I got a chance to work with Jim Riggleman in 2016 and I have nothing, but high regards for the man. He was very personable, smart, and brought a laid back presence, but was very old school with other methods. Some might consider what I might say about him to be biased, but after the recent decision of the Cincinnati Reds hiring David Bell to be manager, I can’t help but think that it was such a slap in the face to Riggleman after the job he did for them.
Riggleman took over the job as Reds’ manager when Bryan Price was fired after a miserable 3-15 start to the season. Price didn’t deserve to be fired either as he was never dealt a good hand for a team as they were not very good, however I do think a change was needed as I don’t believe Price’s managerial approach fit the club’s well with the players he had. Riggleman, on the other hand, was perfect as the players really liked him, he rallied the players well after a bad start to the season, and he did a good job just in general. The record (64-80) wouldn’t suggest that, but in the middle of the season, the Reds played like as if they were one of the best teams in baseball before slumping towards the end.
This season should have been an indication to the organization that Riggleman was their guy. For someone who didn’t have an offseason to prepare for the season, Riggleman impressed me. I always thought he was a solid manager, but with the club he had, it was the perfect fit especially with the club being so young. He also has been in the organization for a while as he managed in the minor leagues so he knows what the players are like and how they tick, plus he knows what the front office wants. People will point to his managerial record as to why he shouldn’t be the manager, but those same individuals probably never saw him manage those teams are basing their opinions off assumptions not observations. From my observations, he has done a nice job with two different franchises (Washington being the other one).
The Reds hired David Bell to be the manager as they exclaimed that they “got their guy.” While Buddy Bell, David’s father, claimed to have recused himself from the interview, something doesn’t smell right about it. I got the sense that they never wanted Riggleman in the first place and I also feel like Buddy Bell was pushing them to give his son a chance to prove himself. David Bell might be a good choice, I’m not knocking on him for anything, and it might have seemed like going out and getting fresh blood was the path they wanted to take, but that doesn’t always mean it’s the right one. In fact, normally I would be behind that type of logic as I always like seeing a hire from someone outside of the organization is the best course of action. Will David Bell be a good manager? From everything I’ve heard about him, he probably will. Is a good hire for the Reds? If what I’m hearing is true, it’s a good choice. However, it’s not the right one. Yes, I understand hiring a guy who is from Cincinnati sounds like a good idea, but that is always a gamble. Yes, after Dusty Baker was going to leave, Baker wanted Bell to take over as manager as did the organization before they decided to hire Price. But that doesn’t mean Baker was right
My hope is that Riggleman does land a managerial gig somewhere after it was announced that he won’t come back. I feel like he would feel slighted by the Reds for picking someone else after the good job he did in 2018. He deserves a shot at it.
I just cannot understand nor agree with the decision to not hire Riggleman, however, I respect the organization and the people running it a lot and hope things work out for them. Let’s hope I’m wrong.
As for Riggleman, maybe he will finally get the chance to prove himself and I hope he does because he deserves it. I heard a few teams need new managers this offseason anyways. Maybe they should call him in.