You are really going to want to read this outstanding piece by Zach Buchanan in the Enquirer. It’s about the off-season training work that Reds legend Barry Larkin does, in Orlando, with players around baseball, including Cincinnati prospects Shed Long and Jesse Winker.

We’ve heard about the training sessions — dubbed B-Lark University by Mariners center fielder Dee Gordon — but Zach’s piece is a more in-depth look at what Larkin has been doing with his pupils. It’s good stuff. Really, you should go read the entire thing.

What has been catching everyone’s eye — including mine — is this:

That’s not to say Larkin hasn’t thought about it. He’s been on the radar for managerial jobs before. In 2013, he turned down an interview for a job managing the Detroit Tigers, saying that he wasn’t interested in the associated time commitment. But a year later, he accepted a chance to interview to be manager of the Rays.

He’s a fan of his current workload – he travels two-and-a-half weeks out of every month during the season to work with players at the Reds’ various minor-league affiliates – but he admits his interest in managing is greater than it’s ever been. Still, he has eyes only for the Reds.

“I only want to be in Cincinnati,” Larkin said.

The Enquirer has a video of Larkin’s interview with Zach, in which Barry provides a little more context. Essentially, he says he’s at a point in his life where he’s becoming increasingly interested in managing, more interested than he’s ever been, but he would give Cincinnati every chance to hire him before he explored opportunities elsewhere.

So what does this mean for us, the dedicated fans of the Cincinnati Reds? Well…nothing, really. Bryan Price is the manager of the club in 2018. Period. full stop.

My prediction, however, is this: if the Reds don’t win 85 games or more in the upcoming season, Price will not be retained. It’s going to take a serious step forward in the team’s performance for Price to be able to hang onto his job.

It’s certainly possible, of course, that the Reds can put together a winning record next year. I’m generally pretty optimistic anyway, but you don’t have to squint too hard to see things going well enough for the Reds to win a lot more games than they did in 2017, or 2016. If the club just remains generally healthy, that’s probably good enough for ten more wins. Seriously. A couple of good breaks after that — breakouts by Jesse Winker and Nick Senzel, for example — and the Reds could be in the wild card race.

But what if things don’t go well? What if the Reds finish 80-82? Under that scenario, I expect the Reds to explore other options at manager for 2019. (This is all a ridiculous simplification of the factors that will go into the decision-making for the Reds brass. But stick with me here.) If that happens, you have to think that Larkin will be at the top of the club’s wish list.

And what if the Reds are 24-28, or 20-32, at the end of May? I wouldn’t be surprised to see Price fired mid-season under that scenario. Maybe assistant coach Jim Riggleman finishes the season as the interim manager…or maybe the Reds decide to hire one of the greatest players in franchise history to manage the club?

I don’t know if Larkin will be a great manager. His only experience as a skipper is at the helm of the Brazilian team in the World Baseball Classic. I don’t have any idea whether Larkin is open to the advanced analytical concepts that have become a staple of winning organizations over the last few years. He’s certainly intelligent and does a great job with individual instruction, and he was a great player…but Larkin is still an almost completely unknown commodity.

Steve is concerned that the Reds will interview Larkin and only Larkin, as they did when Price was first hired. I’m not ready to start worrying about that, not just yet. But Steve is absolutely correct that the Reds shouldn’t just hand the job to Larkin. The club should conduct a nationwide search, and interview multiple candidates from outside the organization.

If Larkin is the best candidate after that process — and he very well might be — GM Dick Williams should hire him and we’ll all root for Barry to help the Reds take the next step in the rebuild, to a playoff-caliber club, hopefully. I wouldn’t mind seeing Larkin wearing a Reds uniform again. If he’s the right guy to lead the club over the next few years.

21 Responses

  1. nicolecushing

    I’d LIKE to think that the organization will change managers if the team has another disastrous year, but I honestly don’t think they will. Remember: to fire Price is to implicitly admit it was a mistake to hire him in the first place. I’m skeptical about this organization’s ability to be that humble and introspective. They seem to care more about saving face than about winning. I think they’ll cherry pick any negligible improvement the team has this year and point to that as a reason to keep him.

    But let’s assume Price is fired at some point during the year or soon afterward. Why bring in someone with virtually no managerial experience? Didn’t we just go that route?

    Oh, and one last thing: Larkin says he’d only like to manage in Cincy. I bet! Any other team might him accountable. Here, he gets the assurance of knowing he can lose 90+ games for three seasons in a row and still keep his job.

    • nicolecushing

      Any other team might HOLD him accountable, that is.

      • CaliforniaRed

        That is total nonsense. You think Larkin wants to manage the Reds to not be held accountable for losing? Seriously? The man is a Red; the man is a winner. He wants to make the Reds a team to be taken seriously again, to bring back that swagger that the 1990 World Champions had and i believe he can do it.

    • Brian

      Tony Perez was a beloved Red andhe was fired 40 games into his first year as manager. If he loses he will be fired eventually.

  2. Ron Fleshman

    Even if the Reds win 80 games, they should move from Bryan Price, but I doubt the Reds will. They like him, but as many are opposed to Larkin as manager, I kind of like it. Bring Barry home? Absolutely.

  3. Sliotar

    Well stated, Nicole.

    This whole set-up has a #Reds Way feel to it.

    Hometown hero, in waiting, in the likelihood (sorry, Chad, that is a lot of squinting you got going on in that piece) that the Reds endure another losing season trying to graft a playoff-caliber rotation from kids and guys from re-hab.

    Sadly, this is the kind of thing that just feels true, just like the owner allegedly expressing that he wants Hamilton to stick around for the rest of his career.

    Very Cleveland Browns-like, in terms of how the Reds are so different from how the rest of their league operates.

  4. scottya

    I have to admit, the idea of a new manager gets me excited. And the Love Larkin has for Cincinnati is genuine. We’ll see.

    I think the organization hesitates to move on from Price because of the development of the new pitchers and that may be a mistake.

  5. Joey

    This probably was going to happen anyway but I totally see Price taking this as a threat and it ends up hurting the team’s development in an attempt to win a couple more games this year and keep his job. That means Winker on the bench, Senzel when he gets called up– the bench. Hope I’m wrong. Go Reds!

  6. sezwhom

    Do it. Rather have Larkin than Price.

  7. Jason Ware

    They need to bring in Larkin and Eric Davis to help turn things around including a winning attitude and expectations.

    Those two know baseball and I would think the younger players would listen!

  8. davemoorewvu

    Aaron Boone didn’t have any managerial experience when he was hired by the Yankees. Who knows if he will have success or not. I’d love to see the Reds turn it over to Larkin. At least he’s ‘one of us’..

  9. davemoorewvu

    Maybe I’m wrong, but I thought Larkin expressed some interest in the job before Price was hired?

  10. Jack

    AR: “Previously, you’ve shot down rumors about managing in the big leagues. Has your thinking changed on that?”

    BL: “I would be interested in doing that in the right situation. I have committed to working with the Reds in the minor leagues and developing some of their minor league talent.

    “I was asked about managing a few years ago, but I had a daughter in high school, my son was just starting his NBA career and I had a daughter graduating college. But now I have the liberty and freedom in my schedule to put in the time commitment. If there were an organization interested, I would certainly listen

    This was an interview in Sept 2015. Larkins reason why he wasnt interested.

  11. Jeff Reed

    Price is the manager until he is not the manager. This is the first time I remember Barry Larkin expressing an interest in managing the Reds. As a college grad he comes across to me as more of a front office person. But Larkin is laying the ground work for managing with his Lark-U instructional camp in Orlando. I would say Barry will eventually manage the Reds since he is a hometown guy.

  12. JR

    It didn’t work out for HOF Ryne Sandberg. It didn’t work out for the White Sox and Robin Ventura. But hey, I’m still angry the Reds brought back Price for 2018.

  13. Nate

    If he’s the right guy after several candidates are interviewed, sure. But there’s something about a guy that has the baseball smarts but not the skill that seem to make the best managers. They have that extra hunger to win.

  14. Ethan L

    Best case scenario: Larkin manages for 10-15 years very successfully and then Votto takes over for 10-15 more years of successful managing. Brilliant!

  15. Still a Red

    Wow…lots of speculation here as to motive colored by some built in emotional biases, in both directions. Objectively, a good player does not guarantee a good manager. Why not get a little experience at a lower level (if egos will allow it). P.S. Price is gone if the Reds are healthy and pitchers improve and Reds don’t reach .500. Another start of the season with 5 rookie starters, who’d want it?

  16. Brian

    Barry Larkin,career Red,WS Champion,GG Shortstop,NL MVP,first 30/30 SS,MLB HOF’ER and Reds HOF’ER. Remember Tony Perez my friends? These are all reasons why i dont want Larkin as manager,sooner or later he will get fired,they all do,and it would darken all his accomplishments that were all in a Reds uniform.

  17. Jeffery Stroupe

    Price gets each game scenerio from upstairs. Does the best he can do with it and takes the heat. He is nothing more than a puppet. That is more than obvious. He makes very few if any decisions on his own. i think he will be there for awhile.