Aaron Boone may have been a fit as Cincinnati Reds manager if the timing was different

Aaron Boone may have been a fit as Cincinnati Reds manager if the timing was different

Former Red. Check.

Well-versed in analytics. Check. 

Stayed connected to baseball after retiring. Check.

Impeccable reputation around baseball. Check. 

Sounds like the perfect candidate for the Cincinnati Reds managerial job if they decide to follow the current trend and hire a former player with no experience as a coach or a manager. 

Aaron Boone would be that. But Boone has a pretty good gig right now. Boone, the former Red, is in his first year as manager of the New York Yankees.

Boone, 45, could easily be mistaken for a player as he walks through the Yankee clubhouse pregame. It’s not just his appearance. He’s the same generation as the veteran players – with the same tastes and sensibilities. 

The biggest reason he was hired as the Yankees thought he could communicate better with the players than Joe Girardi. Still, it was a risk hiring someone as inexperienced as Boone to take over a 91-win team.

“We’re betting on Aaron’s ceiling,” general manager Brian Cashman said when Boone was hired.

Boone was confident he could make it work from the start. He thinks if the Reds were to go a similar route it could work in Cincinnati as well.

“I think if you’re versed in the game there are a lot of different avenues to get here,” Boone told the Enquirer before a recent Yankee game. “There’s having the experience of as a coach and manager or in the front office. Then there’s all of your life experience in baseball that prepare for this in different ways.

“I lack a lot of experience in some areas, but I’ve lived this game my entire life. I don’t think there’s a one-size-fits-all path.” 

Boone has been a success. The Yankees are 75-45 – the second best record in baseball and 101-win pace. While the Yankees are having a great season, the rival Boston Red Sox are on pace for the greatest season. That brings some heat from the fans. Boone does his best to ignore it (more on that later).

Boone began thinking about getting a job in baseball over the 1 1/2 years of tenure with ESPN. Boone had one of the best and highest profile jobs at ESPN as an analyst on Sunday Night Baseball. 

“I loved the job,” he said. “But I felt a little bit of the game pulling at me and calling a little bit. I missed the competition of it all a little bit. I was probably transitioning. I was probably going to leave broadcasting at least temporarily. 

“I was considering a couple of front office things, a couple of coaching things this offseason.”

Then Cashman called and asked Boone to interview. 

Boone had a connection to the Yankee front office. Assistant GM Tim Naehring was the farm director when Boone was coming up with the Reds. 

“I thought Boonie was very qualified baseball person,” Naehring said.  “But I’d be lying if I told you I thought he was going to come and in the New York Yankees were going to have a relatively inexperienced manager heading up the ballclub.” 

Then came the interviews. 

“He’s a tremendous baseball guy, open-minded, great people skills,” Naehring said. “He interviewed unbelievably. Everyone who sat in the room and listened, came away totally impressed and thinking this is kind of guy who a tremendous future in that seat.”

Boone was one of six candidates the Yankees brought in for an interview. The plan was to bring a few back for a second interview.

Boone was so good – he was top on the list of every decision maker – the second interviews never happened. The Yankees offered him the job.

“From the time (Cashman) called until I was named manager was probably a couple of week period,” Boone said. 

Boone, of course, is from a three-generation baseball family. His father, Bob, managed the Kansa City Royals and later the Reds. He was the manager in part of Aaron’s seven-year run with the Reds.

But Aaron says managing was never in his plans as a player.  

“When I was playing, it wasn’t my ambition to manage,” he said. “It wasn’t a goal or something I envisioned. Not that I didn’t want to manage. This is kind of path I’ve been on.”

The path has taken him to one of the highest pressure jobs in sports – maybe the highest. He’s handled it well. 

“There’s been some ups and downs like every year,” Naehring said. “But the whole body of work has been pretty good through some injuries, through some challenging times, especially against the Red Sox. Aaron has brought that continued calmness to the dugout, which is outstanding. 

“He’s been very consistent with everything going on. Those are obviously all traits that are going to bode well for him being successful in the future.”

Boone went from the Reds to Yankees in the fire sale of 2003. 

“After I got traded to the Yankees, I met the team in Oakland,” Boone said. “I went into Joe Torre’s office, and one thing he told me is don’t read the papers. It’s little different now with social media. I don’t go there. I don’t read the papers. Everyone’s going to have an opinion criticism or whatever. I stay away and inundate myself in the day-to-day and the team.”

Boone watches the postgame interviews with his players. He gets updates on what he needs to know from media relations director Jason Zillo. 

“But I stay away from the noise,” he said. “You’ll drive yourself crazy.”
   
Boone stays connected to ex-teammates with the Reds. He texted back and forth with Adam Dunn upon Dunn’s induction in the Reds Hall of Fame.
 
“Cincinnati is a very special place to me,” Boone said. “It’s where I grew up in so many ways and spent a significant part of my adult life from single guy to getting married, starting a family. Most of my best baseball memories are from Cincinnati and the guys I played with.”

If the timing had been a little different he could have been in a position to add to the memories as manager.

Walks haunt Robert Stephenson again in Cincinnati Reds loss to Cleveland Indians

Walks haunt Robert Stephenson again in Cincinnati Reds loss to Cleveland Indians

When Reds manager Jim Riggleman came out to get Robert Stephenson, there was no dialogue between the two. But the message was loud and clear:

Throw strikes, kid, or this isn’t going to work out.

Stephenson went 1 ⅔ innings and allowed two runs on two hits in the Reds’ 4-3 loss to the Cleveland Indians Wednesday night before a crowd of 17,275 at Great American Ball Park.

More: Cincinnati Reds are making front-office changes with their scouting director and farm director

More: Cincinnati Reds manager Jim Riggleman gives his team a little pick-me-up talk after recent blowouts

Stephenson walked four and struck out two. He threw 57 pitches, only 26 of which were strikes. Stephenson had a great year at Triple-A. He was 11-6 with 2.87 ERA, including 6-0 with a 1.23 ERA over his last seven starts. 

But he walked 4.54 batters per nine innings in Louisville. He could escape those self-created jams in the minors. He hasn’t been able to do that in the big leagues – as his 5.23 career ERA indicates. 

Cody Reed took over Stephenson and pitched well until he walked the leadoff man the sixth. A home run followed. The lead was gone, and the Reds were on their way to their fourth straight loss. 

Stephenson walked Francisco Lindor to start the game. Michael Brantley followed with a single. Jose Ramirez hit one to the warning track that Billy Hamilton ran down. 

Stephenson struck out Yonder Alonso and Melky Cabrera to escape the jam.

The ominous thing: Stephenson threw 24 pitches, only half of which were strikes.  

The Reds scored three in the bottom of the first. Jose Peraza led off with a double. After Joey Votto flyout and a Eugenio Suarez strikeout, it was shaping up as another frustrating evening. 

But Scooter Gennett singled to get Peraza in, and Preston Tucker followed with his first home run as a Red and his fifth of the year overall.   

Given the 3-0 lead, Stephenson proceeded to walk Jason Kipnis on four pitches to start the second. Kipnis moved up on a wild pitch and scored on Greg Allen’s single. Allen stole second and moved to third on Roberto Perez’s flyout to left.

Stephenson got an out and then walked pitcher Shane Bieber on four pitches. Allen scored on Lindor groundout. 

After Stephenson walked Brantley,  Riggleman pulled him. 

Stephenson walked five in four innings in his first start — two of whom scored. He also walked pitcher Jacob deGrom to force in a run. 

Reed came in cruised through the third, fourth and fifth. But he walked Alonso to start the sixth. Melky Cabrera hit one out to left two pitches later, and it was a 4-3 game. 

The Reds threatened in the ninth. Billy Hamilton led off with a single. Peraza followed with a fly ball that got over right fielder Brandon Guyer’s head but bounced out of the park for a ground-rule double. 

Votto grounded into a fielder’s choice with Hamilton out at home. Eugenio Suarez struck out for the fifth straight time, tying the Reds club record. 

Gennett walked to load the bases. Michael Lorenzen went to run for Votto at that point. Pinch-hitter Curt Casali flew out to right to end it. 

Cincinnati Reds manager Jim Riggleman gives his team a little pick-me-up talk after recent blowouts

Cincinnati Reds manager Jim Riggleman gives his team a little pick-me-up talk after recent blowouts

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Interim manager Jim Riggleman talks about Sal Romano’s rough start and the Reds’ 8-1 loss to the Cleveland Indians on Tuesday. Bobby Nightengale, Cincinnati Enquirer

Reds manager Jim Riggleman gave his team a little pick-me-up talk Tuesday night. 

Those are necessary after you lose three straight and get outscored 27-6. 

“I talked to the club a little bit about that,” Riggleman said. “I told them to remember who we are. We’re a good ball club. We ran into a good Pittsburgh right after the All-Star Break and a Cleveland club who are really hot. They’re good clubs. Sometimes, you just run into a buzzsaw. Remember we’re a good ball club. We’re getting beat around a little bit.”

Despite back-to-back 10-3 and 8-1 wins by the Cleveland Indians Monday and Tuesday, the Reds have played well against good teams. The Reds entered Wednesday 15-8 against first-place teams since June 21. 

“But we’ve beaten good clubs,” Riggleman said. “That’s got to stay in your recent memory. We can play with anybody in the league. But if you’re playing first-place clubs, and they’re playing at their highest level, that’s tough. 

“You’re going to have a hard time beating them. The right thing to say is ‘we’ll beat them.’ But the standings indicate that the first-place club if they’re in first, they’re in there for a reason. You run into that offense with (Corey) Kluber pitching, that’s World Series type stuff.” 

More: Reds are making changes in their front office

SUAREZ TO SHORT? Third baseman Eugenio Suarez played three innings at shortstop Tuesday night. Riggleman is looking to give Jose Peraza a day off. When Riggleman does, Suarez will start at short.

“That’s what we would do when we give Peraza a day off, which will probably happen on this next road trip,” Riggleman said. “Somewhere in there, we’ll probably give him a day off.”

So who plays third in that case? Dilson Herrera played third when Suarez moved to shortstop Tuesday. Herrera or Brandon Dixon would be the choices.

“(Herrera) played second and third in Triple-A,” Riggleman said. “He’s looked OK in the outfield. We would be comfortable putting him at second or third. Left field is still a work in progress. If we need to do it, we’d do it.

“Third base, depending on who’s pitching and how they’ve been swinging the bat, it would be either Dilson or Dixon.”

EMERGENCY CATCHER: Dixon, who pitched on Monday, says he’s ready to catch if necessary. 

“He could probably do it,” Riggleman said. 

Emergency catcher is subject fans love to talk about. But Riggleman had managed 1,588 games in the majors going into Wednesday night and had never used an emergency catcher.

“Any time you’ve got a utility player, and they can add that to their repertoire, it’s good,” Riggleman said. “It might be the difference of being on the club or not.”

But …

“Catching is a complicated thing,” Riggleman said.  “The reason you’d want a player dabbling in it is so he wouldn’t get hurt, to find a way to receive the ball without hurting himself, blocking balls and that kind of stuff.”

The element that has to be considered now was not a factor 20 years ago.

“It’s not just the ball hitting your thumb,” Riggleman said. “It’s concussions. We’re aware of what happens to those foul balls on the face. If the trainer says, ‘I want him out of the game. ‘You’re like ‘Nah, leave him in there.’ You appear to be insensitive to what happened to him.” 

SCHEBLER UPDATE: Right fielder Scott Schebler threw again Wednesday before the game. Schebler has been the disabled list since July 18 with a right shoulder injury that has affected his ability to throw. 

“I don’t want to be like ‘when you ready? when you ready?’ ” Riggleman said. “Because if he’s not ready, he’ll feel like I’m pushing him. I’m expecting him to go play soon in Triple-A on a rehab or Double-A or wherever.”

Cincinnati Reds are making front-office changes with their scouting director and farm director

Cincinnati Reds are making front-office changes with their scouting director and farm director

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A look at the nine teams that make up the Cincinnati Reds minor league system. Mike Nyerges

The Reds are implementing some changes to their front office. 

Chris Buckley, the Reds’ scouting director, was reassigned to a new position in the front office along with Jeff Graupe, the team’s farm director, according to sources with knowledge of the organizational changes.

One Reds official said the team has not determined whether it will make external hires to fill the positions.

Buckley, who was the vice president of amateur scouting, oversaw all aspects of scouting for the MLB Draft. He’s in his 13th season with the Reds, joining the organization under former general manager Wayne Krivsky.

Before joining the Reds, Buckley was the scouting director for the Toronto Blue Jays from 2000-03. 

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Scouting director Chris Buckley on how the new team in Greeveville affected the draft. The Enquirer/John Fay

Reds president of baseball operations Dick Williams and general manager Nick Krall declined to comment.

The Reds, who haven’t reached the playoffs since 2013, have the sixth-best farm system according to Baseball America’s latest organizational rankings.

Baseball America listed five Reds players among the Top 100 prospects in baseball: second baseman Nick Senzel, right-handed pitcher Hunter Greene, center fielder Taylor Trammell, third baseman Jonathan India and right-handed pitcher Tony Santillan.

Graupe, in his 13th season with the Reds, spent more than five seasons as the senior director of player development. He was named to the position on Nov. 1, 2012.

The Reds haven’t announced any recent changes to their front office. Krall, formerly an assistant general manager since Nov. 2015, was promoted to general manager on May 10.

Williams was named the team’s general manager on Nov. 4, 2015 and later promoted to president of baseball operations.

Michael Lorenzen says it was 'definitely special' to play in outfield for Cincinnati Reds

Michael Lorenzen says it was 'definitely special' to play in outfield for Cincinnati Reds

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Reds pitcher Homer Bailey discusses his start in Monday’s 10-3 loss to Cleveland. Bailey allowed five runs on 10 hits in 5 1/3 innings. Bobby Nightengale, Cincinnati Enquirer

After a seven-run loss to the Cleveland Indians on Monday, Michael Lorenzen placed the Reds’ lineup card in a chair next to his locker.  

It was a game that Lorenzen won’t forget.

He played in right field for the first time in his Major League career and he wanted to keep a souvenir.

“Definitely special,” Lorenzen said. “You hope for better circumstances, but it was definitely like a childhood dream. I’m not going to say that it wasn’t. It was fun. You hope for better circumstances, for sure.”

Lorenzen, who was a two-way player in college at Cal State Fullerton, has already emerged as a pinch hitter. In 17 at-bats this season, Lorenzen’s recorded five hits (.294 batting average), three homers and six RBI.

When he stepped into the batter’s box in the bottom of the ninth inning, Reds public address announcer Joe Zerhusen introduced him as a right fielder.

Lorenzen heard it and he followed with a single.

“I thought it was pretty neat,” Lorenzen said. “I know my wife and family were probably extremely excited so I’m trying to put myself in their shoes. I know how happy and how much fun it was for them to watch.”

Reds Interim Manager Jim Riggleman said it was a unique situation that led to Lorenzen, a right-handed reliever, playing in the outfield. He wanted to give Billy Hamilton the entire day off instead of using Hamilton for one inning in a seven-run game.

“There’s nothing more to it than that,” Riggleman said. “(Lorenzen) is our pitcher who is more able to do that but we’re not looking to do that. It just came up and it happened.”

The only thing that Lorenzen would change about the ninth inning, besides the score, was he never had a ball hit in his direction.

“When you play a position, you want the ball, right?” Lorenzen said. “You should always want the ball.”

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SCHEBLER UPDATE: For the second straight day Tuesday, injured Reds outfielder Scott Schebler completed throws on the field to third-base coach Billy Hatcher.

As Schebler continues to progress from a sprained AC joint in his right shoulder, the next step will be a rehab assignment.

“He felt good (Monday) at a limited distance,” Riggleman said. “All signs are pointing toward pretty soon he’ll go out and play.”

BARNHART SETS CAREER HIGH: Reds catcher Tucker Barnhart hit his eighth home run of the season Monday night, setting a new career high.

Barnhart homered seven times in each of the last two seasons. 

“Yeah, I put a good swing on it,” Barnhart said. “I’ve felt better the last few days at the plate. Just have to keep going. There’s a lot of season left so hopefully I can keep plugging away and keep having good at-bats.”

EMERGENCY CATCHER?: It’s unlikely to happen in a game this season, but Riggleman has thought about who he would use if the Reds needed to use an emergency catcher.  

“I’m reluctant to take both catchers out of the game at the same time,” Riggleman said. “If it’s the eighth inning or something, you think we should be OK. But if a guy got a broken thumb or a concussion and just had to come out, I’ve looked around out there and I’d probably be looking for volunteers.

“If Dixon was available, I would think he would be a guy who could possibly do it.”

Reds allow seven sixth inning runs to Indians, get buried and lose 10-3

Reds allow seven sixth inning runs to Indians, get buried and lose 10-3

The Joe Nuxhall Memorial Honorary Star of the Game

Tucker Barnhart, the hero on Saturday night, did some more banging tonight. He got the Reds on the board early in the game with a solo tater, then added two more walks for his troubles.

As you can see by the three total runs, it wasn’t a great night for the Redlegs. But still, it’s great to see Tucker get the bat going like this. More often than not, when Tucker homers and walks twice, you’re going to see a pretty good result for the Reds, given the rest of their offensive weapons.

Honorable mention to Joey Votto, for doubling and walking and doing it on one damn leg. Scooter Gennett blasted a needed dinger. Curt Casali did, too. Cody Reed, for notching a perfect inning in relief in his first game back in MLB since April 17 and Brandon Dixon for being the best Reds relief pitcher in this game.

Key Plays

  • Tucker Barnhart got the Reds on the board first tonight, with a solo tater in the bottom of the 2nd. It had to be reviewed to see if a fan might’ve interfered, but it was quickly determined that there was not interference. Reds lead, 1-0.
  • The Indians wasted no time answering. In the top of the 3rd, Michael Brantley knocked a two out single before his Very Good teammate, Jose Ramirez, deposited a home run into the seats in right field. He’s good, folks! Indians lead, 2-1.
  • Scooter Gennett hit a lead off solo dong in the 5th to tie things up at 2-2.
  • The wheels went ahead and fell off for the Reds in top of the 6th. Greg Allen singled and stole 2B with one out in the inning. Yandy Diaz then smoked a 109 MPH line drive double off the top of the wall in left center to score Allen and chase Homer Bailey (though not before Francisco Lindor was intentionally walked). Amir Garrett came into pitch and, well, he didn’t have it. Brantley doubled to score Diaz. Ramirez was intentionally walked before Yonder Alonso struck out for the 2nd out. And then Amir got hit and hit hard. Melky Cabrera roped a single that scored two. Jason Kipnis doubled, which scored two more, and then Yan Gomes doubled to score Kipnis. Greg Allen (the guy who started all this) mercifully flied out to end the frame. Indians kick down the door, 9-2.
  • Cleveland got another run in the 7th, this time off Wandy Peralta, as Ramirez batted in Lindor. 10-2.
  • The Reds didn’t start a rally, but they started a Casali in the bottom of the 8th. He tatered to left center, is what I’m saying. 10-3.
  • The Reds lost, dummy! 10-3.

Tony Graphanino

Other Notes

  • I mean this looks like a blow out and you might look at the scoreboard and look at the starting pitcher and think, “gaaahh Homer did it again.” And, well, it is a blowout and Homer wasn’t what you’d call great, but he looked better than his line may otherwise suggest. His final line: 5.1 IP, 10 H, 5 ER, 2 BB, 5 K. He probably should’ve been done after five innings, but I’ve been pretty vocally against Riggleman pulling guys too early, so I won’t criticize this one. The fifth earned run was actually given up by Garrett, who gave up plenty of his own runs as well.
  • This leads me to a different point; Homer was surely not great in this one, but his teammates did him 0 favors. The Reds stranded eight runners through three innings, leaving the bases loaded twice in two straight innings. An error in the bottom of the 4th (on a no doubt DP ground ball) put runners on first and second with nobody out. Homer then balked both runners over (somewhat hilariously), but allowed nothing out of it. It could’ve been a lot worse.
  • Brandon Dixon pitched a perfect 9th with some of that good shit in the 60s. Jose Ramirez, 2018’s American League Best Player of the Season (basically the Not Mike Trout Award), whiffed and whiffed hard on a curveball. He lost his damn bat, folks.
  • It doesn’t get easier tomorrow, as the Reds will face off against Corey Kluber, his 2.74 ERA, his 2 Cy Young trophies, and his big ass right arm tomorrow night. Sal Romano, who’s been very good of late, will try and keep pace. First pitch is at 7:10 PM EDT.
  • Tunes.