Rangers manager Jeff Banister plans to use Leonys Martin as leadoff hitter

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The top of the Rangers’ lineup will have a new look this season, as Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News reports that rookie manager Jeff Banister plans to use center fielder Leonys Martin as his regular leadoff man.

Martin will provide speed at the top of the lineup, but he doesn’t exactly profile as an ideal leadoff man. The 27-year-old owns a .316 on-base percentage over his first 334 games in the majors with a walk rate of 6.2 percent. His on-base percentage against left-handed pitching sits at just .279.

Shin-Soo Choo saw the majority of his starts out of the leadoff spot when healthy last season and while he batted just .242 with 13 home runs and .714 OPS across 123 games, he still managed a .340 on-base percentage. The 32-year-old boasts a .383 on-base percentage for his career, which is ninth-highest among active players.

While Martin is now slotted in as the leadoff man, it’s unclear what this means for the No. 2 spot. Banister could put Choo there and slide Elvis Andrus down in the order, but that would leave them vulnerable against left-handers. The alternative would be to keep Andrus in the No. 2 spot and move Choo to the middle of the order.

Cincinnati Reds fire Bryan Price

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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.