2013 Postseason / 2013 Reds / Editorials

Dusty Baker’s Last Rodeo

Didi and Gogo, those lost souls awaiting the mysterious, never-to-arrive Godot in Samuel Beckett’s absurdist tragicomedy have nothing on Reds’ fans, abandoned for yet another Fall, left out in the playoff cold, waiting for our Godot—Post-season Relevance—to finally bless us with his presence. Now, as the wait goes on for the next manager to be chosen and perhaps deliver a pint of hope as the encroaching winter looms, a theatre of the absurd is playing out in the media, threatening to make a mockery of the entire managerial search process. For if the Reds fail to understand WHY 2013 came up short, they may very well hire the wrong man for the job.

The narratives outlining the 2013 Reds’ shortcomings have been primarily the provinces of the local media. They have largely centered on the nebulous and hard to define. Qualities like leadership, grit, chemistry and heart. All of which can be summed up in that favorite cheap sports appetizer—the ever-popular “Will To Win.”

Child. Please.

Following the insipid inspiring speech by Adam Wainwright just after he’d summarily disposed of the Pirates, I couldn’t help but wonder why Don Mattingly and the Dodgers would even bother showing up in St. Louis. Of course, by the next morning, the local media had gobbled up the sermon like so much received wisdom:

mcalister_tweet_10-10-13

Yes, this is what’s wrong with your Reds, Cincinnati. A lack of Klubhouse Kumbayah. Let’s gin up speculation about Paul O’Neill, a man with not only no managerial experience, but no previous discernible interest in leading a team before this Hope Diamond of an opportunity arose. But hey, he’s fiery. He’s a competitor. He holds the currency of the moment.

Oh, Talk Radio. You’re a vixen, you are.

When baseball teams lose, conventional wisdom and the media head straight for the “intangibles” like Homer Simpson heading for a box of donuts. Baseball being the romantic game that it is, it lends itself to the mystical, to great players walking out of cornfields. As fans, we’ll eagerly bite. Why can’t the players want it as much as we do? We are fans. If you strike out, do we not bleed? And if you wrong us in the clutch, shall we not revenge? Our hearts, broken like so many mistreated children’s toys, leave us bereft. We turn to bargaining with ourselves. We vow to step back a distance for fear of heartbreak. It’s perfectly understandable. You do it. I do it. We all do it.

Here’s an essential truth: ballplayers want it more than we ever are likely to admit. They just do. The game is their livelihood, the crucible in which their young lives are defined. Every player who ever got to the major leagues got there not because they were simply extraordinarily gifted, but because they were extraordinarily gifted AND worked tirelessly for years. After a tough elimination series, we wake up the next day, fill our lunchboxes and head to work. We move on. We do something else, like turn our rage on Andy Dalton. Players live with their failures—team and individual—the same way we suffer with ours. To suggest otherwise is to diminish them as human beings. And who doesn’t want to do that? I mean, they make so much damn money.

When the firing of Dusty Baker finally took place, the national media chimed in. Ken Rosenthal insisted Baker’s team “stopped playing for him.”  Tom Verducci claimed it was a combination of bad luck and a need for a “new voice.” Whatever that means. Neither has the time to sift through 162 games of managerial decisions. Neither has the interest in examining the impact of a lineup that was shockingly devoid of right-handed hitting for an entire season. All-you-can-eat instant analysis is the only item on the menu.

Perhaps my favorite funky narrative is the “It Factor.” It’s post hoc sophistry at its best. The local media in particular is just in love with this scruffy little meme. Soon after the Reds were eliminated, a local drive time radio guy surmised there was something missing from this team. And while he couldn’t put his finger on IT, IT most certainly was missing. The It Factor also shows itself in the form of a pivotal game that essentially changes the chemistry and thus the course of a season with all the speed of a Mentos dropped into a liter bottle of Coke. Remember the Reds’ September 10-0 beatdown of Adam Wainwright? This was surely the It Factor game of season, right? Coming on the heels of a much needed “us-against-the-media” clubhouse venting at the expense of C. Trent Rosecrans, followed hard by the taking of three out of four from the Cardinals mere days later and the sweep of the Dodgers in front of a national audience—and then, suddenly, whoops, it wasn’t an It Factor moment at all. False alarm, people. Carry on.

A very misleading and damaging narrative of the Dusty Baker Era (and therefore the one that might have the most ill-effect on the choice of the next manager) has been the claim that Baker is a great 162 game skipper, who simply cannot adjust to the hot caldron of the playoffs, where URGENCY is all. This one holds the most currency among many Reds watchers.

I offer the following novel idea: that Game 34 in May and a game in October deserve essentially the same managerial scrutiny save for one important element:  resource management. I would even go so far as to suggest that the more difficult of the two jobs is managing regular season games. Allocating resources on a daily basis, keeping an eye on the future while continually adjusting the view according to the whims of injury, player regression and the Baseball Gods, all taking place as the calendar relentlessly turns from April to July and beyond, would seem to be the equivalent of juggling chain saws. In the post-season, one should never confuse the heightened emotion, intensity or the consequences of the game with the intellectual aspect, which becomes more prosaic. Decision-making is more straightforward. Resource management becomes far less important. “Now” is all that matters. Roles, which can straitjacket a manager in the Big 162, become distilled down to one simple, identifiable job for each player in October: be willing to do what it takes to win today. Worry about tomorrow—well, tomorrow.

Dusty Baker manages his resources in the post-season the same way he manages them in the regular season. Dusty Baker was a poor post-season manager precisely for the same reasons he was a poor regular season manager. Baker’s decision-making could be papered over to some extent in the regular season because player performance over six months will do that. But an uncharacteristically cold Joey Votto or a Mike Leake who suddenly cannot find his control in an isolated post-season game has a tendency to put a harsh premium on game management. But, Dusty Baker knows only one way. Why? The answer is simple and leads into another familiar false Baker narrative, the one that portrays him as a players’ manager. Yes, Baker was that. But, to leave it at that misses the more important destination. Sure, he felt a kinship with his players and yes, player needs sometimes appeared to be placed ahead of team goals. And we’ll never forget that visible symbolic link right there in the dugout—the ever-present wristbands.

Nevertheless, every Baker act (or non-act) was there in the furtherance of one overriding goal that had less to do with clubhouse harmony and everything to do with insulating himself from criticism. According to the Code of Baseball Dusty Baker lives by, do things the “right way” and you live without regret. And the right way in Baker’s world revolves around a simple idea: ROLES.

It’s why Chapman couldn’t pitch in high-leverage situations. It’s why aging vets play instead of their younger, potentially more productive counterparts. It’s why the swift of feet bat at the top of lineup even as they display a head-slapping inability to get on base. The conventional wisdom of ROLES was Dusty Baker’s holy grail.

When Pittsburgh manager Clint Hurdle appeared to be burning through his bullpen in June and July, some lauded Baker for keeping his powder dry, holding back young Chapman for the stretch run, when the Reds would overtake the Pirates and possibly the Cardinals, who were riding an impossible run of luck with young pitchers. The night Broxton had to come out in the eighth because of injury and Chapman was brought in for the four-out save, I thought Baker had finally turned his 100 mph stallion loose. But postgame, Baker announced that he had been “forced” to bring Chapman in, who was warming for the ninth, and he had hated doing it. He had, to his own chagrin, violated a sacrosanct ROLE.

We were never going to see Aroldis Chapman used effectively. Summon him in the 8th to put down a rally, only to lose the game in the 9th with J.J Hoover in to close and you are doomed to being second-guessed in tomorrow’s paper. Allow the game to be quietly lost in the 7th or 8th inning but preserve your best pitcher for the ROLE that never materializes and you can always say the “pupils” simply didn’t get it done.

In one of the great ironies of the season, it was only when the bullpen was compromised with injuries, when Baker had no other choice, did we discover that players like Manny Parra could excel in critical non-LOOGY moments, that Sam LeCure could actually save a game, that ROLES once reserved for a select few, could actually be filled by others once deemed unworthy.

Just as Baker’s proclamation a year ago—that Scott Rolen would start in the playoffs ahead of Rookie of the Year candidate Todd Frazier because it was “Scotty’s last rodeo”—left me cold, so did the PNC Park crowd’s mocking chant of ”CUE-TO, CUE-TO,”—as Baker left his “ace” to twist in the wind, a lonely figure on a hostile bump of a stage—leave Bob Castellini barren of support for his once handpicked choice to lead the Reds to the promised land.

It’s surely second-guessing to say that Johnny Cueto should never have pitched Game 163 in Pittsburgh. And yet it must be said: Johnny had barely contributed for most of the year. He was rushed back with 80 and 100 pitch-count games against two weak-hitting teams. His health was an uncertainty. In contrast, the Reds had a pitcher in waiting, a bat-missing guy whom was healthy, enjoyed great success pitching against the Pirates and was having a superlative year. But Homer Bailey could never have pitched that night for Cincinnati. Because, you see, he wasn’t the “ace.”  That was Johnny’s ROLE.

I wonder if that’s what Bob Castellini saw from his seat in PNC Park. Perhaps, as I wondered not long ago, he was finally weighing Votto and his massive contract against Baker’s $3.5M and his open disdain for Joey’s approach to the game. It may be neither of those. Walt Jocketty said, “we appreciate and respect what Dusty did the six years he was here. But we just felt that the way things went toward [the] end — that it was evident we needed to make a change.”

You may think Castellini won’t make an emotional decision. You might be wrong. You can make an argument that the owner of the Reds gave Votto the house because he knew this smaller market team needed a signature player to build a winner around; that a message needed to be sent to the fans—many weighing the choice of coming through the turnstiles or spending their discretionary income elsewhere—that he meant business. But the subsequent overpay of Brandon Phillips was purely emotional, just as the decision to hire a high profile manager was six years ago. And as Paul Daugherty has said, Bob Castellini is a fan almost every bit as much as he surely is the owner.

With a rapacious media bellowing in Bob Castellini’s ear that it’s all about a lack of leadership, players who quit listening, and emotional zombies, with a belief that the losses at the end of the season were a tipping point, how easy will it be to choose the next manager for all the wrong reasons? Accountability is important. But, let’s not lose our way here. The Reds don’t need a new voice. The Reds don’t need a loud voice.

They need the right voice.

53 thoughts on “Dusty Baker’s Last Rodeo

  1. I agree with a lot of this. I don’t doubt the players “want it”. But, then, especially with younger players, they will take on the “attitude” of their manager and coaches. And, if the manager is more of a “marathon man”, “slow and steady”, “laissez faire” type, and told that’s what winning baseball is, then that’s how they are going to play. And, that’s what we’ve been seeing now for about 3 seasons, I believe. I posted about it I believe after the opening day of 2011. And, many posters thought I was seeing something that just wasn’t there. Well, I haven’t seen one thing change along those lines, and now everyone is talking about how this team played with no energy, etc.

  2. This hits the nail right on the head about Baker. I have the exact same feelings about Cueto starting the playoff game. I also didn’t like bringing Marshall in. How could a player’s manager really look at the guys who played 162 and say, “Sorry fellas. We are putting 163 firmly in the hands of these guys who played in 10 combined.” Much easier to face the media with, “He’s our Ace. He has to perform. He is our setup guy. Gotta get those outs there.”

  3. Nevertheless, every Baker act (or non-act) was there in the furtherance of one overriding goal that had less to do with clubhouse harmony and everything to do with insulating himself from criticism.

    This :!:

    I am glad Mr. Baker is gone and I do not appologize for being glad. Mr. Baker was not a good manager; he was a bad manager. Mr. Baker was credited for winning a lot of games as a manager, but those games were won by collections of immensely talented players. Mr. Baker failed to maximize the talent he managed and was summarily dismissed and rejected from every team he managed. Mr. Baker managed for his own personal benefit, rather than the team benefit. Mr. Baker lack insight, creativity, initiative, openness and cooperation. Mr. Baker was bitter and antagonistic if anyone dared to question his actions as a manager. Mr. Baker maintained personal grudges to the detriment and at the expense of the team.

    Now we will gain some real insight into the decision-making and philosophy of the Reds’ management. Uncle Walt and Big Bob have the opportunity to recognize their short-comings when they not only hired Mr. Baker, but extended his contract in the face of a wealth of issues related to Mr. Baker’s inability to effective manage. Have Uncle Walt and Big Bob recognized and learned from their mistakes? We’ll find out soon enough.

  4. Nice post.

    As the Reds got better from 2008 – 2013, I began to like Dusty less. He made strange decisions with the bullpen, started cold-hitting vets over hot rookies, and relentlessly constructed lineups with black holes in the #2 spot. 2013 was a very frustrating year as I witnessed the Reds losing their games for the same reasons, but Dusty doing nothing about it.

    He never took blame, never got tossed from a game, and rarely tried to shake things up. In his eyes, he was always right – especially when everyone else could see that he wasn’t.

    Cueto as an “ace?” Maybe if he was healthy. It took two innings to see that JC wasn’t mentally or physically ready to pitch a big game, and of course Dusty left him in to start the third. Ballgame.

    Then at the end, after the axe fell, he blamed his “pupils” for the team coming up short. That’s when I lost all respect for him. I’m happy he’s gone, and hope the next manager embraces numbers, accountability, and the need for his players to fill a variety of roles – not just the ones they are most comfortable with.

  5. Nice monologue. I feel like this is missing a paragraph on the “role” of the bunt and how Dusty completely ignores the simple math that shows that a bunt is very rarely the right move, since that algebra isn’t in the 1980 version of “the book.”

    The firing of Dusty has renewed my optimism for 2014. I realize he probably only changed the W-L column by 1 or 2, directly; but the indirect stuff made it so agonizing to watch the Reds play baseball. I’m ready to start having fun watching this team again. Maybe they’ll bring in another “Johnny Gomes” style player that plays with his heart on his sleeve. The fire that brings isn’t going to fix the team, but it will be more fun to watch.

  6. Completely off topic, but even regardless of whether or not I agree or disagree with the articles written here on RLN, i always come back because i’m struck by the absolute quality of writing that you guys show up with here day in and day out. I always come back because you guys are all fantastic writers and i love seeing people with writing talent writing about sports(as that’s what i would like to do, i love write) but anyway, keep up the good work guys. Anyone who understand quality sports writing will always come back to this site, even if we agree or disagree.

  7. I sure agree with CorkyMiller above – insightful writing here, even spiced up with literary references.

    I’ve been dissatisfied with Baker from day one, but couldn’t quite crystallize on why. But I’d add one more ingredient that drove me buggy – his stubbornness. He’s not only bat Corey Patterson first, he’d do it all year long. “I know talent.”

    I’ve wondered since these guys don’t talk out of school if there was friction between upstairs baseball brains having a long-term coherent strategy for winning that was constantly blocked at Baker’s desk.

  8. “A very misleading and damaging narrative of the Dusty Baker Era (and therefore the one that might have the most ill-effect on the choice of the next manager) has been the claim that Baker is a great 162 game skipper, who simply cannot adjust to the hot caldron of the playoffs, where URGENCY is all. This one holds the most currency among many Reds watchers.”

    I believe we are now seeing yet another way in which the steroid era drastically altered the many ways in which we valued players and even managers. In the steroid era, Baker could simply trot out juicers like Bonds and Sosa and many of his “lineup” or “offensive” problems were solved out of hand. The way that a Bonds or a Sosa could change a game had a profound impact on the slots both in front of and behind the players and, simply put, there were just fewer decisions to be made when it came to substitutions, lineup construction, etc.

    Now that we know more about statistical patterns over the long arc of any given season, I most assuredly agree that the in-season “resource management” (love that term) is something that makes all of the difference in the world. The “chemistry” stuff, the “it factor” stuff, and any other touchy-feely aspect of managing is all subservient to, well, the management of the game. This is one reason why the loss to the Pirates in the WC game was (nearly) worth it, just to be rid of Dusty’s shortcomings.

  9. I thought the Baseball Prospectus link that was provided offered some interesting insight about some of the slogans and mantras we marry and how they become part of the jargon of the sport. the reasons teams win or lose … is it chemistry, role models … or maybe just a pitcher with a wicked curveball?

  10. I always get a kick out of the nerdly analysis of sports, anyone who has ever played knows there are people who step up, there are people that can inspire people to step up in situation, and there are people that distract, and people that can cause players to no try so hard ect. Stats at the end of the season capture what went on, but real things, like injuries,at home issues, lack of leadership, will to win, focus when the game is on the line, all add up to those totals on the back of the card each year.

  11. The only thing I would say is that the “emotional decision” that ownership made was not the Votto contract, but the one given to Brandon Phillips.

  12. A bit superfluous at times, but a fantastic read. I hope it gets picked up somewhere.

    I loved the bit about taking rage out on Andy Dalton. I think that’s exactly what happened.

  13. Totally off topic: I know there is no such this as a “clutch performer” but if there was one he would look a lot like David Ortiz.

    • @CharlotteNCRedsFan: I just saw Big Papi’s grand slam HR, and somehow expected it. Once Scherzer left, I expected the Red Sox to rally. They’ve rallied all season. Now it’s almost certain that they’ll win this game.
      (I wrote that before they had anyone on base.)

      I believe they will win tonite. Then I believe they’ll win this series, and I predict they’ll win the WS. All teams have … Oops, they just won, now I can slow down.

      I watched the Red Sox during the regular season and against the Rays. They have that something intangible that people romanticize. Or maybe they don’t, we’ll see. I believe they do, and will not be stopped.

      All teams have the will to win, some teams, as the cliche goes, “find a way.” The 1975-76 Reds were such a team, so were the late 90′s Yankees, they do exist.

      Richard, this is NOT at all a rebuttal to your post. I didn’t have anywhere else to post this. I haven’t finished reading your post yet, and mostly agree with what I’ve read. And I’m sure you didn’t say anything to rule out a special team coming along now and then.

      • @pinson343: Funny – I think the same about the Cards. A Cards-Sox WS is the last thing I wanted to see but………..it looks like it just may happen. If it does, could be one for the ages.

        • @CharlotteNCRedsFan: I don’t feel the same way about the Cards. They just happen to be very good. I want to see a Red Sox-Cardinals at this point, I predict the Red Sox beat them. Of course I have no way of knowing, the Cardinals might sweep them (if the two teams make it).

          But that’s how I feel and I’m enjoying sticking my neck out on this one. If I have to eat crow later, no problem, I will and will make a point to remind everyone I predicted a Red Sox win.

          I had the same feeling about the Giants in August 2010, after watching them in SF. I predicted they’d win the WS then, when my Giant fan friends said they wouldn’t even win their division or make it to the postseason.

          We’ll see.

    • @CharlotteNCRedsFan: Don’t know if you literally meant it, but there is such a thing as a “clutch” baseball player, and Ortiz is one.
      The “advanced analysis” argument is that the number of clutch players is a lot less than you generally hear, that most players called “clutch” are just good players who play equally well under pressure.

      • @pinson343: Totally agree and stats may not show it. How many big hits do you need to see Big Papi get before being convinced? It is the same with Tony Perez’s time with the Machine.

        • @pinson343: “Clutch” and “finding a way” are more connected to lore than logic because we seem to remember the moments. Talented teams like the old BRM were likely to win because they threw so many good bats at you that the odds favored them.

          This year’s Reds were not that team because frankly the bottom of the order didn’t create enough churn to give the top guys more chances. In short, the 2013 Reds were just not good hitters.

          A “clutch” guy will beat you if you give him enough chances — if he has the talent.

        • @pinson343: I think Ortiz is as clutch as a career .287 hitter should be.

          2013 High Leverage: .196
          Career High Leverage: .283
          Overall Career: .287

          Compare that to someone who some members of the Nation feel isn’t all that clutch; Mr. Joey Votto

          2013 High Leverage: .238
          Career High Leverage: .380
          Overall Career: .314

          What we see if Votto’s unsustainable “clutch” hitting over the first 4 seasons of his career coming back in line with a .238 this year. By the end of his career I bet it’ll be closer to .314 than .380 or so.

          The stats you probably saw were cherry picked to tell a ceratin story. Ortiz, based on career numbers, it’s more clutch than he “should be” given his talent as a hitter.

    • @CharlotteNCRedsFan: Did you see the graphic before the HR saying he was hitting .286 or something like that with the bases loaded?

      He’s not any more clutch than any other player of his relative skill level.

      And his HR is a single or double in every other park in the majors except Boston.

      • @prjeter: Ah, the right center field fence is 383 feet. Hardly a single in “any” other park.

        As far as .286, it’s when he gets the hits that count. Re: Postseason. Point being, he has exactly “one” hit in the series – what hitter has had a greater impact than Big Papi? On either team.

        • @CharlotteNCRedsFan: With a 4 foot high wall. That ball probably hits the wall in stadiums with 8ft or higher fences in right-center. My “any other park” statement was hasty, I agree, but I don’t think that is a homer in many other parks b/c of its trajectory.

          I think the guys getting on base in front of Papi helped play a role, too. But, I agree, in your sample size of 2 games, Big Papi has had the most possitive effect on his team from the plate, but not by much over the guys who got on base in front of him.

  14. Back to your post, Richard, it’s outstanding. I agree with your “novel idea that Game 34 in May and a game in October deserve essentially the same managerial scrutiny save for one important element: resource management.”

    I agree that resource management is more difficult over the 162 game haul. In the post-season, it becomes “Win the freaking game.” This why I’m less inclined to criticize Dusty for his 162 game management. When Dusty rests the better relievers and gives players days off during the regular season, I don’t know who’s hurting, who needs rest and, as you say, it’s complicated. (No excuse for his under-utilization of Chapman, but let’s not go there.)

    when it’s the post season and all about winning a game and Dusty’s still more concerned with saving his bullpen, that’s where I go crazy and badly wanted a different manager for this team.

    • @pinson343: The thing with Dusty, though, was his idea of “giving rest to players” differed between players. I remember looking several times during Dusty’s last 3 seasons at a different stat, who’s played the most games in the league. And, consistently, the Reds were tied at that time with something like 4 players in the top 30 of most games played. And, those players consistently were Stubbs, Bruce, Votto, and BP. An example of Dusty being asked, for instance, why play Stubbs when he is slumping, “He needs to play out of the slump.” But, when the LF, 3rd, SS, or C was slumping the same amount of time and Baker rests them, Baker responds, “I felt they needed a rest.” Would he never think that, just maybe, Stubbs is the one that would need the rest and, just maybe, it would be the others that would need to play out of it?

  15. The national media I heard was Casey Stern (ugh)and Jim Bowden (ugh again) on mlbnetwork radio. Stern said that Dusty has done a great job and that getting 90 wins out of this team was proof. He added that Reds fans celebrating Dusty’s firing are “clueless”. I don’t agree with that take either. Bowden let him get away with that crap but did add that this might be a good move for the Reds, he can’t really comment on the Dusty firing until he knows who the replacement is.

  16. Dusty had an “open disdain for Joey’s approach to the game” ? I never heard him criticize Joey’s approach to the game. When Dusty and Joey actually talk about hitting (getting beyond the sound bites), they both say it comes down to a combination of aggressiveness and patience.

    Dusty knows a great hitter when he sees one and Joey is a great hitter.
    Dusty BTW was a very very good hitter.

    • @pinson343: Not so sure I agree with “Dusty BTW was a very very good hitter.” He never had 200 hits. He never had 100 RBIs. He was a career .278 hitter. A GOOD hitter, but not a “very very” good one. One truly amazing stat is DB averaged only 74 strikeouts per year and 61 walks. He actually had far more patience at the plate as a player than he advocated for his players. DB the player, I liked. DB the manager, not so much.

      • @hoosierdad: I was under the mistaken impression that Dusty was a much better hitter than he actually was. He certainly wasn’t a bad hitter, but for a LF, I agree that he wasn’t any better than good. In fact his hitting line is earily similar to BP with BP having a few more SO and a few less BB, but similar power and BA. This is the swing early and swing often approach. I think this speaks well of BP’s hitting ability as a premier defensive 2B compared to a LF.

        • The best hitter on that Dodger team might have been Steve Garvey. But, back then, the Dodgers were known, I believe, for many good hitters. Davey Lopes, Bill Russell, Ron Cey, Dusty, Reggie Smith. I want to say they even had one year where they had 4 hitters with 30 HR’s for the season. I don’t remember any being any kind of career 300 hitters nor any kind of 300/400/500 HR’s hitter. Back then, I just remember the Dodgers as having a bunch of good hitters.

      • @hoosierdad: Agreed. Dusty was a good hitter, but definitely not very good. All kinds of comparisons you can make. Maybe Ludwick, or Frazier from last season. Or Cozart when he moved down to the 7-8 hole.

  17. The right voice, yes. It may occasionally be loud, but the volume of the voice is not the issue.

  18. About the third inning of the wild card game, I was struck by its similarity to game 1 of the 2010 NLDS with Philadelphia.

  19. Interesting stuff about “clutch” that gets stirred about in the wake of the epic HR last night. It seems to bolster the idea that “clutch” is romanticized and not based on reality. We will all remember last night long after we’ve forgotten the other 10 times Ortiz fails in similar situations, so that his failures are effectively minimized. The eyeball test at work again. Here’s a reality check:

    David Ortiz is 55 points below his OPS for his career Late & Close.

    Does that change any opinions?

      • @homerandbruce: It’s your prerogiative to want a career .283 hitter in high leverage situations. I’ll take someone like Miguel Cabrera, Joey Votto, or Joe Mauer.

        • @prjeter: Yeah I would take Papi, he has the history of doing this and I know who would give me the most angst in that situation. At least, in post-season. Hopefully JV will get enough opportunities to turn around his post season resume and match Ortiz.

          Regardless of the stats at the end of the day, David Ortiz will be bested by few in Post Season clutch performers. My guess this will remain long after all of us are gone. People have the memories.

        • @CharlotteNCRedsFan: You’re probably right. With what he’s done already and his age, he won’t have much time to hurt his post-season legacy and he could even improve it. I always wish I could see all good hitters in the post-season, but they are ultimately bound by the skill level of their teams.

    • @Richard Fitch: “Clutch” also tends to depend on the situation. With the bases loaded, there’s a lot more going on than just having the option of pitching around somebody who is looking for a pitch that isn’t going to be in the dirt.

  20. Nice piece RF. To me the main issue with Dusty is that he still thinks of himself as a old player; which is why he always goes with his vets, wears the sweatbands and leaves Homer in so he might be able to get a win, if the bleeding stops and the team rallies for three runs. I can see most of the playoff managers going with young studs, but I don’t think for a second that Cingrani would have ever gotten a start even if he was 100% healthy. Anyone that has ever managed people knows that you can never be one of the “guys”, you have to make tough decisions that will be very unpopular, but that is a major part of your job, do the right thing and don’t worry about hurt feelings.

  21. The manager is like your supervisor. He’s not there to do the job, but to make sure it gets done, and his decisions are not always popular with the staff.

  22. This season left me with a what could have been feeling
    Game 4 last playoffs he leaves Leake in too long and replaces him with subpar relievers
    Then game five leaves Latos in too long and loses the series
    I was convinced that Baker most definitely could coach a playoff team but probably would not be the man needed for the playoffs
    Then in this years wildcard he leaves in a struggling Cueto and then used another just of DL man to replace not to mention the liberal use of Ondrusek
    Just a repeate of last years failures
    I just wonder if they would have been bold and ended the Baker tenure one year eailer
    I guess we will see if the 2014 club can make the changes necessary to advance further with a new voice at the top

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