Dusty Watch / Reds - General

Bring Dusty Baker Back

If you’ve read what I’ve written here the past few years, this post will probably surprise you. It surprises me to be writing it. This opinion will be controversial among members of the Nation. My butcher on Court Street this morning was adamant that the Reds have to fire Dusty. Since one of my live-longer rules is avoiding arguments with people wielding long, sharp knives, I waited to get home before saying this out loud.

I’ve come to the conclusion that the Reds should bring Dusty Baker back as Manager.

Not that my opinion matters more than any other season ticket holder. It certainly appears the Reds and Baker are on their way toward working out a contract extension, so this conversation is academic. My guess is that Baker wants to win a World Series before he hangs up his sweatbands and the Reds are the most likely vehicle available to him. It’s possible he’ll retire to be with his family and watch his son play sports. Maybe he and the Reds won’t agree on terms. But the odds seem to be mounting that he’ll be back.

The bottom line for me is really basic: The Reds won 97 games this season. Ninety-seven. They had the second best record in baseball and won the NL Central running away. They overcame adversity – serious injuries to Ryan Madsen and Joey Votto were devastating headlines. Dusty Baker kept the ship pointed in the right direction and the Reds improved by nearly 20 games from 2011. They’ve won the division twice in the past three seasons. Baker not only has earned a contract extension, but the Reds would be foolish to risk that trend line. Period.

Sure, aspects of Baker’s managing style drive me completely nuts. His lineups are awful, beyond any reasonable defense. He sacrifices too many outs at the altar of Old School. But I’ve said all along that I value the personal qualities he brings to the job and the city of Cincinnati. I pull for him to succeed. I’d love for the Reds to be successful with Dusty Baker as the Manager, and they undeniably are.

But what about last week? (Like most of you, I’m still raw.) Is there something about Dusty Baker’s approach to managing that puts the Reds at a disadvantage in the postseason? Did he cost us the Giants series?

My view is that the NLDS loss to the Giants is no more his fault than it is a dozen others. Scott Rolen’s error. Ryan Hanigan’s strikeout. Brandon Phillips’ running mistake. Mike Leake’s emergency start. Mat Latos’ wayward fastball to Buster Posey. Every player, even Homer Bailey, performed less than perfectly. And so did Dusty Baker. But are you ready to fire Ryan Hanigan because of one pitch? Release Brandon Phillips for that one play? No, obviously not. So let’s not evaluate the manager on individual calls, either.

Yes, there are legitimate complaints about the way he managed the series. (My biggest being that he handled it too much like the regular season, without the necessary urgency. Even to the point where we employed a “give away” approach to Game Four.) You can second-guess a number of his decisions, as you can with any manager.

But, if you’re honest about it, you have to admit that the players Baker had available to send on the field this week were not the same ones that produced the 97 wins. Crucially, it lacked pitching ace Johnny Cueto (who was lost at the most devastating time possible) and played with superstar Joey Votto ailing significantly. Where would the Tigers be if the same thing had happened to Justin Verlander, or the Yankees with the sudden loss of C.C.?

If the Reds had been at full strength, we’d be looking forward to beating the WLB tomorrow night.

Yes, the week was extremely frustrating. But it’s a measure of just how far the organization has come – with Dusty Baker as its Manager – that we are so heartbroken about a postseason series loss.

It’s not that I think Dusty Baker gives the Reds a huge edge. Or that there aren’t other managers who could potentially keep the Reds on track. But with the trajectory so positive, why jeopardize it?

My unsolicited advice to Walt Jocketty: Bring Dusty Baker back and work on the rest of it.

 

 

114 thoughts on “Bring Dusty Baker Back

  1. @OhioJim: Right but of course the ultimate on base guy was picked up after the 1972 season: Joe Morgan. Incredible on base stats from 1972 thru 1977: .417, .406, .427, .466, .444, .417.

  2. I feel like Dusty is an amazing manager in that he can manage personalities and try to keep guys focused. I don’t believe he is a good ingame manager and he never has been. I don’t think I want to see the Reds not bring him back just because I wonder about the effect on the players. Yeah they know people move on and they’re professionals blah blah blah but the reality is a lot of those guys have grown up around Dusty. If Dusty decided to retire I don’t think it’d be a problem but I wonder how they’d take to a new coach. I like Speier and price and hatcher and to a degree jacoby and berry and if it was possible to seamlessly remove Baker and put in a coach that truly knew what it took to manage a ballclub to it’s full potential I’d do it in a heartbeat but that’s fantasy. Baker’s ok. He’ll bat CF-SS as much as possible. He’ll snap and be sassy at people questioning his logic. He won’t construct logically sound lineups. OBP might as well be OPP. He’ll find guys he ‘trusts’ even though he shouldn’t. In the end I wonder what are the options beside Dusty Baker. Will the players play their best for him? Will he make the best decisions?

    I’m not a Dusty fan by any means but I guess what I want to know is what else is there?

  3. Here’s a suggestion to allow continuity with the current coaching staff. Boot Dusty and elevate Chris Speier to manager. This is a move like the Bulls with a young Michael Jordan booting Doug Collins and elevating Phil Jackson. Collins had taken the Bulls to the playoffs several times but had not won anything with them. The management becme convinced the team needed a change in order to get over the hump.

    Speier was a coach on the world champion Diamondbacks in 2001. He has a 39 year old son who had a mediocre major league pitching career for 10 or so years. He should be able to relate to the players well so it’s not a shock to the system to lose a “player’s manager”.

    BTW, how can you expect a player like Cairo to not love playing for Dusty? I loved what he did for the team the last few years, but he is obviously done and should have been kept off the playoff roster, much less never having two PH appearances in the playoffs. What happened to riding with the horses that brought you? Cairo didn’t help the team to the playoffs – he came along for the ride.

  4. Is it me or are there parallels between dusty and marvin lewis? definitely neither are scrub managers, but do they often both get out-coached during big games? i believe so……….. both of them coach my 2 favorite teams: Marvin and Dusty: almost ready for primetime players

    • Is it me or are there parallels between dusty and marvin lewis?definitely neither are scrub managers,but do they often both get out-coached during big games?i believe so………..both of them coach my 2 favorite teams:Marvin and Dusty:almost ready for primetime players

      Yes! Both are coaches who have regular season success, but fail miserably in game management during the playoffs. Demand better.

  5. @pinson343: Two changes of note that happened between 1973 and 1975 had nothing to do with new talent brought in by trades, it had to do with Griffey coming of age (effectively replacing Bobby Tolan) and moving Rose to third base (manned primarily by a sub-200 hitting Denis Menke in 1973) to get that young Foster guy’s bat in the lineup. Moving Pete was all Sparky to the point that Bob Howsam called him the morning after Rose debuted at third and asked him if the box score in the paper was wrong – what was Pete Rose doing at third base?

  6. The most important thing missing from the article and comments is money. If you’re in the camp who wants him back, at what cost? Is he a $4-5mi/year manager? Could a lesser name guy do the same thing with this team and that money be used on player salaries?? I mean, an extra $3mil would get you an decent reliever or backup infielder.

    At some point, it’s about opportunity costs.

  7. @Jetsons Dog: The story as I have always heard it was that it was Pete that went to Sparky not vice versa.

    I happened to be at a fish fry supper where Gordie Coleman, the Reds one man speakers’ bureau at the time, was the guest speaker/ drawing card for the night. When Coleman opened up the floor for questions, the first one was about the move of Rose to third base to get Foster into line up. Initially Coleman thought it was somebody asking would they ever do such a thing and dismissed it off hand. Then when the guy persisted, he seemed to think it was a joke. It was only when some other folks stepped up and said they had heard about it on WLW that Coleman realized it was for real. At that point he basically said well if you heard it and Sparky said it was true, it is. They will do what they will do and sometimes I find out just like you….

  8. I could understand bringing Dusty back. But, I lean more towards not bringing him back. A couple of the arguments Steve M. makes, “Crucially, it lacked pitching ace Johnny Cueto (who was lost at the most devastating time possible) and played with superstar Joey Votto ailing significantly”, first, with Cueto, we still won the first game (which was Cueto’s game). With Votto’s injury, we played our best ball when Votto was out, even compared to the ball we were playing before his inury. Our ball was no better before his injury than after it.

    I will say this. Jacoby has got to go. Our offense took a huge step backwards this season, IMO. I am confident that Baker isn’t going to make us any better. If we get any better, it’s going to be from who Uncle Walt and Uncle Bob brings in. I am confident the reason why we are good now is because of the work Uncle Walt and the 2 GM’s before him, in building up the minor leagues and bringing in key pieces of FA’s. Price has shown me he understands pitching and can develop pitching. Who has Baker developed? What can Baker do?

    The question mark is, who’s available or would make themselves available to manage this team if Baker is gone. I don’t necessarily know that answer. But, I would think, with this team, the line would be going down I-75 of all the managers we would have interested in the position. There would be ones available. Rick Sweet has managed many of these guys. Bell at AAA being the manager in waiting, called by many. I think Joe Morgan or Barry Larkin would make good managers. I heard before Ryne Sandberg is interested in a major league job. And, he has a reputation of developing young players.

    In summary, I can see bringing Baker back, but I am confident he isn’t going to make us any better. If we get any better, it’s going to be who Uncle Walt and Uncle Bob bring in, as well as what players stepping up.

  9. I will say one more thing. Can many get off their thing of “Defense and pitching wins championships”? Baseball as well all sports, you need to have all parts of the game to win. If it was pitching and defense, why don’t we just get rid of Votto, BP, Frazier, Ludwick, just concentrate on bringing in pitchers and defensive specialists? Because you need more than just pitching and defense to win champsionships. You need all parts of the game.

    • I will say one more thing.Can many get off their thing of “Defense and pitching wins championships”?Baseball as well all sports, you need to have all parts of the game to win.If it was pitching and defense, why don’t we just get rid of Votto, BP, Frazier, Ludwick, just concentrate on bringing in pitchers and defensive specialists?Because you need more than just pitching and defense to win champsionships.You need all parts of the game.

      Put it this way: the Cards certainly didn’t win their championship last year on pitching and defense, and they didn’t beat the Nats that way either.

      A team certainly *could* win a title on pitching and defense, but it needs to do a better job than the Reds did.

      The Reds had a subpar, below average offense this year, and it showed in the last 3 games of the postseason. They faced an average pitcher (Vogelsong) and stunk, a horrible pitcher in Zito plus a pretty tired bullpen and got only 3 runs, and then couldn’t get the job done against an even more tired bullpen the last game.

      It’ll be interesting, because the Giants are trying to win a title on hitting combined with weak pitching. I would not be surprised if the Cards take them in 5 games. That’s my expectation.

  10. @steveschoen: Well put about what can make the team better. IF Baker is seen (by the players) to be forced out that could do more short term damage than anything Walt can do to make it better.

    • short term damage than anything Walt can do to make it better.

      Good point. Where, if it is seen that the FO forces Baker out by the players, the Reds would have to bring in someone with fire like Lou, who also has the credentials of winning. Not many like that around.

      But, then, also, what would be seen as forcing Baker out? How would it be seen? Baker ask for 3 years, the club 2, so Baker drops out? Baker wants an extra 0 on the salary, the club doesn’t? I am confident the FO is looking to bring him back. Thus, it is going to be how the negotiations go. But, with the FO willing to bring him back, it is going to be Baker’s decision to come back or not.

      Also, is it very good to have a manager in that kind of position, period? Where, if the club chooses to change the manager, it will bring the players down? I wouldn’t think so. That would mean, again, if the team gets any better, it will have to come from the players and GM and what they do, not the manager. It isn’t impossible to develop players as a manager and coach. Price has proven that. Of the regulars (what Baker would be more use to), who’s better? Not Votto. BP may be. Cozart hasn’t improved. Not Rolen. Stubbs has only gotten worse. Bruce’s offensive numbers have gotten a bit better each year, but still nothing to consider him a “force” on this team, and his defense has taken a bit of a slip each season. The only players we could say is Ludwick and Frazier. One of them spent the last several weeks riding the pine; the other may leave for more money himself.

      Remember this, championship teams don’t wait for other teams to lose. Championship teams go out and take it. We won the first 2, but couldn’t close it out. Just like the Cubs did with Baker, just like the Giants did with Baker. Baker may manage a winning WS team some day. But, it won’t be because of something Baker did.

  11. Well, if I remember correctly, Bell was promoted to Manager of the Bats just in case Dusty’s seat got too hot. So he would be the more likely candidate to take over instead of TLR (I am shocked that so many Reds fans want him. He is a great Manager but we are programmed to hate him, right?), Chris Speir, Barry Larkin or any of the other names floating around. I have broken several remote controls over Dusty’s decisions. I just don’t think there is anyone else that could do better.

  12. Well, unless he wants to retire or wants too much money, he will be back. I don’t want him here, I think he is a stunningly bad field manager whose constant mistakes were covered by great pitching talent.

  13. @RedsFan19: I would think TLR, even on the long shot he was interested in managing Cincy, burned his bridges with Castellini and Jocketty over the the AllStar situation by passing over Cueto and Phillips. Trying to put him into the spot at this point is asking for a clubhouse meltdown.

  14. Question:

    For the Baker backers: what is the bar that he must reach to be considered and retained for 2014? If he just makes the playoffs, is that good enough. If we would win the first round and get embarrassed in the second? Are we just too afraid that nobody could do better so we settle for that? What is the marker?

    • @CharlotteNCRedsFan:

      what is the bar that he must reach to be considered and retained for 2014?

      Good question. I think this is where I differ from some of the anti-Baker folks. I don’t think the failure to win the NLDS falls on Baker. In fact, I believe that the postseason is mostly luck. (Look at all the men left on base in games 4 and 5. Those games could easily have gone the other way if the hits clustered better.) If Baker signs a 2-year deal, I’m definitely happy if we make the playoffs both years. Barring some solid reason to hold Baker responsible for a playoff loss, I’m happy if we make it to the playoffs every year. The rest is a series of coin-flips.

  15. What to do? There are 2 sides to Dusty persona. The clubhouse guy and the on field guy. The clubhouse guy seems to give in to what’s the best thing to do on the field guy with respect to line ups. But, the on the field / in game guy is asleep at the wheel.

    Could this situation require thinking outside if the box? If you bring Dusty back, Should it / could it be like a football team setup? Offensive and defensive co-ordinators? Perhaps with Dusty as the head man but truly give up some the responsibilities. Keep Dusty around for the people skills but give up the weakest part of his management. Let the bench coach make out the lineup and run the game and his decisions be the final decision? Could the pitching coach be more responsible to run the in game pitching decisions of when to get someone up and when the pitcher in the game is to come out?

    I don’t know? Probably not. Line up decisions are pre-game decisions which may play into the clubhouse Dusty plan. But, it seems that the game moves way too fast for Dusty to keep up with as pitchers are left in way past the point of collapse. An old school guy like Dusty would never agree to it. He has people there now. What effect do they have now?

    But one thing that I feel that I do know is that this team won a bunch of games in spite of Dusty’s bad line ups, bad pitching change decisions and the other in game mishaps that all have seen and suffered thru this and past seasons since he’s been the manager. His people skills cannot be denied. The players are very loyal.

    Can a manager be too close to the players to make the hard decisions? Although they will not admit it publicly, these players may love him for his loyal personality but they have to see his failures too. To see Dusty go will not demoralize the team.

    I can’t help but feel, like others here, that another voice could also be a good man in the player relations and be a better in game manager. I’m afraid that his team will never go any farther than have to now with Dusty at the helm.

  16. I have to believe there is a Sparky Anderson or Joe Maddon out there somewhere. I don’t like standing pat based on fear. It doesn’t make sense to my general world-view.

    • I have to believe there is a Sparky Anderson or Joe Maddon out there somewhere. I don’t like standing pat based on fear.It doesn’t make sense to my general world-view.

      There is, I’m sure. But he has no managerial experience, whereever he is. Which means they aren’t hiring him.

      I do think Jocketty laid the foundation for not bringing Baker back…he’ll just say that they couldn’t come to an agreement, but the Reds did want him back. Not saying it’ll happen, but it might.

      • There is, I’m sure.But he has no managerial experience, whereever he is.Which means they aren’t hiring him.

        I do think Jocketty laid the foundation for not bringing Baker back…he’ll just say that they couldn’t come to an agreement, but the Reds did want him back.Not saying it’ll happen, but it might.

        He is coming back without a doubt. Just trying to make a case for that not to happen.

  17. aspects of Baker’s managing style drive me completely nuts. His lineups are awful, beyond any reasonable defense. He sacrifices too many outs at the altar of Old School. Is there something about Dusty Baker’s approach to managing that puts the Reds at a disadvantage in the postseason?

    And you still want him back? No thanks. Time to move on. His 1 & 9 Post-Season record in deciding games speaks volumes.

    • aspects of Baker’s managing style drive me completely nuts. His lineups are awful, beyond any reasonable defense. He sacrifices too many outs at the altar of Old School. Is there something about Dusty Baker’s approach to managing that puts the Reds at a disadvantage in the postseason?

      And you still want him back?No thanks.Time to move on.His 1 & 9 Post-Season record in deciding games speaks volumes.

      I don’t think that his style is old school. It’s moronic! Bunting a guy over in the 7th, 8th or 9th innning of a close game is one thing. The Reds don’t have enough team speed to play “old School small-ball.” To bunt with a runner on 2nd in the 1st inning without even giving the #2 hitter a chance to drive him in with a pitch or 2 is just plain dumb, especially when he was doing with Stubbs as his leadoff man! Hell, Stubbs can score on just about anything with his speed(problem is, he just doesn’t get on enough) Your #2 hitter needs to be someone who can put his bat on the ball consistantly. How many years now have we watched almost every SS hit #2, even when Dusty rests a starter @ SS, inevitably his replacement hits 2nd also? Cosart may be that guy in the future, but he isn’t right now, so why is he batting 2nd?

      Why on god’s green earth would anyone pitch to Hannigan in the 7th slot, when Mr. Strikeout and the pitcher follow? Dusty refused to hit Hannigan 2nd, which IMHO is where he should be batting, at least occasionally, to take best use of his talent-putting his bat on the ball (except in the Bruce double steal the other day of course :( )

      DUSTY MUST GO!

  18. I am going to say this. How many times in sports history have we heard a general manager say this “he taught us how to win but now we need someone to take us to the next level.” I think Dusty has reached his potential with the Reds. There is a reason that he has been on the losing end of three colossal post season meltdowns and that is being reactive as opposed to being proactive. The Giants series is proof postive. Bochy was reactive. In Game 3, he was managing in the mid stages of the game like it was the ninth inning of the seventh game of the World Series. He reacted before tragedy struck. How many time have seen seen Baker come to get the mound to get a pitcher after the big home run was given up. Also it is not a coincidence that Dusty’s best managerial jobs have been in “contract years” for him. Several things in this series were problematic. First of all, we needed Drew Stubbs in centerfield in the first two games of the Giants series. That park is huge and we needed someone to cover a lot of ground. In other words, we could sacrifice offense for defense. However why didn’t he give Heisey a shot in centerfield in Cincinnati and he would have to provide more offense than Stubbs. In addition the field in Cincinnati is not as huge so he could justify the move. Just like Joe Girardi made the move with A-Rod in the playoffs, he could have put Rolen on the bench for several games in Cincinnati and given Todd Frazier at opportunity. Rolen looked horrid both offensively and defensively. Dusty would not do that because he was afraid of making Rolen mad. Being a manager is not always about doing the popular thing but doing the right thing for the team. It is about being an evaluator. Dusty does a very poor job of evaluating and reacting.

  19. I can’t think of one person that I spoke with that can figure out why he pitched to Arias in game 3, with 2 out, 1st base open, only 1 reserve left on SF’s bench and the closer on deck. Force Bochy to make a decision, use his last player and sit his closer, or make him hit if he wants to remain in the game.

    I was screaming at the TV when this occurred. I think every fan in the stadium was thinking the same thing! What stupid baseball! That’s our Dusty – DUMP HIM!

    • I can’t think of one person that I spoke with that can figure out why he pitched to Arias in game 3, with 2 out, 1st base open, only 1 reserve left on SF’s bench and the closer on deck. Force Bochy to make a decision, use his last player and sit his closer, or make him hit if he wants to remain in the game.

      I was screaming at the TV when this occurred.I think every fan in the stadium was thinking the same thing! What stupid baseball! That’s our Dusty – DUMP HIM!

      Again: to pitch to Arias maximized the chance the Reds would get out of the 10th inning with zero runs. To walk Arias maximizes the chance IF they get out of the 10th inning. Baker’s move is defensible. I would have leaned towards walking, but this wasn’t the “obvious” decision everyone is making it out to be.

      I’d have been (relatively) happy if Baker would have just (1) pulled Leake before the 5th, and I was calling for him to be removed after the homer in the 2nd, (2) one of the better pinch hitters would have hit in the 6th inning there instead of Cairo, and (3) Latos would have been removed after his 4 pitch walk to Scutaro, when the logical guess at the time is that he’s lost his concentration (note, I say, “guess”). Those three moves smacked of “regular season managing” to me.

  20. @icee82: How about batting JV-MVP in the lead-off spot? Obviously Joey was having a devil of a time driving the ball but his OBP was fantastic. Seems to me in the last couple of games he was not himself. Could it be he was pressing? Just maybe? DB just is not creative and Bochy showed in games 1 to 3 how the job should be executed.

    Dusty managed like it was game 5 of the season not the decisive game of a five game series. Go back and have a look at that game thread. There was an outcry to pull Latos. He was spent and needed to be removed. Where was Sam or the missing man, Alfredo Simon? That pitch cost the Reds moving forward in the postseason. Maybe LeCure or Simon would have also given up the Granny to Posey but they would had a much better chance then Latos, at that point.

  21. @icee82: I really do wish I knew why Rolen played—was it because Baker really truly thought he was the better option…or because he’s a veteran on his “last rodeo”.

    I also wish Frazier hadn’t had such a bad September, because then I’d have known the answer was “veteran” with certainty.

  22. I think the Reds need a new direction. In 2010 offensively the team was terrible in Sept and the playoffs. Baker kept putting Rolen in lineup when he was injured and couldn’t help the team. This team is agonizing to watch when hitting with runners in scoring position primarily due to Baker being stubborn about putting Rolen and Stubbs in lineup even when they were killing rally after rally. The reason the team won 97 games was because of great pitching and defense. In the game 5 loss Latos was frustrated with the umpire yes but he was also pressing because he knew the offense was not going to scoring runs. This offense must get better next year because it is unlikely the pitching will duplicate what it did this year. If Baker comes back he will likely talk Rolen into coming back and every time Frazier slumps he will put Rolen in there and being indifferent to the fact that Rolen simply can’t get it done anymore. Stubbs needs to go and Ryan Hanigan is an offensive liability. When you think of Rolen, Stubbs and Hanigan being offensively unproductive that is 38% of your lineup incapable of being counted on to provide offensive run production. Let Rolen retire trade or release Stubbs upgrade the catching and add some pop to the bench by releasing Cairo and Valdez who were terrible offensively this year and the pitching is good enough to return the Reds to the playoffs. Status quo offensively with this team will not put the team back into the plays offs next year

  23. to add to my previous comment. Baker makes the same mistakes over and over again. His choices of who starts kills this team offensively. It has often been said that Rolen was brought in to provide leadership. Where was Rolen when the team needed a Hunter Pence type meeting to fire up his team. And if Rolen leads by example then that is why this team struggles in clutch situation because the teams leader was terrible at this himself. The Reds need a proven clutch rbi guy in the 4th spot between Votto and Bruce and a lead off man. New mananger leadoff guy and a proven clutch rbi guy in the middle of this lineup and the Reds win it all next yer.

  24. I never felt five years ago that Baker was the best fit for the Reds who, at that time, had a good young farm system. Dusty has done well in getting the Reds to two playoffs in his five years, but I think change is necessary to get the Reds to the World Series. Unfortunetly, Baker is the owner’s guy, so he will probably be back.

  25. As much as I liked the 2012 Reds, I realize their 97 wins were an anomaly. There is a better chance of Drew Stubbs hitting .320 over 600 plate appearances with fewer than 100 strikeouts than the Reds going another season without a missed start by a starter. Also, most teams don’t get one player to give the jolt that Ludwick and Frazier gave (especially in the absence of Votto) the Reds. With that being said, under the normal circumstances that are likely to be endured by any team, the Reds should have won as many as 10 fewer games. Simply put, they overachieved because of factors beyond the control of the manager.

    Now, did Dusty “keep the guys loose?” . . . Sure. . . Did he do all of the things that a “player’s manager” is supposed to do? . . . I am sure he did. . . Is he a great guy who is well-liked by his players? . . . Absolutely. . . Does this mean he should be back? . . . Perhaps not and here is my rationale.

    We know what Dusty is. He is a great “clubhouse manager” who is also very suspect in strategy and tactics. He is a kind of anti-LaRussa. Normally, I would think this to be a good thing. However, when it comes to winning and losing, one cannot argue with the enormous disparity in the two managers’ resumes. While LaRussa would bench Rolen in the playoffs because he thought doing so would give his team a better chance to win, Dusty cannot see past his own loyalties, hunches, and assumptions to do what is, in a given game/moment, objectively necessary for his team to have the best chance to win. To me, this means that Dusty’s unquantifiable “people skills” will surely win a game here or there. However, I also believe that his lack of mastery of strategy and tactics costs many more games than his “people skills” win over the course of 162 games (and, painfully, from games 163 onward).

    We know that Jocketty has the final say on any roster decisions. However, I am not so foolish to think that the continued presence of Cairo and Valdez on the roster was not a consequence of Dusty’s advocacy (if it was not, then we need to reexamine the conventional thinking regarding Jocketty’s wisdom) for these two giant holes on the bench. Dusty is, however, responsible for the lineup. I know he likes Drew Stubbs. Heck, I like Drew Stubbs. He seems like a swell guy. However, it was plain wrong to continue to place him at the top of the lineup when it is obviously counterproductive. It is even more scary to consider that Dusty did not consider this to be counterproductive, as his “loyalty” to Stubbs (as well as his loyalty to the proposition that Stubbs could, given enough seasoning, actually effectively hit leadoff) outweighed the good sense that was obvious to everyone who muttered “&^%$#@* Stubbs!” under his breath many, many times during the season. The same stupoyalty (or loyidity, whichever you prefer) was obvious upon Votto’s return. The fact that Frazier was not the defacto starting third basemen after Rolen demonstrated for the better part of the year that he was, at best, a part-time player speaks further to the problem with Dusty.

    So, what is Walt to do? I am harboring the hope that he is patronizing Baker with an offer that he knows will not be taken. Then, publicly at least, there can be an amicable parting of ways and the Reds and Dusty can both move on. Walt can hint at health concerns and the like and Dusty can move on to manage in Miami or Colorado or wherever.

    However, this is not going to happen. I do not think that Jocketty has the gumption to send Dusty packing after a 97 win season. Moreover, he may not want to upset the players in this manner. With all of this being said, I am hoping that Walt makes the roster Dusty-proof during the offseason by doing the following.

    1) Michael Bourn . . . Leadoff/CF/Not enough LH bats problems solved;
    2) Sign Ludwick (I would have laughed at this in April);
    3) Chapman to the rotation . . . Send Leake to AAA. He will look like an all-star (since he is an AAAA pitcher);
    4) Sign Broxton and Madson . . . The current cast of characters in the ‘pen will be just fine without Chapman with one or two more arms.
    5) Bench: Stubbs or Heisey as a fourth OF is just fine by me. XP as a LH bat off of the bench. Keppinger for utility sounds good as well.
    6) I have always like Rolen. However, give him an awkward office party and a watch and send him on his way.

    Now, I suspect the Reds will not land Bourn (or Upton or another viable CF option). Signing Ludwick and sending Chapman to the rotation are surely possible, if not likely. I am not sure about the closer situation or how much Walt is willing to spend on the bench. However, short of all of these things, I believe that the 2013 version of the Reds are going to be far from Dusty-proof. Oh well, I suppose that means I will continue to be motivated enough to spout rambling posts on this blog a few times every year.

    • @Drew Mac:

      Entirely agree, Drew. It’s not as much as Baker earned it, because of his lineups, work with Stubbs, etc. Baker would be coming back because of the 97 wins. I do believe if this team wins any championships, it’s going to be because of the players Uncle Walt or Uncle Bob bring in, not what Baker does. Baker has proven to me he doesn’t have what it takes. “Keeping players loose”? Yes. Players want to play for him? Yes. Players want to get better, expand their game? I don’t see it. Starters like Stubbs having any motivation to play well or be benched? I don’t see it. His loyalty is a fault. Give time to a player to prove himself? Yes, no problem. That isn’t loyalty.

  26. Great post Drew Mack.. You described the exact reason Dusty coming back will just be more of the same. Lousy personnel decisions means an inferior roster and dysfunctional lineup. Baker is just too stubborn to see things any other way than he already does. He simply can’t make decisions based on whats best for the team rather than based on loyalty. If he is resigned we will see more of the same with players on the roster who can’t get the job done and likely a non playoff season. Hopefully Jocketty will see this and bring in a new direction for this team with a new manager. As stunned as I am that the season is over I will be intrigued to see which direction this team goes.

  27. One more thing…if you’re going to hold the players to a standard, why not the manager? IMO, Dusty’s weaknesses as manager were exposed for all to see in the playoffs. Time to move on.

  28. @Drew Mac: super post!

    I am ready to see Dusty go, though he has many positives. I don’t like his handling of Frazier, Rolen, Heisey and Stubbs. Dusty has some very solid staff around him, for which he deserves some credit.

  29. I’ll just repeat this point: A lot of us would like to see someone besides Dusty in the dugout next year. And a lot of us know what kind of manager we’d like to have, even if we can’t put specific names out there.

    But is there one iota of evidence that this organization would hire a manger like that? I suspect we’d just get a younger version of Dusty, who will still be putting speed at the top of the lineup without regard to ability to get on base, and looking for those magical “RBI guys”…

  30. I am, also of the opinion to bring Dusty back. Mainly b/c I don’t want to see the chemistry of this team messed with, yet. Although, I feel that, as a Reds fan abroad, you all in Cincy need to know that WE are the laughing stock of MLB. Everybody I know at work, I encounter at stores (in my Reds cap), even at stoplights (license plate frame), cannot but help to share their two cents’ about our beloved Redlegs. And it’s all pretty much universal, “Good team, awful manager.” All anyone knows of Dusty Baker, outside of the Nati, is that he blew it in the playoffs, epic-fashion, w/ the Giants…w/ the Cubs…w/ the Reds…and w/ the Reds. Again, I think he should come back, for at least one more year. But don’t kid yourselves…NOBODY outside of Hamilton County believes that Dusty Baker will ever win a World Series. Maybe we can rally behind that. I don’t know. But I do know that it’s the overall accepted perception of this team.

  31. I’ll add this: I just witnessed Jim Leyland pull Valverde for Phil Coke to close out and go 2-0 on the New York Yankees. How many out there could ever see Dusty making a move like that to aggressively go 2 up on a team in the playoffs? Be honest.

  32. Okay, sorry, I guess I just wanted to say that if I saw Dusty willing to make a move like this, I’d feel better about bringing him back. Again, I am still of the opinion to bring him back (for one more year only), just not really that crazy about it. Alright, I’m done. Going to go watch the Cardinals thrash and/or come-from-behind-and-unbelievably defeat the San Francisco Giants.

  33. @RC: Right on. I’ve been advocating for Acta since last year… but he only works if Walt gets the players for him to use correctly in the first place (e.g. OBP guys). I’m resigned to Dusty. Much more interested in what happens with CF and LF. Those are the only question marks for all of winter.

    • @RC: Right on. I’ve been advocating for Acta since last year… but he only works if Walt gets the players for him to use correctly in the first place (e.g. OBP guys). I’m resigned to Dusty. Much more interested in what happens with CF and LF. Those are the only question marks for all of winter.

      No way you can say those are the only questions. We also have closer and 3B. I really like Todd Frazier but, like the rest of the team, he is streaky as can be. I think if he is a full time third sacker he will get exposed and have fans wanting him benched. What we really need to get us over the hump is someone who can teach the guys we have how to shorten up and hit in different situations. If we werent last in getting the runner in from third with less that two outs, than we have to be near the bottom. With the pitching/defense that will be in place for a while, we need those sac flies and basically just contact period. Keep Dusty for chemistry but get a hitting coach that can make a difference.

  34. @RC:

    Who would come in is a very good question, if not Baker. I wouldn’t have liked to see Francona, even though he has won a WS. I liked Buck Showalter, even though he has won a WS, he does have a reputation of developing young players. Also, I will say, if Dusty doesn’t come back, I would think the list of potential candidates would go down I-75 it would be so long. I do believe there would be a huge number of candidates who would want this job.

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