Rant or no rant, it hasn't been a great month for the Reds manager.
Bryan Price went rather out of his mind for a little over five minutes Monday. There’s certainly nothing good to be said about Price in this: his harangue of C. Trent Rosecrans was unprovoked and abusive, ranking somewhere just behind Hal McRae’s violent tantrum some 20 years ago in the all-time ranking of regrettable managerial behavior. Venting about an umpire or a fan base or a dirty slide is one thing; a direct, unwarranted five-minute rebuke of a fellow professional is another. Price’s apology was 10 times too soft for my taste, as was the Reds’ apparent willingness to shrug off the incident without some form of disciplinary action. Still, everyone has ugly moments, and perhaps it’s for the best that everyone appears to be moving on from this one.
Still and all, I think we should have a non-rant-based conversation about Price, who has been employed as an MLB pitching coach or manager for 15 seasons now, almost perfectly continuously. He was the Mariners’ pitching coach from 2001-06, migrated to Arizona from 2007 through early 2009 (when he resigned in support of fired manager Bob Melvin), then took over the Reds pitching staff after that season. He turned around the Reds, although one could also say that the Reds’ scouting and development teams turned around the Reds. In either case, Reds pitchers had a remarkable run from 2010-2013. Price successfully developed Mike Leake as a big-league starter without Leake spending a day in the minors. Homer Bailey made start-stop progress for a time, but eventually broke out, under Price’s tutelage. In 2012, the Reds’ top five starters (Johnny Cueto, Mat Latos, Bronson Arroyo, Bailey and Leake) made 161 of their 162 regular-season starts, and only a doubleheader cost them the other game. The team’s bullpen was one of the deepest and most dominant in the league in 2012 and 2013, despite relying somewhat heavily on cast-offs and guys who waited until their late 20s or longer to make good in the big leagues.
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How the Reds have converted prospect after prospect into major leaguers.
Every day until Opening Day, Baseball Prospectus authors will preview two teams—one from the AL, one from the NL—identifying strategies those teams employ to gain an advantage. Today: the external Cuban pursuit of the White Sox and internal player development machine of the Reds.
It would be too harsh to call this decision stupid or unconscionable, but it seems too little to simply call it wrong. Even if Cingrani weren’t angry about the change, the Reds would have dropped the ball. Chris gave a quick overview of the reasons for the switch—Cingrani’s extreme, fastball-heavy approach, his troublesome medical track record, and the team’s desire to plug permanent solutions into the two permanently vacant rotation spots, rather than get caught in a numbers game when Bailey returns and lose Marquis or Maholm in the process. It’s easy enough to see what the Reds are thinking here. That’s why it’s so frustrating that they missed the mark so badly and botched the decision.
The Reds move the promising young pitcher to the bullpen, while the Mets have an eye on Brian Matusz.
Reds moving Tony Cingrani to bullpen
After outperforming all expectations during his rookie season, Tony Cingrani’s sophomore campaign was one that he surely wanted to put behind him. Unfortunately for the 25-year-old, his 2015 season is already off to a rough start with Reds manager Bryan Price informing Cingrani on Monday that he will start the season in the bullpen.
Cingrani’s deceptive delivery helped his low-90s fastball generate more whiffs than either Matt Harvey or Shelby Miller in 2013, but the league adjusted the next season and the southpaw was unable to effectively counter. He did mix in his slider and changeup more frequently but still relied on his fastball three out of every four pitches, with opposing hitters squaring the offering up more frequently and with more authority to the tune of a .210 isolated power.
The Reds apparently will pass on the former White Sox slugger, while the Marlins are sniffing Frankie Rodriguez.
Reds considered, likely to pass on Dayan Viciedo
Power hitters can be hard to come by these days, so players who crank 21 homers and collect 46 total extra-base hits don’t often get released the following winter. Dayan Viciedo, who on January 12th agreed to terms with the White Sox on a $4.4 million salary for 2015, became a rare exception to that rule just 26 days later. Chicago ultimately decided to cut him loose and pocket most of the money, save for the $721,311 in termination pay that Viciedo is still owed.
Why the 2015 season will be better with a healthy Joey Votto.
When Theo Esptein was introduced as president of baseball operations for the Chicago Cubs in November of 2011 he said, "To me, baseball is better with tradition, baseball is better with history, baseball is better with fans who care, baseball is better in ballparks like this, baseball is better during the day. And baseball is best of all when you win."
It’s a bit hokey, but yeah, I can get on board with most of that. However, I would add one more thing to that list: Baseball is better with Joey Votto. The star first baseman has become a favorite in the advanced-stats community and a pariah for some old schoolers who believe he doesn’t do enough at the plate. It’s an oft-debated topic, one that likely got a little worn out at times, but certainly sparked some spirited discussions.
Injuries doomed the Reds to a fourth-place finish in 2014, but there are still four fantasy studs in the Queen City.
The Reds were coming off two straight 90-plus win seasons heading into 2014, and featured almost exactly the same roster that had vaulted them to consecutive playoff appearances for the first time since 1976 (if you consider losing the Wild Card Game a playoff appearance). However, Bryan Price’s first season as manager was filled with injuries and disappointment—leading to 76 wins and a distant fourth-place finish in the NL Central.
Fortunately for the Reds, returning talent in 2015 is the easy part. Keeping it collectively on the field and productive is going to be a different story. And while they’ve been involved in trade talks for an outfielder—usually dangling one of their soon-to-be-free-agent pitchers—any 2015 success in the Queen City will be heavily based on the names you know bouncing back to the levels you’re accustomed to. And that won’t be helped by their farm system either, which despite having some interesting players, isn’t set up for immediate contribution.