This week’s respondents are Jason Linden, Bill Lack, Chris Garber, Steve Mancuso, and me (I’m Chad Dotson).

Our Weekly Reds Obsession: How hot is Bryan Price’s seat?

Jason: I have no idea how hot his seat is. I really don’t think he’ll be managing the Reds next year, but if he isn’t let go in the next week or two, I think he’s a good bet to finish out the year as the Reds manager. I will say that, whatever happens, it’s hard to really lay this start at his feet. He’s definitely made some bad decisions, but no one is hitting and three of his everyday players and two of his main bullpen pieces are hurt. If he gets fired, it will be more because the Reds need to look like they’re doing something and less because he really “deserves” to be fired.

Bill: It’s blistering….if nothing changes, I wouldn’t be surprised if he was fired on the next off day.

The problem is, while I completely understand the thinking, this comes under the heading of “it’s easier to get rid of one guy than 25.” I can think of maybe one game this season where his moves cost them a game. He’s not the one hitting, fielding, or pitching (all of which have been horrible). He’s also not responsible for the injuries or for the composition of the roster.

Price makes many, MANY moves that are completely indefensible (but they’re also the same moves that 90% of major league managers would make), but I think one of the problems, for many of us, is that we’d hoped he’d be a different kind of manager, one that’s not afraid to go against the book. For the most part, he’s not been that guy.

Plus, firing him creates other problems? Who wants the job? Who gets the job? Jim Riggleman? John Farrell? Barry Larkin? One of the other “managers-in-waiting” already on the company payroll? What if you give this job to someone and the team plays better the rest of the season…is that someone you want handling the team long-term? If you have a long-term manager in mind (let’s say Larkin, though I’m not convinced he’s the guy), why would they want to take over now and get the stink of the way this team is playing on them?

I guess my question would be, what does firing Bryan Price really accomplish? Morale? PR? Sell tickets? Probably helps the fans morale, but I don’t think anyone outside the clubhouse can say if it’d affect player morale (positive or negative). Probably takes PR pressure off the team for a little while. I don’t think it sells tickets (unless Larkin gets the job, then maybe short-term). Does it help or hinder the rebuilding process? I honestly don’t know the answer to that one. I don’t think anyone does.

Chris: I think it’s white hot. This team is underperforming across the board, and it’s not a situation caused entirely by injuries and bad luck. Yes, the Reds have had to deal with those things, but Bryan Price has made some pretty dubious (to me) decisions, and the players are playing uninspired, mistake-prone baseball. Something has to give, and firing a scapegoat like Don Long or Mack Jenkins won’t make a bit of difference. Maybe Price gets another week, but if they don’t take 2 of 3 from Milwaukee, and/or at least look competitive in all 3 games, Price may be coming home from the road trip early.

Steve: Bryan Price is dead man walking. I’ll be surprised if he still has his job when this post is published Monday morning. One way or the other, Price won’t be the Reds manager by the end of the month. Yet, Price isn’t managing any different this year than he has the previous four. The bad lineups, bullpen management, in-game strategy, deference to veteran players at the expense of developing younger players — it’s all the same.

The case against Price is the same today as it was a month ago. But Bryan Price will get fired this month because the start to the season has been so impossibly bad the front office will have to do something and they can’t fire the players. They’ll install 66-year-old Buddy Bell as manager because they know he’ll accept the interim tag and not want the job next year. Losing won’t change until the injured players return and Nick Senzel gets called up, which would have also happened under Price. Everyone is frustrated. We all have different tolerance levels. I’m indifferent about firing Price now. But it will make a segment of fan happy. That’ll last about a week. That’s when it’ll become clear that Bryan Price wasn’t the main cause of the Reds losing record.

Chad: Price’s seat is very hot. I’m waiting patiently for a press release from the Cincinnati Reds. And that’s all I have to say about that.

34 Responses

  1. Jack

    Put Girardi in that seat. Being in NY and watching the Yankees all these showed me what a Major League team is. Girardi doesn’t deal with crap. He will let the players know if they stink. He puts the best team out there everyday. It will show the fan base the Reds mean business and he will put butts in the seats. Hey we aren’t idiots . We realize this rebuild was botched from the beginning. But hiring a big time coach let’s us know that the Front Office is tired of the mess they caused. I would rather have Girardi behind the rebuild than the people they have now.

    • Eric

      I like this idea. Last time the Reds hired a Former Yankee Skipper, it worked out pretty well for them, too!

  2. Ron Cee

    Team ownership is to blame. How about the hiring of a GM who happens to be family of other majority owners ? How about the majority owner who, at the time Price was hired, said there were other candidates that were not interviewed ? Finally, an owner who said he hoped Hamilton would be a “Red forever” (meddling in trade discussions). The team majority owner must have been asleep during his tenure as a minority owner of the Cardinals.

    • Jack

      Plus Williams is spouting off on how he is a analytics guy and then they go and sign Goose and Pennington. I’m not sure what numbers he is looking at but maybe the paper is upside down.

  3. bouwills

    I’m not a big fan of Bryan Price, but firing him is treating the symptoms-not the disease.The only negligible difference will be temporary better PR. Injuries happen every year & the Reds always showcase their lack of quality depth.

    • davy13

      True, but…

      – Do you like to live your symptoms like pain, fever, sinus congestion, etc? No, you buy OTC med to be relieved of your symptoms.

      – If the condition is viral, you can only address the symptoms until the virus goes away or its eradicated.

      The team’s problem is viral until there’s an owners that is willing to spend more to sign quality veterans to supplement young talents, and/or until there’s a FO that makes better decisions about player personnel, and/or until the players play better. In the meantime, you deal deal with the symptoms which the manager is among them.

      The Reds problem is systemic as of now. That’s the disappointing bottom-line.

  4. Doug in Dallas

    Good Morning All: Just throwing this out there but tonight’s game with the Brewers would be the first game the Reds have played this season in normal temperatures. This is in no way an excuse for the miserable play so far (Pennington was brought in for his glove right?) as of course the opposing players have to play in the same conditions, Specifically I was wondering if Castillo might improve with a better grip. I know it’s far fetched but I too have been a Reds fan for over 50 years and this is the worst so any ray of hope would be welcome. Reds Fan forever no matter how tough it gets!!

    • cfd3000

      Doug I feel strongly that optimism (not blind foolishness, just ordinary optimism) is innate for any lifelong fan. Warmer weather, a return to health for five or six guys, a promotion for Senzel, more PT for the prospects and less for Goslington, a change of manager (finally), and performance from guys who are struggling – Castillo, Votto, Duvall and others – and there is absolutely reason for optimism. This lousy start sucks, but that doesn’t mean these Reds won’t get a lot better. Thanks for reminding me that’s what fans root for.

      • jazzmanbbfan

        A little like the stock market, I ride out the ups and downs of the market and I ride out the ups and downs of the Reds, assuming/ that eventually things will improve. Thankfully the market has treated me better than the Reds have the past few years.

  5. Brandon

    1. Bryan Price is not in the top couple reasons the Reds are where they are.

    2. Bryan Price probably does deserve to be fired based on his managing and ability to lead and inspire, at least based on what we know.

    Both can absolutely be true. Number 2 isn’t conditional on number 1.

    Nothing is going to happen about ownership and the front office and their role in where the Reds are. That’s just the sad reality. Firing Price will not fix the Reds nor create 15 extra wins. It’s still probably the correct move toward the organization being the best it can be.

    I agree with Chad. Let Bell manage the rest of the season and be sure that once the season ends the very best candidate for the job from within and outside the organization gets hired.

  6. Jeff Reed

    Has it happened yet? We all know it will do little or nothing to affect the 11 games under .500 after 16 days into the season, but as manager dismissal has always been the first option to a team in a funk it should change the spirit of the clubhouse and give the fans renewed hope.

  7. Bill

    I like Steve’s idea of Bell taking over. Why would you want any of the coaches they can’t hit, batting coaches, can’t pitch, pitching coaches, can’t run the bases, base coaches, can’t construct a line, bench coach & manager. The FO has been out to lunch for a very long time. I’ve been a Reds fan about 70 years never seen it this bad.

  8. GreatRedLegsFan

    FO had the opportunity last year to get rid of Price without much noise and plenty of time to assess upon the his replacement. Now, they’ll have to fire him, assign an interim and look for a replacement with season underway.

  9. Ernest

    Price is certainly not a great manager, but, this is on the GM and ownership.
    It seems that a clear line of communication between the GM/Front Office and the Manager is essential to a winning organization. I have a hard time believing that a successful MLB team today is hiring a manager and allowing the manager to do whatever they want with the 25 man roster.
    There should be clear communication from the GM in regards to why the 25 man roster is set up and what the expectations are, with input from the Manager.
    If the analytical GM of the Reds is ok with the Manager continuing to utilize the 25 man roster, which it appears is the case, then firing the Manager will not matter.
    The roster decisions by the GM are the biggest issues with this team. 4 years into a rebuild and the Reds have 1 young offensive player with a bright future, maybe 2 if Winker is included. How could anyone consider that to be a rebuild?

    • jazzmanbbfan

      In my opinion, on the pitching side the Reds have 3 young pitchers who have a reasonably high ceiliing (Castillo, Mahle, Garrett).

  10. nicolecushing

    Of interest, last week I sent a #bleachertweet out to the ESPN Baseball Tonight podcast about Price being on the hot seat and Buster Olney responded to it on air. The gist of his response was that managers don’t have as much control over team performance as they did in the past, the Reds woes are due to the front office cutting payroll, and firing Price would only be a move to dish out red meat to the fan base.

    If anyone wants to listen to Buster’s response on their own, here’s a link to the podcast. My question comes up at the 46:45 point of the audio file.

  11. George

    Jason: “If he gets fired, it will be more because the Reds need to look like they’re doing something…”
    Bill: “what does firing Bryan Price really accomplish?
    Steve:” That’s when it’ll become clear that Bryan Price wasn’t the main cause of the Reds losing record.”

    In my humble opinion the above quotes say it all.
    This “Family” ownership is the issue.

  12. Jeff Reed

    How likely is it the principal owner would take out the GM who is a member of the family that has an ownership stake in the Reds, or that Bob C. would totally remove his senior advisor who is a friend? Change getting at the root of the Reds problem would be offering the general manager job to Joe Girardi, who at age 53 and having had managerial success, might be willing to take on the challenge of administration with the Reds. Dreaming is a part of being a baseball fan.

  13. nicolecushing

    I’ve come around to the conclusion that firing Price would be like blaming the factory line foreman for the goof ups of the white collar dudes in the corner office. It could prove counter-productive by providing an ILLUSION of change while letting the real blunderers go unpunished.

    The front office has made some nifty acquisitions and deals. They’ve also sent us a plate full of turds (Jason Marquis, etc.) and tried to convince us that they’re brownies. So, at the “micro” level, their performance has been a mixed bag.

    But at the “macro” level of establishing a team culture, seeing the new directions the sport is taking, and racing to keep up with them, they are a dismal failure. They make small strides (like the new scouting infrastructure in Latin America), but other teams are taking giant leaps, especially in areas like analytics. The Reds make progress, but that progress is not sufficient to keep up with the progress being made by the rest of the league. Hence, 2-13.

    • Ernest

      Great analysis. There are successes at the Micro level, but, there is direction a the Macro level. What is goal and direction of the Reds? Are they limited in certain areas due to payroll? Is the goal development and add as needed? Is the entire organization on the same Macro level? or, is there a Manager managing for his job which is not the same as the Macro view?

    • Dave Roemerman

      LOL! First, I agree with pretty much everything you said (though the foreman still needs to go – we can only wish for the white collar guys to get it together). Second, I think that’s the most accurate analogy for management’s presentation to fans – “Here, enjoy some brownies, everyone!”

      I’m cracking up, though I’m still spitting mad and have a foul taste in my mouth (Taveras/Renteria/Arroyo part 2/Gallardo/etc.) – bleh!

  14. Mason Red

    I’ve been coming here for several years because it’s the BEST place to get Reds news and views but this is my first post. I wish it could be under better circumstances but this team…this franchise….is really REALLY bad. I’m 56 and a lifetime Reds fan but I’m totally discouraged. Price is a poor manager but this train wreck isn’t his fault. The onweship/FO totally botched this “rebuild” from the get go. There are some parts here but unless there’s an infusion of talent to go with it,things will be difficult for years to come.

  15. BigRedMachine

    I find it fascinating that this isn’t a Reds problem, it’s a Cincinnati sports problem. In articles posted here and in the comments you can hear complaints that the Reds keep things in the family too much, do not fully commit to sweeping changes or rebuilding plans, and seem content to strive to be competitive instead of win championships. Every one of those complaints applies doubly to the Bengals. I feel like there is something in the water in Cincinnati that makes team management only want to do enough to keep revenue up but not rock the boat too much because that would be scary.

    I agree with much of what has already been said. Sure, Price should go but he is only a symptom of the problem and not a the root cause. If firing him is step one in a very long list of steps that is needed then that is great. If firing him is a “look we did something!” media moment and then we go back to the status quo then … not great.

    Smaller market teams have a much smaller margin of error and have to be laser focused in order to succeed in MLB as it is currently structured. The Reds do too much of one step forward, two steps back. A team with an extra $80M in payroll might be able to recover from those mistakes. The Reds can’t and it shows in the 2-13 record.

    When rebuilding you can’t sign veteran “innings eaters” that take time away from developing pitching talent. You can’t not trade players because there’s an all-star game to host and you want a few more wins when the national media spotlight hits. You can’t claim to want to follow an approach based on analytics and then be heard making quotes about “I want Hamilton around forever.” You can’t claim to want a manger that embraces modern thinking and then hire one that still calls for a bunt in critical situations especially when the batter on deck is battling the Mendoza line.

  16. Westfester

    Honestly, I think Price is an afterthought when it comes to this team’s problems.

    1. The roster is paper thin after the everyday 8 and it’s showing with 3 of the starters hurt. The blame here is squarely on the front office. We’re now forced to use outmatched kids and scrap heap parts to replace our second best hitter, leadoff hitter and a Power bat/Good Defense.

    2. Relying on 2 vets coming back from serious injuries, a rookie and 2 sophomore pitchers who haven’t pitched a full season is not going to produce a lot of quality starts. This in turn creates the need to have an 8 man bullpen, causing further strain on #1.

    3. It’s just been SO DARN COLD this April; including the weather, hitting and fielding. I know it’s making excuses, but standing around in 30 degree weather 3 hours a night is going to takes its toll.

    We’re not going to the playoffs this year, but all of the above will improve. The hurt hitters will return, allowing us to send the kids back down. The pitchers SHOULD stabilize, allowing us to get an extra bench player. AND WILL IT PLEASE STOP FREAKING SNOWING???

    • jazzmanbbfan

      AT 1:11 in Lawrenceburg Indiana it is still snowing, so to your last question, not quite yet. I’m so sick of it. I saw highlights of a Cubs game being played in brutal conditions. Joe Maddon was clearly unhappy that the game was played and given the $$ invested in these players, I’m surprised the teams want to jeopardize their investments that way.

      Having to carry 8 bullpen pitchers has really exposed the bench deficits, plus the idea that both Pennington and Gosselin are here is head-scratching to say the least.

  17. jazzmanbbfan

    If Barry Larkin is still as opposed to advanced statistics as he was a few years ago, no amount of experience is going to make up for bad decisions based on a lack of solid information.

    Are you sure Barry would bring “passion and excitement”? He most certainly isn’t volatile like Lou, nor do I want a manager who is at this point in time.

    Greene is a pitcher not a shortstop.

    For #4, I think you are dreaming if a “player friendly coach”, whatever that means, is going to attract good players. $$$ is what attracts good players along with the possibility of actually winning something.

  18. David

    This is not a good team, and probably won’t be for a while. Of course, Suarez and Schebler are hurt (Schebler may be back soon!). But there is not much in the high minors that is of any help. Senzel and……that’s it. So much for all those high draft choices, etc.

    The Reds problem is structural, and can be laid on the Front Office and Ownership.

    I actually feel a little sorry for Price, as he is the front man for this crap show.

    The front office management has concentrated on drafting pitching for years. And the results are….meh. Yes, we do have a few good arms up top in the minors, but they are topping out as minor league talent. And so really, there is a dearth of good ML-potential position players in the high minors, which will likely continue for a while. There is actually no good SS prospect coming up, so Peraza is it. The Front Office has made a couple of horrendous trades, with Jay Bruce and Aroldis Chapman. We literally got nothing back for those two valuable players.
    And although a lot of people have trashed the Todd Frazier trade, that trade actually brought back talent.

    Ownership has tolerated mediocrity and sub-mediocrity in terms of allowing this to go on and on, in the name of cronyism. I think we are stuck with that, as long as the Castelinis and the Williams brothers have a big stake in the team.

    This is your Cincinnati Reds!

  19. lost11found

    It’s the league and umpiring crew that has the most say on if a game gets played or not? Otherwise home teams could monkey with things too much.

  20. sezwhom

    Knowing Reds management, Price seat probably isn’t even lukewarm. Like the Bengals, Reds are very late to make an obvious change. However, if they do surprise me by firing Price, my pick is Farrell. Let’s go with a winner. Make a statement. No interim BS.

    • Scott Carter

      I agree with you sezwhom, I do not sense anything from Reds management that indicates that Price’ job is on the line. I would be surprised if they fired Price. I was on board with the rebuild, even though I hated to see Cueto and Leake and Bruce go, unfortunately I feel the rebuild has been botched.
      I understand that it takes time and that the losing isn’t just the fault of the manager, but my dear some of the head scratching moves he makes, his devotion to the sacrifice bunt, the playing of the veterans over the prospects is just downright terrible. The Astros were terrible for a lot of years but they fired Cliff Floyd, if I am not mistaken. It is time!

  21. Jim Walker

    As more folks zero on the real source of the problem, upper level management, it will probably create an imperative to can Price to create a diversion.

    This said, anybody that is a leader needs to create a better working environment and attitude than what Price seems to have going with the Reds right now. Physical errors and limitations are beyond his ability to impact; but, almost daily we also see a number of mental errors, signs that guy might not properly prepared and indications their focus is lacking. These things are on Price; and, most of all there seems to be an acceptance that losing is OK which is also on the manager.

    Thus Price doesn’t have a complaint coming if he is let go even though it may be for a different reason.

  22. Anthony

    Not gonna fire Price. They don’t fire losing managers/coaches in Cincinnati. Status quo.