Thursday, October 6, 2011

Season Recap by Position: Management

Day 1: Catchers
Day 2: Starting Pitchers
Day 3: Relief Pitchers
Day 4: Outfielders
Day 5: Infielders
Day 6: Management

In the sixth and final installment of our six-part recap series, we take a closer look at how the Reds' management performed this season.

"A manager's job is simple. For one hundred sixty-two games you try not to screw up all that smart stuff your organization did last December." -Hall of Fame Manager Earl Weaver

"The players make the manager. It's never the other way." -Hall of Fame and former Reds' manager Sparky Anderson

Let's start with a little background information. The Reds' payroll for 2011 was about $80.8 million versus about $76.1 million last year. It is expected that the payroll will increase slightly to around $85 million for 2012. The increases in both years is mostly due to salary obligations however, rather than spending significant money on big name free agents. Additionally, the Reds' attendance did increase to 2,213,588 from 2,060,550 from last year as well, on the heels of a 2010 National League Central Title. According to, that provided an additional $4 million in revenue.

General Manager Walt Jocketty did not make any big moves in the offseason, hoping to ride 2010's success through 2011 as well. The Reds did sign 2010 World Series MVP Edgar Renteria to bring some more veteran leadership to the team, as well as to help fill the gap at short. They also signed Fred Lewis in hopes that he would improve both the situation in left field and at lead off. In my opinion, neither of those signings can be considered successful. Also of note, the Reds signed Jeremy Hermida and Dontrelle Willis to minor league contracts. Hermida was rather successful at Louisville, but hardly saw time with the big league club before being claimed by the Padres in August. The D-Train, as he is so affectionately known, made 13 starts for the Reds going 1-6 with a 5.00 ERA. I can't honestly say any of those deals worked out in the Reds' favor.

As far as semi-bright spots, the Reds were able to sign Bronson Arroyo to a 3yr/$35MM extension, although the 2011 he had makes that now look like an awful decision. Hopefully he will bounce back, and if nothing else he does eat up innings. Bringing back Ramon Hernandez for 1yr/$3MM was a solid deal, and signing Miguel Cairo to a 2yr/$2MM extension was one of my favorite signings before 2011 started.

The best things that the Reds did were locking up some key young players. Jay #Bruuuuuce signed a 6yr/$51MM extension with a 2017 club option. I love that, although some were griping on twitter about the right-fielder by the end of the year. I don't know why. His numbers were pretty darn good. Additionally, the Reds extended the man who suddenly became the ace, Johnny Cueto, to the tune of 4yr/$27MM with a club option for 2015. If Cueto continues his solid 2011 performance, that is a bargain to me, especially for a small market team like the Reds. Lastly, Joey Votto signed a 3yr/$38MM extension to stay in Cincinnati through 2013. Although, this contract did not eat any of his free agent years, it covers his arbitration years, and it was good to get the 2010 NL MVP committed to the roster for a little bit of time. Quite frankly, the Reds just didn't and won't have the funds to keep Votto beyond that, unless he decides he wants to take a discount to stick around in a place where he can be "anonymous", if you will, from the major media he would be subjected to in larger markets with teams who have seemingly unlimited amounts of money. These are, to me, easily the best things Walt Jocketty did all year.

Now let's get into the actual season itself. There's not much to say, as it was largely uneventful to the dismay of many Reds fans. Depsite the plethora of young talent in the organization, as well as having a veteran catcher in Hernandez who was expendable, with Devin Mesoraco waiting in the wings, and several other teams desperate for catching, the only deadline trade that was made was sending Jonny Gomes to the Nationals, in exchange for what will probably amount to two career minor leaguers. That did open a spot for Yonder Alonso to be promoted, but his playing time was limited. It is now known that Jocketty made a strong push for Hunter Pence and felt his offer was better than the one the Astros accepted from the Phillies. Now at the end of the season, although I didn't feel this way in July, I think it was for the best that the Reds held on to their prospects during the season, though I would expect a deal or deals to be made for starting pitching in the offseason. As much as I love him, it was a little upsetting that Hernandez wasn't moved since it's highly unlikely he will be back in 2012. Apparently, teams weren't desperate enough to make a suitable offer for him, or Jocketty just didn't want to let him go.

As for Dusty Baker, it hard to say 2011 was his fault or that he could have done anything much different. He had to play the cards that were dealt to him. This year was mostly about the starting pitchers under performing and the failure of the Reds' lineup to get timely hitting, not about any moves or decisions Baker or Jocketty made. It seemed that all of Reds' nation was calling for more playing time for Chris Heisey, and his 2011 numbers may have justified it in the end. However, as stated in the season recap for the OF, he was put in favorable situations, in which he often succeeded, so for that Dusty should certainly be commended as well. He can't necessarily be blamed for the early failures of the lead off spot or for not trying Brandon Phillips in the lead off position earlier. After all, Phillips spent most of his at-bats in 2010 at lead off and only hit .251 with a .302 OBP. That's one thing that makes me a little cautious to call BP the answer to our lead off problems in the future (but that's for another day and another post I suppose). Dusty had a good hand on the deal, and there was still slight hope when the flop came, then there was the turn and the Reds' hopes for a 2011 repeat went floating the river without a paddle.

Overall Grade: B-
Jocketty didn't feel he had to make a huge move before the 2011 season, with the entire core of the 2010 NL Central championship team back, including the 2010 NL MVP and depth of starting pitching which any team would envy. He didn't make a deal in the middle of the season, and maybe there was not a deal good enough to push this team over the top. He did however make sure to sign three of the best players on the team long enough to make sure the Reds will have a chance to compete over the next couple of years. Plus the Reds still have the talent and prospects available to make a move or two that could lead this team back to the postseason, and possible October success.

Dusty was only as good as his players made him look this year, hence the Sparky quote at the top, and when the starting rotation suddenly didn't end up being as deep or as good as expected, and when Rolen and Gomes became an after-thought in 2011 instead of amazing like they were in 2010, and the rest of the lineup failed to get the hits when needed most, it was a recipe for an sub .500 season and a third place finish.

In the end, they can't be given an A because the team just didn't win. It also doesn't feel like, they can be given anything less than a C because this season falls mostly on the players. So average that, and give them a "-" for finishing in third and under .500.

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