In another two plus weeks, it will have been a full eleven years since the Cincinnati Reds went on a limb and hired Dusty Baker, the former long-time big leaguer and manager of the San Francisco Giants through most of the peak Barry Bonds years. As the New York Times noted at the time, it was the first time the Reds had gone outside their own organization to hire a manager in some 18 years - dating back to the hire of Lou Piniella, who obviously had himself quite the year in 1990.
Baker, as the Times also notes, replaced “the interim manager Pete Mackanin, who was the team’s advanced scout when Jerry Narron was fired in July. Mackanin was 41-39 as the manager.”
I circle back to this Dusty-related tale largely because the Reds, eleven years later, find themselves in quite the similar situation. They’ve spent eleven years with a management system in place that has consistently had ties to both Dusty and the Reds themselves, as Bryan Price took the helm after serving as pitching coach and Jim Riggleman, current interim manager with moderately unnauseating results as he is, got promoted after serving as Price’s own bench coach. In other words, it’s been another minor epoch in Cincinnati Reds history in which the team has yet to look outside their own organization for a new leader in the dugout, which is what President/Surgeon of Baseball Operations Dick Williams has consistently promised they’ll consider as they look to hire a new manager at some point at the end of the 2018 season.
That makes what FanCred’s Jon Heyman reported yesterday a bit cringeworthy, as the longtime MLB insider had this to report:
In light of recent reports that interim Reds manager Jim Riggleman is a favorite of owner Bob Castellini, Heyman adds that Riggleman additionally has numerous fans in the Cincinnati front office. The 65-year-old Riggleman has a decent chance at being tabbed the team’s long-term skipper, though former Red Sox manager John Farrell will be among those considered to step into that role as well. The Reds hired Farrell to work for them in a scouting capacity last offseason.
(H/T MLB Trade Rumors)
If I’m reading that correctly, it appears that the two names that have surfaced in the team’s considerations are - you guessed it - both already a part of the Cincinnati Reds family. Factor in the limited information Williams gave The Enquirer’s John Fay when interviewed about the future of the managerial position earlier in the week, and the reality is at this point that the only three names that have been mentioned at all to this point are Riggleman, Farrell, and Hall of Famer Barry Larkin - who, as you know, has been a part of this organization as a roving instructor for years, too.
Now, let’s get a few things clear here for a minute. For one, this is a front office that was groomed under Walt Jocketty - who is still a part of said front office - a man who made a habit of keeping his biggest moves extremely close to the vest, and there’s every bit the possibility that Williams is simply doing status quo lip service while things are in place as they are. No need to rock a boat that’s inevitably going to get rocked, and so on. It’s also vital to note that with the MLB season still technically going on - some teams even have the nerve to want to play playoff games for another month - so the idea that the club can be interviewing other managers, bench coaches, or staff members is nonexistent at this point in time.
The reality of the situation is, though, that the Reds are as deep into this rebuild and still searching for who will be their manager largely because the key figures within the organization over the last half-decade simply haven’t yet gotten the job done. Perhaps that’s enough for the front office to acknowledge that outside influence is needed; there’s also a growing sense that the front office feels some of the existing figures simply need a bit more time, which would echo Heyman’s notion that Riggleman might well end up at the helm for a few more seasons. One clear fact remains, though - the front office has a major decision on its hands regarding the direction of the future of the Reds, but that’s far from the only major move they need to be making this winter, as the lack of any major player additions is just going to handcuff the manager of the 2019 Reds regardless of which person that actually is.
In other news, Chicago Cubs manager Joe Maddon is apparently a fan of Cincinnati’s prospects as early as 2019, as Bobby Nightengale of The Enquirer relayed after the Reds 3-1 victory in the recent Milwaukee Brewers series. Maybe Joe is up for managing this club going forward...
Over at The Athletic, C. Trent Rosecrans broke down the recent resurgence of Cody Reed and what that means for his chances of earning a rotation spot in 2019. There’s some great insight from catcher Tucker Barnhart in this piece that’s specifically fun to read, especially regarding Reed’s pitch repertoire.
Over at FanGraphs, Jeff Sullivan detailed an important NL milestone victory from earlier in the week, one that the Cincinnati Reds in particular helped the league reach.
Finally, Doug Gray dove into the news that the Pensacola Blue Wahoos - the Reds’ AA affiliate for the last few seasons - might not be the team’s AA affiliate going forward, and what that could mean for the AA ballers next year. The two sides have not yet renewed their player development contract in part because the Pensacola ownership group wants to explore other possibilities, and that means there could be a shake-up before the 2019 season.