Cincinnati Reds’ Next Manager Could Be Barry Larkin: Smart Move or Not?


In a column he posted Wednesday, FOX Sports baseball writer Ken Rosenthal focused on two teams and the possibility of them hiring Hall of Fame shortstops. Those two teams were the Washington Nationals and Cal Ripken Jr., and the Cincinnati Reds with Barry Larkin.

Most of the story is Rosenthal giving his opinion on the topic. The Nationals, although struggling at .500 and likely missing the playoffs despite being the trendy World Series pick at the beginning of the season, have reportedly said they are not looking to replace Matt Williams. Ripken’s spokesman said it’s just media speculation at this point. Rosenthal goes on to say that the Reds hiring Larkin would be more of a possibility than Ripken being the next Nationals manager.

The one paragraph I found interesting is that sources have said Larkin has surveyed former teammates about joining his coaching staff if he became manager. Rosenthal has fairly reliable sources, so I wouldn’t be surprised if this is true. If it is true, it tells me that the Reds have mentioned to Larkin about taking over managerial duties in the future, whenever that may be.

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I love Barry Larkin. He was the player I grew up watching. He’s one of the reasons I became a baseball fan. But he’s never managed or even coached at the major league or minor league level. Yes, I know other managers have been hired with no experience. Mike Matheny of the St. Louis Cardinals comes to mind. But the Cardinals were not a struggling organization when Matheny was hired. Price had no managing experience, but he had been a pitching coach for a number of years before he became manager.

Personally, I think it would be a mistake to fire Price and subsequently hire Larkin in the next two years. Price hasn’t been given much of a chance to show what he can do with this team. I haven’t agreed with everything he’s done (i.e. not using Aroldis Chapman for a four-out save), but between injuries to key players and the GM’s lack of moves to land quality players over the last two years, Price would just be the fall guy if he is fired at the end of the season. Hiring Larkin, to me, would look like a PR move to sell tickets the season after the All-Star Game.

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When the Reds made Larkin a hitting instructor in their organization, I think they did it with the intent that he might eventually be the manager of the big league team. But 2016, a year for restructuring the team, is not the time for a manager with no experience. The Chicago Cubs are a great example. In a year that they knew they’d have a number of rookies still learning the game, the Cubs went and hired Joe Maddon, an established winner who thinks about the game in a different way. Now, they’re in the middle of the playoff hunt.

Hiring Larkin could be a resounding success. It could be a complete failure. That’s the risk the Reds would take. But if Larkin doesn’t succeed, who’s to say the city of Cincinnati doesn’t turn on him like they turned on Dusty Baker and are turning on Price? Is that really what Reds fans want: a beloved former player becoming hated because he’s not succeeding as manager?

Next: Where will Eugenio Suarez play in 2016?