Good Monday morning to you....
I’m having a hard time trying to figure out what a lot of people have against Dusty Baker. You listen to this show, you listen to any of the talk shows in the Greater Cincinnati area and you hear a constant grumbling about his way of managing. Even the support he has around here is tepid at best.
I guess Bob Boone and Jerry Narron are officially off the hook.
And now comes a couple of fresh attacks on his style, one from Baseball Prospectus and another from Sports Illustrated. In each, the writers question exactly how Dusty manages to keep managing. The guy who wrote the SI piece is Joe Sheehan. We’re going to hear from him in a little bit. His contention is that the only thing that made Baker as successful as he was in San Francisco was putting Barry Bonds in the line-up every game. The reason for the article this week was the Reds signing of Gary Matthews, Junior. I’ll admit, I don’t get that move. Matthews appeared to be washed up playing for the Mets this year and the Angels the two years prior to that.
He appeared to be stealing the 22-million he’s made the last two seasons.
Sheehan’s worry, and mine too for that matter, is that signing Matthews could cost at bats for Jay Bruce, or Drew Stubbs or Chris Heisey, a man who needs to be playing everyday somewhere, and not rotting on the bench here.
I’ll give you that Baker stuck way too long with Corey Patterson. He was a latter day Eric Milton. But what other choice did Baker really have? And besides, a general manager spends an owners money on a player, the player should be good enough to play.
I’m not here to carry water for Baker. He’s big enough to do that for himself. But what I’m hearing a lot these days is that the Reds are winning despite Baker. Don’t think that’s true.
I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again: there’ve been two managers this town has embraced and accepted since Sparky Anderson left town: Pete Rose and Lou Piniella. Davey Johnson was the last guy to manage a Reds team to the playoffs. He was run out of town by the owner and the fan base here didn’t produce a whimper about it. Jack McKeon? Too old. Bob Boone? Thought he invented the game. Dave Miley? Minor leaguer. Jerry Narron? Talked like he was an escapee from the cast of Hee Haw.
In a way, Dusty Baker is a lot like the general manager we had around here a few years ago, Dan O’Brien. O’Brien inherited a mess. Under Marge Schott, the Reds minor league system went to hell in a handbag. She let Jim Bowden go out and buy aging veterans, but never saw the need to build a franchise the way you have to do it in a town like Cincinnati, through player development. Carl Lindner kept Bowden. Bowden’s talents at finding and developing young talent had apparently eroded by the time Carl started signing the checks. Look back on any of those drafts that happened while Lindner owned the team, while Bowden and his staff did the selecting and tell me what players have lit it up. O’Brien began the thankless task of rebuilding a system, without enough players at the major league level to compete. Ultimately, it cost him his job,
Baker spent the first couple of years watching his best talent go through growing pains. Jay Bruce and Joey Votto come to mind. Lately Drew Stubbs. That’s what happens when you inherit a team with dead wood and not enough big league talent.
I don’t know if Dusty Baker will get this team into the post season this year. Don’t know if he’ll ever be the kind of manager you want him to be. But I’m not running him out the door, right now. Last I checked, the Reds are in first place.
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