Considered the favorite for the job by most, Price has certainly earned the right to manage his own MLB club, as evidenced by his recent track record of success. In 2001, Price was named the pitching coach for the Seattle Mariners, and immediately made his presence felt, leading Seattle's staff to the American League ERA title with a 3.54 mark, an improvement of almost one run per game from the previous season. For his efforts, he was dubbed the USA Today Baseball Weekly's Pitching Coach of the Year.
Price spent the next five seasons in Seattle before making his way to Phoenix to become the pitching coach for the Arizona Diamondbacks in 2007. Similar to Seattle, Price made his mark with the team in his very first year on the job, earning Major League Coach of the Year honors by Baseball America after leading the Diamondbacks staff to the fourth-best ERA in the league.
In October 2009, Price agreed to assume the same position with the Reds, taking over for Dick Pole, who was fired two weeks before. Price inherited a pitching staff that had routinely ranked in the middle-to-bottom half of the league for many years before he arrived. Now, the Reds have ranked third and fourth, respectively, in team ERA in the past two seasons, thanks in large part to the tutelage of Price.
Other than his success as a pitching coach, there is no evidence to suggest that Price would be a good MLB manager, but you have got to believe he would be a smaller risk than hiring someone such as Jim Riggleman, who does have experience and has proven to be mediocre at best, or Paul O'Neill, whose only managerial experience may be coaching little league baseball.
There are many reasons to believe that Price would be a proverbial grand slam as skipper, though. First, he has become extremely familiar with the organization, having spent the last half decade around the city, players, staff, and fans. So, in that regard he knows what kind of expectations surround this club, and he probably knows what kind of criticism has been directed toward it lately, too.
Price has had five seasons to sit back and observe the moves made by the departed Dusty Baker. This has undoubtedly sparked many moments where Price has challenged himself in what he would do if he were manager in the same situation. Although this isn't exactly managerial experience, in some roundabout ways it is, folks.
The biggest factor likely keeping Price from being the sure bet to replace Baker as skipper is the fact that ownership has expressed a desire for "change." This is why they fired Baker after a run of three playoff appearances in four seasons to begin with. So, going with an internal candidate, who spent many years by Baker's side, may not constitute "change," so to speak. However, given the fact that this club is built to win and built to win right now, owner Bob Castellini and the rest of the front office may not want to shake things up too much, because the risk of bringing in someone from the outside is definitely greater than going with Price.
Look, Price may or may not be the best man for the job, only time will tell, but I have got to believe he is the safest bet to guide this Reds team to where they want to go. He knows the players, he knows the expectations, and he knows how to handle a pitching staff, which makes him the best candidate to take the helm. In conclusion, the Reds should look no further than Price in their quest to find a new man to lead.