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Tony La Russa: “The player and their representative, they have an obligation to be reasonable too.”


Red Sox special assistant Tony La Russa chimed in on the labor issue of our time which currently finds over 100 free agents teamless with spring training under way. La Russa lays the blame at the feet of the players and their agents. Via Evan Drellich of NBC Sports Boston:

It’s strange, unique, makes you scratch your head. The player and their representative, they have an obligation to be reasonable too. You can’t shoot for the stars. ‘Cause the teams, they want to win and they try to do the best they can. I just think that in the end, the best situations are when you have a real good agent and the player participates in his future. I mean the dam’s gotta break, and it’s going to break and it’s going to be a tsunami.

It’s not surprising that La Russa comes down on this side of the issue, considering his position. He’s wrong, of course — player salaries haven’t climbed commensurate with MLB revenues, as Nathaniel Grow illustrated at FanGraphs in 2015. If anything, the players — even the Jake Arrietas and J.D. Martinez‘s of the world — are underpaid. Furthermore, the players are underpaid during their first six years of service time in the majors, so it’s only fair if they’re overpaid afterwards anyway. That’s the whole point.

La Russa also briefly addressed the suggestion that team owners have been colluding to drive free agent prices down. He said, “I don’t like the collusion stuff. In fact, lately, I think the media’s starting to catch on [to the player-agent dynamic].”

Not all of us, Tony. Not all of us.

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.