With the signing of Marlon Byrd and Bobby Abreu — and because they’re counting on Jimmy Rollins, Ryan Howard and Chase Utley to be the motors of the offense once again — the “Phillies are old” jokes have been all over the place this winter. My favorite two so far are (1) the one about how they’re going to rename the stadium to Senior Citizens Bank Park; and (2) the one in which the announcement of Billy Joel playing a concert there this summer actually lowers the team’s average age.
Yuks are yuks, of course, but it’s not like an old team can’t win. The 1983 Phillies — nicknamed the “Wheeze Kids” — won the pennant. The 1993 pennant-winning Phillies were no spring chickens either. And like the man said, age is just a state of mind. Just ask new Phillies outfielder Marlon Byrd, who tells CSNPhilly.com that he uses a different measure of age than the year on someone’s birth certificate:
“All of us do. You keep hearing old, old, old … we’re not an old team,” Byrd said. “We can still play. Once you can’t play, then you’re old. We still have a lot in the tank, we just to have to show that and stay healthy.”
It’s all the stuff of offseason optimism. History shows that, occasionally, an old team can stay healthy and produce. If the Phillies do that then, sure, they could be an interesting team. It’s just not the most likely outcome.
The Cincinnati Reds have fired manager Bryan Price. He’ll be replaced on an interim basis by bench coach Jim Riggleman. The team also fired pitching coach Mack Jenkins. The club also added Louisville manager Pat Kelly to the staff as the new bench coach and Double-A pitching coach Danny Darwin as the new big league pitching coach.
It was only a matter of time for Price, whose Reds have begun the season 3-15. This was Price’s fifth season at the helm and the Reds never won more than 76 games in any of his previous seasons, doing so in his first year, in 2014. They won 68 games in both 2016 and 2017 and 64 games in 2015. While that’s far more attributable to the Reds talent level than anything Price ever did or did not do, at some point the manager will take the fall for a team that makes no progress.
Price’s tenure will likely be considered largely forgettable in the view of history, but he did have a pretty memorable moment as Reds manager in April of 2015, when he went on a profanity-laced tirade at the media because they reported the availability or lack thereof of certain players for an upcoming game. Which is part of the media’s job, even if Price didn’t fully grok that at the time. The tirade itself was pretty epic, though, with then Cincinnati Enquirer reporter C. Trent Rosecrans reporting that “there were 77 uses of the “F” word or a variant and 11 uses of a vulgar term for feces (two bovine, one equine).”
Taking over will be Jim Riggleman, who last managed in the big leagues with the Washington Nationals, resigning in June of 2011 because he was unhappy that he did not get a contract extension. It was a weird episode, the sort of which a lot of guys couldn’t have come back from, perhaps being considered quitters. Riggleman took a job managing the Reds’ Double-A team, however, then moved on to Triple-A and then the Reds’ big league coaching staff. There’s something to be said for persistence. And for being a big league lifer.
Anyway, Price’s exit is not likely to change the Reds’ course too much in 2018. But, as it is so often said in baseball, sometimes you gotta make a change all the same.