2011 Reds / 2012 Reds / Dusty Watch

Younger and Better

A new strategy for the Reds is percolating.  Let’s go with my friend Mike’s suggestion and call it “Younger and Better.”  The premise is the Reds have several strong players at AAA who may be able to contribute more than their current counterpart on the Reds.  John Fay, the Reds beat writer for the Cincinnati Enquirer is one proponent and here’s how he explains it:

So I’d continue to do what they did with the Jonny Gomes trade and open spots for young players. Take one of those reported offers for Ramon Hernandez and bring up Devin Mesoraco. … Give Todd Frazier a trial at third until Scott Rolen returns.  See if someone’s willing to give up prospects for Francisco Cordero and let Aroldis Chapman close for the rest of year.  When Zack Cozart returns, give Edgar Renteria his parting gift.  Play Yonder Alonso and Chris Heisey in left.  Maybe the young guys will energize the club.  Maybe they’ll turn the season around.

Younger and Better isn’t a call for shedding salary in the name of yet another rebuilding.  It’s a strategy of shedding certain veteran players in favor of younger ones who are their equals or, hopefully, their betters right now.  I respect John Fay for publicly taking this stance in such a direct manner, because it can’t be easy doing his job while being critical of the team management.  But his post leaves out the most important part of effectively implementing Younger and Better.

Dusty Baker has to be replaced as the Reds’ manager.

Leaving aside Baker’s batting orders, bullpen usage, apparent financial stake in the sacrifice bunt, losing track of the count, and the home stand dedicated to allowing starting pitchers to blow leads — yes, mercifully leaving aside all of that, Dusty Baker is exactly the wrong manager for Younger and Better.

Johnny B. Baker (Photo: Steve Mancuso)

Younger and Better requires a new message of energy and accountability.  Young stars do not need a “players manager” — just the opposite.  Dusty Baker is a veteran-player’s manager and there’s nothing wrong with that.  But the younger, better Reds would no longer be that kind of team.

Younger and Better needs a true commitment to playing the young players.  Again, that’s not in Dusty Baker’s coaching DNA.  He’d play Scott Rolen regularly at third base, not Todd Frazier.  He’d start Fred Lewis, not Yonder Alonso.  Ryan Hanigan would catch five games a week, not Meso.  Just ask Willy Taveras or Orlando Cabrera.  Or Edgar Renteria.

Younger and Better requires a fresh pair of eyes at the top.  The person evaluating performance on a day-to-day basis has to be someone capable of a complete break with the past.

Finally, Younger and Better needs a clean slate of optimism.  If Dusty Baker stayed on, the narrative would linger: ‘we’ve got to keep grinding ahead.’  The roster turnover would imply the team veered off the tracks, but the conductor would still be there driving the train.  Dusty Baker impedes a new arc for the team.

Younger and Better, whatever its merits, must be Dusty-proof.

46 thoughts on “Younger and Better

  1. Good job. And, man, that pic of Dusty and the SIGN! Classic. While I’m happy w/ my Dean Martin avatar, some member of the Nation better step up and make that pic theirs. Awesome.

    • @wildwestLV:

      Good job. And, man, that pic of Dusty and the SIGN! Classic. While I’m happy w/ my Dean Martin avatar, some member of the Nation better step up and make that pic theirs. Awesome.

      If I knew how to do it, then I would.

  2. Took that picture in Goodyear in 2010. Didn’t even see the sign at the time, but afterward thought it was kinda funny. And appropriate.

  3. I’m behind this plan completely. Our division is so bad that anything could happen. I’d replace Jacoby and Price, too, as those are the critical areas of instruction/coaching. The absolute worst thing that would happen is we slip a few games farther back, but give our young players some experience and keep our future intact.

  4. Problem with the plan is that Dusty won’t do it and Walt either can’t or won’t fire Dusty. Either Walt has been told by Bob that he will not eat Dusty’s contract or for whatever reason Walt doens’t see a need to change out the manager position. Which leads me to the main problem with the franchise and it’s lack of leadership and or a plan of action. You have a manager that favors veteran creaminess over youth, you have a GM who is afraid to trade the youth for viable ML talent and or to promote said young talent and force his GM to use the young kids. Then you have the owner who seems to be hands off which ins’t a bad thing, but needs to know when it is time to step in when change is needed.

  5. They owe him millions, but at this point it’s a sunk cost. They need to turn the page.

    Dusty Baker has led this team to sub-.500 records in three out of his first four seasons as manager, and 2010 looks more and more like an outlier every day. He was the wrong manager in the beginning and he’s the wrong manager now. You cannot go young and hire a veteran player’s manager. Yeah, they won the division last year, but they had big contributions from their veterans. This year, the veterans are old, hurt, or gone, and the team is still stocked with talent. But Dusty can’t get them going. He can’t even recognize that it’s a bad idea to call up a #1 draft pick and top hitting prospect and then bench him.

    It’s time to turn the page. Walt doesn’t need to have a veteran fire sale. He just needs to fire Dusty and a few of his coaches and change the climate.

  6. I am reading alot today where people want to lay the blame at the feet of Dusty…how much blame should be laid at the feet of Bruce for not producing consistantly? What about Stubbs and his 5000000 strikeouts this year of the inability of everyone outside of Cueto to pitch consistantly? Yes Dusty may not put the best lineup out there, but come on, maybe it’s time to relize Bruce and Stubbs and Homer and some others are just not the talents we thought they were?

    • I am reading alot today where people want to lay the blame at the feet of Dusty…how much blame should be laid at the feet of Bruce for not producing consistantly?What about Stubbs and his 5000000 strikeouts this year of the inability of everyone outside of Cueto to pitch consistantly?Yes Dusty may not put the best lineup out there, but come on, maybe it’s time to relize Bruce and Stubbs and Homer and some others are just not the talents we thought they were?

      That is EXACTLY the point, though! Seemingly every time a manager gets fired, the argument is made that it wasn’t HIS fault that his players couldn’t pitch or hit or whatever. A manager can’t do that for them.

      But a manager has to “manage.” He has to have an idea when to pull a pitcher; Dusty doesn’t seem to. A manager is responsible for the batting order and who he sends out there defensively. Three full months of Volquez/Gomes/shortstop failures tells me Dusty doesn’t get that, either. When Bruce whiffs, that’s on Bruce. He’ll keep getting chances because he is the present/future of the team. But when we let the Renterias and Gomeses keep dragging us down, who is that benefiting? It’s just blocking other players who can’t possibly do any worse….

      But sadly, we’re stuck with Dusty for another two months of bad decision-making. Maybe he’ll at least not forget the count in a squeeze situation.

  7. Dusty isn’t the mananger for this team, but I think more and more that Jockety is the problem with the franchise right now. What has he done really? How many contributing players has he added to the team alongside the organizational fillers like Renteria, Taveras, and other old St Louis players? He knows what Dusty is, knows his weaknesses, yet continually provides an environment where Dusty can make this team lose.

    Ultimately I think the buck stops with Uncle Walt.

  8. I like younger and better, and I certainly like the idea of Dusty being fired.

    The problem I have is that younger and better was obvious in the offseason, and the front office chose to go in the other direction. Heck, you don’t even have to say “younger and better,” you can just say “better.” The front office chose to go with players who were obviously worse (and more expensive) than what they had in the system.

    Go back and look at the threads on the blog. The Arroyo extension, the Gomes extension, the Renteria signing. Most of us cried foul about every one of these. They were obviously bad moves, and we’re just people who watch the games on TV.

    Maybe it was Dusty’s influence, I hope so actually, because then maybe a new manager would really make a difference. But I doubt it, which means the problem is bigger than the manager.

  9. As I stated this morning in the Titanic recap comments section from yesterday game:

    You know what Lincoln said about a house divided. Dusty and Jocketty may be getting to the point of no return with their relationship. As a manager you cannot come out and say you’re not going to play the guy that the GM just brought up. That’s just plain stubborn. ( Like we didn’t know that about Dusty already, Yeah/right.)

    You may not want to pay Dusty to stay home but that still might be the best option if this situation escalates any further. I bet that Rick Sweet and the staff would almost work for nothing to prove that they could do the job here. Promise him a raise after Dusty’s contract expires. Possible option? Funny how some people have gotten better down there only to come here and revert. I know it’s AAA but… These problems are showing up in the field of play and I agree with whoever said Dusty’s lost this team because no one has showed up for work this week.

    • Well no, the buck stops with Bob…he writes the checks.

      The buck never stops with owners unless they say it does.

      • The buck never stops with owners unless they say it does.

        Bob has final say on whom Walt can obtain, cut and fire and hire. If Bob tells Walt he is unwilling at this point to pay for Dusty to sit unemployed and pay for his replacement, Walt has no option but to keep Dusty on. Same with the Trades, if Walt goes to Bob and says hey I can add player X but I will need X amount more of money to pay his salary it’s Bob who says yes or no.

  10. I think they very well should go ahead and ship Coco and Hernandez out for as much as they can. They are free agents and the Reds are not going anywhere, see what you can get.

    I wouldn’t put that much down for Jimenez at all, as proposed. That guy is not worth it. I’d be more inclined to look at Shields in a deal.

    I’d sit with Dusty sometime this weekend and say pretty much the season is done, we got to get ready for next year. If he doesn’t get it, then you have to react but the guy has been in the game a long time and this is not the first club he has had that is in this situation. They are six back with the Giants coming to town. Freaky things could happen, as for some reason the Reds THIS year seem to play the good teams well and then play middling against the rest. This season is like the Evil Spock verson of last season – play bad against bad clubs, lose close games, make defensive errors at bad time score big when the pitching is off, hit nothing with the pitching is good. They are still like -5 on the pythagorean record on baseball reference, so I take that as a sign that they are close, just not there.

    Reds are not going to fire Dusty. Only thing I could see that going down is with a go into some epic complete nose dive like what the M’s just did going from 42-43 to 43-60. That’s what eventually did in Boone and Narron, neither I think Reds management probably didn’t want to fire at that point – it just got out of hand and went wrong.@dn4192:

  11. The only way you are going to make Dusty put the young players in the lineup is to leave him no choice. Which ever soon to be free agent veterans (Lewis, Renteria, Cordero etc..) you can’t get something for at the deadline you release and bring up all of the prospects you think will help and he will have no one else to choose from. DL Arroyo and who ever else qualifies let em go. See what you got to work with for the future.

  12. Oh brother…same old conservative arguments…what is the organization paying these guys (Lewis, Renteria, Taveras and Cabrera) for? Those four took the Reds for almost $12 million, not to mention the $6 million to Rolen. Why pay if they shouldn’t play? You should be writing an editorial about Walt Jocketty, Steve.

  13. Funny…Tony Perez had just a bad west coast road trip and was fired and we can’t get rid of Dusty….

  14. What about young Eduardo Perez as the next Reds manager? I certainly like the impact he is having on some of the Florida Marlin hitters. Maybe McKeon could be his bench coach. 😀

  15. @secondguessingfanbase: I get reeeeally tired of hearing how this organization has no money and can’t afford so-and-so, yet they’ll go out and drop millions on Mike Lincoln, Wily Taveras, Edgar Renteria — the list goes on — and they’ll sign veterans like Rolen for even more millions when it’s clear they are on the downslope of their careers.

    The problem with this organization’s money is not in how much, but how they spend. Every organization gets on the hook for a bad contract. But don’t go out and set your money on fire and then act broke like you can’t help it.

  16. Problem is very few teams that have the budget limits the Reds do are run by guys who know better than to blow money on a Renteria or an Arroyo or a Rolen.

    If the Reds are going to have to be super smart to win, they have to fire Jocketty yesterday. And they’re going to have to be very careful with the next guy because there’s dozens of GM candidates who will blow money left & right.

    The problem with the younger & better theory for the most part is that the Reds young players are either unproven or starting to look more like suspects.

    Proven good: Bruce, Votto (Bruce may be inconsistent but he’s young and his overall contribution is above average)
    Holding their own — approximately major league average hitters: Heisey, Stubbs
    Who knows? Cozart, Alonso (but the latter looks like he’s got holes in his swing), Meso, etc

    Proven good pitchers: Cueto
    Holding their own: Mike Leake
    Could be in trouble: Travis Wood
    Looks like he was overblown or under-developed: Homer Bailey
    Titanic wreckage: Volquez
    Who knows? Chapman (not worth too much if he stays in the pen, really)

    So basically getting younger means betting on some guys who are pretty unknown and the ones who we have some ML data on are not looking all that hot (I mean at this point if someone says Homer Bailey is a guy who we expected to develop into a top line guy, I think yeah about as much as I expected that from Jack Armstrong and we know how that panned out…)

    The Reds need to trade some of the younger unproven guys for some guys who are nearer their prime. Or the era of Votto will end with a whimper in two years.

  17. Off topic but what is up with the Big Donkey this year? .307 slugging? WOW! I haven’t followed him at all this year. Is he hurt or what?

  18. @Kurt Frost: The discussion I heard on mlbnetwork is that the Big Donkey is having trouble adjusting to DHing, that not everyone can do it.

    A different interpretation is that big guys with big swings don’t age well.

  19. I have been in favor of bringing up the guys from AAA for some time. I still think if Sappelt had been brought up in mid June when he was coming back from his injury that he might have been the catalyst to light the Reds team into the kind of run they have not been able to manage all year. Would he have been able to maintain? Who knows and who cares? A 15-5 or so run would have been huge back then (and for that matter might still be) and put the team into the driver’s seat.

    The last month have provided all sorts of indications that the Reds might need to make a change in the manager’s office. However to link that change with “younger and better” I think is a stretch simply because the likes of Stubbs, Bruce, Janish, Votto, all the young relievers etc who helped win the division were a year younger and played better for Dusty last year than they are this year. In fact it seemed like whoever they brought up stepped right in and played well last season.

    So, as I said, lots of reasons jumping out at us daily to suggest a management change is merited but it is not clear that younger and better would require it.

  20. For Dusty Baker to get fired this season, it would take a monumental collapse.
    After the season ends, maybe, if the Reds continue to play like crap.

    I agree with those who say that WJ should treat very few players in the Reds organization as virtually untouchable, and even if the Reds are almost out of it, try to improve the team for 2011 and beyond. But with what teams are reportedly asking for good starting pitchers and bats, I don’t see anything happening.

    Given the above, the way to go (nothing new here) would be to see players like Mesoraco, Alonso, Cozart, and Frazier get a lot of playing time from here. WJ could facilitate this with some moves, starting with the obvious move of trading Ramon this weekend.

    According to another GM, WJ is unsure of what direction to take right now, which is understandable. He’s got to figure it out soon though. If Dusty balks at the direction, it could mean he departs sooner rather than later, which would be fine with me.

    • I agree with those who say that WJ should treat very few players in the Reds organization as virtually untouchable, and even if the Reds are almost out of it,try toimprove the team for 2011 and beyond.But with what teams are reportedly asking for good starting pitchers and bats, I don’t see anything happening.

      Agreed. I don’t care how good Mesoraco is or how rare that is, if the price is right I would ship him.

      The closest I’d come to an untouchable is Chapman, and it’s because he’s going to put butts in the seat. But it’s entirely possible his value could never be higher than it is now. He’s unproven and shows some rough edges, but everyone sees a crazy high ceiling, and merely adequate performances are going to hurt his stock more than amazing performances help it. Don’t get me wrong, I love having him and I think he’ll probably end up being great, but so does everyone else, so I think a lot could be had for him in trade.

      I also hold the unpopular opinion that Votto could be traded. I saw someone in another thread insist “you can’t get rid of a +6 WAR player,” but if you could put a +3 guy in SS and LF and get a prospect out of the deal … uh, why not? You improve more spots and you don’t have all your eggs on one basket. And the next 2 years with Votto are almost certainly going to be the last, anyway.

  21. Renteria has not been good overall, but I don’t think he was a horrible signing. He hasn’t really worked out, but look at Dan Uggla in Atlanta, Adam Dunn in Chicago, etc. Paul Janish was the guy who really dissapointed I think. He was given the starting job at SS.

    Renteria I think was signed as a guy almost strictly for the playoffs. The Reds thought they had that kind of team but they obviously don’t, but it’s not because of Renteria.

    It’s hard to tell how talented are young guys really are. I’m not sure hometown fans have an accurate grasp on scouting the young guys! The future doesn’t look as bright though as it once did and that is dissapointing.

    It’s hard to tell what the biggest core problem is. I think moving forward though, having high level starting pitching is a concern. It seems Cincy has a lot of talent, but besides Cueto no one has been too consistent or healthy. It almost seems like trading for Shields or Jimenez would make more sense now that the Reds are falling out of the race.

    Homer Bailey still has the potential, but his stats aren’t really that impressive over the last couple of months.

    But the Reds are losing in many different ways which is very frustrating because you can’t really pinpoint why they are losing with such regularity now. I really would be surprised if they let Dusty Baker go. I’m not sure what the Reds think…do they see him as a Larussa who they are sticking with no matter what, or is he expendable. Larussa had a bad year with St. Louis last year, but they still had a winning record. I think that speaks to how good the Cardinals organization has really been.

    To sum up all my random thoughts…Scott Rolen, Johnny Gomes, Arroyo, and Volquez have all not had good seasons, and last year 3 of them did have good seasons and Volquez was the Reds starting day pitcher this year. Not sure what that means, but they were depending quite heavily on all those guys coming into this year and all have been dissapointing or injured.

  22. Does anyone on this blog now feel that any certain players are unavailable in the right deal for a top pitcher such as James Sheilds. I would consider Stubbs, Bailey, Phillips, Mesorasco … whomever except for Cueto as a trade chip. I’m not saying that WJ should overpay but the Giants and Phils have demonstrated that top starting pitching trumps all other departments on the roster for winning baseball. Make deals with that goal as the top priority and make sure that they’re healthy.

    From here on out the first 5 draft picks should be pitching. Make that be the strength of your farm system and the rest of MLB will be at your doorstep to offer you value for it. Keep the best and part with the rest for others position best players.

  23. “”I feel like we have great players on the team, but right now, we’re just not getting it done,” second baseman Brandon Phillips said. “We have some of the best talent in baseball on one team, but as a team, we’re not putting things together. We have to do something to change up the attitude. It can be something small. I love my teammates to death, but we all want to win.””

    We have to do something to change up the attitude. – Wouldn’t changing managers/coaching staff be the best way to do that?

  24. Hear, hear.

    Dusty’s not a good manager. He’s the zero in the bottom of our fraction for success.

    It sickened me when he was 2nd in voting for last year’s manager of the year.

    • Dusty’s not a good manager. He’s the zero in the bottom of our fraction for success.

      Brilliant !

  25. It’s just about unanimous about getting rid of DB and some of his coaches (Jacoby in particular), but that’s not happening this season. Except maybe Jacoby: the AAA hitting coach would be an upgrade, from what I’ve seen of the approach of Cozart, Alonso, Frazier, the improvement from Janish, etc.

    A thing about “younger and better” is that you always want better, but younger depends on circumstances. In the Reds case right now, you mainly want younger. But the decisions have to be made on a case by case basis. You don’t want to get rid of every single veteran and you don’t want to bring up every AAA prospect.

    Trade Ramon now and bring up Mesoraco. DFA Renteria when Cozart returns.
    Yonder is already up, so play him. When Rolen returns, keep Frazier on the roster as a supersub. He can play LF so get rid of Lewis. I don’t know if Sappelt is ready.

    Keep Cairo around, he’s done a great job as a backup and PHer (except when Dusty starts him a lot of days in a row). And it’s good to have one “in your face” veteran who says so when the team stinks.

  26. Pingback: Welcome to the Bandwagon! « Senor Smoke

  27. First and foremost, bringing Renteria in may have been with good intentions but his negative affect on the team in the clubhouse and on the field is not a positive influence on the younger and better Reds players. He plays and carries himself with no enthusiasm/fire. He looks sloppy. His jersey is constantly untucked which isn’t in line with the old school Reds mentality…classy, professional, hard-nosed. It’s obvious his non-chalant style of play has trickled down to the younger players on the team as Cairo so elequently told us after yesterday’s loss. Let’s get rid of Dusty’s boy toy.

    Get rid of Frazier while, hopefully, other teams want him. He is a .260 hitter…IN THE MINORS. He has a long swing which means anyone with an average/above average major league fastball will rip him up. He, like Renteria, carries himself with a “superstar” attitude on the field, but with that wiffle ball swing, won’t equate to major league superstar status. Again, the Reds don’t need that. Put the ball on the ground/line drives, run like the devil, and the power will come. Hard-nosed, Charlie Hustle-style baseball players are what we need.

    Get rid of Chappy??? Dumb. He has a closer mentality with the most unhittable fastball in the majors. With Coco being ineffective and, hopefully, gone after this year, we have the best, most shut down closer in baseball since Mariano in him. Let’s keep him and see where his talents take us.

    Keep Yonder (put him at third when we get rid of Frazier), Cozart, Phillips, Votto, Mesoraco as the infield. Stubbs, Bruce (heartbreakingly inconsistent but too young to give up on so soon), and a platoon of Heisey/Sappelt in left.

    Use the rest of the fellas to perhaps aquire a true #1 to compliment the 1b we have in Cueto.

    With this formula of Younger & Better, the good Lord willing and the creeks don’t rise, I think we’ll have a real TEAM to contend with for years to come. Go Reds!

  28. Reds in on Michael Bourn?

    http://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2011/07/reds-in-on-michael-bourn-.html

    Apparently the qualities that Bourn offers are an above average OBP and an ability to steal bases, which makes him a better lead-off hitter than we have now. He is signed through 2012.

    I’m against this trade in principle.

    Bourn’s career OBP is .338, his higher OBP this year (.367) is entirely a function of luck.

    Bourn’s 2011 BABIP is .381 which he won’t sustain. His career BABIP is .341. So once his luck returns to normal, the OBP bump completely disappears.

    Even assuming Bourn could sustain a .345 OBP, is that enough of an upgrade over Drew Stubbs, who looks to be able to maintain an OBP around (.329)? The tradeoff is power. Stubbs has considerably more power than Bourn, hitting about 20 HR per year, when Bourn regularly hits one or two.

    Stubbs is also much cheaper than Bourn and under team control for several years. If Bourn isn’t much, if any, of an upgrade over Stubbs, why spend the scarce $$$ there?

    Trading for Micael Bourn would replicate the Willy Taveras move, although at a greater benefit and cost. Bourn is a better defender than Taveras, and a more consistent hitter. Yet, the flawed thinking is the same because both moves were entirely based on a short-term bump in that player’s OBP that was not likely to be sustained.

    And Bourn will cost more than Taveras, not only in $$$, but also in prospects.

    I’ll be really disappointed if we make this mistake, again.

  29. @CincyGMRockett:

    …but first things first…this ideology holds no clout unless we rid ourselves of Dusty. Our record in 1 run games, coupled with the late losses and lack of leadership/fire on the team starts with the manager. Any true baseball guy will tell you that. It’s obvious to me and most of the Reds fans.

    Your players aren’t responding to your “leadership” so it’s time to make a change. Refusal to accept this fact would be a slap in the face to Reds fans and faithful followers.

    After dealing with mediocrity for years, last year gave the Reds faithful and prospective fans a reason to keep coming to games, watching on tv, spend our hard earned money to keep pulling for America’s 1st professional sports team. This year could take the Reds franchise from small/mid-market to the upper eschelon of Major League teams. As any smart business person knows, it’s the REPEAT customers that you want for your business to succeed and go to the next level. Let’s keep ’em coming to the park, talking to their kids about Reds history, and tuning in to Reds games this year and for years to come.

    The time for change is NOW.

  30. Furthermore, IF we’re going to spend money to get a ballplayer…why not wait and get Jose Reyes??? After getting rid of the contracts of Coco, Dusty, Hernandez, and other high-priced guys, shouldn’t we have some wiggle room? Can you even imagine the combination of Reyes and Phillips up the middle? Much less the production and energy at the top of the lineup? Brandon has made it clear that he would LOVE to play with him…what second baseman wouldn’t, right? So let’s take all the speculation out of Brandon going to New York and bring Reyes to Cincy!

    Clear up some salary room now and start talking to his people. Let’s start a Reds dynasty. Go Big Red Machine II!!!!!

  31. @Steve Mancuso: I think the Reds are staying in on this deal in case the price drops and the Reds turn a corner.

    I agree with you that if the common thinking is reality, Stubbs for Bourn, it’s a bad deal. If it is something less, then I don’t hate it.

    I don’t get how the rental of a pricey leadoff bat really pays dividends this season. Maybe condition the trade on a cost effective extension for the following year?

  32. I’ve got a feeling that being undecided about buying or selling will have the Reds not doing a thing. Minor deals if any. I keep telling myself this team has not been on a big winning streak at all this year. Win 10 of 12 or 6 out of 7 at the right part of the schedule gets us right back at the top of the division. Eternal optimist I guess.

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