Shortly after the Cincinnati Reds lost to the Pittsburgh Pirates in the NL Wild Card game, they fired manager Dusty Baker after six seasons.
They found his replacement Tuesday in pitching coach Bryan Price, and I think Walt Jocketty did a commendable job in hiring him. The basis for this opinion comes for many reasons. The Reds are stacked with talent, but once Baker’s teams make it to the playoffs, they always seem to falter when they are trying to close the door. It doesn’t matter if it was with the San Francisco Giants in the 2002 World Series, the Chicago Cubs in the 2003 NLCS or in the 2012 NLDS with the Reds.
Second, though he has no World Series rings, his teams have won wherever he has gone. He was the pitching coach for the Seattle Mariners from 2001-2006. Though they only appeared in the playoffs in 2001, they tied the 1906 Cubs for an MLB record 116 wins and went to the ALCS. They still won 93 games in both 2002 and 2003.
He then moved to the Arizona Diamondbacks and they went to the NLCS in 2007. It was his first of two seasons there.
Price became the pitching coach of the Reds in 2010. They won the NL Central that year and in 2012 with strong pitching, especially in the latter year.
Third, this game is always changing, always evolving. Baseball has gotten very diverse and Price speaks fluent Spanish. For him to be able to directly talk to Spanish speaking players, in my opinion, is only going to help the players and the team as a whole.
He’s inheriting a really good team. This is a team with a lineup that has a 100 RBI second baseman in Brandon Phillips, a home run hitter in Jay Bruce, the always underrated Shin-Soo Choo and perhaps a future Hall of Famer in Joey Votto.
The pitching staff is excellent. When healthy, Johnny Cueto is an NL Cy Young contender. Homer Bailey has shown not once, but twice he has no-hit stuff. The young Tony Cingrani has shown promise, and Cincy traded five players to the San Diego Padres for Mat Latos. Based on what he has done in two seasons in a Reds uniform, getting Latos seems to have been well worth it.
Then there’s the bullpen, Alfredo Simon, J.J. Hoover and Sam LeCure are all reliable. Don’t forget about that Aroldis Chapman, he’s pretty good too.
This is a team with World Series talent, and should the Reds win it all with Price at the helm, I won’t be surprised at the slightest.