Cincinnati Reds: Should Bryan Price Be the Manager in 2016?


For quite some time now, it’s been assumed that Cincinnati Reds manager Bryan Price would be relieved of his duties at season’s end, following another disappointing year from his team. But that may not be the case, according to a report on Tuesday by Fox Sports’ Ken Rosenthal.

Rosenthal’s sources tell him that no decision will be made until after the season, but that Price may be spared his job because of the injuries, trades and overall lack of talent he’s had to work with since taking over the helm in 2014.

However, even if Price is retained for next season, his coaching staff could still be on the hook, specifically pitching coach Jeff Pico and bench coach Jay Bell.

The latest report calls into question the speculation that Price’s days were numbered and Barry Larkin could become the Reds’ next manager, a move that our own Ashley Davis said would be unwise given his lack of managerial experience.

At this point, it sounds like the Reds could go either way with Price, but what would be the right move for the Reds and their future?

It’s undeniable that Price has had an incredible amount of obstacles standing in his way since his tenure as Reds manager began.

Injuries to key players have helped derail his team in each of the last two seasons. Joey Votto, Aroldis Chapman, Jay Bruce, Brandon Phillips, Devin Mesoraco, Homer Bailey, Zack Cozart and Billy Hamilton have all missed significant portions of time in the past two years, something that would be difficult for any manager, no matter the quality, to deal with.

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There’s also the stunning lack of depth he’s had at his disposal. The Reds have had few quality backups on hand to replace their injured starters and little talent ready in the upper levels of the minor leagues, a problem that falls on the shoulder of general manager Walt Jocketty.

The injuries and lack depth — and the poor team performance that resulted from each — led to the club trading away Johnny Cueto and Mike Leake, stripping the team of any pitchers with extended major-league experience.

All of that considered, Price still has done little to show that he’s a good manager in his two-year stint. Most were willing to give him the benefit of the doubt for 2014, but when this season started to go downhill, Price didn’t prove he could handle the adversity. As most know, in early April, Price went on a profanity-laced outburst toward Cincinnati Enquirer beat reporter C. Trent Rosecrans, showing a lack of composure as his team was in the midst of a terrible start to the season. In May, Price was ejected from a game before it even started.

Price’s in-game moves —namely, his bullpen management — have also been a point of frustration and flat-out bewilderment among fans. There’s no doubt that the bullpen was poorly constructed by Jocketty, but the way Price has used it has been baffling at times.

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Early in the season, Price pegged Kevin Gregg as his eighth-inning reliever, which went about as poorly as could be expected from a 36-year-old pitcher who hadn’t been remotely effective in the major leagues since 2013. But instead of learning from his mistake and removing Gregg from the role, Price continued to call on him in crucial late-game situations with similar results.

What has easily been the most disappointing thing about Price’s handling of the bullpen has been how he’s chosen to use Chapman, arguably the most talented pitcher in baseball. In spring training of both this year and last year, Price has talked about being flexible with his best bullpen weapon and allowing him to pitch multiple innings, if needed. Price hasn’t lived up to his words at all, rarely using Chapman in anything but a save situation in the ninth inning (meaning Chapman sometimes goes a week without pitching). Under Price’s watch, Chapman has pitched more than one inning only eight times over 116 appearances, potentially costing the Reds several wins.

When it comes down to it, firing Price may not make a huge difference in the short-term, as the problems with the organization run deeper than the manager. The Reds are shaping up to be non-contenders again in 2016, whether it’s Price is guiding the club or someone else. However, keeping Price (and Jocketty, for that matter) on board shows that the Reds brass is content with the same old-school style of management that ultimately led to Dusty Baker‘s demise.

Firing Price wouldn’t be nearly enough to turn the Reds around in 2016, but it’s time for the Reds to reconsider their approach in how they operate, both in the front office and in the dugout, and start fresh.

Next: A look at the Reds' impending free agents