If you’ve read what I’ve written here the past few years, this post will probably surprise you. It surprises me to be writing it. This opinion will be controversial among members of the Nation. My butcher on Court Street this morning was adamant that the Reds have to fire Dusty. Since one of my live-longer rules is avoiding arguments with people wielding long, sharp knives, I waited to get home before saying this out loud.

I’ve come to the conclusion that the Reds should bring Dusty Baker back as Manager.

Not that my opinion matters more than any other season ticket holder. It certainly appears the Reds and Baker are on their way toward working out a contract extension, so this conversation is academic. My guess is that Baker wants to win a World Series before he hangs up his sweatbands and the Reds are the most likely vehicle available to him. It’s possible he’ll retire to be with his family and watch his son play sports. Maybe he and the Reds won’t agree on terms. But the odds seem to be mounting that he’ll be back.

The bottom line for me is really basic: The Reds won 97 games this season. Ninety-seven. They had the second best record in baseball and won the NL Central running away. They overcame adversity – serious injuries to Ryan Madsen and Joey Votto were devastating headlines. Dusty Baker kept the ship pointed in the right direction and the Reds improved by nearly 20 games from 2011. They’ve won the division twice in the past three seasons. Baker not only has earned a contract extension, but the Reds would be foolish to risk that trend line. Period.

Sure, aspects of Baker’s managing style drive me completely nuts. His lineups are awful, beyond any reasonable defense. He sacrifices too many outs at the altar of Old School. But I’ve said all along that I value the personal qualities he brings to the job and the city of Cincinnati. I pull for him to succeed. I’d love for the Reds to be successful with Dusty Baker as the Manager, and they undeniably are.

But what about last week? (Like most of you, I’m still raw.) Is there something about Dusty Baker’s approach to managing that puts the Reds at a disadvantage in the postseason? Did he cost us the Giants series?

My view is that the NLDS loss to the Giants is no more his fault than it is a dozen others. Scott Rolen’s error. Ryan Hanigan’s strikeout. Brandon Phillips’ running mistake. Mike Leake’s emergency start. Mat Latos’ wayward fastball to Buster Posey. Every player, even Homer Bailey, performed less than perfectly. And so did Dusty Baker. But are you ready to fire Ryan Hanigan because of one pitch? Release Brandon Phillips for that one play? No, obviously not. So let’s not evaluate the manager on individual calls, either.

Yes, there are legitimate complaints about the way he managed the series. (My biggest being that he handled it too much like the regular season, without the necessary urgency. Even to the point where we employed a “give away” approach to Game Four.) You can second-guess a number of his decisions, as you can with any manager.

But, if you’re honest about it, you have to admit that the players Baker had available to send on the field this week were not the same ones that produced the 97 wins. Crucially, it lacked pitching ace Johnny Cueto (who was lost at the most devastating time possible) and played with superstar Joey Votto ailing significantly. Where would the Tigers be if the same thing had happened to Justin Verlander, or the Yankees with the sudden loss of C.C.?

If the Reds had been at full strength, we’d be looking forward to beating the WLB tomorrow night.

Yes, the week was extremely frustrating. But it’s a measure of just how far the organization has come – with Dusty Baker as its Manager – that we are so heartbroken about a postseason series loss.

It’s not that I think Dusty Baker gives the Reds a huge edge. Or that there aren’t other managers who could potentially keep the Reds on track. But with the trajectory so positive, why jeopardize it?

My unsolicited advice to Walt Jocketty: Bring Dusty Baker back and work on the rest of it.

 

 

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.

Join the conversation! 114 Comments

  1. Huzzah! I had a friend tell me that he should be fired too. My response: “Because we were doing so well before him?”

  2. I thought they should of fired him after the 2010 season. He makes way too many head scratching calls. He is responsible for the three biggest chokes in modern playoff history and the team is way better then that. They need to get rid of Brook Jacoby he was awful this year. They should make Spier or Riggleman manager.

  3. Absolutely, but there should be a process put in place for who comes after him.

  4. As much as Baker drives me wacko with the line-ups and in-game decision making, I also agree that he should return. He works well with people and they buy into his vision. I would like to see him handle the media/fan criticism a bit better though.

    I’m okay with his coaching staff coming back with the exception of Brook Jacoby. I know he works hard but he does not possess the insights to hitting to make hitters better. I cannot think of one success story to his credit.

  5. I’d love to see them give him an extension (despite the fact he makes me foam at the mouth) and bring on the “future manager” to be an Assistant Manager. Let Dusty groom someone to replace him and make it a youngish guy so that we get some stability there during the Votto/Phillips/Cueto (VPC) years. Dusty makes some head-scratchers… but he’s doing something right, as his players love him and all of them play 100% for him. Some teams roll-over when losing… the Reds don’t. That’s more of a manager setting the tone of the clubhouse than anything else.

  6. Couldn’t agree less with this article.

    The main differences between 2011 and 2012? Health and talent.

    2011: No LF production, no CF production, No Mat Latos, Scott Rolen was Scott Rolen, No Todd Frazier with exceptional full in work, Cozart gets hurt within first few weeks of call up, guys in and out of rotation, closer/bullpen somewhat in flux, Cueto hurt at end of year when it didn’t really matter

    2012: Ludwick brings production to LF, still no CF production for most part, Mat Latos arrives and brings stability to rotation, Rolen still Rolen but Frazier plays at ROY level for most of season, Cozart healthy most if year with good D and stability at SS, rotation stable and healthy all season until Cueto fluke injury at wrong time, bullpen one of best if not best in baseball. And a top 5 player in baseball misses 1/3 of season.

    The difference is health and talent. Why can’t we get a guy the players like AND baseball tactician? We can do better.

  7. I posted this already on the Titanic Struggle thread, but I have two observations to add about the Dusty Baker managerial question.

    First, if the Reds replace Dusty, what happens to his coaching staff? I wouldn’t be surprised if Bryan Price, Chris Speier, Billy Hatcher, and Mark Berry stayed to work under Larkin (though I hope for many reasons they would replace Brook Jacoby). But I would be shocked if those guys stayed to play under Tony LaRussa. I think Bryan Price is a big key to the success of this team looking back to 2012, and looking ahead for years to come. For me, the insult of having TLR at the helm combined with the implications to the win-loss totals of losing Bryan Price would be devastating. I’m not saying the Reds have to keep Dusty (pretty sure they will), but I am saying PLEASE no TLR.

    Second, I’ve been in Atlanta since the wire to wire season of 1990, followed by the Braves worst to first year of 1991. Take a moment please to count up the Braves postseason appearances from 1991 on. The math isn’t hard – figure out the number of years from 1991 to 2005 and subtract one for the lost year of 1994. That’s 14 straight titles. Now calculate the number of World Series rings. That won’t take long either. One. Does that make Bobby Cox a poor manager? Would you have wanted to replace him during that stretch? I know he had the luxury of some amazing pitching staffs, and I’m not the biggest Bobby Cox fan (mostly because it was annoying watching all that winning here when the Reds were struggling), but in my opinion it’s just proof that the playoffs are a bit of a crapshoot. Give me the guy who gets the team TO the playoffs every year. The way to win the World Series is to make the playoffs. Then roll those dice. And I’m also willing to bet that Dusty Baker, his coaching staff, and the front office will be going over the last few days very carefully. I suspect there will be more urgency moving forward when the Reds are in the postseason, just as there was (eventually) better decision making with lineups (e.g. Stubbs in the 8 hole) and pitching decisions (e.g. Marshall in earlier innings) toward the end of this season. Dusty Baker will be back. And this team will be in the playoffs again. Hopefully again and again and again. I for one can’t wait.

  8. If Dusty wants to come back hes coming back, my only issue Drew Subbs, he should live this offseason with Joey Votto, he should not leave Joey vottos side, he can learn how to hit, other wise ship him out, get him him out.

    • If Dusty wants to come back hes coming back, my only issue Drew Subbs, he should live this offseason with Joey Votto, he should not leave Joey vottos side, he can learn how to hit, other wise ship him out, get him him out.

      That is something I can get behind. Stubbs has all sorts of potential… but ever since he went on record saying he wasn’t willing to change his swing (there was an article about him saying he wasn’t willing to give up his homeruns to become a singles hitter), I’ve been hoping they trade him while he still shows all that potential. If they keep he him, I hope he makes me eat my words.

  9. Nice post, Steve. Undeniable is that the Reds were better this year than any year in recent memory, despite several key injuries, a weak bench, and a lot of players with big question marks next to their names coming into the year in important positions (Rolen, Ludwick, Mes, Stubbs, Cozart, Frazier, Chapman, Arroyo…) Baker certainly deserves some credit for turning this into a winning team, and I think too often he doesn’t.

  10. Regarding Stubbs, I’m going to play devil’s advocate for a second. In all honesty, I’d be perfectly happy if he was traded, but I think his performance in the postseason didn’t hurt the Reds. Bear with me:

    Stubbs had 19 plate appearance in this series, which translated to 4 hits and 0 walks. That is a .211 BA and OBP. Not very good. That said, if he was a .300 hitter with a .350 OBP, that only translates to 2 additional hits and 1 additional walk. Drew certainly saved a run with his fielding when he cut a ball off in the gap with men on base (I’m forgetting which game that was). I don’t think that an average center fielder makes that play. 2 hits and a walk for a run? That’s just about a wash, I think, and it’s excluding any other good plays he might have made.

    Again, playing devils advocate. Stubbs needs to hit better… but his fielding compensates to a large extent.

  11. Agree on retaining Dusty. People (including me) blame the coach because it’s easier and more satisfying than blaming players for not producing enough to win.
    Reds lost the NLDS because they lost Cueto and they didn’t hit enough.
    I want Dusty 2.0, with a patch fixing the following bugs:
    1. High OBP guys at the top of the lineup
    2. Chapman in the rotation
    3. Use bullpen based on leverage
    4. More emphasis on walks, getting on base

    • Agree on retaining Dusty. People (including me) blame the coach because it’s easier and more satisfying than blaming players for not producing enough to win.
      Reds lost the NLDS because they lost Cueto and they didn’t hit enough.
      I want Dusty 2.0, with a patch fixing the following bugs:
      1. High OBP guys at the top of the lineup
      2. Chapman in the rotation
      3. Use bullpen based on leverage
      4. More emphasis on walks, getting on base

      Good luck with that one. Dusty 2.0’s release date has been pushed back indefinitely.

  12. @davidphillips6: I always cringe when people use this defense. Do you believe that the talent of the teams before Dusty Baker’s tenure were as good or better? Dusty was not the one scouting or signing talent over the last five years.

  13. I would like to have a different manager. I would like to have a different approach to hitting taught throughout the organization, too. But the manager of the second-winningest team in MLB doesn’t get fired. And if Dusty steps down, I wouldn’t imagine his replacement would have a greatly different philosophy than Dusty – they’d probably snap up a Jim Leyland type in a heartbeat…

    I’ll live with Dusty.

  14. Steve, it’s not simply Dusty’s poor management of the postseason that has me ready to move on. The mistakes that Dusty made in the postseason (the one’s that everyone is in agreement with and you note) are consistent with his poor management during the regular season as well. Dusty’s mistakes were not anomalies–they have occurred (and have been well documented on this site) regularly.

    The consistency with which he makes these kinds of managerial blunders occur at rate that exceeds the noted (and considered odd or extreme) mistakes made by players this postseason.

  15. There have been a lot of complaints about Davey Johnson’s postseason “blunders.” I wonder if he will be available…

    • There have been a lot of complaints about Davey Johnson’s postseason “blunders.”I wonder if he will be available…

      I was surprised by a couple of things Johnson did, and I like Johnson a lot. He pinch hit for Burnett in the 6th, something I would not have done as Burnett had only pitched to one batter, and it meant Edwin Jackson would be coming in for a whole inning.

      To me, Johnson was even more let down by his players than Baker. I mean, you just cannot walk Molina in a 7-5 game, 2 outs, and 1 on. People are just to worried about the chance of a home run. And Gio was IMO worse than Latos. Latos got a couple bad breaks then made one mistake. Gio had a 6 run lead and could not throw the ball over the plate.

  16. I think the Reds job is Dusty’s if he wants to stay and deservedly so. However it wouldn’t hurt if the Big Guy or Walt sat him down and had a talk with him about the area of his greatest failures, post season, and suggest he do some work on figuring out how he might avoid repeating the same mistakes. After all that is one of the things bosses are supposed to in upholding their end of the bargain.

    This said, I wonder if Dusty might have his eyes on other possible opportunities closer to home such as Anaheim or LA. Both of those teams are arguably as well positioned (or better so because $$$$) to get him a WS title as are the Reds.

    The other show stopper in Cincy could be the length of the deal Dusty wants versus what the Reds will do. As a guy virtually the same age as Dusty (3 weeks difference), I would not be surprised if he is looking for his last contract as a manager. He likely wants one long enough to give him ample opportunity to accomplish all he wants to accomplish but short enough that he will remain at the top of his game and leave on his own terms with healthy time left to spend as he chooses afterwards.

  17. I’ve been critical over Dusty’s line-ups this year, but don’t consider myself a Dusty hater and never called for his dismissal. Maybe it’s the sting of the recent losses or my Giants fan cousin in SF claiming that Dusty never could figure out when to pull a starter, but I am questioning bringing him back.

    His performance in the playoffs was terrible. Game 1 was thrust upon him and left him with little choice other than to turn to Latos. Game 2 was a blowout in which it made no difference what he did.

    Letting his foot off the Giants throat in game 3 still bothers me. I don’t believe any other manager in baseball doesn’t walk the bases full and force Bochy to use his last pinch hitter in a low scoring extra inning game. In games 4 and 5 Dusty let his starting pitcher give up 5 and 6 runs respectively. And in game 4, he brings in the worst pitcher in the bullpen in Arredondo, just as he would do mid-season when trailing, and allows the game to be blown open.

    He can get teams there, but blowing playoffs is a common occurence under his helm. I’m beginning to think the Reds need to move on if they are to get to the next level.

    • I’ve been critical over Dusty’s line-ups this year, but don’t consider myself a Dusty hater and never called for his dismissal. Maybe it’s the sting of the recent losses or my Giants fan cousin in SF claiming that Dusty never could figure out when to pull a starter, but I am questioning bringing him back.

      His performance in the playoffs was terrible. Game 1 was thrust upon him and left him with little choice other than to turn to Latos. Game 2 was a blowout in which it made no difference what he did.

      Letting his foot off the Giants throat in game 3 still bothers me. I don’t believe any other manager in baseball doesn’t walk the bases full and force Bochy to use his last pinch hitter in a low scoring extra inning game. In games 4 and 5 Dusty let his starting pitcher give up 5 and 6 runs respectively. And in game 4, he brings in the worst pitcher in the bullpen in Arredondo, just as he would do mid-season when trailing, and allows the game to be blown open.

      He can get teams there, but blowing playoffs is a common occurence under his helm. I’m beginning to think the Reds need to move on if they are to get to the next level.

      Well, Davey Johnson is another manager who would have pitched to Arias instead of walking him to force the other team’s best reliever out. How do I know? Because the Nats had EXACTLY the same situation, and Johnson had Storen pitch to Kozma instead of Tony Cruz, and walking Kozma gets Motte out of the game. In Johnson’s case, Storen was wild, and I could see him walking Cruz. There seemed less chance of Broxton (better control) walking Sanchez (hacker). Still, one shouldn’t, IMO, say that Baker’s move was wrong there.

    • Through Ohio Jim’s post a few minutes ago, it appears that RedLeg Nation is pretty evenly divided about Dusty. … I counted 10 wanting him back and 10 wanting him to go. There were a few comments that I couldn’t really tell what position the poster was taking.

      Make it 11 wanting him gone.

      His performance in the playoffs was terrible. Game 1 was thrust upon him and left him with little choice other than to turn to Latos. Game 2 was a blowout in which it made no difference what he did.

      Letting his foot off the Giants throat in game 3 still bothers me. I don’t believe any other manager in baseball doesn’t walk the bases full and force Bochy to use his last pinch hitter in a low scoring extra inning game. In games 4 and 5 Dusty let his starting pitcher give up 5 and 6 runs respectively. And in game 4, he brings in the worst pitcher in the bullpen in Arredondo, just as he would do mid-season when trailing, and allows the game to be blown open.

      He can get teams there, but blowing playoffs is a common occurence under his helm. I’m beginning to think the Reds need to move on if they are to get to the next level.

      Baker has a track record of messing up postseason series. He did it again and will do it next year if Bob gives him the chance. I don’t care how good a guy he is, or how much the players say in public how much they love him, he is no good for this organization because he will screw it up every time.

      On the radio, Mo Egger was defending Baker, saying that his critics always point out the micro mistakes. They forget the macro part of things, that the team won 97 games and they stand up for him. I say they should have won 107 games if not for the “micro” errors in his managing. The micro errors were the same in the regular season as they were in the playoffs. Leaving Latos in too long. Leaving Leake in too long. Putting Arredondo in game 4 and leaving him to face too many hitters.

      Baker can’t pull the trigger when he has to. It’s been proven with the Giants, it’s been proven with the Cubs, and now with the Reds.

      Some want to give him a pass, the talent of the team has allowed them to win a lot, it is in spite of him, not because of his direction.

  18. @ckerie: How is the Reds blowing a 2-0 series lead worse than the Yankees blowing a 3-0 ALCS lead ? Home games ? Their last two games were at home.

  19. I was on board with Dusty more than I ever had been this season, but his management of Games 3 and 4 of the Division series was very discouraging. He did not recognize the urgency of Game 3, he didn’t even recognize the urgency of Game 4.

    The Yankees won a game and their series because Joe Girardi was willing to pinch hit for ARod and then bench him. Would Dusty Baker ever do that ? Not in a million years.

    Having said all that, I would be OK with a 1 year extension because the players want so badly to win for him, and who else is available ? It’s not worth making the change unless it’s for someone who would be a clear improvement.

    • I was on board with Dusty more than I ever had been this season, but his management of Games 3 and 4 of the Division series was very discouraging. He did not recognize the urgency of Game 3, he didn’t even recognize the urgency of Game 4.

      The Yankees won a game and their series because Joe Girardi was willing to pinch hit for ARod and then bench him. Would Dusty Baker ever do that ? Not in a million years.

      Having said all that, I would be OK with a 1 year extension because the players want so badly to win for him, and who else is available ? It’s not worth making the change unless it’s for someone who would be a clear improvement.

      That’s another way of saying you want Baker gone. He’s not coming back on a 1 year contract.

  20. @MikeC: Speaking of SF, I have friends there too. Dusty drove them all crazy with his lineups, his pet players, his penchant for leaving starting pitchers in too long. They are still angry with him about the Game 6 2002 WS loss. When I attended a game in SF in 2010, Giants fans booed him loudly whenever he appeared.

    Their cheers this time were a nice gesture to a nice guy.

  21. I could care less if they bring Dusty back or not (as long as its not more than a year), but I am tired of Reds making excuses. You lose Cueto, its tough, but you have to move past that. Cardinals didn’t complain when they lost Chris Carpenter basically all season, yet here they are in the NLCS….AGAIN….while the Reds are at home…AGAIN. The series was lost in game 3 when the offense decided swinging for the fence every at bat was smarter than just trying to get on base. The Giants were just waiting for the end and waiting and waiting and it never came. Volgeson was wild and we couldn’t wait to swing at everything close to send it out of the park. I love this team, but I don’t see enough people in that clubhouse getting angry enough to put up with the nonsense we saw in the Giants series. I don’t care how hard they played in Game 5, the series should have ended in Game 3 and we let them hang around. At the end of the day someone has to go for that atrocity, and I hope the Reds do something about it.

  22. This is horrifying. Dusty is too slow in his reactions to manage successfully in the post-season. If you missed it, I honestly do not know how. Great job in game #1. Just pitiful in the last two games. Bruce Bochy just schooled the poor guy. I really can not see the Reds ever being crowned WS Champions with Dusty Baker at the helm.

  23. No! A thousand times no! More details as they become available.

  24. “Yes, there are legitimate complaints about the way he managed the series. (My biggest being that he handled it too much like the regular season, without the necessary urgency. Even to the point where we employed a “give away” approach to Game Four.)”

    Why in the world would anyone think this will change? This “is” the problem. Without a sense of urgency in the playoffs, what are the odds of finishing at the top? Seriously, what are those odds. This kind of reasoning is frustrating and not rational..

    • “Yes, there are legitimate complaints about the way he managed the series. (My biggest being that he handled it too much like the regular season, without the necessary urgency. Even to the point where we employed a “give away” approach to Game Four.)”

      Why in the world would anyone think this will change?This “is” the problem.Without a sense of urgency in the playoffs, what are the odds of finishing at the top?Seriously, what are those odds.This kind of reasoning is frustrating and not rational..

      Well, they could play better. With a complete lack of urgency, the Reds still should have advanced. Just saying. Not defending Baker, but let’s be honest.

      • Well, they could play better.With a complete lack of urgency, the Reds still should have advanced.Just saying.Not defending Baker, but let’s be honest.

        What is your answer to my question?

        • What is your answer to my question?

          That the odds are somewhat reduced with Baker, I don’t know by how much, but that they could win a World Series with Baker.

  25. @Hank Aarons Teammate: Not very likely, IMO. Very,very long shot.

  26. I’m not going to get into this debate b/c IMO, it’s moot. But I will express my opinion, you can’t make the argument that this team won 97 games b/c of Dusty’s abilities and not inspite of his actions.

    But I will also say this, I believe that the Reds have gone as far as they can with Dusty Baker as manager. Just like I’m not sure the ’90 team could have won the World Series with Pete rather than Lou, I don’t think this team can win in the playoffs with a game day manager as bad as Baker is.

    • I believe that the Reds have gone as far as they can with Dusty Baker as manager.

      That is exactly how I feel. How many postseason mulligans does a manager get? I enjoy reading about sabermetrics on this site, because I know very little about it, but isn’t the bottom line there that players “are what they are?” … In managing terms, maybe Dusty “is what he is.” Very good at handling the long haul (despite his lineups that make me pull my hair out!), but ill-suited in a short series.

      And he’s coming back anyway, so yes, this is a moot point. But just sayin’.

  27. @Bill Lack: you dont think the reds could have won with pete rose in 1990, i ialways thought pete was a good manager.

  28. Won’t win 97 next year, even if they are a better all around team as they won’t have Houston to kick around for so many games!

    Lastly, Dusty may be a players manager, but he still makes the most mytifying decisions, lineups and strategy. If I never see him bunt a runner over from 2nd to 3rd with nobody out in the 1st inning again, it will be too soon-He even does it with Stubbs when he was leading off(why?????), who really shouldn’t have too much trouble scoring from 2nd on an average single.

    DUMP HIM NOW!

  29. I remember with the Cubs he tried Cory Patterson as a leadoff hitter, that was such a disaster. He didnt learn anything with the Reds. Drew Stubbs reminds me of Corey Patterson.

  30. off topic, but somebody has to explain the value of these big-name “closers” to me again and why you MUST go to your closer, and why you CAN’T replace your closer in the middle of the inning.

    Valdverde just gave up his second two-run homer in the ninth inning. Detroit’s 4-0 lead is gone. So is Valverde. ……..Oh yeah, I get it, they brought him in when it wasn’t a “save situation.” Has to be some excuse.

  31. I am praying they don’t work out a contract and he’s gone. I want him far far away.

  32. The reason why the Reds won 97 regular season games this year is due to their talent and the remarkable health of their pitching staff. The Reds could have easily won well over 100 games if not for Dusty’s lineups and in-game decision making.

    2013 looks very promising with the returning players, but there is no reason think the pitching staff will be as healthy as they were in 2012. That was a fluke. Dusty without a healthy pitching staff scares me.

    The key to managing is making good decisions. The rest is just luck. Luck is minimized over the course of 162 games. It is maximized in a 5 game playoff series. The divisional series’ have a huge luck factor involved. Moneyball 101. With that big of a luck factor you can’t afford poor decision making like we saw against the Giants. The Reds need to look at the bigger picture and come to an understanding that Dusty Baker is not the answer. They need to part ways.

  33. @vegastypo: Leyland’s inflexible use of Valverde has been driving Tiger fans crazy. Leyland leaves him in to win or lose no matter what. He came into a game against the A’s with a 3 run lead and gave up 4 to lose. Tonite with Ibanez up as the tying run, and with his already having hit 3 9th or extra inning HRs in the postseason, you’d think Leyland would have brought in a lefty to get that final out.

    One positive about Dusty this season, at least compared to

  34. When managers are fired, the pundits often say it was easier to change one manager than to get rid of a dugout full of underachieving players. As the original post here in part points out directly and in part infers, this situation is something of the reverse. i.e. it will be easier to fix a few hole on the team than to bring in a new manager and hope that makes the difference.

    The team appears to be on the cusp of breaking through. Had not its number 1 starter come up lame 8 pitches into the first game of the play offs, they almost certainly would still be playing. And that is even with their number 1 hitter a shadow of himself. The clubhouse is happy with their manager. What this team needs heading into next year (and beyond) is a tweak or two on the field and continuity otherwise. Dusty Baker has faults; but then so would anyone they would bring in. The devil we know is probably better than the one we don’t for the situation this team is in.

    Get Votto and Cueto 100% healthy. Find a high OBP guy to lead off. Retain Ludwick or find a high OPS guy (emphasis on slugging) to hit behind Votto. Bolster the depth at starting pitching then go right back to war….

    Forcing as change now in the manager’s office makes about as much sense as it would to have fired Sparky Anderson after the Reds lost the 1973 NLCS to the Metz (and by the way at that point Sparky had a losing post season record (12-13) and folks were starting to question if he could ever “win the big games”.

    • Forcing as change now in the manager’s office makes about as much sense as it would to have fired Sparky Anderson after the Reds lost the 1973 NLCS to the Metz (and by the way at that point Sparky had a losing post season record (12-13) and folks were starting to question if he could ever “win the big games”.

      Sparky was what in his third year? What year is Dusty in? Apples and oranges.

      The devil we know is probably better than the one we don’t for the situation this team is in.

      Nothing ventured, nothing gained. If you think Dusty is WS material, keep him. I don’t.

  35. Oops, I misfired. To continue, one positive about Dusty this season, at least compared to Leyland, was his willingness to remove a closer who was about to blow a game.

    BTW as I write this a young lefty just got Ibanez to pop out. Too bad he didn’t pitch to him in the 9th.

    Back to Dusty, one could argue that when Marshall was closer, he was willing to take him out when in trouble because Dusty didn’t really buy into Marshall as closer, Marshall was on probation. But even when Chapman became closer, when he was wild Dusty would get someone to warm up, and the game where Chapman walked the bases loaded, he was taken out.

  36. @pinson343: I’m not really familiar with the Nats’ bullpen, but I couldn’t believe Johnson left Storen in all the way in the 9th last night either.

  37. Through Ohio Jim’s post a few minutes ago, it appears that RedLeg Nation is pretty evenly divided about Dusty. … I counted 10 wanting him back and 10 wanting him to go. There were a few comments that I couldn’t really tell what position the poster was taking.

  38. @vegastypo: Dusty’s lack of urgency has always irked me and this series was no different.

    However, even if he makes the IBB move with Arias in game 3 (and it works), somebody still has to score them a run in the bottom of the 10th or some time. That looked like no sure thing. Even if he stays away from Arrendondo in game 4 somebody has to drive in those last two runs to tie it and a third to win it when they had already blown chances to have scored 8 or 10 runs themselves.

    And for all that happened in game 5, the Reds offense had multiple shots and unlike the WLBs Friday nite failed to turn the tide and seal the deal. For me it comes down to fixing the problems on the field versus risking creating more problems by shuffling the leadership.

  39. @OhioJim: I said above I wouldn’t mind Dusty being extended for a year because of reasons similar to yours, but that’s an unrealistic scenario, because Dusty would not accept that and the Reds would not offer it.

    But you make a different point that is related to an exchange I had on another thread. A blogger had said how it seems like the Reds will never get to the promised land. I replied that teams like the Cardinals and Giants had many years of winning in the regular season and frustration in the postseason before winning a World Series.

    I also had another thought which you mention. The 1970s Reds had several postseason disappointments before their 1975 WS win. There was losing the 1970 and 1972 WS, where the ’72 WS loss in 7 games was a real heart breaker. But the most crushing postseason loss was in 1973 against a Mets team that had only won 82 games. That year of course was the year where the Reds came from way behind the Dodgers and won 99 games.

    Anyway after that loss the Reds were widely labeled quitters and chokers who had talent but couldn’t win a big game. I was living in Manhattan and the media coverage was brutal on the Reds. VP Spiro Agnew has resigned in disgrace that week and the punch line was “Spiro Agnew and the Cincinnati Reds, both quitters.”

  40. @OhioJim: Since that is the approach that I expect the Reds to take, I hope you are correct and that it works.

    I share Charlotte’s view that Sparky was a young guy in managerial experience and in actual age compared to most managers by 1973, whereas Dusty has been around quite a while; you’d think he’d have a better postseason resume than he does.

    It will be interesting to see what Walt and Dusty try to fix. I sure have my Christmas list ready for Santa already.

  41. @CharlotteNCRedsFan: I think you are overlooking the prerequisite that a team has to make the playoffs before it can win a playoff series. Do you really want to risk blowing up the foundation (2 division titles in 3 years)

  42. Jeter has a fractured ankle.

  43. ah, see it too, wow, what a terrible blow …

  44. I don’t know how valuable Jeter is right now. He’s a good hitter but mainly a singles hitter and his defense is below average.

  45. Valverde has given up 13 earned runs in his last 9 2/3 innings. Benoit has also been bad. Leyland surprised me by saying that there would be “discussions” about Valverde’s role.

    The Tigers better do something about the 9th inning pitching, or they aren’t going anywhere.

  46. @vegastypo: Actually what happened with the Reds between 73 and 75 is a lot like what needs to happen with the current Reds and had very little to do with Sparky learning or changing.

    They bolstered the front end of the line up with a high OBP guy (Griffey Sr). They added a big OPS guy to the middle of the order (Foster). The young shortstop matured defensively and offensively (Concepcion). The pitching staff was greatly strenghened via both trade and development. And so on…..

    • @vegastypo: Actually what happened with the Reds between 73 and 75 is a lot like what needs to happen with the current Reds and had very little to do with Sparky learning or changing.

      … The pitching staff was greatly strenghened via both trade and development.

      OhioJim: I agree with your main point but the Reds pitching staff did not improve much from 1973 to 1975. The team ERA went down from 3.40 to 3.37. And the pitching staff is not the problem now.

  47. I’m going to do the responsible thing and blame the Jeter fracture on the voodoo magic factory clearly working in the basement of Busch Stadium. Yadier Molina doubtlessly sold his soul to the devil to destroy everything beautiful in the world and give the Cardinals endless amounts of World Series trophies.

    • I’m going to do the responsible thing and blame the Jeter fracture on the voodoo magic factory clearly working in the basement of Busch Stadium. Yadier Molina doubtlessly sold his soul to the devil to destroy everything beautiful in the world and give the Cardinals endless amounts of World Series trophies.

      He either sold his soul, did something incredible, or bought some ‘roids. Look at his career hitting stats. He either just happened to become one of the best hitters in the league at age 28 (from being a subpar hitter at 27 and below), OR he’s Sammy Sosa the second. Lots of guys work hard at their craft, especially hitting, very, very few pull a Molina.

  48. @OhioJim: The Reds at that point were actually trying to have OBP guys at the top of the lineup, from Rose on down. Dusty and/or Walt don’t seem to value that, or else we might actually have seen a little less of the Drew Stubbs Show near the top of the order and Hanigan locked in the 8-hole. And that’s not even including the years of Taveras, Patterson, et al. Maybe Cozart will become that guy?… Again, I’d love to see it happen, I’m achin’ for a parade.

  49. The Yankees looked old tonite (maybe because they are old). ARod continues to suck. Jeter is down. The not so old Swisher has been awful and lost tonite’s game by misplaying a fly. Even Cano is not hitting. The only guys who are hitting are the 40 year old Ibanez and the going-on 39 Ichiro.

    With all that and the Tigers bullpen, I no longer predict an AL win in the WS this year, regardless of whether it’s the Giants or Cardinals who make it from the NL.

    • The Yankees looked old tonite (maybe because they are old). ARod continues to suck. Jeter is down. The not so old Swisher has been awful and lost tonite’s game by misplaying a fly. Even Cano is not hitting. The only guys who are hitting are the 40 year old Ibanez and the going-on 39 Ichiro.

      With all that and the Tigers bullpen, I no longer predict an AL win in the WS this year, regardless of whether it’s the Giants or Cardinals who make it from the NL.

      Glad to see you’ve come around and see what I see—the Yanks aren’t really very good, and the Tigers are only winning the World Series if Verlander goes off.

      Start practicing “Cards, back to back World champs”. They will be the least deserving world series champion in the history of baseball, also. They should not even be in the postseason.

  50. @OhioJim: Right but of course the ultimate on base guy was picked up after the 1972 season: Joe Morgan. Incredible on base stats from 1972 thru 1977: .417, .406, .427, .466, .444, .417.

  51. I feel like Dusty is an amazing manager in that he can manage personalities and try to keep guys focused. I don’t believe he is a good ingame manager and he never has been. I don’t think I want to see the Reds not bring him back just because I wonder about the effect on the players. Yeah they know people move on and they’re professionals blah blah blah but the reality is a lot of those guys have grown up around Dusty. If Dusty decided to retire I don’t think it’d be a problem but I wonder how they’d take to a new coach. I like Speier and price and hatcher and to a degree jacoby and berry and if it was possible to seamlessly remove Baker and put in a coach that truly knew what it took to manage a ballclub to it’s full potential I’d do it in a heartbeat but that’s fantasy. Baker’s ok. He’ll bat CF-SS as much as possible. He’ll snap and be sassy at people questioning his logic. He won’t construct logically sound lineups. OBP might as well be OPP. He’ll find guys he ‘trusts’ even though he shouldn’t. In the end I wonder what are the options beside Dusty Baker. Will the players play their best for him? Will he make the best decisions?

    I’m not a Dusty fan by any means but I guess what I want to know is what else is there?

  52. Here’s a suggestion to allow continuity with the current coaching staff. Boot Dusty and elevate Chris Speier to manager. This is a move like the Bulls with a young Michael Jordan booting Doug Collins and elevating Phil Jackson. Collins had taken the Bulls to the playoffs several times but had not won anything with them. The management becme convinced the team needed a change in order to get over the hump.

    Speier was a coach on the world champion Diamondbacks in 2001. He has a 39 year old son who had a mediocre major league pitching career for 10 or so years. He should be able to relate to the players well so it’s not a shock to the system to lose a “player’s manager”.

    BTW, how can you expect a player like Cairo to not love playing for Dusty? I loved what he did for the team the last few years, but he is obviously done and should have been kept off the playoff roster, much less never having two PH appearances in the playoffs. What happened to riding with the horses that brought you? Cairo didn’t help the team to the playoffs – he came along for the ride.

  53. how much “urgency” will dusty have with a 2 year contract? yikes

  54. Is it me or are there parallels between dusty and marvin lewis? definitely neither are scrub managers, but do they often both get out-coached during big games? i believe so……….. both of them coach my 2 favorite teams: Marvin and Dusty: almost ready for primetime players

    • Is it me or are there parallels between dusty and marvin lewis?definitely neither are scrub managers,but do they often both get out-coached during big games?i believe so………..both of them coach my 2 favorite teams:Marvin and Dusty:almost ready for primetime players

      Yes! Both are coaches who have regular season success, but fail miserably in game management during the playoffs. Demand better.

  55. @pinson343: Two changes of note that happened between 1973 and 1975 had nothing to do with new talent brought in by trades, it had to do with Griffey coming of age (effectively replacing Bobby Tolan) and moving Rose to third base (manned primarily by a sub-200 hitting Denis Menke in 1973) to get that young Foster guy’s bat in the lineup. Moving Pete was all Sparky to the point that Bob Howsam called him the morning after Rose debuted at third and asked him if the box score in the paper was wrong – what was Pete Rose doing at third base?

  56. The most important thing missing from the article and comments is money. If you’re in the camp who wants him back, at what cost? Is he a $4-5mi/year manager? Could a lesser name guy do the same thing with this team and that money be used on player salaries?? I mean, an extra $3mil would get you an decent reliever or backup infielder.

    At some point, it’s about opportunity costs.

  57. @Jetsons Dog: The story as I have always heard it was that it was Pete that went to Sparky not vice versa.

    I happened to be at a fish fry supper where Gordie Coleman, the Reds one man speakers’ bureau at the time, was the guest speaker/ drawing card for the night. When Coleman opened up the floor for questions, the first one was about the move of Rose to third base to get Foster into line up. Initially Coleman thought it was somebody asking would they ever do such a thing and dismissed it off hand. Then when the guy persisted, he seemed to think it was a joke. It was only when some other folks stepped up and said they had heard about it on WLW that Coleman realized it was for real. At that point he basically said well if you heard it and Sparky said it was true, it is. They will do what they will do and sometimes I find out just like you….

  58. I could understand bringing Dusty back. But, I lean more towards not bringing him back. A couple of the arguments Steve M. makes, “Crucially, it lacked pitching ace Johnny Cueto (who was lost at the most devastating time possible) and played with superstar Joey Votto ailing significantly”, first, with Cueto, we still won the first game (which was Cueto’s game). With Votto’s injury, we played our best ball when Votto was out, even compared to the ball we were playing before his inury. Our ball was no better before his injury than after it.

    I will say this. Jacoby has got to go. Our offense took a huge step backwards this season, IMO. I am confident that Baker isn’t going to make us any better. If we get any better, it’s going to be from who Uncle Walt and Uncle Bob brings in. I am confident the reason why we are good now is because of the work Uncle Walt and the 2 GM’s before him, in building up the minor leagues and bringing in key pieces of FA’s. Price has shown me he understands pitching and can develop pitching. Who has Baker developed? What can Baker do?

    The question mark is, who’s available or would make themselves available to manage this team if Baker is gone. I don’t necessarily know that answer. But, I would think, with this team, the line would be going down I-75 of all the managers we would have interested in the position. There would be ones available. Rick Sweet has managed many of these guys. Bell at AAA being the manager in waiting, called by many. I think Joe Morgan or Barry Larkin would make good managers. I heard before Ryne Sandberg is interested in a major league job. And, he has a reputation of developing young players.

    In summary, I can see bringing Baker back, but I am confident he isn’t going to make us any better. If we get any better, it’s going to be who Uncle Walt and Uncle Bob bring in, as well as what players stepping up.

  59. I will say one more thing. Can many get off their thing of “Defense and pitching wins championships”? Baseball as well all sports, you need to have all parts of the game to win. If it was pitching and defense, why don’t we just get rid of Votto, BP, Frazier, Ludwick, just concentrate on bringing in pitchers and defensive specialists? Because you need more than just pitching and defense to win champsionships. You need all parts of the game.

    • I will say one more thing.Can many get off their thing of “Defense and pitching wins championships”?Baseball as well all sports, you need to have all parts of the game to win.If it was pitching and defense, why don’t we just get rid of Votto, BP, Frazier, Ludwick, just concentrate on bringing in pitchers and defensive specialists?Because you need more than just pitching and defense to win champsionships.You need all parts of the game.

      Put it this way: the Cards certainly didn’t win their championship last year on pitching and defense, and they didn’t beat the Nats that way either.

      A team certainly *could* win a title on pitching and defense, but it needs to do a better job than the Reds did.

      The Reds had a subpar, below average offense this year, and it showed in the last 3 games of the postseason. They faced an average pitcher (Vogelsong) and stunk, a horrible pitcher in Zito plus a pretty tired bullpen and got only 3 runs, and then couldn’t get the job done against an even more tired bullpen the last game.

      It’ll be interesting, because the Giants are trying to win a title on hitting combined with weak pitching. I would not be surprised if the Cards take them in 5 games. That’s my expectation.

  60. @steveschoen: Well put about what can make the team better. IF Baker is seen (by the players) to be forced out that could do more short term damage than anything Walt can do to make it better.

    • short term damage than anything Walt can do to make it better.

      Good point. Where, if it is seen that the FO forces Baker out by the players, the Reds would have to bring in someone with fire like Lou, who also has the credentials of winning. Not many like that around.

      But, then, also, what would be seen as forcing Baker out? How would it be seen? Baker ask for 3 years, the club 2, so Baker drops out? Baker wants an extra 0 on the salary, the club doesn’t? I am confident the FO is looking to bring him back. Thus, it is going to be how the negotiations go. But, with the FO willing to bring him back, it is going to be Baker’s decision to come back or not.

      Also, is it very good to have a manager in that kind of position, period? Where, if the club chooses to change the manager, it will bring the players down? I wouldn’t think so. That would mean, again, if the team gets any better, it will have to come from the players and GM and what they do, not the manager. It isn’t impossible to develop players as a manager and coach. Price has proven that. Of the regulars (what Baker would be more use to), who’s better? Not Votto. BP may be. Cozart hasn’t improved. Not Rolen. Stubbs has only gotten worse. Bruce’s offensive numbers have gotten a bit better each year, but still nothing to consider him a “force” on this team, and his defense has taken a bit of a slip each season. The only players we could say is Ludwick and Frazier. One of them spent the last several weeks riding the pine; the other may leave for more money himself.

      Remember this, championship teams don’t wait for other teams to lose. Championship teams go out and take it. We won the first 2, but couldn’t close it out. Just like the Cubs did with Baker, just like the Giants did with Baker. Baker may manage a winning WS team some day. But, it won’t be because of something Baker did.

  61. Well, if I remember correctly, Bell was promoted to Manager of the Bats just in case Dusty’s seat got too hot. So he would be the more likely candidate to take over instead of TLR (I am shocked that so many Reds fans want him. He is a great Manager but we are programmed to hate him, right?), Chris Speir, Barry Larkin or any of the other names floating around. I have broken several remote controls over Dusty’s decisions. I just don’t think there is anyone else that could do better.

  62. Well, unless he wants to retire or wants too much money, he will be back. I don’t want him here, I think he is a stunningly bad field manager whose constant mistakes were covered by great pitching talent.

  63. @RedsFan19: I would think TLR, even on the long shot he was interested in managing Cincy, burned his bridges with Castellini and Jocketty over the the AllStar situation by passing over Cueto and Phillips. Trying to put him into the spot at this point is asking for a clubhouse meltdown.

  64. Question:

    For the Baker backers: what is the bar that he must reach to be considered and retained for 2014? If he just makes the playoffs, is that good enough. If we would win the first round and get embarrassed in the second? Are we just too afraid that nobody could do better so we settle for that? What is the marker?

    • @CharlotteNCRedsFan:

      what is the bar that he must reach to be considered and retained for 2014?

      Good question. I think this is where I differ from some of the anti-Baker folks. I don’t think the failure to win the NLDS falls on Baker. In fact, I believe that the postseason is mostly luck. (Look at all the men left on base in games 4 and 5. Those games could easily have gone the other way if the hits clustered better.) If Baker signs a 2-year deal, I’m definitely happy if we make the playoffs both years. Barring some solid reason to hold Baker responsible for a playoff loss, I’m happy if we make it to the playoffs every year. The rest is a series of coin-flips.

  65. What to do? There are 2 sides to Dusty persona. The clubhouse guy and the on field guy. The clubhouse guy seems to give in to what’s the best thing to do on the field guy with respect to line ups. But, the on the field / in game guy is asleep at the wheel.

    Could this situation require thinking outside if the box? If you bring Dusty back, Should it / could it be like a football team setup? Offensive and defensive co-ordinators? Perhaps with Dusty as the head man but truly give up some the responsibilities. Keep Dusty around for the people skills but give up the weakest part of his management. Let the bench coach make out the lineup and run the game and his decisions be the final decision? Could the pitching coach be more responsible to run the in game pitching decisions of when to get someone up and when the pitcher in the game is to come out?

    I don’t know? Probably not. Line up decisions are pre-game decisions which may play into the clubhouse Dusty plan. But, it seems that the game moves way too fast for Dusty to keep up with as pitchers are left in way past the point of collapse. An old school guy like Dusty would never agree to it. He has people there now. What effect do they have now?

    But one thing that I feel that I do know is that this team won a bunch of games in spite of Dusty’s bad line ups, bad pitching change decisions and the other in game mishaps that all have seen and suffered thru this and past seasons since he’s been the manager. His people skills cannot be denied. The players are very loyal.

    Can a manager be too close to the players to make the hard decisions? Although they will not admit it publicly, these players may love him for his loyal personality but they have to see his failures too. To see Dusty go will not demoralize the team.

    I can’t help but feel, like others here, that another voice could also be a good man in the player relations and be a better in game manager. I’m afraid that his team will never go any farther than have to now with Dusty at the helm.

  66. I have to believe there is a Sparky Anderson or Joe Maddon out there somewhere. I don’t like standing pat based on fear. It doesn’t make sense to my general world-view.

    • I have to believe there is a Sparky Anderson or Joe Maddon out there somewhere. I don’t like standing pat based on fear.It doesn’t make sense to my general world-view.

      There is, I’m sure. But he has no managerial experience, whereever he is. Which means they aren’t hiring him.

      I do think Jocketty laid the foundation for not bringing Baker back…he’ll just say that they couldn’t come to an agreement, but the Reds did want him back. Not saying it’ll happen, but it might.

      • There is, I’m sure.But he has no managerial experience, whereever he is.Which means they aren’t hiring him.

        I do think Jocketty laid the foundation for not bringing Baker back…he’ll just say that they couldn’t come to an agreement, but the Reds did want him back.Not saying it’ll happen, but it might.

        He is coming back without a doubt. Just trying to make a case for that not to happen.

  67. If Terry Franchona had not been hired by Cleveland, how many people would want him for the job?

  68. aspects of Baker’s managing style drive me completely nuts. His lineups are awful, beyond any reasonable defense. He sacrifices too many outs at the altar of Old School. Is there something about Dusty Baker’s approach to managing that puts the Reds at a disadvantage in the postseason?

    And you still want him back? No thanks. Time to move on. His 1 & 9 Post-Season record in deciding games speaks volumes.

    • aspects of Baker’s managing style drive me completely nuts. His lineups are awful, beyond any reasonable defense. He sacrifices too many outs at the altar of Old School. Is there something about Dusty Baker’s approach to managing that puts the Reds at a disadvantage in the postseason?

      And you still want him back?No thanks.Time to move on.His 1 & 9 Post-Season record in deciding games speaks volumes.

      I don’t think that his style is old school. It’s moronic! Bunting a guy over in the 7th, 8th or 9th innning of a close game is one thing. The Reds don’t have enough team speed to play “old School small-ball.” To bunt with a runner on 2nd in the 1st inning without even giving the #2 hitter a chance to drive him in with a pitch or 2 is just plain dumb, especially when he was doing with Stubbs as his leadoff man! Hell, Stubbs can score on just about anything with his speed(problem is, he just doesn’t get on enough) Your #2 hitter needs to be someone who can put his bat on the ball consistantly. How many years now have we watched almost every SS hit #2, even when Dusty rests a starter @ SS, inevitably his replacement hits 2nd also? Cosart may be that guy in the future, but he isn’t right now, so why is he batting 2nd?

      Why on god’s green earth would anyone pitch to Hannigan in the 7th slot, when Mr. Strikeout and the pitcher follow? Dusty refused to hit Hannigan 2nd, which IMHO is where he should be batting, at least occasionally, to take best use of his talent-putting his bat on the ball (except in the Bruce double steal the other day of course 🙁 )

      DUSTY MUST GO!

  69. @BenL: Sorry, I just can’t relate to you.

  70. I am going to say this. How many times in sports history have we heard a general manager say this “he taught us how to win but now we need someone to take us to the next level.” I think Dusty has reached his potential with the Reds. There is a reason that he has been on the losing end of three colossal post season meltdowns and that is being reactive as opposed to being proactive. The Giants series is proof postive. Bochy was reactive. In Game 3, he was managing in the mid stages of the game like it was the ninth inning of the seventh game of the World Series. He reacted before tragedy struck. How many time have seen seen Baker come to get the mound to get a pitcher after the big home run was given up. Also it is not a coincidence that Dusty’s best managerial jobs have been in “contract years” for him. Several things in this series were problematic. First of all, we needed Drew Stubbs in centerfield in the first two games of the Giants series. That park is huge and we needed someone to cover a lot of ground. In other words, we could sacrifice offense for defense. However why didn’t he give Heisey a shot in centerfield in Cincinnati and he would have to provide more offense than Stubbs. In addition the field in Cincinnati is not as huge so he could justify the move. Just like Joe Girardi made the move with A-Rod in the playoffs, he could have put Rolen on the bench for several games in Cincinnati and given Todd Frazier at opportunity. Rolen looked horrid both offensively and defensively. Dusty would not do that because he was afraid of making Rolen mad. Being a manager is not always about doing the popular thing but doing the right thing for the team. It is about being an evaluator. Dusty does a very poor job of evaluating and reacting.

  71. I did fail to say, that he will be back, much to my chagrin!

  72. I can’t think of one person that I spoke with that can figure out why he pitched to Arias in game 3, with 2 out, 1st base open, only 1 reserve left on SF’s bench and the closer on deck. Force Bochy to make a decision, use his last player and sit his closer, or make him hit if he wants to remain in the game.

    I was screaming at the TV when this occurred. I think every fan in the stadium was thinking the same thing! What stupid baseball! That’s our Dusty – DUMP HIM!

    • I can’t think of one person that I spoke with that can figure out why he pitched to Arias in game 3, with 2 out, 1st base open, only 1 reserve left on SF’s bench and the closer on deck. Force Bochy to make a decision, use his last player and sit his closer, or make him hit if he wants to remain in the game.

      I was screaming at the TV when this occurred.I think every fan in the stadium was thinking the same thing! What stupid baseball! That’s our Dusty – DUMP HIM!

      Again: to pitch to Arias maximized the chance the Reds would get out of the 10th inning with zero runs. To walk Arias maximizes the chance IF they get out of the 10th inning. Baker’s move is defensible. I would have leaned towards walking, but this wasn’t the “obvious” decision everyone is making it out to be.

      I’d have been (relatively) happy if Baker would have just (1) pulled Leake before the 5th, and I was calling for him to be removed after the homer in the 2nd, (2) one of the better pinch hitters would have hit in the 6th inning there instead of Cairo, and (3) Latos would have been removed after his 4 pitch walk to Scutaro, when the logical guess at the time is that he’s lost his concentration (note, I say, “guess”). Those three moves smacked of “regular season managing” to me.

  73. @icee82: How about batting JV-MVP in the lead-off spot? Obviously Joey was having a devil of a time driving the ball but his OBP was fantastic. Seems to me in the last couple of games he was not himself. Could it be he was pressing? Just maybe? DB just is not creative and Bochy showed in games 1 to 3 how the job should be executed.

    Dusty managed like it was game 5 of the season not the decisive game of a five game series. Go back and have a look at that game thread. There was an outcry to pull Latos. He was spent and needed to be removed. Where was Sam or the missing man, Alfredo Simon? That pitch cost the Reds moving forward in the postseason. Maybe LeCure or Simon would have also given up the Granny to Posey but they would had a much better chance then Latos, at that point.

  74. @icee82: I really do wish I knew why Rolen played—was it because Baker really truly thought he was the better option…or because he’s a veteran on his “last rodeo”.

    I also wish Frazier hadn’t had such a bad September, because then I’d have known the answer was “veteran” with certainty.

  75. @Mike:

    Riggleman?? Seriously?

  76. I think the Reds need a new direction. In 2010 offensively the team was terrible in Sept and the playoffs. Baker kept putting Rolen in lineup when he was injured and couldn’t help the team. This team is agonizing to watch when hitting with runners in scoring position primarily due to Baker being stubborn about putting Rolen and Stubbs in lineup even when they were killing rally after rally. The reason the team won 97 games was because of great pitching and defense. In the game 5 loss Latos was frustrated with the umpire yes but he was also pressing because he knew the offense was not going to scoring runs. This offense must get better next year because it is unlikely the pitching will duplicate what it did this year. If Baker comes back he will likely talk Rolen into coming back and every time Frazier slumps he will put Rolen in there and being indifferent to the fact that Rolen simply can’t get it done anymore. Stubbs needs to go and Ryan Hanigan is an offensive liability. When you think of Rolen, Stubbs and Hanigan being offensively unproductive that is 38% of your lineup incapable of being counted on to provide offensive run production. Let Rolen retire trade or release Stubbs upgrade the catching and add some pop to the bench by releasing Cairo and Valdez who were terrible offensively this year and the pitching is good enough to return the Reds to the playoffs. Status quo offensively with this team will not put the team back into the plays offs next year

  77. to add to my previous comment. Baker makes the same mistakes over and over again. His choices of who starts kills this team offensively. It has often been said that Rolen was brought in to provide leadership. Where was Rolen when the team needed a Hunter Pence type meeting to fire up his team. And if Rolen leads by example then that is why this team struggles in clutch situation because the teams leader was terrible at this himself. The Reds need a proven clutch rbi guy in the 4th spot between Votto and Bruce and a lead off man. New mananger leadoff guy and a proven clutch rbi guy in the middle of this lineup and the Reds win it all next yer.

  78. I never felt five years ago that Baker was the best fit for the Reds who, at that time, had a good young farm system. Dusty has done well in getting the Reds to two playoffs in his five years, but I think change is necessary to get the Reds to the World Series. Unfortunetly, Baker is the owner’s guy, so he will probably be back.

  79. As much as I liked the 2012 Reds, I realize their 97 wins were an anomaly. There is a better chance of Drew Stubbs hitting .320 over 600 plate appearances with fewer than 100 strikeouts than the Reds going another season without a missed start by a starter. Also, most teams don’t get one player to give the jolt that Ludwick and Frazier gave (especially in the absence of Votto) the Reds. With that being said, under the normal circumstances that are likely to be endured by any team, the Reds should have won as many as 10 fewer games. Simply put, they overachieved because of factors beyond the control of the manager.

    Now, did Dusty “keep the guys loose?” . . . Sure. . . Did he do all of the things that a “player’s manager” is supposed to do? . . . I am sure he did. . . Is he a great guy who is well-liked by his players? . . . Absolutely. . . Does this mean he should be back? . . . Perhaps not and here is my rationale.

    We know what Dusty is. He is a great “clubhouse manager” who is also very suspect in strategy and tactics. He is a kind of anti-LaRussa. Normally, I would think this to be a good thing. However, when it comes to winning and losing, one cannot argue with the enormous disparity in the two managers’ resumes. While LaRussa would bench Rolen in the playoffs because he thought doing so would give his team a better chance to win, Dusty cannot see past his own loyalties, hunches, and assumptions to do what is, in a given game/moment, objectively necessary for his team to have the best chance to win. To me, this means that Dusty’s unquantifiable “people skills” will surely win a game here or there. However, I also believe that his lack of mastery of strategy and tactics costs many more games than his “people skills” win over the course of 162 games (and, painfully, from games 163 onward).

    We know that Jocketty has the final say on any roster decisions. However, I am not so foolish to think that the continued presence of Cairo and Valdez on the roster was not a consequence of Dusty’s advocacy (if it was not, then we need to reexamine the conventional thinking regarding Jocketty’s wisdom) for these two giant holes on the bench. Dusty is, however, responsible for the lineup. I know he likes Drew Stubbs. Heck, I like Drew Stubbs. He seems like a swell guy. However, it was plain wrong to continue to place him at the top of the lineup when it is obviously counterproductive. It is even more scary to consider that Dusty did not consider this to be counterproductive, as his “loyalty” to Stubbs (as well as his loyalty to the proposition that Stubbs could, given enough seasoning, actually effectively hit leadoff) outweighed the good sense that was obvious to everyone who muttered “&^%$#@* Stubbs!” under his breath many, many times during the season. The same stupoyalty (or loyidity, whichever you prefer) was obvious upon Votto’s return. The fact that Frazier was not the defacto starting third basemen after Rolen demonstrated for the better part of the year that he was, at best, a part-time player speaks further to the problem with Dusty.

    So, what is Walt to do? I am harboring the hope that he is patronizing Baker with an offer that he knows will not be taken. Then, publicly at least, there can be an amicable parting of ways and the Reds and Dusty can both move on. Walt can hint at health concerns and the like and Dusty can move on to manage in Miami or Colorado or wherever.

    However, this is not going to happen. I do not think that Jocketty has the gumption to send Dusty packing after a 97 win season. Moreover, he may not want to upset the players in this manner. With all of this being said, I am hoping that Walt makes the roster Dusty-proof during the offseason by doing the following.

    1) Michael Bourn . . . Leadoff/CF/Not enough LH bats problems solved;
    2) Sign Ludwick (I would have laughed at this in April);
    3) Chapman to the rotation . . . Send Leake to AAA. He will look like an all-star (since he is an AAAA pitcher);
    4) Sign Broxton and Madson . . . The current cast of characters in the ‘pen will be just fine without Chapman with one or two more arms.
    5) Bench: Stubbs or Heisey as a fourth OF is just fine by me. XP as a LH bat off of the bench. Keppinger for utility sounds good as well.
    6) I have always like Rolen. However, give him an awkward office party and a watch and send him on his way.

    Now, I suspect the Reds will not land Bourn (or Upton or another viable CF option). Signing Ludwick and sending Chapman to the rotation are surely possible, if not likely. I am not sure about the closer situation or how much Walt is willing to spend on the bench. However, short of all of these things, I believe that the 2013 version of the Reds are going to be far from Dusty-proof. Oh well, I suppose that means I will continue to be motivated enough to spout rambling posts on this blog a few times every year.

    • @Drew Mac:

      Entirely agree, Drew. It’s not as much as Baker earned it, because of his lineups, work with Stubbs, etc. Baker would be coming back because of the 97 wins. I do believe if this team wins any championships, it’s going to be because of the players Uncle Walt or Uncle Bob bring in, not what Baker does. Baker has proven to me he doesn’t have what it takes. “Keeping players loose”? Yes. Players want to play for him? Yes. Players want to get better, expand their game? I don’t see it. Starters like Stubbs having any motivation to play well or be benched? I don’t see it. His loyalty is a fault. Give time to a player to prove himself? Yes, no problem. That isn’t loyalty.

  80. Great post Drew Mack.. You described the exact reason Dusty coming back will just be more of the same. Lousy personnel decisions means an inferior roster and dysfunctional lineup. Baker is just too stubborn to see things any other way than he already does. He simply can’t make decisions based on whats best for the team rather than based on loyalty. If he is resigned we will see more of the same with players on the roster who can’t get the job done and likely a non playoff season. Hopefully Jocketty will see this and bring in a new direction for this team with a new manager. As stunned as I am that the season is over I will be intrigued to see which direction this team goes.

  81. One more thing…if you’re going to hold the players to a standard, why not the manager? IMO, Dusty’s weaknesses as manager were exposed for all to see in the playoffs. Time to move on.

  82. @Drew Mac: super post!

    I am ready to see Dusty go, though he has many positives. I don’t like his handling of Frazier, Rolen, Heisey and Stubbs. Dusty has some very solid staff around him, for which he deserves some credit.

  83. I’ll just repeat this point: A lot of us would like to see someone besides Dusty in the dugout next year. And a lot of us know what kind of manager we’d like to have, even if we can’t put specific names out there.

    But is there one iota of evidence that this organization would hire a manger like that? I suspect we’d just get a younger version of Dusty, who will still be putting speed at the top of the lineup without regard to ability to get on base, and looking for those magical “RBI guys”…

  84. I am, also of the opinion to bring Dusty back. Mainly b/c I don’t want to see the chemistry of this team messed with, yet. Although, I feel that, as a Reds fan abroad, you all in Cincy need to know that WE are the laughing stock of MLB. Everybody I know at work, I encounter at stores (in my Reds cap), even at stoplights (license plate frame), cannot but help to share their two cents’ about our beloved Redlegs. And it’s all pretty much universal, “Good team, awful manager.” All anyone knows of Dusty Baker, outside of the Nati, is that he blew it in the playoffs, epic-fashion, w/ the Giants…w/ the Cubs…w/ the Reds…and w/ the Reds. Again, I think he should come back, for at least one more year. But don’t kid yourselves…NOBODY outside of Hamilton County believes that Dusty Baker will ever win a World Series. Maybe we can rally behind that. I don’t know. But I do know that it’s the overall accepted perception of this team.

  85. I’ll add this: I just witnessed Jim Leyland pull Valverde for Phil Coke to close out and go 2-0 on the New York Yankees. How many out there could ever see Dusty making a move like that to aggressively go 2 up on a team in the playoffs? Be honest.

  86. Okay, sorry, I guess I just wanted to say that if I saw Dusty willing to make a move like this, I’d feel better about bringing him back. Again, I am still of the opinion to bring him back (for one more year only), just not really that crazy about it. Alright, I’m done. Going to go watch the Cardinals thrash and/or come-from-behind-and-unbelievably defeat the San Francisco Giants.

  87. @RC: Right on. I’ve been advocating for Acta since last year… but he only works if Walt gets the players for him to use correctly in the first place (e.g. OBP guys). I’m resigned to Dusty. Much more interested in what happens with CF and LF. Those are the only question marks for all of winter.

    • @RC: Right on. I’ve been advocating for Acta since last year… but he only works if Walt gets the players for him to use correctly in the first place (e.g. OBP guys). I’m resigned to Dusty. Much more interested in what happens with CF and LF. Those are the only question marks for all of winter.

      No way you can say those are the only questions. We also have closer and 3B. I really like Todd Frazier but, like the rest of the team, he is streaky as can be. I think if he is a full time third sacker he will get exposed and have fans wanting him benched. What we really need to get us over the hump is someone who can teach the guys we have how to shorten up and hit in different situations. If we werent last in getting the runner in from third with less that two outs, than we have to be near the bottom. With the pitching/defense that will be in place for a while, we need those sac flies and basically just contact period. Keep Dusty for chemistry but get a hitting coach that can make a difference.

  88. @RC:

    Who would come in is a very good question, if not Baker. I wouldn’t have liked to see Francona, even though he has won a WS. I liked Buck Showalter, even though he has won a WS, he does have a reputation of developing young players. Also, I will say, if Dusty doesn’t come back, I would think the list of potential candidates would go down I-75 it would be so long. I do believe there would be a huge number of candidates who would want this job.

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About Steve Mancuso

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.

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Dusty Watch, Reds - General

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