If you can consider two weeks a long time in baseball terms, the long rumored replacement for Cincinnati Reds’ Dusty Baker is official. Former pitching coach Bryan Price has been named the manager for the 2014 season. The entire situation is a bit strange from the outside looking in. Mainly the thought I keep having about this team next year centers on the term uncertainty. There is a lot of stuff going on in Cincinnati that Price is going to have to work through.
First of all many players had a ton of respect for Baker and were upset to see him get the axe for standing up for his coaching staff the way he did. The fact that Price was a member of that coaching staff actually gives him the edge in player confidence which will make this part of his transition easier. They at least know him and hopefully will give him the chance to prove he can manage effectively. Other struggles remain however.
For starters they are bound to move disgruntled second baseman Brandon Phillips. That might make a few smile but Price won’t be smiling when he tries to replace the 100 RBI seasons that Phillips consistently puts up. Make no mistake about it, Votto might be the best player on the Reds team but they will definitely miss Phillips assuming he gets traded.
Another issue is the assumed departure of Shin-Soo Choo. His replacement would probably be Billy Hamilton but it will be Price’s job to ensure that Hamilton is effective enough with the bat to warrant an everyday role. Choo might not be as fast as Hamilton but he sure is great at getting on base.
Lastly he will have to trust a changing pitching staff to someone else other than him. Sure the manager has say but Price will have plenty on his plate. His choosing of the new pitching coach, assuming he gets a vote, will be very important with Bronson Arroyo likely leaving and Homer Bailey rumored to be trade bait. Add to that the health questions surrounding ace Johnny Cueto and you have a ton of issues to worry about. All in all this fact is clear: Any success gained by Price in 2014 will be solely earned by him alone and he’ll deserve credit for every bit of it.