Reds looking for manager after 4th straight 90-loss season
CINCINNATI (AP) — The Reds‘ worst start since the Great Depression led them to make the first managing change of the season, firing Bryan Price after a 3-15 beginning . They ended with their fourth straight 90-loss season, unsure who will be the next manager.
Interim Jim Riggleman led the Reds to a 64-80 mark . He’s one of several in-house candidates being interviewed by Dick Williams, the president of baseball operations, and his staff. They’re also considering outside candidates and plan to hire someone by the end of October.
“I thought Jim has handled this as professionally as anyone,” Williams said. “He has been extremely cooperative and done a very nice job of stepping into this role knowing that there would be a search at the end.”
Dusty Baker led the Reds to three 90-win seasons from 2010-13, their best showing since the days of the Big Red Machine, but he was fired for failing to get the Reds deep into the playoffs. They then launched a massive rebuild and have lost 98, 94, 94 and 95 games.
Hall of Fame shortstop Barry Larkin isn’t interested in the job at this time. Pat Kelly, Billy Hatcher, Freddie Benavides and former Red Sox manager John Farrell are among the in-house possibilities.
Whoever gets the job will have less to do with a turnaround than the front office, which has hoped that young pitchers acquired in trades for stars would have emerged by this point. The lack of dependable starting pitching has been the common thread in the losing.
“We know pitching is a priority for us moving forward,” Williams said. “We are currently discussing every free agent player, starting with pitching by design. We will also be talking about trading targets. There are a lot of possibilities out there.”
Some things to watch in Cincinnati’s offseason:
FIXING THE ROTATION
Top starter Anthony DeSclafani has been hurt each of the last three seasons. The Reds acquired Matt Harvey from the Mets in May and he helped solidify the rotation, going 7-9 with a 4.94 ERA, but he’s a free agent. The young pitchers were inconsistent again, and the Reds ended the season moving youngsters around from bullpen to rotation to see where they might fit. Until the Reds fix that part of the roster, they’re going to be hard-pressed to show much improvement.
WHAT TO DO WITH HOMER
Homer Bailey went 1-14 in 20 starts with a 6.09 ERA, still showing the effects of three significant arm operations over the last four years. The Reds considered moving him to the bullpen, but the 32-year-old pitcher felt he wasn’t prepared for it. He has one year left on his contract that includes a salary of $23 million in 2019 and a buyout for an option year at $5 million.
The Reds’ best player slid this season, due in part to a knee injury. Although he led the NL in on-base percentage for the seventh time, his batting average (.284), doubles (28), homers (12) and RBIs (67) were his fewest since an injury-shortened 2014 season. Votto, 35, has five years left on his contract at $25 million per year.
The Reds are one 90-loss season from matching their worst stretch in franchise history. They lost at least 94 games each season from 1930-34 and went through five managers during that stretch.
Fans are worn down by the long rebuild. The Reds drew 1,629,356 at Great American Ball Park, their smallest home attendance since 1984 at Riverfront Stadium when they lost 92 games, fired Vern Rapp and brought back Pete Rose as player-manager.
“Oh, it’s definitely noticeable,” catcher Tucker Barnhart said. “It’s pretty hard to not notice it when you can hear the light towers buzzing. It just means we have to play better. If you play better, more people will come.”