When Richard Henry "Dick" Pole was sacked from his post as the Cincinnati Reds' pitching coach and Bryan Price was brought in to replace him, it easily ranked as the team's biggest offseason move—well, maybe besides that signing of some 6'4" lefty kid from Cuba.
It's a fine trait to be loyal. But Reds' manager Dusty Baker has proven more than a few times of being loyal to a fault.
If Dusty values loyalty as much as he practices the virtue, then there is no way he can't respect Price.
In 2009, while serving as pitching coach with the Arizona Diamondbacks, Price packed his bags as soon as the team fired manager Bob Melvin and brought in the totally inexperienced company man from upstairs, A.J. Hinch.
It's doubtful that was Arizona's intention considering that Baseball America had recently named Price as the Major League Pitching Coach of the Year.
In 2001, he earned the USA Today Baseball Weekly Pitching Coach of the Year Award with the Seattle Mariners who tied the Chicago Cubs' 95-year-old record for games won.
In the prime of the steroid age, that Seattle staff compiled a Major League-best 3.54 ERA—not bad for the junior circuit where pitchers have to face a Designated Hitter.
Dick Pole's biggest accomplishment? Grooming a young Greg Maddux, and luckily, not being responsible for his arm problems, as seen in Mark Prior and Kerry Wood.
As highly-touted a prospect as Maddux was, Pole's mom could have taught him to be a future Hall of Famer.
Now that Price is in the Cincinnati pen, where should he focus his award-winning talent?
Tell Coco Cordero to lay off the Big Macs?
Price is a fluent Spanish speaker, but it's unlikely he'd have any luck with that.
He should prepare both Arthur Rhodes and Nick Masset to close the door.
Until injury or the All-Star break, the projected starting staff will probably be Bronson Arroyo, Homer Bailey, Johnny Cueto, Aaron Harang, and Matt Maloney.
Price will let Arroyo be Arroyo. He needs no coaching. Just hand him the ball every fifth day.
Sandwiched between quality starts, expect one spectacular game out of every eight, and also one flake-out where he gives up 14 runs in less than an inning of work.
If last season was any indication, Homer has arrived. Price should just encourage him and make sure he keeps his arm high to buckle knees with 12-6ers after the high-90s cheese.
Harang? Bad feeling. Bad, bad feeling that he is pretty much toast, no matter how much, or how good the coaching.
If there are no injuries before that 6'4" lefty kid from Cuba is ready for his first taste, look for Harang to go down with a phantom injury that will sideline him until his contract runs out at the end of the 2010 season.
Maloney just needs the confidence in the fact that even though he's not going to blow smoke past Pujols (or Brian Bixler for that matter), his mix of stuff is still good enough to rack up some Ks and get batters out on a regular basis.
Under Price, Freddy Garcia led the league in ERA. That said, Reds' fans should be fully confident that he can turn Maloney into a more than adequate fifth starter.
The uber-talented Cueto just needs a simple talking to. One that Mario Soto can't give him. And one that Dick Pole either ignored or was too daft to notice.
Price should sit him down, ask him a couple of questions, and then explain something to him.
Sort of like this:
"Johnny do you like soup? Yes? Do you like it everyday? Okay, of course not.
"Well Johnny if you don't refine your delivery and stop flailing to the first base side like some intellectually challenged third-grade little leaguer your career will end before your first arbitration hearing.
"And then you'll be eating in free soup kitchens!"
In Spanish of course. With a mean Dominican accent.
The arrival of Bryan Price should have Reds' country pretty darn excited. His past accomplishments speak for themselves.
As does his loyalty, and the fact that he's not Dick Pole.
Hopefully Dusty can set his feelings for his old pal aside and welcome the new kid.