Dusty Baker’s day of reckoning has come. In what may be a knee-jerk reaction to the shockingly quick elimination from the 2013 Postseason, the Cincinnati Reds have decided to go in “a different direction” when it comes to their managerial duties next season. Personally, I’m not surprised by the decision, but by the ferociousness of the guillotine that pushed him out 48 hours later.
The dust has finally settled and emotions have wavered, but at this point in time, it’s time for introspection and rationale. This season, the Reds played without their clean-up hitter Ryan Ludwick, for more than a hundred games; Johnny Cueto barely cracked double digits when it came to his regular season starts and Sean Marshall and Jonathan Broxton were virtually useless all year long; taking that much firepower away from any team would put them in a bind.
I’ve read all kinds of different “reasons” and “explanations” for why the Reds won only 90 games. At the end of the day, if you win 90 games, you have a great chance of playing baseball in October, which is exactly what the Reds did, yet again.
At the conclusion of the game Tuesday night, Brandon Phillips stood in front of his locker and played the blame game on himself. I’m personally fine with someone on the team coming out and taking some of the heat but don’t be up in arms when Joey Votto or Jay Bruce doesn’t do the same because they’re not the same guys. Brandon’s tirade also struck me as a little bit of “it’s-all-about-me,” when clearly, it was not all Brandon’s fault. Now, what was interesting were the fan comments to Phillips on all forms of social media where he was complimented for having such a great season and reminded that baseball was a team game where no one person could have such an adverse effect. The question from here is, those same people who were saying “baseball is a team game,” were the same ones part of the Angry Mob threatening to not buy tickets if Dusty was back at the helm next year. If one player can’t be blamed, how in the world can you place all the blame solely on one manager?
My gut told me late Tuesday night that we had seen our last of Shin-Soo Choo, Bronson Arroyo and even, Dusty Baker, in a Reds uniform. Sometimes, taking two steps backwards to take a giant leap forward is necessary and that may be just what the Reds are doing by supplementing expensive veterans with supremely talented youngsters.
The big story all off-season long will be about who the Redlegs hire as their new skipper. The sooner a name is announced; the better, as it keeps the fan base, and most importantly, the players from getting anxious and wondering who will be leading them. When you look at the candidates, there are some logical, in-house ones that would make a lot of people happy: Bryan Price, Rick Sweet, Chris Speier, Ken Griffey Sr. and Jim Riggleman. My leading candidate would have to be Bryan Price for if no other reason than if the Reds don’t hire him as the manager, somebody else will. The Mariners, Cubs and Yankees are teams that have vacancies already and the off-season has yet to even begin, so the market for Bryan Price is sure to heat up.
If, of course, you don’t find any of those above candidates appealing, there is always the list compiled of former big leaguers who are fan favorites: Barry Larkin, Sean Casey and Joe Morgan. Not everyone can inherit a franchise stacked with talent like Mike Matheny, so it’s important to remember that thrusting guys who have never managed into a role where they’re expected to win isn’t always the easiest possible route. Where I think any of these three great guys could fit, would be the hitting coach. Now, poor Brook Jacoby has been the source of anger from Reds fans everywhere for the past handful of years whenever the team would have some kind of mild hitting slump. Jacoby strikes me as a kind of vanilla personality, and that is sadly just what the Reds are looking to cut ties with. If the Redlegs would be able to convince either Larkin or Casey to drop their television jobs and come down in the dugout on a regular basis, I think it would be a tremendous addition to the club worth making.
On October 11, 2012, Reds fans were collectively in a stunned buzz after losing three in a row at home for the first time all season to a team they believed they were superior to. The sting of that loss damaged the psyche so badly because as a fan base, we were not sure if the Redlegs were to get back to the Postseason. While nothing in the future is guaranteed, I certainly feel more optimistic about the Reds playoff chances next season than I did last year. Playing “BillyBall” and having a fresh, new face at the front of the squadron is going to revive a team and a city that has been on the cusp of greatness, but not able to find it recently.
As a last point to maybe stir up some discussion; both the Cardinals and Mets have begun to put packages together to acquire Rockies shortstop Troy Tulowitzki, who in my opinion would look fantastic in some Cincinnati red. How about…SS Troy Tulowitzki to the Reds for SS Zack Cozart, RHP Logan Ondrusek/RHP J.J. Hoover, RHP Robert Stephenson/LHP Tony Cingrani and 1B Neftali Soto/OF Donald Lutz. Let the slashes indicate OR as obviously the Reds would not be mortgaging the entire organization for one player. The addition of Tulo would certainly figure out that clean-up spot, but most importantly, work for the Rockies, if they were interested in re-building. They get a new, established shortstop in Zack Cozart; they get a front-of-the-line potential starter in Cingrani or Stephenson; they get a potential closer with nasty stuff in Ondrusek or Hoover; and finally, they get Todd Helton’s replacement at first in either Soto or Lutz. Let me just state however, that I am in no way attempting to package any of these players off due to a dislike, but if acquiring a player with the talents of Troy Tulowitzki becomes an option, the Reds need to pull out all the stops.
So, that is the wrap-up of the season for now, and even though my time here was short this year, I’m definitely looking forward to being back next year and helping make Blog Red Machine into a place everyone will want to read.