“There are three types of lies: lies, damned lies and statistics.”
― Benjamin Disraeli
They say numbers don’t lie, but numbers can be full of half-truths and innuendo.
It was to his credit that Cincinnati Reds general manager Dick Williams didn’t throw out a bunch of numbers when he talked about him firing manager Bryan Price.
Because those numbers he could have tossed to the media wolves make Bryan Price look like the worst manager of all time.
These were some of the numbers, with help from ESPN.com:
—Since 2014, Price’s winning percentage was .419, worst in the majors for any manager with more than three years in a manager’s chair.
—The Reds are the only team in the majors who haven’t won at least 70 games three straight years. Their best was 68 and they finished last all three years.
—The 3-and-15 start this year is the worst in the majors since Milwaukee began the 2015 season 3-and-15. Nevertheless, the Reds still finished last with a 64-98 record while Milwaukee finished next-to-last at 68-94.
—This year’s start is the worst for a Reds team since 1931 when that team was 2-and-16. That team finished last at 58-96 with a run differential of minus-50. This season’s team already has a run differential of minus-46.
So, yes, the numbers say the manager should be fired.
But the team is a laughingstock around the country, not the former manager.
A few days ago, Chris ‘Mad Dog’ Russo was talking on the MLB Nework about the slow start of the Washington Nationals. Somebody pointed out that the Nationals opened the season with three straight wins over the Reds. Said Russo, “Big deal, everybody beats the Reds.”
And just today on MLB Network they were running down the day’s schedule and it was mentioned that the Reds were pitching Brandon Finnegan against the St. Louis Cardinals. Said Bruce Schein on High Heat, “Finnegan? Doesn’t matter. The Reds don’t have Jose Rijo or Mario Soto. It should be a big weekend for the Cardinals.
And one reader commented on my Facebook page, “Nearly every player on the Reds roster last year had a career year and they still finished last.” Touche.
The bad start this season can be attributed to extremely bad pitching, debilitating injuries and nearly every regular is playing far below his offensive statistics of last season.
None of this was Price’s fault. With all the trades of the team’s star players during this never-ending rebuild and the constant stream of injuries to the pitching staff and to the regulars, Price had no chance.
Even Williams said the front office hoped this would be the season that the team improved and started moving up to give Price a chance to show what he can do as a manager playing with a full deck.
Most of the time he was playing with less than a deck and the hands he held were stiffs, to use poker vernacular.
Not Sparky Anderson, not Tony La Russa, not Billy Martin, not Casey Stengel, not Miller Huggins could win with the rosters Price was given during his tenure.
He was fired after the 666th game of his Reds tenure. 6-6-6? How apropos is that?
So, yes, Price had to go. Fans had to be shown that the Reds are trying. But so far they aren’t trying enough. Nick Senzel and Hunter Greene might be future stars, but that isn’t soon enough and it isn’t enough, period.