Cincinnati Reds: Former managers interview for New York Mets coaching job

CINCINNATI, OH - SEPTEMBER 12: Jim Riggleman the manager of the Cincinnati Reds watches the action against the Los Angeles Dodgers at Great American Ball Park on September 12, 2018 in Cincinnati, Ohio. (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
CINCINNATI, OH - SEPTEMBER 12: Jim Riggleman the manager of the Cincinnati Reds watches the action against the Los Angeles Dodgers at Great American Ball Park on September 12, 2018 in Cincinnati, Ohio. (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images) /
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Bryan Price and Jim Riggleman, both former managers of the Cincinnati Reds, are said to be candidates for the New York Mets bench coach position.

Word on the street earlier this week is that both former Cincinnati Reds managers, Bryan Price and Jim Riggleman, are candidates for the New York Mets bench coach position. As I supported both of these coaches during their times in Cincinnati, it is also a subtle reminder that not everyone is meant to be the CEO and carving out a niche as a good wingman is a way to remain around the game of baseball for a very long time.

Jim Riggleman and Bryan Price are both solid coaches with really nice baseball resumes. Either would do a really nice job in New York, with Riggleman being the better fit of the two due to his overall baseball savvy and being a native of the Northeast.

Former Marlins and Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez, current Mets’ Triple-A manager, Tony DeFransesco, along with Price and Riggleman, are the four candidates for the position vacated by Gary DiScarcina who has been reassigned as the Mets’ third-base coach.

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  • We see this in various sports and even life itself. The rising star, the up-and-coming coach, even the hot shot MBA who should be able to climb the corporate ladder and be a difference maker in Corporate America. However, someone’s pedigree may look good on paper but that does not always translate to success.

    Not ever coach is going to find success such as Alabama’s Nick Saban. Being a Tennessee Vols fan, this past decade has reminded me that sometimes you wind up with a coach in Butch Jones that had success at one level of football, but that does not automatically equate to wins in a much tougher conference.

    My point, sometimes people must find their niche and simply be content with being darn good at their assigned role. Looking back at both the Bryan Price and Jim Riggleman eras as managers of the Cincinnati Reds, it is evident that both Riggleman and Price are really good coaches, but may not be cut out to be the manager of a baseball team.

    For a moment let’s revisit Jim Riggleman’s time with the Cincinnati Reds as both bench coach and then as interim manager in 2018. For a brief period in June and July 2018, I would have been satisfied with the Reds naming Jim Riggleman as the permanent manager of the team heading into the 2019 season.

    Taking over in late April following an abysmal 3-15 start, he certainly turned the tide and had the Reds playing winning baseball. Some second half injuries to Joey Votto, Jesse Winker and Scott Schebler took its toll on remotely flirting with the .500 mark. The Reds had crept with nine below .500 on July 14 following a 8-2 win in St. Louis, and had shown glimpses of being competitive into early August.

    During Riggleman’s stint as interim manager we saw the Cincinnati Reds win five of seven from the Los Angeles Dodgers, winning four of seven from the Atlanta Braves, a four-game sweep of the hated Chicago Cubs in late June, and the series win against the St. Louis Cardinals in mid-July seemed to be the proverbial straw-that-broke-the-camels-back with Cardinals’ manager, Mike Matheny, being relieved of his duties.

    John Fey of the Cincinnati Enquirer had made a case on Twitter during this stretch that perhaps Riggleman should be given consideration for the Reds manager position. Still at the end of the season, Riggleman had posted a 64-80 record leading the Reds.

    In spite of Jim Riggleman’s lightning in a bottle success in mid-2018, his overall manager record sits at a .445 percentage with a 726-904 overall record. He did manage the Chicago Cubs to a National League Wild Card birth in 1998 with a 90-73 record. That in itself is a tremendous accomplishment considering the Cubs overall baseball history.

    Having 726 career MLB victories under his belt is nothing to sneeze at either. It is obvious that he is a very good baseball man. He would be a very nice addition to any MLB staff, and should be given heavy consideration for the New York Mets bench coach position.

    Top 5 MVP award winning seasons in Reds history. More

    Next let’s review what Bryan Price accomplished first as the Cincinnati Reds pitching coach under Dusty Baker and then later as the manager of the Reds. It was in October 2009 when Bryan Price made his way to Cincinnati to be the Reds new pitching coach following stints in both Arizona and Seattle.

    His 2001 Mariners staff posted a 3.54 ERA, and he won the Major League Coach of the Year from Baseball America in 2007 as the Diamondbacks had a 4.13 ERA and the Snakes won the National League Championship. This was a tremendous hire, one similar to the recent announcement of Reds pitching coach Derek Johnson.

    As a result of a solid everyday lineup and adequate pitching the Reds won the National Central in 2010, 2012, and then were losers in the one-game NL Wild Card Playoff in 2013. The Reds pitching staff posted a 3.72 ERA during Bryan Price’s tenure as pitching coach.

    We know what happened from there; he replaced Dusty Baker as the manager on October 21, 2013 and posted an overall record of 279-387 between the 2014 and the first few weeks of the 2018 seasons. In his defense, Price was never blessed with a healthy starting rotation and had key position players on the DL as well. He drew the short straw on the “Reds Rebuild” as his team was gutted with trades of Johnny Cueto, Mike Leake, Aroldis Chapman, Todd Frazier, and Jay Bruce.

    I had a brief moment to speak with Price at a 2017 Spring Training game in Arizona. In spite of his 2015 cussing tirade with the Cincinnati media, I found Price on this particular day to be a likeable man and obviously a proven pitching coach commodity. For the record, there were no F-Bomb exchanges during my conversation with him. However, it also fair to note that his in-game decisions left many of us bewildered if he simply did not have what it takes to be a big league manager.

    This is not meant to disparage or criticize either of these solid coaches. Both Bryan Price and Jim Riggleman should be in Major League Baseball during the 2019 season. They are both proven commodities and know this game very, very well.

    It is also obvious why Bryan Price was relieved of his managerial duties in Cincinnati. I am grateful for the job he did do as a pitching coach. Jim Riggleman has forgotten more about the game of baseball than I will ever know. He will be a great addition to someone’s staff with the New York Mets being the very likely suitor.

    Next. Is free agency the clear path to improve pitching?

    However, not everyone is meant to be the CEO, the CFO, the head coach or the manager. Sometimes, organizations just need good lieutenants to execute the organizational initiatives.