    Enjoyed the article but the reality is that you are preaching to the choir.

    So far nothing new, same players, same FO leadership, and still an owner who only believes in what he knows or feels. The Billy Hamilton example is the “tell all” about the Reds. In many of the so-called interviews (commercials in my opinion) with the GM or “BOB”, not one of the so-called reporters have asked Williams an analytical based question about Hamilton’s lack of offensive production and why he is still a starter in CF. In the most recent one on one interview by an Inquirer writer and “BOB”, not one question or mention (that was printed) of analytics.
    If the FO (Williams or BOB) declines to interject meaningful “analytics” into the interview it will be business as usual.

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  16. Great article and of course it is where the Reds are today and why they will remain unless a clean sweep is made among the ones making the decisions.It will certainly take more then a change at manager because he just delivers the message.When I worked my boss said to trust in God but you better have the data to back up any and everything you said.Gut and feel and emotions have nothing to do with anything unless the data backs it up.

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  17. Lack of cohesive direction for the Reds indeed. Report: Homer Bailey to bullpen. Reality: Uh, just kidding. Report: Billy Hamilton is done switch hitting. Reality: Uh, just kidding. Report: Winker is the odd man out. Reality: Uh, just kidding, turns out the kid is pretty good. Report: Chapman signed to start. Reality: Uh, just kidding. (Sorry, that one was just to make sure the dumpster caught fire).

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  18. The analysis seems logical up to a point. But, it wasn’t long ago that people on this site were singing the praises of San Francisco (and K.C too for that matter) and their winning formulae for success. So what happened? Unless you have the money to put together great teams year in and year out, windows for winning come and go.,,and more often than not they exist for a short time and go for a long time. Let’s see how long the Astros stay on top.

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    • I think we all knew the Kansas City run would be short. They won a WS and then couldn’t afford to keep the players hitting free agency. It was really similar to the 2010-13 Reds, except they won some games in the post season.

      The Giants players got older and the Dodgers outspent them. Injuries to the pitching staff have also held them back. Their farm system is poor so the only option they have is to spend money, but they wanted to avoid the luxury tax. They also won three WS in a short time, so I would say they were doing something right. The difference for the Reds is they can’t spend like the Giants do.

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      • Yep. I am not sure anyone in baseball thought the Royals model was the basis for organization building. They had a great 7-9 bullpen, not much else.

        The final 4 teams in the postseason are way beyond the Royals. The Reds are well behind the final 4 teams in the postseason.

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  19. It’s a broken record but unless there’s a significant increase in talent on this team,especially starting pitching,it won’t matter who they hire as manager. And there’s no question this franchise is completely dysfunctional when it comes to the FO and ownership.

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  20. Great article ,topic about a disfunctional franchise. I was listening to the pregame with marty and riggs against the mets in august. The topic was someone being available for the next series and riggs told marty he had to talk to walt about the players availability. I thought williams was in charge with thier new gm. I was stunned he brought walts name up. Who the heck is running this team. Does anyone know?

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    • Yes! Every time I hear the name “Walt” brought up when it comes to meeting with a manager or a player, or on a trip with the GM or PBO, I get steamed. Why? Why is Walt Jocketty still so involved in the day-to-day operations of this baseball team? It’s got me so sideways that I refuse to invest any of my money into this team until it’s run differently. Walt Jocketty is supposed to be semi-retired but he sure seems to be the one that Bob Castellini actually trusts and still seems to have WAY more influence on this team and it’s operations than he should.

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  21. Williams is now President of the club and hired Krall as GM. How about Bob letting them have the reins without interference? I would have a purge of all these old guys hanging around and get rid of Walt, Riggelman, Farrell and Cashman if he is still hanging around. It’s time to let the new management find it’s direction.

    The Reds know they are playing catch up to the successful clubs in this era. Getting rid of all those salaries would allow the Reds to hire some front office talent from some organizations that are obviously more advanced in developing analytics analysis and implementation.

    Williams picked the low hanging fruit and focused on player nutrition, particularly in the Minor Leagues. That’s a good thing, but it does not require any baseball insight. Krall is supposed to be talented as a GM. They need some technical help in developing the approach to analyzing and implementing the use of the plethora of data now available and determining how it will affect the direction the club is going to take off and on the field.

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    • REDSFAN06: Your comment mirrors my sentiments exactly. At this moment the Red’s front office is dysfunctional with the principal owner and his friend, Mr. Jocketty, interfering in the baseball operations of the organization. Until baseball people, Williams and Krall, are allowed the freedom to build and guide the team, nothing will change and the Reds will stay in fourth or fifth place in the NLC.

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      • And please don’t forget Assistant GM Sam Grossman. He’s a talented man with a strong analytic background. They need to start listening to the guy. He should be MUCH more in the decision making process than Walt Jocketty and he seemingly isn’t.

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    • I don’t think we really have a good idea whether Williams and Krall are competent at their jobs because the impression is that between Bob and Walt, there is too much interference for them to make decisions and live or die by them.

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      • The Reds have a dysfunctional front office with Walt Jocketty still hanging around, and until the line of authority regarding baseball matters is cleared up, it doesn’t really matter who gets the manager’s job.

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  22. Here is another article on analytics influencing pitching regarding fastball spin rate. It’s depressing because it rates the Reds last in all of baseball in a category teams are trying to exploit.
    https://fivethirtyeight.com/features/baseballs-top-staffs-have-come-around-on-the-high-spin-fastball/

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    • Great post. Another example of how far the Reds are from the top organizations.

      Yet, most on here think if the Reds add a couple of pitchers they will be contenders.

      The Reds are so far behind the top teams in regards to analytics and organizational philosophy.

      The Reds 25 man roster is basically set, which is crazy considering they are an awful team.

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  23. Steve you’re continued, unbridled optimism regarding the Reds organization is sooooooo refreshing.

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  24. Truth is that managers are not a magic bullet. Kapler of the phillies looked poised to join the young and good list but their season cratered. Was that kapler? was that the analytics? or was it just the players?

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    • My money is on the players. The Reds stink, so it’s easy to forget that they actually played well for something like half the season. Terrible start, terrible finish, but .500 ball in the middle, better than that for June until the ASG.There are too many moving parts to make isolating the cause of of the post-ASG collapse easy, but I’m pretty certain that, had the players continued to play well, the 2nd half record would have been better.

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      • Even bad teams have stretches where they play well. There is probably some statistical expectation of that….somewhere. Don’t be confused with that stretch where they “played well”. Yes they were better after a terrible start (could a ML team be worse?), but during that stretch they largely played weaker teams (and swept the Cubs during a 4 game series in Cincy).

        Their record is what it is, and accurately tells you what their talent level is. They could not sustain their performance that was prior to the ASG break because they are just not that good.

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        • The reds played well against a lot of 1st place teams at times. The bottom line for evweything thats discussed about the reds is if they would draft the right talent and develope it with a winning culture , the analytics would be there. Look at all the great teams from the past they all had good analytics back then only it was called talent. Stop thinking all this stuff is new. Get better damn players!

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          • I don’t think you understand what analytics is. Analytics is not the equivalent of talent

          • Huh? Go listen to the MLB Statcast podcast, that will explain how baseball works today.

            The Reds need better players, yet, the 25 man roster is essential set coming off a 95 loss season. What is the plan to get better players?

          • Analytics is not the equivalent of talent, and that may have been Ed’s point. Analytics is a method for evaluating talent and its best uses. It doesn’t feed the bulldog, it tells you what the bulldog ate, from which you can infer what he might eat in the future. You will often be right and you will sometimes be wrong.

        • The Reds proved to be a bad team. It’s hard to argue with that, and I won’t. 80 or 90 games of fair to good play seems like more than a stretch to me, though, a little to long for smoke and mirrors. They played and whipped a number of first-place teams during that time, as I recall. It wasn’t entirely feasting on bad teams.

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    • It’s always the players. And with the Reds, it’s the starting rotation.

      But the problem with the Reds is that their decision making process is very flawed, and they do not make good decisions regarding talent. The refuse to apply advance metrics, even though someone is collecting, calculating and supplying them. It is not in the decision loop, apparently. If they continue to make poor decisions regarding talent, then they just can’t win. It’s that simple.

      And I think the Reds are in a hole of their own making, and don’t have enough talent on the roster or in the Minors to climb out. Their payroll is also a limiting factor regarding signing FA talent that they desparately need.

      I like Scooter, but can we really afford him, especially with Senzel ready to take over 2nd base, or …..somewhere. And frankly, Scooter does not have that much trade value. He is a poor 2nd baseman and EVERYBODY has a scouting report and knows it. Everybody expects his offense to regress yesterday.
      And Billy is just not a major league hitter. Why is he still with the Reds? He should be out righted after the Reds reset their 40 man.

      None of this will happen. No major FA moves, Billy starts next year in CF, and Scooter gets a big raise and remains at 2nd base.

      This is your 2019 Cincinnati Reds. We don’t hope for miracles, we rely on them.

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      • Talent is the bottom line bill. You produce good numbers because of talent. Trends and success is talent driven. Bad players have bad numbers just so you know. A talented player beats shifts with plate adjustments to go the other way. The player creates his ops. His average with runners on. Then depending on match ups the manager can put his best team on the field. If you have enough talent you win more than you lose thus making your educated information sound.

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        • Sure. At the same time, it is the job of management to create the best possible scenario for its players. That means understanding analytics. Cora sat Holt in game 4 because Kinsler is good against left handed pitchers. This follow Holt hitting for the cycle.

          Other teams are talking about how well prepared the Astros are for each game/series. Players that join the Astros discuss how much more prepared they are for games.

          It is more than just talent.

          Boone has 4-5 relievers that are dominant. Yet, in a elimination game, he goes against all the planning and lets a old starter lose the game. Is the Yankees loss based on talent?

          Is it not important for the manager to have all the necessary information and the organization to provide information to the players to succeed? Talent alone does not win.

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        • You are still missing the point of analytics. Analytics take an advanced look at skills and strategy. Just because a guy gets 100 RBI doesn’t mean he is the most talented, it might mean that or it may the a result of the circumstances. Take for example the article the other day on spin rates of pitchers, the Reds pitchers were some of the worst. Of course there are guys like Hughes who had low spin rates and still performed well, but doing a deeper dive into the analytics would assist in getting talent on the field. Also talent alone doesn’t correlate to success, analytics can give you the best way to employ the talent. Look at Robert Stephenson, he has a ton of raw talent and has very little success. The Reds have seven or eight guys who at some point have all been anointed by the fans as the savior of the Reds staff. None of those guys have produced at a high level, despite having talent. T

          The bottom line is the Reds would have more “talent” and success if they would adopt analytics which is how teams like the Astros went from 100 loss seasons to winning a Word Series. The fact that you don’t understand advanced statistics and data analytics is obvious. Do you think the Reds should just put out a Craigslist ad looking for talented baseball players and then ask for their High School batting average?

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    • Lost… I can agree to a point. I don’t think the “who” specifically matters as much as long as they are picking from the right set. We are looking for a tailored, polished look, and in that sense as long as the fit is right, the color doesn’t really matter too much. But they can’t be mix and matching pieces and showing up to the party expecting to dance.

      What I’m looking for from the Reds is some indication of Steve’s larger point about having a cohesive and consistent vision all through the organization. One kind of hire (i.e. Riggleman) indicates one kind of vision to me– a myopic, losing likely to persist kind of vision.

      Another kind of hire (i.e. the kind of guys he cited as examples in the top of the post) would be signaling “we are ready to change the way we have been doing business and want to emulate the successful teams around us.” Dress for success, as it were.

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  25. Steve, awesome insight in this write-up. One of your best.

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  26. I believe that there may be a schism in the ownership ranks; and, that is the reason why: “The Reds lack a common direction.” Castellini vs. the other owners.

    Combined the other owners have enough power that resulted in Dick Williams becoming Pres of Ops, or whatever his title is now. Perhaps the other owners are trying to save a franchise that has lacked direction for 13 seasons. However, BC still wields the hammer, which is unfortunate.

    One can only hope that BC sees the light, gets rid of WJ, or sells his majority shares.

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    • There’s plenty of ‘old’ money in Cincinnati. it’s just a question of a wealthy person purchasing majority control of this floundering franchise and getting it back on track with baseball people running the show.

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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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2019 Manager Search

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