The Reds announced Friday that manager Dusty Baker will be moving on, which leaves the Reds leader-less.
Are the Reds looking for a different kind of approach to being a manager? 9 On Your Side sports director John Popovich spoke to Reds General Manager Walt Jocketty, and he spoke to that:
“Probably, but that’s something we’ll try to determine in the next week or so, determine the type of candidate we want and put a list together of guys that we’ll talk to," Jocketty said. "Certainly there were problems with injuries this year but we also felt there (were) some guys who could have done more.”
So who is next in line for the top spot in the Reds clubhouse? There is an interesting list of names that could potentially fill Dusty's seat.
Reds pitching coach Bryan Price
Price has to be one of the leading candidates, not just for grooming the MLB's most successful pitching staff in the four years he has been with the team in his current role, but for the relationships he has built in the dugout and the bullpen.
Price helps on both sides of the ball, working with pitchers to perfect their mechanics and mental state, and with hitters when they're struggling to see the ball. He has a proven track record in stints with Arizona and Seattle, being voted Pitching Coach of the Year with the Mariners in 2001 and building a top 5 NL lowest team ERA with the Diamondbacks in 2007 and 2008.
Price has the knowledge of other teams around the league from his experience in preparing the Reds for their opponents' batters, and could translate that easily beginning on day 1 if he was hired.
Reds fans are fond of Price, who is widely credited with the success of the team more than Dusty Baker has been, and would likely get excited if he were the hire, filling more seats at GABP.
Price commands a great mix of respect and companionship with his players, an approach to managing that is increasingly proving successful in the MLB.
When asked if Price is on the list of potential candidates, Jocketty said this:
“Bryan is certainly a candidate but we will look within the organization and also outside the organization and see if there are candidates we would like to talk to and within the next couple weeks we’ll start an interview process.”
Price is 51, and has been strictly a pitching coach, which doesn't show that diverse of a resume.
Price isn't proven as a help for hitters, as his knowledge hasn't rubbed off on the Reds slumping offense in the past couple of years.
Price is in high demand around the league for his great work with pitching staffs, and the Reds could be outbid elsewhere. Specifically the Mariners have been rebuilding and speculation has surfaced that Price, who was a coach in Seattle a decade ago, could return to man the helm there.
Reds AAA manager of the Louisville Bats Jim Riggleman
Riggleman has been a big league manager, most recently leading the Washington Nationals in 2011 (he left after a contract dispute) .
Riggleman also spent time as manager of the San Diego Padres (1992-1994), the Chicago Cubs (1995-1999) and a brief time in one season with the Seattle Mariners after the coach in front of him was removed.
He also has a past career as a bench coach with the Mariners and the Dodgers, so he has a lot of experience dealing day-in and day-out with players to get them motivated and organized, as well making strategic decisions in the demanding National League.
Riggleman has groomed talent in Louisville for the past couple of years, both young and old, which makes him ripe for a Major League managerial position to balance the mix of experience that the Reds have.
Riggleman directly managed and was responsible for recruiting and developing some of the best players for the Nationals now, who have been key parts of their resurgence: Steven Strasburg, Jordan Zimmerman, Ryan Zimmerman, Jayson Werth, Ian Desmond and Wilson Ramos.
As a candidate, Riggleman would certainly come cheaper than most, and definitely cheaper than the contracts that Baker had accumulated.
Riggleman was not blessed with very good Nationals teams in the years he was their manager, but he certainly didn't prove anything with what talent he had either. Riggleman's teams finished in last place in the NL East in all but the last of his seasons with the squad (which he didn't finish the season out as manager).
His departure from the Nationals certainly raises some questions about how he'll handle himself here in Cincinnati. Riggleman was quoted as saying "I'm too old to be disrespected" once his resignation was official.
Riggleman's Bats have not been anything to speak of. In 2012 they finished in dead last in the International League and 2013 they were a mere middle of the road 69-75. That might not fall entirely on Riggleman's shoulders, as the Reds Minor League system needs some work in general.
Riggleman's management style is rather "blah" at a time when the Reds need an edge in the clubhouse to get over the hump of success.
It's not likely Reds fans will fill more seats with Riggleman as the next hire. He's not very well known to the Reds, and is yet unproven in the Major Leagues as a World Series-caliber manager.
Recently retired and former Cardinals manager Tony La Russa
La Russa has a proven track record of success, with multiple World Series championships under his belt as a coach of one of the most successful National League franchises of the last decade.
La Russa has handled both veteran and rookie ballplayers with grace, and his strategic approach to the game has been wildly heralded as among the greatest of all time.
Reds General Manager Walt Jocketty worked with La Russa for years, and a coercing phone call between the two could be the difference to get La Russa back in the clubhouse of an MLB team.
La Russa has likely grown tired of the game at age 69, and made it very clear when he stepped down from the Cardinals job in 2011 that he was hanging it up. This would be a tough sell to get him on board. La Russa even said Friday afternoon the following about whether he would be interested in managing: "No. The last time I saw Walt (Jocketty), he said he'd had more than enough of me."
La Russa's management style has not been in favor across the league in the past few years, with more and more managers taking the role as emotional leaders rather than concise decision makers. With an already defeated Reds team that is having trouble getting over the hump, is it strategy they need, or a leader that can provide a spark the team needs? It could be argued La Russa is more of the former.
A man of La Russa's caliber and experience would be expensive. The Reds paid Baker approximately $3.5-4 million in his previously undisclosed contract terms, you can bet that La Russa would need almost double that, or at least closer to the $6 million range. The Reds have been spend happy the last five years, but that kind of cash may be out of their reach.
Former Reds 2nd baseman Joe Morgan
Morgan knows the game well, and could be a wise, calm voice to steer the Reds in the right direction, but he possess the competitiveness to push the squad when they needed it.
Morgan has worked with the Reds for some time now and has a great relationship with the Castellinis. His dedication to baseball and the city of Cincinnati could be the perfect mix the team needs to motivate him to join on.
He has spent time in and around the Reds clubhouse in the past three years, and has been seen building relationships with the likes of Brandon Phillips and Joey Votto.
Morgan will be incredibly well-respected from his playing days and his knowledge of the game, and would command the attention of everyone in the locker room to listen to every word he has to say, whether it's strategy or motivation.
With his involvement in the glory days of Cincinnati baseball, you can guarantee more fan-fare if Morgan was in the dugout every day, leading to more tickets sold, and more buzz about the team.
He cares about this community and this team, as evidence of his willingness to localize to the role of special advisor to baseball operations for the Reds in 2010 and his emotional return to the ballpark during the Great Eight reunion this season. That could lead to the drive the Reds need to get to the next level.
Morgan hasn't been intricately involved in the game for some time, mostly working as an announcer and executive from afar, so his feel for strategy may take some time to adjust.
Pulling Morgan away from his executive job might be difficult, and expensive.
Morgan has always had a bit of an ego about him, and it will be interesting to see how he handles poor performance on the field if it damages his sterling reputation in baseball.
Former Reds shortstop Barry Larkin
Larkin is a leader, passionate and can relate to everyone on the field, not to mention he made Cincinnati his home for 20 years.
Larkin seems comfortable on the air, but his willingness to be in the game could get the best of him if he was offered the job.
A high-profile hire like this would get the fan base excited, fill some seats and essentially hit the reset button a team that already has had some success. Plus, Larkin wouldn't be that expensive as a first-time manager.
Larkin is very unproven, and the Reds may need more than someone adjusting to their first go at a managerial job. Decision-making when it comes to pitcher's body language and performance would need a significant assist from his coaching staff, and if Larkin was hired on as the manager, the prominence of Bryan Price would likely be lured away for another top managerial job, which would make that assist more difficult to find.
Larkin does have a good gig with ESPN, and has done so well with the network that an extension could be in his future, likely with more and more play-by-play appearances.
This would be more a publicity move than a strategic placement of someone who could truly push the Reds to the next level. Larkin's skills as a leader are proven as a player, but how will he deal with adversity when he can't get out there and get a hit himself?
Who's NOT likely a candidate:
Joe Torre - Torre has a comfy MLB front office job now, and is seemingly comfortable with his current career path, past the stress of the clubhouse job. Plus, Torre has nothing to prove in a small market like Cincinnati.
Corky Miller - Miller just isn't ready yet, and needs to start small in the minors somewhere to prove he can do more than call a good game behind the plate, but instead strategize in the other parts of the game.
Ken Griffey Sr. - Griffey currently manages the Reds A affiliate, the Bakersfield Blaze, but calling him up to the majors over someone like Riggleman or Price would be foolish for the Reds. He's certainly a candidate to be watched, but the timing just isn't right.
Charlie Manuel - The former Phillies manager isn't the right fit for the Reds, and didn't prove much in his past few years with a Phillies team that had similar talent as the Reds have had.
Ron Gardenhire - The Twins manager's contract is up, but unlikely he'll make a jump to a playoff contender like the Reds after struggling to get the Twins anywhere in a weaker AL Central.
Cal Ripken - Ripken is ripe for a coaching job after a stint as a broadcaster, but will likely be looking for a larger market. With the Nationals job open, that could be just the ticket for Ripken, Buster Olney of ESPN reports.
Bobby Valentine - Valentine is still a negative in the eyes of the press after his fallout with the Red Sox, and will likely need to keep under the radar for some time before coming back as a coach in the majors.
David Bell - Bell has ties to Cincinnati ballplayers, the Castellinis and Walt Jocketty, but that doesn't make him a good coach. Currently, he's the third base coach in Chicago, and has served the same role in the Reds minor league system, but he's yet unproven, and would be a huge leap for the Reds.
Brad Ausmus - The former MLB catcher is extremely intelligent, and just about at MLB managerial status, but he has been mentioned as the top candidate for the Cubs, and it would be tough to see the Reds outspend Chicago for someone like him.
Dale Sveum - The recently fired Cubs manager doesn't have much star power, and wouldn't fit in with a team that has already made the postseason three of the last four years. ESPN reports Sveum was hired as a coach in Kansas City, so he's off the market.
Joe Girardi - Girardi is asking for more money in New York, and they will likely give it to him, coming off a year that had a lot of distractions and injuries. If somehow New York doesn't pan out, a team like the Cubs (or potentially the Angels) would be more apt to offer Girardi the money he would be seeking.
Johnny Bench - While knowledgeable on all aspects of the game, Bench has been mostly uninvolved with baseball since his retirement and subsequent Hall of Fame induction. You can probably consult with him on the golf course though. Bench also had a bit of a contentious personality that may not translate well to management.
Pete Rose - Not until baseball reinstates him will Rose ever get to manage again. Maybe start the petition?