Quantifying how hot any particular manager’s or front office executive’s or face of the franchise’s seat is at any given time is a foolhardy endeavor with no good answers. Unless you are the owner of the franchise. Then it’s not so much a hot seat as much as how you’re going to do payroll for the next month.

All of which to say, this exercise I’m undertaking of speculating how much time various Reds personnel have left with the Reds should they not perform adequately in 2018 is stupid. It’s dumb. I have no idea how much time any one has left. I’m not Bob Castellini. I’m just a guy with a laptop and some opinions.

But my opinions are better than most if I do say so myself, so Mr. Castellini read up: Your payroll will eventually depend on it.

Bryan Price

How cooked is he?: Well done and nearing an inedible brick

No matter what happens over the course of the 2018 season, Bryan Price will not be the manager of the Cincinnati Reds in 2019. The best case scenario for Mr. Price is to sneak into a Wild Card game and land a decent job somewhere else — let’s say Minnesota.

I know it seems ridiculous to declare Price dead on arrival, but hear me out. The Tennessee Titans, the football franchise of which I am a nominal fan, has just charted a course eerily similar to the Reds, but about a year ahead. The Titans had a long-tenured, beloved head coach in Jeff Fisher who was just a bit too old school to succeed anymore. The Reds had a long-tenured, occasionally beloved manager in Dusty Baker who was just a bit too old school to succeed anymore. After a couple of misfires, the Titans landed on Mike Mularkey, who was forward-thinking enough but still stuck in the old ways. The Reds landed on Bryan Price immediately after Dusty, but while Price has been forward-thinking enough, he’s clearly stuck in the old ways.

Even if Bryan Price gets the Reds to the playoffs this year (much as Mularkey did for the Titans), Castellini should cut bait and find someone who will not only get the Reds there, but set the expectation that they should be there.

Dick Williams

How cooked is he?: Imagine a single match cooking a roast pig

Dick Williams could trade Joey Votto for a bag of baseballs and Zack Cozart’s donkey and get away with by sheepishly pointing at Bryan Price and hiding behind a chair.

He’s only been General Manager for two years, so Williams still has that fresh out the wrapping paper shine that us baseball fans love to oogle at. He’s statistically minded and he’s made some savvy trades already (Dan Straily anyone?). It will honestly take Bryan Price’s ouster before anyone takes a supercritical look into Williams’ track record, so he has nothing to worry about for another year at least.

Jim Riggleman

How cooked is he?: Medium, but like a Schrodinger’s Medium where he could be anything

I don’t understand Jim Riggleman. He’s had two winning seasons in his entire Major League managerial career, has never won a playoff game, and quit mid-season when he didn’t get the contract he wanted despite only having two winning seasons in his entire Major League managerial career! Before the 2016 season, it came out that Riggleman wanted to manage again, which like sure, I want to take another crack at my professional baseball career, but that doesn’t mean anyone else wants me to.

Even with the Louisville Bats, Riggleman redefined mediocre. 137-150. That was his record across two seasons. If you want to look on the bright side he consistently lost 75 games. I’m told consistency is worth something these days.

Riggleman’s seat should be so hot by now that he just paces during games to avoid it, but the man seems downright comfortable. I don’t get it. If the Reds fire Price and hire Riggleman, I will mutiny.

Mack Jenkins

How cooked is he?: There’s smoke but it could just be a nice seasoning

Phrasing it this way seems a bit crude, but Mack Jenkins’ entire existence depends on a bunch of 25 year olds. If any two of Luis Castillo, Amir Garrett, Cody Reed, Brandon Finnegan, Tyler Mahle, or Robert Stephenson have strong, solid seasons to shore up the back of the rotation, then Jenkins will probably return. If all five of the guys not named Luis Castillo continue to flake on their potential, Mack Jenkins will be long gone.*

Of course, if my prediction that Bryan Price is toast at the end of the season regardless comes true, then Mr. Jenkins probably doesn’t stand a chance on the virtue of a new coach wanting his own guys. However, if three of the above emerge as mid-rotation pitchers or better, Mr. Jenkins might have himself a long Reds career.

*Before the post was updated, I had confused Don Long as the Reds’ pitching coach. It’s a pretty innocent mistake that is easily corrected (as you can tell), but still losing the sentence “Don Long will be long gone” saddens me. 

Joey Votto

How cooked is he?: Still raw and bloody

I include Joey here with the coaching and managerial positions because Joey is the face of the franchise and sometimes the face of the franchise can run into a hot seat problem. Just look at Evan Longoria or Giancarlo Stanton or Andrew McCutchen or even Matt Kemp from back in the day. Faces get traded sometimes for not fulfilling their far too lofty expectations.

But there’s simply no way Joey is going anywhere. Sorry National League pitchers.

Billy Hamilton

How cooked is he?: Three-day old leftovers that were cooked but are now hiding in the fridge

Maybe it’s wrong of me, but I consider Billy Hamilton to be the Face of the Franche Lite. Or maybe Face of the Franchise Jr. Or maybe Diet Face of the Franchise. You get the point.

For a very real minute this offseason, it seemed like Billy was on his way out west to pan for some Commissioner’s Trophy gold with the Even Year Giants. (The curse broke, didn’t you hear?) It didn’t happen and now our old friend Andrew McCutchen is testing his luck with the California Fountain of Youth. But as for Billy, is he safe?

In a weird way, he probably is. Bryan Price loves his baseball roles more than anything, and unfortunately for Adam Duvall and Scott Schebler, they tend to fill the same role. Give Duvall left, Billy center, and Jesse Winker right, and you’re left with power, speed, and table-setting across the outfield. While power, speed, power might be more fun to say, even Price knows that he has to play Winker consistently this year.

The Face of the Franchise Jr. is probably here to stay for the duration of 2018, but if the Reds pull anything resembling contention together, I wouldn’t expect him to stick around much longer.

23 Responses

  1. Reaganspad

    Don Long, hitting coach, is fine. The Reds have improved a ton at the plate and he is a keeper.

    Mack Jenkins, pitching coach is probably the name you wanted to insert there.

    Holding the hitting coach responsible for the pitchers is a little draconian, but hey he is doing great with the hitters….maybe he can coach pitching as well

  2. wkuchad

    I really hope you’re right about Price, but I’m scared. I am such a huge Reds fan, but a small part of that fandom dies every time I see Price in the dugout. Can’t stomach the thought of him returning next year.

    And I completely agree with you on Riggleman!

  3. Matt Mahaffey

    Just warm that seat up for Barry Larkin to take over as manager next year.

    • Bill

      I would prefer someone outside the organization being brought in. If Larkin is the best guy available then hire him, but promoting from within the organization without looking elsewhere is not a recipe for success.

    • Westfester

      A guy whose only managerial experience begins and ends with Team Brazil???

      • jazzmanbbfan

        Not defending it but I believe the Red Sox, Yankees, and Phillies all just hired managers with no prior experience.

  4. eric3287

    Dick Williams’ seat isn’t cold because he’s only had a few years, it’s because the Reds front office is a bastion of nepotism. Castellini didn’t even have the fortitude to fire Walt Jocketty, who is still a member of this front office!

    There are 3 scenarios in which Dick Williams is not the GM going froward:

    1) Walt Jocketty graciously decides to retire, providing a nice promotion for Dick, and allowing the Reds to hire someone else’s grandkid as “GM” while Dick gets to have final say.

    2) Dick Williams finds a job outside of baseball that he likes more.

    3) Castellini sells the franchise to someone else who immediately cleans house.

  5. jazzmanbbfan

    Only time will tell but I don’t see Williams as needing to be on a fire-red hot seat yet, like Price. We can all speculate on the trades that weren’t made, e.g., Billy, Duvall or Schebler, etc. but the Straily for Castillo trade, which was very unpopular at the time with posters on the Reds’ MLB site, cuts him some slack with me.

  6. Eric

    And now, from the Department of It Won’t Happen, But…

    My recollection of Bryan Price during the Dusty Baker era was that he was, at least, an above-average pitching coach. Of course, if I made a cigar store Indian a pitching coach, then gave him Cueto, Leake, (a healthy) Homer and Latos, I’m sure he’d come out looking pretty good, too. At any rate, is there any precedent at all for a manager to go back to his “coordinator” role with the same club, without leaving first?

    I mean…picture it: “Bryan, we’re going to go in a different direction with another skipper, and honestly…you’re not going to get a top gig anywhere else in the Majors, let’s face it…but you ARE a pretty decent pitching coach. Since that’s likely going to be your next gig somewhere, wouldn’t you rather just do That Thing You Were Actually Good At here, rather than somewhere else?”

    • Tom Mitsoff

      He probably wouldn’t want to be around a clubhouse and dugout where he used to be in charge, and now would be taking orders from someone else. Think about yourself in a similar situation, no matter what the profession. It would be awkward and uncomfortable for everyone.

    • Eric

      I mean, yeah…I agree with you guys, which is why I said “It won’t happen, but…”

      And by the way, I forgot to mention before: I concur with the assessment of Riggleman, also — he’s not the answer. I’d go get Jared Sandberg from the Durham Bulls. Shoot…I’d say let’s trade for him, except the Rays organization doesn’t seem to want to acquire anything of value these days! Wait…I answered my own question.

  7. JR

    Price is incredibly stubborn and he’s not gonna change. Only one starting position open for starting pitchers? Are you kidding me? On a team with the worst earned run average in the National League last season?

    • JoshG

      um.. could have something to do with the guys being pencilled in to those first four spots weren’t much to blame for that ERA last year

  8. Redgoggles

    I’ll go against popular opinion (here), and say that I don’t think Bryan Price’s seat should be hot (possibly warm?) until he is given a competent roster to compete with. Between injuries and minor league AAAA filler, no hall of fame manager could have cobbled together even a .500 record over Price’s tenure with the same guys. Yes, he’s shown some old school stubborn streaks but he’s also shown some innovation occasionally……like batting Joey 2nd, using Iglasius for 2 inning stints, giving Lorenzen another shot at starting, etc. Who knows what he can do with a full roster of major leaguers? I sure hope this is the year we’ll find out!

    • Redgoggles

      Batting Billy first during a season when Tim Adleman leads your team in innings pitched could be explained by “let’s see if he can figure it out.” It certainly didn’t move the W meter much last year.

      • eric3287

        Votto hit 2nd in 23 starts in 2014, 70 starts in 2015, and 29 starts in 2016. None last year.

        Batting Hamilton 1st in 2014 like he did makes sense. Even batting 1st in 40% of his starts in 2015 kind of makes sense to see if he can figure it out. Batting first 75% of the time in 2016 and in all 135 starts in 2017 doe snot make sense at all. He is what he is and what he is is an acceptable number 9 hitter that plays great defense.

      • Redgoggles

        And, how many years did it take Zack Cozart to figure it out? I’m not saying Billy will and I would be supportive of him hitting lower in the lineup until he does, but I am saying it didn’t make a significant difference in the W/L record over Price’s managerial term due to the rosters he was given.

      • eric3287

        I agree it didn’t make much difference between wins and losses, but if anything that’s even MORE reason to be experimental in down years.

        Cozart at least had a track record in the minors of being competent offensively. 123 wRC+ in A, 116 in AA and 125 in AAA. Billy has never hit above AA, and he was helped by a ridiculously in .404 BABIP in A+ and .371 in AA. Unless and until he shows any ability to hit with more power (meaning hit the ball harder, not more home runs) there’s no reason to think he’ll sniff that. Fly balls are automatic outs, the infield plays in because he can’t hit the ball past them on the ground anyway, so the .315-.325 is about his best case BABIP scenario.

  9. Jeff Reed

    Price is in the line of other pitching coaches/managers that have not been very successful. He’s the manager or he’s not the manager. It all depends on the ownership/front office. In the meantime, I’m glad Red’s baseball is back.

  10. Derek

    Price? Get that guy outta here! Took a playoff caliber team to a cellar dweller his first year where they have remained his entire tenure. Meanwhile the manager they so foolishly let walk did what he does which is win games and make the playoffs(Baker/Nationals)in his first year. This guy hasn’t even come close to .500. I’m over it….

  11. james garrett

    It wasn’t about wins and losses for Baker and Girardi that cost them their jobs.Price kept his job because DW has his back and agrees with what he has done so far or else he would have fired him.He obviously doesn’t blame or hold Price accountable at all for wins or losses nor for any of his decision making in regards to line up construction or in game managing.I brought up Baker and Girardi’s fate because of how the Nats and Yanks view their organization in regards to winning.They want to win it all and will settle for nothing less.I can remember when our ownership felt and acted the same way.Maybe it will happen again.

    • Westfester

      Not to mention one of the most important factors in managing. He kept the team playing hard despite the dumpster fire of a rotation and being out of it since May. He can’t control talent and injuries, but he did have them playing to the end.

  12. Bill

    If the Reds do fire Price, I suggest David Ross for manager & Brian Bannister for pitching coach.