The Cincinnati Reds acquired new management this season, and the new hires have effectively alienated fans time in and time out.
From the trading away of pitchers who strengthened the relief corps, to the treatment of Joe Nuxhall’s retirement, to the handling of Barry Larkin’s conflict between playing or going, new General Manager Dan O’Brien has upset fans all over the Greater Cincinnati area.
Many of the decisions that have been made are the wrong ones, however, in the Larkin situation management might be making the right move by looking to replace him. Although it may upset Reds fans, building for the future is imperative to the team.
Larkin simply cannot be counted on to be an every day player. He has been effectively shut down this season, and the Reds are looking to find his predecessor. If Larkin is re-signed, he should be counted on as a mentor to these younger players, as he has been in the past. His role would be decreased on the field, but a veteran player who has put up Hall of Fame numbers would be invaluable with the advice he could give.
Larkin and the local media seem to be upset with O’Brien re-negotiating manager Dave Miley’s contract, while he had previously said he doesn’t work on contracts during the season. Pitcher Paul Wilson has not been re-signed, although it seems as though his return would be a major boost to a young staff that struggles at times.
Larkin is in the same boat as Wilson in some ways. But Larkin probably shouldn’t receive a contract as big as Wilson, if re-signed in the off-season.
Larkin is 40 years old, and while players in the same age range, like Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens, still command high salaries, Larkin has not been able to stay as healthy as those players.
Replacing Larkin with a young shortstop seems to be the hardest part of the situation. Younger players like Felipe Lopez, Ray Olmedo or Anderson Machado could possibly inherit the position Larkin took over nearly 20 years ago.
Veteran backup Juan Castro is another possibility, but his contract expires at the end of this season.
A constant criticism of these players is that they either don’t put up the offensive numbers Larkin does, or they are just not ready.
The problem with making Larkin the every day shortstop next season is the possibility that he won’t be able to make it through a whole season. If he were to get injured midway through the season, one of those players would probably replace him and be forced into a situation where they cannot truly develop their skills for an entire season.
The worst that could happen would be Larkin entering next season in a smaller role and one of the alternate players failing. If the heir shortstop falters, Larkin would be more than able to replace him.
Barry Larkin is an icon for the Cincinnati Reds, but the time has come for the next great shortstop to step up. With Larkin as a mentor, his replacement would be put in a great situation for success.