2014 Reds

The Baker Ceiling

As crushing as last season’s postseason loss to the Giants was, I wrote that Dusty Baker deserved to be rehired. Not that he was necessarily the best guy for the job, only that he’d earned his return with 97 wins in a season when Votto’s knee and Madson’s elbow had shredded.

In the aftermath of another terribly disappointing finish, I’ve reached a different conclusion. But maybe not for the reasons you expect.

And before I get started, I want to be crystal clear about this: The failure of the Cincinnati Reds is not primarily Dusty Baker’s fault.

Today, Dusty Baker is an easy, convenient explanation for all the Reds deficiencies. But it’s wrong to exonerate the players. They themselves are ultimately responsible for their shortcomings on the field.

And as I’ve been saying all year, the front office was seduced by the comfortable status quo. Other than the Stubbs-for-Choo trade, the Reds have been far too complacent to expect to win the division. The Chapman disarmament, not fully responding to Ryan Ludwick’s injury, and the trade deadline paralysis, were all steps that created strong headwinds for the team’s success.

That all said, just as criticizing the manager isn’t the same as saying everything was his fault, acknowledging the failure of the players and GM doesn’t absolve Dusty Baker.

My case for replacing the Reds’ manager is not about lineups and bunts, (collectively known as the Baker Tax). As Chad Dotson pointed out, a different manager may not be better when it comes to in-game tactical decisions. Dusty Baker is far from the only graduate of the Old School. If the Reds replaced Baker with Jim Leyland, you’d be cringing at just as many sacrifice bunts and his misuse of the #2 lineup spot. Ask Tigers’ fans.

The reason the Reds need a new manager isn’t the Baker Tax. It’s the Baker Ceiling.

Dusty Baker is first and foremost a player’s manager. He reasonably believes, based on his own considerable experience as a major league player and then as manager, that if he can put his own players at ease they’ll perform better. It’s a genuine and thoughtful formula from a man who deeply cares about his team and wants more than anything for them to win.

Baker implements his approach, in part, by assigning defined roles to players – whether a lineup spot, a position on the field, a fixed pitcher-catcher battery, or a relief pitching duty. Then, once the role is assigned, Baker resists change. Other managers, like Joe Maddon of the Tampa Bay Rays, routinely switch batting orders and fielding positions around.

Again, for Baker, it’s about making the players comfortable to help them play relaxed.

Part of that is minimizing the threat that the player will lose his role. The theory goes, you don’t want players looking over their shoulders at other players or their manager.

There is nothing intrinsically wrong with Dusty Baker’s philosophy. Managers and head coaches in other sports have been successful with it. For certain teams at specific times, it’s absolutely the right approach. There’s even an argument that Dusty Baker was the right manager for the development of the Reds in recent years.

But at other times, a club needs someone like Lou Pinella.

Being a player’s manager is directly at odds with holding players strictly accountable for their performance. It also conflicts with vigorously challenging your players to do better. Over time, it begins to show. As the Reds slouched toward elimination, we witnessed horrific base running mistakes, batters swinging at pitches way out of the strike zone, players going half speed down the first base line and the careless fielding errors, many at first base.

The Reds too often play like no one on the field or in the dugout is concerned with fundamentals.

But the problem with Baker’s recipe goes beyond the culture of unaccountability.

His approach of keeping the players loose also ill-prepares them to win at the end of the season. Dusty Baker tries to shield his team from pressure, consciously downplaying the “must win” importance of any regular season games.

Due to its private nature, we generally don’t know how a manager handles his clubhouse. But in this case, we do have a peek inside from, of all the unlikely places, Marty Brennaman’s pre-game interviews with Baker himself.

Several times in the past few weeks, the Reds Hall of Fame announcer has prefaced a question to Baker with the notion that the Reds faced an important series or stretch of games. Each time, Dusty Baker clearly rejected the premise, explaining that he didn’t want his players thinking that way because it put too much pressure on them.

Jeff Brantley, after hearing those interviews and presumably with a bit of additional inside information, characterized Baker’s approach as “well, we’ll just get ‘em tomorrow.” According to the Reds broadcaster and former closer, it’s Baker’s failure to put pressure on his team throughout the year that best explains why, “when it comes down to crunch time ballgames, they come up short.”

You can’t take the stress off your players all season and expect them to handle it when it inevitably arrives at the end. Brantley made the point last night that the Pirates, in contrast, had lived under pressure all season. “They pushed and pushed and pushed all year because people kept telling them they were going to collapse.”

I’ve been at games this season when, in contrast to Dusty Baker, Clint Hurdle and Mike Matheny, were managing like the game had great importance. It adds up. And it’s become a pattern now with the Reds. When the team reached for a faster speed this week, they not only couldn’t find it, they slipped out of gear. It was painfully obvious last night that one of the teams was ready to face the pressure and one wasn’t.

If the Reds’ organization wants to go farther than they did the past two seasons, they have to make a fundamental change in their approach. They need a new voice at the top — one that preaches and follows through with accountability, mental toughness and attention to details.

I doubt Dusty Baker would do it and it’s not even fair to ask him.

He’s taken this group of players as far as he can.

254 thoughts on “The Baker Ceiling

  1. There always have been managers who could only lead the horse to the river.

    Dick Sisler was considered that sort of manager.
    Gene Mauch, another.
    Dave Bristol, another.

    Great at building the team … but it always was somebody else who got the credit for the winning.

    To some end, Sparky Anderson initially is in that group though, clearly, Sparky proved himself as MUCH more than just the guy who took the BRM over the top.

    But Bristol doesn’t maybe get enough credit for his work in the late 60s. The Reds were generally competitive every year he was there.

  2. I would rather not ever see LaRussa in a Reds uniform. I’m not doubting his track record or anything like that. I’m don’t doubt he would be an improvement. I just can’t stomach it. I would rather go a different direction.

  3. What’s with the ‘Nati? Always lose in the First Round yet retain your job or get a contract extension. Be it Marvin or Dusty. Both need to go. Wake-up people. Three first round losses. 2 & 7 in the Playoffs. Yeah, let’s keep him. Jeez. Give me LaRussa. You’d change your opinion Anthony_in_ohio when the Reds actually made it to the 2nd round.

    • @sezwhom1: If they hired LaRussa there is nothing I would be able to to change it. You are correct, I would be happy to see them make it past round one. Just like a lot of fans here, no matter how well or how poor the Reds do and no matter who they do it with, I’m still supporting them. At the same time that doesn’t mean I would be happy to see LaRussa sitting in the Reds’ dugout. It’s irrelevant anyway because LaRussa is done.

    • @sezwhom1: I agree. Both Baker and Lewis have reached the limits of what they can accomplish for the Reds and Bengals. With more effective managing / coaching, the Reds could still be playing and the Bengals currently could be 4-0. But, the ownership of both franchises seem content to accept premature exits from the playoffs.

  4. I was on the MLB site, reading Reds 2013 nostalgia, decided to click the SCORES link. This came up:

    The Cincinnati Reds have no games scheduled on 10/2/2013

    That seemed a tad more painful than I had envisioned.

  5. It’s probably not the right place to post this, but i just read where Dan Uggla was left off the Braves post-season roster in favor of……Paul Janish. Crazy, but kudos to Braves for making the difficult choice regardless of the “politics”. This is an example of where Dusty is very predictable, and to a fault. Sometimes, you have to make the hard, unpopular choice. He doesn’t do that very often.

  6. IF Dusty is let go, I am more comfortable with the idea of WHAT the manager will do than WHO he is.

    I want a manager who will use Aroldis Chapman effectively – like for a 4-out save when the situation asks for it.

    I want a manager who recognizes his players limitations – for example, he does not run a LH batter, who struggles vs lefties, out versus all lefties for continuity and ego’s sake.

    I want a manager who removes his starters before damage is done, giving a reliever an opportunity to work out of a jam.

    I want a manager who will tinker with a lineup if the team, or a player, is in a slump.

    I want a manager who will go toe to toe with an umpire once in a while.

    I want a manager who will call out his players when they do wrong

    I want a manager who values fundamentals, but not the sacrifice bunt.

    You cannot tell me that an appropriate candidate to replace Dusty is not out there. Do some due diligence, vet a few candidates, and I would be shocked if the Reds didn’t find a good match.

        • @jessecuster44: Baseball is slower to change than a Revolutionary War cemetery. New ideas are basically old ideas with different people, but it wouldn’t hurt, for example, to teach guys to hit better so that they wouldn’t be as inclined to have to use the sac bunt.

    • @jessecuster44: You would rather have a pitcher strike out than moving the runner(s) over or Phillips hit into a double play than bunting. I believe it depends on who the batter is and the game situation. Some bunts are good!!

      • @tombkeeper: agree, but could the 2013 Reds bunt? No. Should you try a sac bunt 5 times in a game, which Dusty was doing late in the season? No thank you.

      • @tombkeeper: Assuming a succesful bunt everytime for the sake of math, a sac bunt nets you 1 out every time you do it, let’s call it .98 to account for throwing errors and infield hits. Letting a hitter hit who MAY hit in a DP (liek 15% of the time) nets the odds of the hitter making an out (.7 for a .300 OBP hitter) plus the extra part of the out from the DP (15%*1out = .15), which is .7+.15 = 0.85. I made these numbers up, but that’s the basic reason why mathematically inclinded folks agree bunting isn’t good. Over the long run, you’ll expect .98 out per bunt attempt and 0.85 outs from not bunting. (Obviously this is oversimplified. You could come up with an actual out expectancy for each player based on their GB% and BABIP on ground balls).

        The pitcher sitution is a bit more dicey, I’d expect. Since their OBP is worse than a position player, their out expectancy when not bunting is higher. I’d suspect, however, it would still come out in the favor of not bunting. People just don’t ground into DPs as much as folks thing. It’s observer’s bias. You think about a DP, see a DP, and boom, it seems like it was just unavoidable!

  7. I like this article a lot, as well. Like many people, I’m not short-sighted enough to blame Dusty for the shortcomings of the team this season. At the same time, I agree that we know what Dusty’s ceiling is. We know how he manages and what he’ll do, and what that’ll get out of the team. My biggest problem with Dusty’s “it’s a marathon and not a sprint” attitude is that (as a marathon runner) you train for the long haul, but you run the last 15% of the race only because it’s the quickest way to finish.

    I also agree that there’s risk involved picking an “unknown” manager, but–at least for me–it’s a risk worth taking. As someone who’s really gotten back into the team the last 4 years, I’m also starting to think I just want to see something new. If they keep Dusty, I would assume they’ll win 87-93 games again (depending on other moves) with a possible (likely short-lived) playoff appearance, but I also think that many of us will be left wondering if the team couldn’t have done more. Taking on a new coach might mean something like a window of 80-100 win season (also dependent on other moves), which could mean missing the playoffs (since the Rats and Cards will be well-positioned as well), but also a potential WS run. As I fan, I’d rather opt for the latter. It might mean more frustration, but at least it would be a different kind of frustration. I’m not sure I can take another season as a fan of agonizing over the Dusty Tax or at least reading about it here.

    I don’t think, ultimately, they’ll get rid of Baker. But if they do, I’d be happy with Price. As many have noted, he may not have what it takes. But from what I’ve seen, it’s clear that the pitching staff respect him, and I get that he’s cerebral enough that players that Votto and Bruce will respect him. If I had to bet, I would be that Votto (although he would never admit it) has serious qualms about Baker and how he runs the club. Many have said it here before, but it’s worth repeating: I think it’s difficult when your manager and your 200mil man have opposing philosophies about how the game should be played. I just don’t see it as conducive to success.

    And since this is probably my last post to the spring, I’ll just say this: I don’t think Frazier is the “answer” at 3B, and he certainly has his liabilities, but good god, I really wish more of the team played with his attitude. Last night was wholly depressing (I stopped watching after 5 because I couldn’t stand it–I was at a bar where everyone seemed to be pulling for the Bucs), but his foul ball catch just seemed to epitomize what he brings to the club, and it reminded me of why I like this team so much.

  8. We just need a stopgap manager to replace Dusty for the 2014 season. Then after that season, Bud Selig will retire with his final act to be unbanning Pete Rose from baseball. Then Joe Morgan being Castilini’s guy will make it all the easier to hire Pete Rose as manager, which will lead the Reds to be the most hustling, best hitting team, as well as two straight World Series Championships.

  9. Thanks for all the kind words. I enjoy writing for the site – especially when so many thoughtful comments follow. I’ve read them all.

    The point of the post was to present my reasoning for why I don’t think the Reds will go any further with the same manager. I don’t have an ideal alternative in mind, but I don’t think the replacement would have to be perfect to be an improvement now. Naming an alternative is a more difficult project because so much of the relevant information is beyond our knowledge — stuff we don’t know about candidates that would come out in an interview.

  10. Very well said…. You found the words that many of us have been looking for over the course of the season.

    The Reds were flat all season long… they lacked that fun, energetic vibe (a’la Tampa or Cleveland)

    It starts with the Manager…

    A player with the personality like a Jonny Gomes, Hunter Pence, or Nick Swisher would also be impactful.

  11. Another thought for consideration; is Clint Hurdle a much different manager than last year when the Pirates collapsed? I’m speaking from both sides of my mouth, but I can live with pretty much everything that is well documented that Dusty does that drives us all nuts EXCEPT the lack of accountability/leadership that he shows and requires. I feel that is a primary role of the manager, and this seasons team reflects poorly on the job he did at that.

  12. I recall my opinion of the Baker hiring, thinking at the time that I wasn’t especially happy with it … but willing to wait and see if it worked out. He had a lot of work to do. I think that work has been accomplished. I suppose, if nothing else, he and Jocketty have made the Reds relevant. Until 2010, I think very few people could call the team relevant.

    What we want now is a lot more than that. Winning “it all” is always difficult. But I don’t think Dusty is giving the Reds a chance to get there.

    But the guy has made the Reds relevant.

    • @Johnu1: this collection of reds players cannot win the pennant or World Series.their best players aren’t good enough. I’d trade anyone with value

      • @gschiller13: Trading “anyone with value” is, I hasten to say, an example of “VFW mentality” that you’d hear around the bar at your local post.

        First off, you don’t just “trade” people who have long contracts. Just “trading them” to somebody is … what?

        You expect to get the 1975 Reds in a deal? All of them are available, I hear. A bit slower.

        This is the sort of mentality that picks at me a little and I am trying to be kind here. It illustrates an alien knowledge of baseball.

        • @Johnu1: Yes trading players with long term contracts is very difficult if not impossible, but I would try. In my opinion this collection of players has gone as far as they can go, I would advocate a remaking of the team, if it can be done. Not sure if it can.

          • @gschiller13: You want to remake the team? Let’s see your lineup and … PLEASE … endeavor to justify trading Joey Votto for … oh, somebody who fits nicely with your concept of a veteran manager. Start with the pitching staff … let’s see your rotation.

            If you aren’t sure it can be done, why advocate it?

            You still haven’t provided a definition of a “sensible replacement” for the manager.

        • @Kyle Farmer: I am not a troll. I just advocate making major changes. And I just question what managers would be willing to take the job if a change was made. And sue me I am not a fan of hiring Price as manager as is my right.

          • @gschiller13: Lets summarize:

            You want to trade all the Reds Players to get players that Dusty can manage.

            Good luck with that.

            A quicker fix is to watch what a new manager can do with this talent that was able to win 97 games last year

    • @Johnu1: OK, but I’d say Joey Votto, Jay Bruce, Brandon Phillips and the best Reds pitching staff in any of our memories have had more to do with it.

      • @redskaph: I don’t think I dismissed the players as having a role. I just know that the Reds ARE relevant. Baker is the manager. Make of it what you will.

  13. Very thoughtful article. No vitriol. I’m glad you didn’t pile on.
    However, a change is needed. Thank Dusty Baker for getting the Reds this far, but for acheiving more, a new leader is needed.

  14. I would agree with everything you say, but i would add that is time to change over the everyday players. No one should be exempt from a decision to move a player if good value can be had. Everyone is on the block.

  15. The Reds need an attitude adjustment and more effective leadership. It is hard to see those coming from Dusty Baker at this point in his career/ life.

    This team just flat out ran down this year. A lot of it was from the injuries and lack of support from the front office when the injuries piled up. But in the end, the manager has to find a way to provide a spark; and, Dusty just seemed to be symptomatic of the problem instead of part of a solution.

    You never know when to take things Tracy Jones says seriously; but, today on air he talked about Dusty seeming to be tired. I’ll take that at face value and say I agree very much. Something just seems changed or different about DB this season.

    I believe there is a lot to be said for the comments made here that Dusty was the right call for this team in 2010 but for whatever reasons, as the situation has developed, he doesn’t seem to be now.

    All things considered, a change in the manager’s chair would be the best for all involved including Dusty himself.

  16. My Manager options would be:

    Bryan Price
    Jim Riggleman
    Barry Larkin
    Joe Giradi

    Hitting coaches:

    Eric Davis
    Joe Morgan

    Last year I would have hired Francona, let Broxton and Ludwick walk, trade Hanigan and resign D Navarro. We would have saved 36 M and that could be used to maybe resign Choo or go get a RH power bat.

    • I forgot to add something. My number 1 choice would be Joe Girardi. He’d be perfect for the Reds. Plus I think he could have a major impact on Mesoraco. Also, Jocketty needs to gage interest in Bryan Price, we CAN’T AFFORD to let him leave.

    • @Josh: Price isnt proven. No way Girardi takes this job. Riggelman is a quitter. Larkin I would consider. I dont see how Eric Davis would be a good hitting coach, he had unnatural hitting style.

  17. Excellent article Steve and excellent work all year. While I did not agree with you all the time, I found your points to be well thought out and you had a reasoned opinion. Now, regarding Dusty; at this point, the Reds have to make a decision; is making the playoffs good enough or not. This is a very important point for the Reds to make. Stay with current leadership and you know what to expect OR make a change and risk that things may progress or may regress. My opinion is that a change has to occur. Dusty has a track record and it’s out there for all to see. Three trips to the playoffs, zero wins in elimination games, zero wins in games that will advance to the next round. Replacement? Instead of focusing on a person, I would like to see a style targeted. Someone who can embrace the wealth of information now available and use that information not as the only means to make decisions but as a tool. For example, the use of defensive shifts; how many hits did Bruce and Votto get taken from them simply because they hit into the shift? Yet, the Reds refused to embrace this information defensively. How many outs did the Reds give away with the sacrifice bunt when the numbers show that giving away outs hurts your team? Yes, clubhouse chemistry is important, but who says you can’t have both. I don’t want a manager that uses only statistics, but at least acknowledges that they exist and have a value. They are also roster issues that exist (Arroyo, Choo, etc) but until you have a new manager with a different philosophy in place, how can you best address those issues? This club is still strong and should be able to win now and in the future. How much winning and for how long? That’s why they play the games. Go Reds!

    • @DK in Erie Pa: Disagree about the shift. The Reds actually position themselves very well defensively. Most the time it isn’t as pronounced as some of the other teams, particularly the Rays, but they do shift to good effect. It’s one of the few areas where we see them using metrics to their full advantage.

  18. Excellent article Steve! I’ve been harping on the lack of fundamentals of this team for the last two years, even going as far to recommend that management MANDATE that the players arrive early in 2014 Spring Training to focus on the basics. Your logic fits perfectly with the lack of fire and passion, sense of urgency, lack of discpline, etc.this team has demonstrated all year. For example, I counted 5 times in the last two weeks when Frasier swung at a 3 – 0 pitch, either missing or fouling it off before ultimately making an out. Point here….his is a .234 hitter!!!! A change is indeed needed to get this team to the next level as is an addition of someone who will be an on the field leader. Now, the bigger question is WHO???? Thanks again for a well written, logically explained article.

  19. I love this post. Through the 2012 season I was firmly in the pro-Dusty camp. That was until last year’s melt down where you HAVE to blame Dusty for his in-game management mistakes. However, we’ve seen some pretty bad managers here in Cincinnati, and even now I’ll say I believe Dusty is definitely NOT a bad manager. I most cases I like what he brings. The Reds are full of players who want to play in Cincinnati. And I can tell you it’s not because they want to play in front of Cincinnati fans (who in my estimation are the worst I’ve ever seen). It’s not because they want to play in the beautiful city of Cincinnati, because let’s face it, the town is okay but it’s nothing special. It’s not because they want to play for such a storied team. If that’s what they want then they’d be punching their tickets to New York or St. Louis. They want to play in Cincinnati because the team is a very close family of talented players. I feel Dusty has done a lot to create that family.

  20. One the other side of the coin of what I just said, I’ve been hearing from the pro-Dusty camp that it is up to the players to get prepared. “They are professionals. They should know how to prepare themselves.” Well, I am a professional too. I don’t play ball, but I get up and go to work every day just like ballplayers do. I try to do my best every day but some days I just can’t bring it. I am not alone in this. None of us can find it within ourselves to operate at 100% every day. That is why we need someone to help us find it within ourselves to come to work and do our best.

  21. Steve: I really appreciate your thoughtful, measured comments. I have no idea how the Reds would have done with a different manager (well, actually I do, but it’s just an idea), and have been saying endlessly that the players matter, too. Thanks for the article.

  22. I’m not the biggest dusty fan, i hope the reds bring someone in more “new school” than dusty is. But anyone that watched that game knew that dusty on the blame pie chart would probably be responsible to 25% IMO. Starting Johnny over Homer and bringing in Marshall (who hasn’t pitched all season and still probably isn’t 100%) in the highest leverage part of the ball game was same ole dusty and reprehensible IMO. I agree with everything u say mr. mancuso but Votto and Phillips deserve 75% of the blame for losing that game, I think someone should write an article about how BAD votto looked in that play-in game. if Dusty gets an article, Votto deserves one because that was totally inept on his part. I’m still holding out hope that his knee isn’t 100% though. A positive though at the end with the reds down 6-1 the camera went into the dugout and i saw that BP wasn’t smiling at least…..

  23. I’m not the biggest dusty fan, i hope the reds bring someone in more “new school” than dusty is. But anyone that watched that game knew that dusty on the blame pie chart would probably be responsible to 25% IMO. Starting Johnny over Homer and bringing in Marshall (who hasn’t pitched all season and still probably isn’t 100%) in the highest leverage part of the ball game was same ole dusty and reprehensible IMO. I agree with everything u say mr. mancuso but Votto and Phillips deserve 75% of the blame for losing that game, I think someone should write an article about how BAD votto looked in that play-in game. if Dusty gets an article, Votto deserves one because that was totally inept on his part. I’m still holding out hope that his knee isn’t 100% though. A positive though at the end with the reds down 6-1 the camera went into the dugout and i saw that BP wasn’t smiling at least…..

    • a@zab1983: also the scariest/saddest part of watching that play-in game to me was thinking about votto/phillips stats 3 years from now. (if they are even on the field)

  24. Having watched almost ALL the Reds games during Dusty’s tenure, and being aware of his past, I couldn’t agree more. A very well stated piece. Dusty is just being Dusty and to ask him at this stage of his career to change is just not practical. This team needs a new direction as well as a new attitude. The right managerial change could and should propel these guys to a deep playoff run. How is it that so many people connected with this organization see this and yet nothing will change?

  25. I don’t think it’s completely unreasonable to believe that this team could have won nearly 100 games but for the Baker tax and the organization’s complacency with LF. Those two factors alone were compounding to each other since it allowed Baker to put a below average hitter (Phillips) in what would have been Ludwick’s spot for a majority of the season.

  26. Motivation. Inspiration. Expectation. Accountability. Those are the things we’re really talking about here. I think it’s fairly easy to evaluate someone’s X’s and O’s strengths, but those intangibles and a more modern approach to strategy and tactics are what everyone seems to agree the Reds are missing. Dusty Baker is simply not that guy. Bryan Price might be. Barry Larkin might be. Ryan Hannigan might be. All of them would have and keep the respect of the players. All of them in MY opinion (no one else has to agree) would be an upgrade. But the point I’m making is not that it has to be one of those men to replace Baker, but if there are three available candidates that would be an upgrade, is it that hard to imagine that there are 23? I’m betting there are. The Reds only need one of those. Start right there. Then go sign some pitchers (Latos, Bailey, Cueto extension?). Then hypnotize Scott Boras and resign Mr. Choo. Then upgrade 3B and 2B and the bench. Then go win a couple of world series.

    Or was it too early to post my Christmas list?

  27. I didn’t read all the comments and maybe it was mentioned above, but in all seriousness, if we are looking for a replacement, why not hire Barry Larkin?

    Now obviously he is unproven as a manager but his personality I think is perfect for a manager. He understands the game, would be willing to be open to new ideas when presented with a logical argument, and would be an EXTREMELY popular hire for the Reds. I bet you that would get the fanbase very excited.

  28. Though I advocate a proven manager, I would be more than pleased if they hired Barry Larking. he would give Reds credibility.

  29. The Cardinals hired an unproven manager and look where they are. The Reds hired a “proven winner” (Bob Castellini’s words, not mine) and look where they are.

    • @John: The Cardinals have a much better offensive lineup than the Reds and had good pitching this year.

      • @gschiller13: Not sure it’s that simple. Cards run differential was 78 above the Reds, but they only won 7 more games. Reds pitching was as good or better overall. Cards beat up the Reds in the season series. Otherwise the two teams got very similar results.

  30. Stay with current leadership and you know what to expect OR make a change and risk that things may progress or may regress. My opinion is that a change has to occur.

    This is a very delicate perspective. The Reds went for a deep playoff run and possible WS in 2013. No matter who manages the team in 2014, I think we will see a regression for one simple reason: the Choo factor. Choo provided the Reds the best, bar none, leadoff hitter in major league baseball, something the Reds sorely lacked. Unfortunately, Choo could only fill one of the two top-of-the-order lineup positions and the Reds had no one else to fill the 2nd top-of-the-order lineup position. For 2014, the Reds will be missing any viable alternative for either top-of-the-order lineup positions, so we are back to no one getting on base for the middle of the order.

    We don’t know what organizational changes might be contemplated by WJ, but with the currently available roster, the offense will be significantly worse in 2014 than it was in 2013 and it wasn’t consistently good in 2013. After the brief 2013 window was wasted, we better be prepared for a regression in 2014. There are options coming through the farm system, but they are 1-3 years away from any major league impact. If WJ plays for a competative run in 2014, the Reds may be hindered in their ability to compete after 2014. If WJ plays for long-term, competative runs after 2014, we may really not like the results for 2014. The decisions facing WJ right now and the lost opportunity in 2013 was the reason why the contract extension for Dusty after the 2012 season was so mind-boggling. Those tough decisions would have been seriously tempered with a deep playoff and WS run.

  31. I do not know of any pitching coaches who have been successful managers. Does anyone recall any?

    • @gschiller13: The best I can see from your comments is that you want to unload the team and keep Dusty Baker as the manager. Somehow, amid all that, you are trying to convince us that you want the team to succeed.

      • @Johnu1: Obviously if major talent changes were made I do not expect them to succeed next year. I dont expect them to major changes, but I would if possible. With current team, I just think Dusty is the best Reds could get. In my opinion I dont see others wanting this job. Heck i dont see Larkin taking it and he played here. If its a chocie between Riggelman and Dusty I will keep Dusty. And yes Price is in my crosshairs. Great pitching coach, dont want him as a manager.

  32. If the Reds hire a new manager (fingers crossed) it would be best to let that new manager put together a staff of his choosing. Are there any guesses as to when the Reds will make an announcement on the matter.

  33. Last year at this time there were a few national sports articles questioning Dusty Baker’s future as the Reds manager. A few days later the Reds announced a new 2 year contract for Dusty. It seems quiet on a national scale this time, how is it in locally in Cincinnati? Are we just wishing on a star or is there a realistic possibility of a change in Cincinnati?

  34. Excellent analysis. I would add that another dynamic was the collective personality of the Reds’ players. This appears an introspective group of guys in which the best players–the potential leaders–are not leaders. The combination of Baker’s failure to demand accountability and the lack of any player leadership on or off the field was a recipe for underperformance. That’s what we got. It will easier to find a new manager, then to change the team’s collective personality.

  35. Hello Guys
    I have been a Reds fan since birth, from before the 70’s reds, (I am not that old). I remember when Sparky came on board (My father told me this), he had a seriuse conversation with players and wanted them to know, things will be changing, rotation will change, players will be dismissed ect.. He was a players manager but expected progress from them. Bench talked about this when Sparky died, he was striked and fair, every body loved him and respected him. I remember an interview when he mentioned this, he gave his players enough time for them to learn his position, and if not another position (remember Pete Rose). Conclusion: We need a Young Sparky Anderson, with a fever to win, to make changes, to fire, to dismiss ect. GO REDS!

  36. In my fantasy world, Morgan takes over as the manager with Pete (reinstated as Selig’s final hurrah as commissioner) coming in as the hitting coach

  37. Well done, Steve. I agree that Baker has taken the Reds as far as they’re going to go. And not putting pressure on players is ridiculous. You don’t get to the majors without dealing with a lot of pressure and these guys have dealt with that since high school. Lou Pinella would be good but he’s a bit old in the tooth now. Sparky Anderson was an unknown when he took over the Reds in 1970.

  38. As to whether the Reds F.O. is inclined to replace a manager, it also seems that since they already have one and don’t have to negotiate (a.) a buyout or (b.) a search for a replacement, that there’s no reason for them to undergo the bureaucratic process of either. There is not a job to be addressed, so why expend energy on it?

    The question becomes one of — there’s that word again — urgency.

    Kinda depends on what the definition of failure really means to the ownership group.

    Attendance is up, profits are up.

  39. You know with Dusty’s inability to work with young players, I think that plays into 2014. Cozart had a hard second year as did Super Todd. Mesoraco was untrusted and poorly used and Heisey has not progressed as a young player either.

    Add prize Billy Hamilton to the mix, and that is a significant part of your roster that Dusty is incapable of grooming.

    Fortunately we have a developer of talent working with the pitching staff so Stephenson will be ok. But Chapman is still at issue because of where and how he is mandated to be used by the manager

    So a coach who can work with developing youngsters would be my preference

  40. I need to add that there are a lot of former ballplayers who wouldn’t take a manager’s job on pain of death. There’s something about spending a retirement from baseball in the box seats or on the golf course … and not wolfing down Maalox tablets from March to October.

  41. My grandfather was a good man and he wanted me to be comfortable when I came to his house but there was no discipline. I did what I wanted to do when I wanted to do it to whom I wanted to do it to. That is Dusty’s philosophy. He is like their grandfather. He has taken this team as far as he can. We have probably wasted two years on this doomed management team. The window in baseball is very small and you have to capitalize when it opens. We have two years that were wasted. I love Joe Morgan but it would be a disaster to bring him in as manager. Hall of Famers rarely make great managers, i.e. see Ted Williams, Rogers Hornsby, and countless others. Morgan and Pinella are both 70. Baker is 64. I would love for Piniella to return to Cincinnati. Another dark horse candidate that has a proven track record with a team that youth is paramount is Charlie Montoyo of the Durham Bulls. In seven years at Durham, he has won six division titles, two Governor’s Cups, and the Triple A Championship once. He has not won the division only in 2012 when he had a team that had zero offense but he was still competitive. He is a fireball and a players’ manager as well.

  42. I’m surprised nobody has thrown the Scott Rolen into the pool of possible managers for the Reds. Isn’t he this area’s home grown Kurt Gibson?

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