On Dusty Baker

John Fay had this to say about our intrepid manager:

No manager has been very popular during the eight-year hiatus from .500-plus baseball in Cincinnati. But Baker seems to be getting ripped more vociferously than Jerry Narron or Bob Boone.

Maybe I’m wrong, but from my perspective, that’s just silly. I’m not particularly happy with Dusty, but I’ll go on the record right now as stating that he is a million times better than Bob Boone. Probably better than Jerry Narron, too (though that’s faint praise; in the land of the blind, the one-eyed man is king).

Baker does a lot of dumb things, no question about it, and I’m not inclined to waste much of my time defending the guy. Let’s face it, none of these guys is Davey Johnson as a manager. But I’ll take Dusty Baker over Bob Boone every day of the week, and twice on Sunday.

I know there will be people who will disagree, but if so, you have forgotten what a miserable manager Boone was. And if, as Fay says, Baker is getting ripped more vociferously, it’s only because there were no blogs back then to rip Boone. It has nothing to do with their relative merits as managers.

Blame Chad for creating this mess.

Chad launched Redleg Nation in February 2005, and has been writing about the Reds ever since. His first book, “The Big 50: The Men and Moments That Made the Cincinnati Reds” is now available in bookstores and online, at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and wherever fine books are sold. You can also find Chad’s musings about the Cincinnati Reds in the pages of Cincinnati Magazine.

You can email Chad at chaddotson@redlegnation.com.

Join the conversation! 40 Comments

  1. Fay is wrong. Baker is not getting ripped more than the other managers…it’s that e-mail & blogs are more common than they were under previous managers.

    When did Fay’s blog begin? Certainly not under Boone. Maybe toward the end of Narron. The feature that allows you to leave a comment at the end of every Enquirer article is fairly new, too.

    So, IMO, Baker is not getting ripped more…it’s that more people have access to the internet and Fay has provided more access to his stories.

  2. I’d have to disagree with John Fay in the strongest terms. Jerry Narron was absolutely ripped during his time in cincy. The press Dusty’s gotten is no where near as bad as Narron’s.

    Narron deserved a good deal of it, (IMO). The fact that he’s not gotten another chance at managing might bare my opinion out.

    Boone was his own worst enemy with some of the statements he made while manager.

  3. Boone was the worst manager in recent memory and I think by far

    I didn’t like Narron (too passive and even seemed passive aggressive with his players) but he did do a lot right and a LOT more right than Boone

  4. It’s primarily a matter of expectations: No one expected much of Boone or Narron, and certainly not with the rosters they managed.

    Dusty Baker has been successful in the past, was hired with much fanfare and has managed two of the most talented teams the Reds have fielded during this decade. Fans have much higher expectations for Baker and his team, and I would wager that the average Net-trolling baseball fan possesses more sophisticated knowledge than he did in 2003, thanks to the proliferation of statistical analysis. In other words, fans have thought of more things for which a manager can be criticized.

    And there are, of course, far more places to lodge those complaints nowadays.

  5. I agree w/ Fay. Dusty was being ripped from the day he was hired, before he ever managed a game. I think people were generally displeased with the hire and tend to find facts to support their initial reaction, rather than use all the facts to form an opinion. I don’t think it’s b/c blogs are more prevelant, either. Several radio hosts in Cincy mention it often that they feel that fans seem more disgruntled and more critical of Dusty during the call-in shows than they were with previous mangers. Of course Dusty doesn’t do himself any favors with his Yogi-esque quotes.

  6. Sounds to me like Dusty is crying sour grapes…oh, wait is that ripping?

    I can only say from my experience online that Boone was far worse. I do think expecations matter, too, but that goes back to my list of vilified Reds stars…

    Pete Rose
    2) Adam Dunn
    3) Frank Robinson
    4) Barry Larkin
    5) Ken Griffey, Jr.
    6) Danny Graves
    7) Bobby Tolan
    9) Joe Nuxhall
    9) Hal Chase
    10) Eric Milton

    When expectations are high, it seems that the best et the blame.

    (I’m certain there are many other players…these are just some that I could quickly come up with.) Even Nuxhall was chased out of town in 1960.

  7. It is about expectations, as Travis said. The others were low-cost options, Baker was trumpeted as a “big name manager” who came with a high price tag.

    Also let’s not forget that the Reds jumped at hiring Baker, they could have waited a bit and seen what panned out other possible options, such as Joe Torre. Not saying that Joe is the best manager around, he can be a little passive, but the Reds could at least have talked with him and considered their options, rather than rushing to get Dusty.

    To my surprise, when Joe was asked early last year (in a pre-game interview I heard) whether he’d be interested in managing the Reds, he gave a resounding “Yes.” For one thing, his wife is from Cincy and still has a lot of family there. When asked why he’s never managed the Reds, he replied: “I’ve never been asked.”

  8. I’m inclined to agree with the points raised in post 4… the level of expectations did go up with the hiring of a manager who had some strong mlb credentials and cost a lot of money. The Reds hired a big name and big wins were supposed to come with. Dusty also knowingly agitates the sabermetrics crowd half the time, so he brings that on himself.

  9. Is a team smarter to spend $10 million per year on an elite manager or to spend $9 million a year on a player and $1 million on a manager?

  10. You all think Boone was worse than Ray Knight? Or Dave Miley?


  11. I might be alone in this sentiment, but I think that Joe Torre is one of the top 3 managers in MLB. He’s no screamer, but he seems to get as much out of the players as he can.

    Look at how well the Yanks have done since he left, and then look how much more the Dodgers have achieved since he showed up.

  12. Why is it so difficult to hire a good manager. We had good ones in Sparky, McNamara, Johnson, McKeon, and Pinella. We’ve struck-out since Lou, although Mackanin did well during his 1/2 season as the interim.

  13. Redlegs, how do you rank the “worst”. Is one worster and another the worstest?

    There have been more radio hosts than managers in this city the past 10 years, so I’d take their insight with a grain of salt.

  14. I tend to side with those that fell that Dusty is nowhere near as criticized as the last several managers especially Boone and Narron. Dusty may be more quoted because of the stupid comments he makes though.

  15. As for managers…is Joe Torre a better manager now than he was when he managed terrible teams in Atlanta? Players make managers..period.

    As for Joe, my favorite story..day after Xmas a few years ago, I’m in line at the checkout at a Circuit City, just in a daze when I suddenly realize that Joe Torre is standing in front of me in line. He was returning something (can’t remember what)…

  16. Ray Knight was a good baseball man. He knew the game as well as anyone. He just couldn’t get along with players, coaches ownership or fans. He was in conflict with someone everyday. No surprise he never got another management job.

  17. Yeah, I don’t get this at all. I used to participate in the forums on the Reds’ official site (left because the mouth-breather quotient got too high). Those guys ripped Bob Boone on everything. Even Miley got torched. Narron too.

    The amount of ripping hasn’t really changed. The managerial quality has only changed marginally. So maybe it’s not fair to rip Dusty as much, but if he can’t take a good ripping, he shouldn’t be managing a team.

    I always take stuff like this with a grain of salt. Fay and the other writers have always gone soft on the managers and GMs, only to rip them once they’re gone. It’s about maintaining that rapport so they can get into the clubhouse and get those quotes/cliches every night. Fay’s job depends on making nice with Dusty. I’m not saying he’s a homer, but he can only say so much.

  18. Ray Knight couldn’t manage because he couldn’t go five minutes without talking about that home run he hit for the Mets in the 86 World Series. I swear every time I ever saw the guy call a game on TV he would mention that hit. My friends and I used to joke about it.

    Davey Johnson was a good manager, but maybe a bit too honest on things. The dude was not afraid to flip the bird to his bosses. He has to be the only manager that was fired four times with a winning record.

    Joe Torre is not as good a manager as his rep, but the dude must have some serious patience of a saint to be able to put up with the crap of being the Yanks manager for that long with those lunatics running the club.

    I was kind of bummed they didn’t give Pete Mackanin a year to see what happened. The team played with a heck of alot of energy even though the injuries kept piling up during his tenor. It probably wouldn’t have worked out considering how things went, but maybe he wouldn’t have run Harang into the mountain which led into a huge slide for a month.

    I don’t think you need to be an advanced baseball scout to think the manager screwed up in some of the games like this weekend and that 18 inning debacle last year in San Diego.

  19. I think it’s a combination of years of losing, expectations of Dusty, statements made by Castelini, and Dusty’s obvious silly moves with Corey P and starting pitchers in extra inning games.

  20. Fay is just plain wrong. Every single manager has gotten just about the same treatment the whole time, just a different forum in which to complain about them. My personal favorite was Miley, but he NEVER had control of any of the veterans and it is a shame he is no longer in the organization. He is one of the best minor league managers there are, it just didn’t translate into the major league level.

  21. Another thing that is different, the fans have something else to pull from when looking at Dusty because of his jobs in SF and Chi. All those other guys was either first timers or not that high profile. So fans can say, “oh just like in Chicago” or whatever when evaluating him.

  22. Boone was awfull in KC before he came to Cincy and was awfull here too. Other than Lou the managers have been bad since with the exception of Johnson, but Boone was the worst.

  23. Fay’s wrong. I know I ripped Boone ten times more than I do Dusty.

    The difference(s):
    1. Fay is aware of the internet now. He hadn’t logged on in 2003. Now, he actually has to listen to fan opinion.

    2. Dusty makes a buttload of money, and was hired with yet another Castellini “win now” promise. Boone wasn’t saddled with those particular expectations (however unrealistic).

    3. (And this might be the most telling): Boone took over a team that was 2 years off a “post-season” appearance. Dusty is now 10 years removed. That’s 8 years of futility – and Baker is taking some of the heat for Boone, Miley, Narron, et al.

  24. “To whom much is given, much is required” comes to mind when I think about Dusty. Here is a high profile manager from outside the organization, hired by an owner who said this is part of the ‘win now’ philosophy. His expectations were much higer than Miley or Narron by a long shot, and per management, should be. It was touted how this would make all kinds of free agents desire to come to Cinci, and the highest profile FA’s we got were Paul Bako and C_r_y P_tt_rs_n.

    That, along with more available media is the reason why it appears more ripping has occured.

  25. A couple of years ago, I made a sign that said “FIRE NARRON.” I would never do that with Toothpick. Overall, I’d even say Dusty has been a decent manager this year aside from the excessive use of the bunt. I mean, he’s doing really well not overusing Cueto and Volquez.

    Oh, and that FIRE NARRON sign? He was fired the next day. You can thank me later. Ha ha.

  26. …however if uses McDonald to pinch hit when Owings is available and coming into the game anyway I think we should call the printers.

  27. ALL managers are considered to do “a lot of dumb things” during their tenure. It is only after a manager has been fired for these “dumb things” that the next guy comes in and does more “dumb things” than the previous guy that you realize that person wasn’t that bad.

    Sparky was not immune from criticism for doing “dumb things.” And I imagine that Sparky would not have the record that he does and would be criticized for doing lots of “dumb things” if he had to try and win games with the talent of the Reds during this decade. That is the nature of the beast, whereby baseball decisions are always open to “that is not what I would have done,” so when it turns out bad, the manager does “dumb things.”

  28. BTW, Dusty did one of those “dumb things” just last Friday when he didn’t pinch hit for Harang. I consider it to be a dumb thing because it isn’t what I would have done and the result was bad. Which, while I know everyone is much more objective and fair than me, is a very subjective way of judging a manager’s moves or non/moves.

  29. Cary, I have the same definition of dumb. When I don’t like a manager’s in-game move and it turns out badly, as I expected, I think the manager is an idiot. But when the move works I’ll feel like he’s a pro with a lot more pertinent info than me, and will admire his confidence in his palyers.

    Just the same, using McDonald instead of Owings to PH on Saturday nite flabbergasted me. Not only is Owings a better hitter (and a much better PH), the move wasted a player in a marathon game.

  30. ❓ We had the manager for this young team in Pete MacKannin but Castellini wanted a big name; Sparky Anderson was an unknown also when he took over in 1970. Baker is not the fit for this young Reds team; I see too much Dodger blue.

  31. Give Pinson a pony. It was a dumb move regardless of the outcome. Burning two players instead of one in an extra inning affair, and going with the inferior bat to boot. I believe it was hoped that McDonald could actually do something to justify his existence. That was the priority over winning the game. If your personal agendas interfere with game management, then I have a problem with it. I think that goes beyond playing ‘monday morning quarterback’.

  32. Wasn’t Owings warming up in the bullpen when McDonald PH?

  33. The Owings move was the right one knowing that he would want Cordero pitching if they went ahead. If he had pinch hit Owings and the Reds took the lead, then Dusty would want Cordero to close (not saying I agree, but he’s the “closer,” so he has to pitch there) and Owings is burned as a PH. Then, he is left with Coco, who might have two innings in him. If he blows the lead, then he is out of pitchers. Harang, Volquez and Cueto were rightly not available.

    I had to think through that as well, but Dusty made the right move there knowing he wanted Cordero to pitch if the Reds took the lead. He would have had to be ok with Owings pitching the bottom of the inning if they took the lead, which he obviously didn’t since he hit McDonald.

  34. Yes, and with McDonald pinch hitting we didn’t have to worry about the Reds taking the lead, so the plan is safe.

    Use Owings to pinch hit, pray for a lead. If lead happens let Owings start the bottom of the inning leaving CoCo warm and see what happens. If Owings doesn’t get a hit nothing is lost and you still have McDonald on the bench for double switching/pinch running later. In extra innings you have to modify when you use your closer and what that role is.

    Or, heck: let’s use your logic and hit Hannigan or Janish, or Dick Pole, or anyone but McDonald.

  35. If he didn’t PH Owings because Owings *might* take a lead that Cordero *might* blow, then that is the wrong reason to not use your best pitch hitter in extra innings.

  36. That’s poor thinking, times two. If Cordero is so much better than Owings that he HAS to protect the lead, then you don’t have to worry about having someone to pitch behind him if he blows the lead. If Cordero’s NOT htat much better than Owings, then just let Owings get the save after he knocks in the go-ahead run.

    Dusty, like most managers, is too locked in to the concept of bullpen “roles.”

  37. And one of those roles is to bring the closer into a “clean” inning, that is, to start the inning with no one on base.

    Which is why I think Cordero should be shipped out the same time as Gonzalez.

    For all the people that complained about other players on the Reds they feel made too much (see any list of stars), paying a closer $12 million (an average closer at that) is lunacy. I mean everything has to be perfect to earn that $12 million for sixty innings a year.

  38. Chris,

    I am pretty sure if Dusty had made the move folks are suggesting on here and Cordero gives up the tying run (very plausible scenario, not because he’s a bad pitcher, but because closers give up runs just like anyone else, I don’t care how “nails” they are), he would be raked over the coals for burning Owings and needing to consider putting Cueto out there to cover some innings, or give up the game with Janish. I would be ok with letting Owings try to get the save, also, but that gets back to “its dumb because it isn’t what I would do” type of thinking.

  39. I don’t think you’re giving enough credit, Cary. I’m sure the WLW callers would complain, and Dusty would have to answer questions from John Fay and Hal McCoy, but I think most of the people who comment around here understand that good decisions sometimes have bad results (and vice versa).

    I don’t think we’re outcome-oriented in our analysis here – I really don’t.

  40. Cary, I admire the amount of thought you put into figuring out what Dusty was thinking with that move (33). But if you’re right, then he doesn’t have enough confidence in Micah as a hitter or as a pitcher.

    As I’ve said, I agree with your general point about managers getting second guessed whenever the result doesn’t work, but I can’t support Dusty on this one.

Comments are closed.

About Chad Dotson

Blame Chad for creating this mess. Chad launched Redleg Nation in February 2005, and has been writing about the Reds ever since. His first book, "The Big 50: The Men and Moments That Made the Cincinnati Reds" is now available in bookstores and online, at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and wherever fine books are sold. You can also find Chad's musings about the Cincinnati Reds in the pages of Cincinnati Magazine. You can email Chad at chaddotson@redlegnation.com.


2009 Reds, Reds - General


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