I think we’ve been pretty fair to Dusty Baker. After a blast of initial skepticism, we’ve been willing, if not eager to give the guy the benefit of the doubt. I’ve been surprised at how few gripes I’ve had, given the team’s lousy record. Hell, we didn’t even say a word about this.

But this Corey Patterson thing…

I kept waiting for Baker to come to his senses, or at least to offer some sort of crazy theory to justify giving 21 leadoff starts (in 39 games) to a guy with a .252 OBP. WHAT IS HE THINKING?
Somebody finally asked (via Fay):

Baker was asked if he’s thought about moving Corey Patterson down in the lineup.

“Yeah, what makes it kind of rough is you don’t want to me [sic] left-handers in a row,” Baker said. “That’s what I’m trying to stay away from. He’s going to get going. Guys usually end where there (career) average is. . . we don’t have a bunch of speed. You need speed, especially in close games.”

Patterson is hitting .196 with a .252 on-base percentage. He has five steals but he’s been caught three times.

That’s a crap answer. I’m sorry, but it’s crap.

Baker expects Patterson to basically match his career .296 OBP over the long season – yet he thinks that’s okay for the leadoff spot?

He also wants Patterson in there because Patterson is fast? Despite the fact that his SB success rate is abysmal?

And somehow Patterson’s lefty-tude makes him the right option for the leadoff spot?

What about Ryan Freel? Or even Norris Hopper? Both solve the alleged righty/lefty problem, fill the “speed in close games” void, and also happen to fill the primary goal of any hitter – not making outs all the freaking time.

Baker is knowingly — admittedly!! — choosing his leadoff hitter based on what are probably about the 7th and 8th most relevant qualifications. That’s like picking a car based on the cup holders. Dusty is being willfully obtuse on this point, and it’s pretty ridiculous. It doesn’t make him a terrible manager, but it is terrible managing.

19 Responses

  1. doug

    I think those things do indeed make him a terrible manager. If he did it once or twice its terrible managing. Doing it for 15 years, it makes one a terrible manager. Sometimes I honestly hate the Reds for things like this.

  2. Mr. Redlegs

    Baker: 1,177 career victories, Bloggers 0.

    Yes, he’s just terrible. So what you’re saying is he sucks and the Reds suck because of Corey Patterson. Nevermind the fact that Patterson could be on base four times a game but as long as the 3-4-5 guys aren’t hitting it doesn’t mean squat.

    THAT’s the problem with this team. MIddle of the order.

  3. Alex

    All this while Jay Bruce continues to hit nearly .350 down in Louisville…sign…

  4. Dave from Louisville

    I think Walt easily fixes this.

    1. Future rosters must not have a “speed” guy with a low OBP.

    2. DFA Patterson

    3. Trade Griffey

    Bring up Bruce, that’s a net (-1) lefty.

  5. rob

    Could have used a picture of my dad for the willfully obtuse link.

  6. jinaz

    FWIW, Patterson’s career SB% is 79%. He’s been particularly good in that department the last two years, topping 80% both years.

    I still like Patterson as a #7 or #8 hitter because of his defense–at least, I like him better than Freel and Hopper as our CF options. This leadoff stuff is astonishingly dumb, though.

    It’s also worth noting that speed is probably best leveraged when your worst hitters are at the plate, because that’s when your run environment is lowest… This speedy guy at the top of the order thing is a remnant from the low run environments of the 60’s, and it’s kind of shocking that this is still thought to be “correct” 40-some years later.

  7. GodlyCynic

    Dusty’s response about needing speed in close games makes even less sense from a strategic perspective. Theoretically, if you had a guy whose speed could help change a game but who could not get on base, he’d be best as a reserve player who came in as a pinch-runner late in these close games. In fact, a player like that would work best in tandem with your best PH (assuming your most-used PH was not a speed guy himself but rather a guy like Valentin).

  8. Y-City Jim

    Baker refuses to listen to reason.

    It should be Kepp and Dunner in the 1-2 spot. Patterson shouldn’t even be in the line-up much less leadoff.

  9. Y-City Jim

    Baker refuses to listen to reason.

    It should be Kepp and Dunner in the 1-2 spot. Patterson shouldn’t even be in the line-up much less leadoff.

  10. Jared

    Francis: Pee-wee listen to reason.
    [Pee-Wee cuffs his hand around his ear in a listening motion]
    Francis: Pee-wee!
    Pee-wee: Sh! I’m listening to reason.

  11. Steve Price

    Even Charley O. Finley understood this concept enough to use Herb Washington and Allan Lewis only as “designated runners.” Well…Lewis did get 31 lifetime plate appearances and 48 innings in the field over 6 partial seasons and 156 games. Washington had 0 of each over 2 seasons and 105 games.

  12. Steve Price

    Another thought…
    Dusty’s reasoning about a player batting near his career norms may also explain why Hairston has to bat near the top of the order.

    His career OBP is .324 and he’s at .306 this year….guess the fact that the past four years it has fallen from a career best (and rather good) .378 to .336 to .270 to .249 only means it’s time to rebound? Surely, it has nothing to do with him being past his prime…

  13. GregD

    Yep, this one continues to confuse me, too. I’ve been defending him quite a bit here and to some friend of mine who are Cubs fans. But it’s hard to have much credibility when they can throw this back in my face.

    Another thing about this is that Baker HAS led off with someone like Keppinger before. His first year with the Cubs, Mark Grudzielanek was the leadoff hitter for more than half a season until they acquired Kenny Lofton in late July. After that Grudz hit 2nd. For the season, Grudz hit .314/.366 avg/obp and only 6 SB’s in 8 attempts.

  14. GregD

    The next year(2004), Walker got the most at-bats in the lead-off spot, hitting .247 with a .352obp. Zero SB’s in 3 attempts. Patterson, though, led off almost every day from August 1 until the end of the season. He hit .336 with a .388obp in August, but completely stunk in Sept with .190/.250 avg/obp.

    In 2005, it was Hairston batting leadoff more than anyone else. He only hit 261avg/336obp for the season, but at least he had come off a couple of decent obp seasons at Baltimore (.353 in 2003 and .378 in 2004.)

    In 2006, Baker finally his type of leadoff hitter. Fast, no power, high average: Juan Pierre. And 4 of his previous 6 seasons, Pierre had OBP’s of 353, 378, 362, and 364. However, it was only 330 (still with no power) in Chicago.

  15. Chris

    Great discussion, guys.

    Jared’s Pee-Wee quote has to be among the top 5 posts of the year, so far. DEEP into the vault, circa 1984, I believe.

  16. GregD

    That’s interesting Dan. Patterson did lead off a lot during Baker’s 4 years in Chicago, but he never had the most at-bats in the leadoff position in any single season with the Cubs. Did their GM reign him in a little or Baker managed in response to the Chicago media?

  17. Van

    Nevermind the fact that Patterson could be on base four times a game but as long as the 3-4-5 guys aren’t hitting it doesn’t mean squat.

    Comment by Mr. Redlegs — 5/12/2008 @ 11:33 pm

    If Patterson were getting on base 4 time a game it would mean quite a lot when you consider that the 7 and 8 spots in the order have been the most productive.