2013 Postseason / 2013 Reds / 2014 Reds

More on the Baker firing [updated] [update 2]

Mark Sheldon’s story at the Reds site is the place to start. Regarding the rest of the coaches:

There was no announcement regarding changes on the coaching staff. “That will be determined after we hire a manager,” Jocketty said. “Several of them are still under contract. Once we hire a manager, then we’ll review the coaches with a new manager. Obviously we’ll recommend some but you have to allow a new manager to hire some of his own coaches.”

John Fay’s story at the Enquirer, with more quotes from Jocketty, says the “collapse” was the reason Baker was fired.

Jon Heyman at CBS talked with Dusty Baker and this fairly lengthy account. Heyman says when Jocketty told Baker on Wednesday [*since corrected, see update 2] that he was planning on firing hitting coach Brook Jacoby, that Baker said “If you’re going to fire anyone, fire me.” According to Hayman, that’s all Jocketty needed to hear and ended the conversation. Jocketty called Baker in yesterday and fired him.

John Fay tweets that Bob Castellini denies that the Jacoby firing response was the trigger. Castellini also refers to this theory as “someone’s imagination.” Slightly longer article by Fay on Castellini fully denying Baker’s account.

Note: That’s a pretty big difference in accounts between Baker and everyone else. There are rumors that Dusty Baker is attempting to organize a conference call with the media.

Fay also tweets Castellini saying: “He’s a good man, a renaissance man. But this was not working.”

C. Trent Rosecrans reports some player responses.

Sam LeCure: “I love Dusty, I have an opinion like all the people on Twitter, I don’t agree with everything he does. Everyone has an opinion on how they’d manage a game or fill out the lineup card. But I do know Dusty was doing the best job he did. I think it was a time for a change with some of the personalities.”

Bronson Arroyo: “I’m surprised it was him. I had a conversation with him two days ago and if it was coming, he didn’t know it. He was talking about his plans for next season and he was worried about his coaches.”

Jay Bruce: “The Cincinnati Reds became relevant again with Dusty at the helm, and that’s something people should never forget. From a personal standpoint, I’m thankful to have had Dusty there with me from the time I was 21 years old. He taught me so many valuable things about the game of baseball, things that have helped me become the player I am today, and I’m very appreciative of that. Aside from the on field aspect, he took an interest in myself and the other players on a personal level that far exceeded that requirements of a manager.”

Arroyo endorsing Bryan Price to be manager: “I think he’d be unbelievable,” Arroyo said. “He’s as organized as anyone in the game, he holds people as accountable as well as anyone I’ve seen. He doesn’t buy into stereotypical things in the game, things that other people buy into that I don’t feel are relevant. Price looks at evidence. He’s a freaking smart guy, he makes his decision on reasonable evidence. Sometimes in baseball we go by hunches, what someone else said or they way things have gone in the past. He doesn’t do that.”

LeCure, expressing the need for fundamental changes in the tone: “I don’t want there to be a comfortability, I want someone to come ruffle some feathers.”

Player reaction story from Sheldon, with many of the same quotes, plus this from Todd Frazier:

“I really enjoyed having him,” said Frazier, who just completed his second full season in the Majors. “He’s a player’s coach that’s been there before. He could relate to anyone, that’s why I liked him. He could break it down for you. A five-year-old could understand how to hit after talking to him. That’s what made him so good. Dusty taught me a lot of things about hitting and life. I really thank him for that.”

Ken Rosenthal at Fox writes that Baker was fired because the team “stopped playing for him.”

Fay tweets that Jocketty says LaRussa is through managing and Morgan isn’t interested.

Rosecrans talked to LaRussa who confirmed he’s not interested in managing again.

Buster Olney’s talks about the Baker firing at the start of his podcast. “There’s been a lot of unhappiness in the organization with what’s been going on, especially in the postseason.” “Too many questions in the Reds front office with how the clubhouse has evolved. About leaving Cueto in the game too long.” “Didn’t like the clubhouse culture that had evolved where they felt there was a lack of a sense of urgency.”

Jason Stark, as interviewed on Olney’s podcast: “There was a clear vibe in Pittsburgh that the front office was extremely unhappy with the way the season had ended.” “The way they played in the game in Pittsburgh was a bad showing considering what was at stake.”

Fay tweets that Jocketty acknowledges front office failures.

One interesting name as a possibility for the next manager that I heard on the radio was Davey Johnson.

Updates: Paul Daugherty’s take: “Castellini had been firmly in Baker’s corner, until this year. A few events changed that: When Brandon Phillips interrupted Baker’s daily pre-game press briefing to berate an Enquirer reporter, Baker didn’t stop it. That suggested Baker didn’t have the necessary control of his players. Then, as the Reds drifted, then nose-dived late in the year, Baker insisted there was no need for urgency. Castellini is not a patient man. He’s also a fan. He understands he has a core group of very talented players, in the prime of their careers. After three first-round playoff losses in four years, he had seen enough, both as a fan and businessman.”

John Fay with some insight on Bryan Price: “Logic on why I THINK Price gets the job: Keeps him from leaving. Pitching is strength of team. Has that managerial air.”

Tom Verducci at Sports Illustrated writes about Dusty Baker’s future, his past record in the postseason, and how generational change among General Managers may work against Baker getting another job: “Baker may be out of chances around the game, too, especially as more and more people who do the hiring in baseball are at least a generation younger than him and understand and embrace the game from an analytics standpoint that never interested Baker. Davey Johnson, 70, who retired, Charlie Manuel, 69, who was fired by the Phillies, and Baker, 64, are from another era. The irony is that Baker remained current with his young players — few managers ever connected with his players like Baker — but not with the modern analytics of the game.”

FWIW, I see Dusty getting another job, maybe not this year, but eventually.

Update 2: Baker comments, as per CTR: “You kind of like go places and you raise the bar and then if you don’t take it all the way, if you have the team or not, you’re a failure,” Baker said. “It got to the point where everything was on me — if we don’t hit or don’t pitch — it seems like it was me. It wasn’t very much fun at the end.”

Baker also says in the article that the Jacoby conversation took place last week, not on Wednesday. That makes sense. It occurred, but wasn’t the proximate trigger for the firing. It took place with Jocketty and may not have even gotten back to Castellini. To BC, the entire issue was the collapse of the team at the end, not the coaching changes. Heyman has now corrected his story so that it doesn’t say this occurred on Wednesday, but a “few days ago.”

That substantially changes the story. If Heyman got that wrong, then he really blew it. It changes everything about how the firing came about. Heyman’s conclusion that Baker was “fired for standing up for what he thought was right” is entirely false. All the people in the twitterverse who are complimenting Heyman’s reporting better rethink it.

182 thoughts on “More on the Baker firing [updated] [update 2]

  1. I think anyone outside of the projected starting rotation and the 3 locked up position players of Votto, Bruce and DatDude(no)OBP, Chapman (maybe in the rotation), and Hamilton are totally fair game for trading. Call me crazy, but the Reds can sell high on Leake to get a right handed outfielder with power and some strong prospects. Package in Ludwick for more prospects and maybe a bench/utility player and it’s even sweeter.

    I think Leake has hit his ceiling and if Cingrani and Cueto can come back healthy that would be great. I think Walt will only hire someone that sees Chapman as a viable starter (not that it’s do-or-die qualification, but I think it matters). Personally if they can sign Arroyo without paying stupid money for him, then keep him on.

    • @RichmondRed: I don’t see Arroyo as necessary for the next 2-year window. He’s effective because he’s durable. With him and Leake, there’s too much redundancy of skills. Leake no longer has the “learning curve” to fall back on. It’s time for him to put up numbers.

      The secret is to get at least ONE viable lefty in the rotation for an entire season. Cingrani fits the description. Chapman can replace Arroyo and will probably be a 5th starter until he gets his “stretch” out of the way.

      I don’t buy the notion that trading Bailey is a good idea. Lose Cueto again for 4 months and see if you’d rather have Bailey or Greg Reynolds.

      6-man rotation? Nah … Leake goes to the bullpen after Chapman is ready to start regularly. Leake can always spot-start. (No, he is NOT a good hitter. He is a good hitter for a pitcher.)

      And if this was March 31, I’d be set to go. Spring training tends to offer up its own little monsters.

      The trick now is to find a bullpen that doesn’t come unraveled in April.

      • I don’t see Arroyo as necessary for the next 2-year window. He’s effective because he’s durable. With him and Leake, there’s too much redundancy of skills. Leake no longer has the “learning curve” to fall back on. It’s time for him to put up numbers.

        This season: Leake 4.04 FIP – Arroyo 4.49 FIP
        Last season: Leake 4.42 FIP – Arroyo 4.08 FIP

        Leake did improve this year. But 2 years in a row he has faded in the 2nd half of the season. Maybe just a better off season conditioning program?

      • @Johnu1: why would I want to see what would be anyone else’s #2 starter go away when the Reds can probably trade a strong #4 for a solid long-term OF.? I never said dump Bailey.

    • @Kyle Farmer: You really doubt he’s received racist hate mail and heard racist stuff? I don’t. I’m glad Dusty’s leaving and I don’t think he’s being very classy on the way out, but sadly I think more than a few people who didn’t like Dusty as a manager disliked him because of his race (in some cases) or mixed racist language into what was otherwise a baseball critique. Dusty faced criticism a white manager wouldn’t have (from some) and had criticism directed at him in racist terms. You could see this kind of stuff just by reading the comment sections on many articles.

      • @Eric the Red: I agree that just introducing it to the story seemed like trying to find another way to paint him as a victim. If there is hate mail, sadly … that’s not likely to change no matter where Dusty goes.

      • @Eric the Red: I have no doubt that Dusty has and does face racism on a regular basis. I agree that we’ve seen signs of it even here from time to time in the comments section. However, I’m not sure I believe that there has been some recent uptick in this and I think that introducing it into the story is a way to try to paint everyone who is critical as a racist.

  2. There are a few teams where Dusty would be a good fit: Milwaukee Braves, Washington Senators or perhaps the Brooklyn Dodgers.

  3. Te fact that the quitter Riggelman is being considered shows the Reds are an incompetent organization. Dusty is far better than Riggelman

    • @gschiller13: Incompetent?

      I don’t recall anybody in the front office even suggesting that Riggleman is being considered. So far, it’s been people on RLN. But if you equate that with incompetent ownership, I join the group in being grateful that we’re that influential.

      • @Johnu1: According to the ESPN story:

        “The Reds plan to compile a list of managerial candidates next week. Jocketty said pitching coach Bryan Price and Jim Riggleman, who managed at Triple-A Louisville, would be among the in-house candidates considered. The coaching staff will be retained until the next manager is chosen.”

        Hopefully he is low on that list.

        • @TraviXDM: Well that would be confirmation, though not unexpected that all the organization’s coaches/managers are on the list. I think Walt would be rather foolish to tell us that some folks are not being considered unless it’s clear why they aren’t.

  4. I definitely say no to Riggleman, but times like this are when I look back and go: Man, wonder how Rick Sweet would have done.

    As one of the loudest Dusty critics (bashers?) there is, I do have to admit that he did bring this team back to relevance in some form with the help of the talent he was finally provided.
    That being said, with the talent this team has, there should be no reason why we’re discussing his dismissal.

    I’d be very interested in seeing Bryan Price or Chris Spirer (sp?) given the chance. If not, I am looking forward to seeing what Uncle Walt has in store.

  5. I agree with Sam LeCure that the front office needs to bring in someone to shake things up. By shake things up I’m assuming Sam mean to shake the players out of their complacency. I’m not so sure Price fits that description. Maybe he does I don’t know. I just hope the deciders do their homework and take their time to ensure they make the best hire possible.

    • @Sergeant2: If anyone had a beef, it is LeCure. He was often pitching in mop up duty one day, the 8th inning in a tight game the next. Often pulled for a less effective RP.

  6. LeCure is the most outspoken guy (besides Hoover) in an extremely talented but eternally misused bullpen. LeCure could be a “set-up guy” with Marshall “closing” or whatever… but ideally the managerial hire they make doesn’t stick with these definitions and identifies pitchers as “high leverage” or not.

  7. Did y’all here?! Clint and Mike mentioned that you may need your best pen arms to throw, and that the team needs to experience slight pressure. we need accountability

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