Reds manager Dusty Baker’s testy answer to a question yesterday about playing time for Todd Frazier and Scott Rolen has been reported by John Fay and Mark Sheldon. At the end of his remarks, Baker said this:
“Since I’ve been here there have been six or seven guys everybody fell in love with,” Baker said. “The next month you don’t hear their name. The next year or whatever. I’m just trying to win ballgames.”
After giving that some thought, I came to a couple conclusions. First, Dusty Baker must hate Cincinnati Reds fans, because you never hear him say a single nice thing about us. That’s a little unusual because we indirectly pay his above-league-average salary.
But, more important, what about the substance of what Baker said? Is his characterization of those situations accurate? Did we fall in love with certain players who quickly faded away?
Here are the examples I could think of where public opinion seemed to differ from Baker’s lineup choices. There might be others you could include on this list. Maybe Devin Mesoraco for Ramon Hernandez at the end of last year. Pretty much anyone over Jim Edmonds in 2010.
- Chris Dickerson over Corey Patterson (2008)
- Joey Votto over Scott Hatteberg (2008)
- Dickerson and Drew Stubbs over Willy Taveras (2009)
- Paul Janish over Orlando Cabrera (2010)
- Janish or Zack Cozart over Edgar Renteria (2011)
- Chris Heisey over Jonny Gomes (2011)
- Todd Frazier over Scott Rolen (2012)
So looking at the list, it’s not that the fans were “in love with” certain players. We just wanted someone else out there. I was never in love with Chris Dickerson. But I sure wanted him in CF instead of Willy Taveras every stinking night that summer.
The second thing that really stands out is that, in retrospect, the person in love was Dusty Baker. How else do you explain that once they were removed from the protection of his line-up, Patterson, Hatteberg, Taveras, Cabrera, and Renteria…their professional careers were basically over? I doubt a year from now that Rolen will be playing. None of the rest, beside Gomes, are playing now.
It was the players that Baker favored who could be aptly described as: “The next month you don’t hear their name. The next year or whatever.”
Steve grew up in Cincinnati as a die-hard fan of Sparky’s Big Red Machine. After 25 years living outside of Ohio, mostly in Ann Arbor, he returned to the Queen City in 2004. He has resumed a first-person love affair with the Cincinnati Reds and is a season ticket holder at Great American Ball Park. The only place to find Steve’s thoughts of more than 140 characters is Redleg Nation. Follow his tweets @spmancuso.