All my feels tell me itÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s likely a fait accompli, that the interim Band-aid is about to be ripped off and Jim Riggleman becomes the next manager of the Cincinnati Reds. No sooner does the sun peek out over the horizon each morn than it seems there are those in the mediaÃ¢â‚¬â€both locally and nationallyÃ¢â‚¬â€that begin blowing the shofar for RigglemanÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s installment as the next Cincinnati skipper. Having checked all the boxes next to their 10 Commandments of Managerial Makeup to go along with his in-your-face demeanor, heÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s been anointed THE GUY, even as the front office has repeatedly promised they are committed to conducting a broad and thorough search for the best candidate for the position.Ã‚Â But let us assume the Reds will at least go through the motions before handing the job to the erstwhile Padres, Cubs, Mariners and Nationals manager.
If a fan could interview Jim Riggleman, what should he or she ask? What would you ask? Here are ten things IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢d like to know:
- If I said the game can be broken down as 40% pitching, 30% hitting, 20% fielding, 5% baserunning and 5% miscellaneous, what would be your response?
- YouÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ve shown the kind of quick hook with your starting pitchers not seen since the days of one George “Sparky” Anderson. What strategies do you have for keeping your bullpen fresh into SeptemberÃ¢â‚¬â€and hopefully beyond?
- How much input will you demand on player procurement/development and how much overall decision-making are you comfortable leaving solely to the front office and the scouts?
- How do you go about keeping your ballclub loose?
- Much like the Rays, the Reds are an organization that needs to think outside the box to keep up with the big market boys. And the Reds young pitching staff is ripe for experimentation, particularly in the area of Ã¢â‚¬Å“roles.Ã¢â‚¬Â Would you ever contemplate using an Opener?
- What would you do with Homer Bailey in 2019 if the decision were yours and yours alone? Is the role of the closer overrated or do only special players have the makeup to get 3 outs in the ninth?
- You probably know more than most that analytics are useless without player buy-in. How would you bridge the gap between what your analytic people tell you and what your players are comfortable doing?
- Two-part question: what do you know about the game that a baseball man 30 years your junior does not? And what does the younger, sabermetric-driven coach know more about the game than you, if anything?
- Would you manage differently in the postseason? And, if so, how?
- We all know what happened in Washington with the Nationals. But, you also left the Padres when GM Randy Smith refused to give you a contract extension. Why should we believe you wonÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t leave the Reds the moment you feel Ã¢â‚¬Å“disrespected?Ã¢â‚¬Â
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Whatever the answers, never forget the owner thinks nothing of heading down to the manager’s office and asking his own questions, even if they likely look nothing like the ones above. As if there are not enough opinions, none other than Martin Franchester Brennaman has offered his ownÃ‚Â stamp of approvalÃ‚Â on the Riggleman regime:
Ã¢â‚¬Å“He has instilled a level of discipline on this team that I have not seen from a Reds manager since Davey Johnson managed this team back in the mid-90s, and before that Lou Piniella, and before that John McNamara,Ã¢â‚¬Â Brennaman said. Ã¢â‚¬Å“HeÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s gotten into the faces of a number of players about things that have occurred.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“With due respect to Bryan Price, who I love and is one of the great people IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ve ever known in the game, Jim Riggleman has managed this club with an iron hand and the players know it.Ã¢â‚¬Â
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When the Cardinals removed the Ã¢â‚¬Å“interimÃ¢â‚¬Â tag from Mike Shildt, the ridicule came full-blown from all over social media, as if it were shot out of a Redzilla cannon. Baseball writer Joe SheehanÃ¢â‚¬â€tongue-in-cheekÃ¢â‚¬â€pointedly wanted to know the odds that the best replacement for Mike Matheny was conveniently sitting next to him all the time. ThatÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s some serious serendipity right there.
Of course, Riggleman didnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t just drop, ripe and ready, from one of Bob CastelliniÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s produce trucks. He began managing for the Reds at Double-A in 2012, working his way up to Triple-A before landing in the dugout at Great American Ball Park in 2016. ItÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s entirely possible the Reds had a plan; that while everyone else is watching as if this moment has been about a tryout, sliding abacus beads to the right with every win, to the left with each lossÃ¢â‚¬â€the Reds have in fact been quietly evaluating him for going on seven years. If Riggleman was the backup plan for a failed Bryan Price era all along, perhaps thatÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s why Price never really knew if the prime directive was to win games or develop players. He certainly managed as if he wasnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t sure, perhaps even looking over his shoulder at the end.
Still, is this the best the organization can do??
Ã¢â‚¬â€ Joe Sheehan (@joe_sheehan) September 1, 2018
The Joe Maddon is Genius trope is wearing a bit thin for me these days. But still, listen to this fellow for very long and you canÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t help but believe he thinks about the game in a way that more often than not succeeds in getting the most out of his players:
“I use the term ‘force multiplier,'” Maddon said. “I read Colin Powell’s autobiography a couple years ago – tremendous read. Ã¢â‚¬Â¦ In that, he referenced the force multipliers, people that really made the people around them better. Ã¢â‚¬Â¦ We have a couple of those guys who are really going to make a huge difference for us. As a manager, to be surrounded by those folks is very comforting because I’m a big believer in the players patrolling the clubhouse, policing the clubhouse. Those are the kind of guys who get stuff done.”
Maddon used over a hundred different lineups last year. In contemplating his daily lineup card, I can imagine the Chicago skipper, astride a roiling cauldron, casting spells, adding eye of newt and toe of frog; perhaps even the thumb of a dead-ball-era umpire to the stew for good measure. It just feels like he leaves no stone unturned to win ball games; that far beyond the obvious strategies, such as employing a quick hook of a starting pitcher, Maddon will consider any ideaÃ¢â‚¬â€no matter how far outside the chalk linesÃ¢â‚¬â€to gain an edge, and thus use his players’ talent to maximum advantage. With young, developing talent, the Reds would seem to need the kind of leadership that can find a soupÃƒÂ§on of advantage wherever it may lie, and run with it. Is Mr. Riggleman THAT GUY?
RigglemanÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s explanation of why he left the Nationals in a huff still concerns me:
Mike’d Up: Jim Riggleman https://t.co/JbrtIIr8RQ
Ã¢â‚¬â€ Richard Fitch (@RichardFitchNYC) September 6, 2018
The day he walked away from managing the Nationals, Riggleman told Mike Francessa on WFAN in New York that he didnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t offer an ultimatum to the front office, that he only wanted to discuss the job he was doing and what he could do moving forward to keep the job. Moments later, he admits that he did, in fact, warn the Nationals front office some time ago that if they wouldnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t address his contract at some point soon, he would quit, which he did, smack in the middle of the season.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢m 58,Ã¢â‚¬Â Riggleman added. Ã¢â‚¬Å“IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢m too old to be disrespected.Ã¢â‚¬Â
I donÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t like judging managers on their records. You either have theÃ‚Â talent or you donÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t. ThatÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s why I was never impressed with Dusty BakerÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s career record. IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢m more interested in process than Ws and BakerÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s process when the game was on the line never moved the needle for me. Still, it must at least be noted that in 13 years, Jim Riggleman has a .447 winning percentage as a manager, an uninspiring 140-172 win/loss record with Washington.
The choice of James David Riggleman seems like more of the same kind of thinking that went into hiring Baker. Another Old School guy with the kind of baseball lineage that looks good in sepia tone, voiced-over by Jason Robards. Ã‚Â Another hardscrabble soul who has the respect of his players. Another umberÃ¢â‚¬â„¢d face worn thick with seasons of hardball toil. ItÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s romantic in its way. IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢m just not sure itÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s what the Cincinnati Reds need right now.