The Reds have had a managerial crisis since firing Dusty Baker. Bryan Price was a renowned pitching coach, but his time leading the Reds never went as planned. Price is not necessarily to blame for the Reds failure over the last few years, but he certainly made no true changes to improve or inspire the club.
In the upcoming season, Cincinnati hopes to begin a new era with a manager that will eventually lead them to the promised land, a place they have not been since 1990. It is reassuring to see the Reds conduct a thorough research that has involved up to 12 coaches. Barry Larkin, who at one point was making his case to be the manager, has surprisingly been quiet throughout the managerial search.
There have been three options that have made themselves frontrunners. Former Yankees coach Joe Girardi, former catcher and Detroit Tigers coach Brad Ausmus and former Cincinnati native and Moeller graduate, who is a current Giants executive, David Bell.
Girardi has the stats to back up his resume. Throughout his career he has coached star filled rosters that helped him reach and win a World Series in the Bronx. His achievements may be attributed to the talent on his rosters, but many times the best team in baseball does not win, ask the 2001 Mariners.
During his time as the Yankees coach Girardi always kept his team in check. He was considered one of the top managers of his era, before finally being let go in 2017. Girardi being let go by the Yankees does not relate to his managerial skills. He was named National League Manager of the Year with the Marlins in 2006, before landing every manager’s dream job in New York. But a team with the payroll the Yankees command expect to be in playoff contention every year.
The front office did not make that possible for Girardi, and someone needed to take the blame, which fell at the hands of Girardi. Girardi would be a solid hire for the Reds. People may feel he is a product of payroll, but his time with the Marlins should prove he is not. If the Reds decide to take him, it will ultimately prove who Girardi really is as a manager.
Ausmus is the current assistant general manager for the Los Angeles Angels. Before landing his gig in Anaheim, he managed the Detroit Tigers and had a lengthy career among four teams. Catchers often make great managers because they are game managers in a way.
His managerial record is not one to write home about, but that is due to the fact that he did not have a roster that was capable of putting together a winning season. He was not exceptional at the helm of the Tigers, but he was not terrible and could be a quality option for Cincinnati. When a team underperforms as long as the Tigers did, a firing only makes sense. Ausmus’ failure after taking over a previously successful team only strikes fear into the Cincinnati faithful.
Bell is by far the most intriguing candidate to lead the first team in baseball to the promised land. Born and raised in Cincinnati, Bell has a long history in the Queen City, despite never being a Red himself. A journeyman throughout his career, Bell has the knowledge that only comes with MLB experience, paired with watching and following the game throughout his life.
If someone had told you that Bell was a serious candidate at the start of the Reds’ search, it would be reasonable to laugh it off. However, after extensive research and interviews, Bell has emerged as a leading candidate. Hiring managers that are not lifelong managers has had some success recently, but it bites some teams in the rear as well. Bell would absolutely be an outside hire, but with the current state of the Reds, he may be the perfect option.
What To Do?
Girardi and his blatant success and Bell with his approach of the game, something the Reds are not used to, make them the best two options for the job. Ausmus would not be the worst hire, albeit much better option than the current skipper, but he is no Girardi or Bell. Girardi’s past makes him a desirable candidate, Bell’s lack of experience may be scary, but intriguing and exciting at the same time.
Cincinnati has a difficult choice. The fact that they have taken their time and thoroughly explored each candidate is reassuring. They need to remember they are not the only team looking for a coach. Each candidate they have interviewed has been interviewed or at least considered by other teams, The Reds have their options, they did their research, it is time to act.