Category Archives: Dusty Baker

10 Questions for Reds Manager Dusty Baker

If I was sitting at a Jazz club with Dusty Baker, and I was buying the drinks; here’s 10 things I would ask the skipper of Cincinnati Reds right now. Some of these might turn into a two for one type deal, but please bear with me:

1. What is your reasoning behind putting Paul Janish in the 2-hole? You realize Janish is an asset for his defense if he’s hitting 8th, but hitting 2nd you’re costing Joey Votto RBI chances on a nightly basis.

2. Why are you so reluctant to hit Jay Bruce 2nd or even in the clean-up spot, yet you have always been prone to letting Jonny Gomes hit in the clean-up spot (7 times last year, 7 times this year) and even as recently as this past Friday night, had Gomes hitting 2nd.

3. Do you realize that not putting lefties back to back in the lineup is a silly move (especially against a right-handed starting pitcher) because it is a match-up that might occur once over the course of a 9 inning ballgame, of which the game could already be decided by the point that we would even see a LOOGY out of the pen to face back to back lefties like Votto and Bruce.

4. Doesn’t Sam Lecure (3.18 ERA in 34 IP, 25 H, 8 BB) deserve a crack at the starting rotation over Mike Leake (5.70 ERA in 36.1, 37 H)? Be honest with me, the organization; and maybe even you to a point doesn’t want a first round pick like Leake to look like a failure. So you’re going to run him out there no matter what for the next several years regardless of guys that were unheralded flat out looking better?

5. Have you looked at Jay Bruce’s OPS against left-handed pitching the last year plus? Oh you have? Someone has referenced it, you say. Well why is it when someone does need to sit against a run of the mill left-hander, it’s the guy with the highest OPS of all your outfielders against left-handed pitching?

6. What does Yonder Alonso (5 HR, 23 RBI, .323/.387/.525 in AAA Louisville) have to do to get called up? There’s not a position for him? So you’re saying Jonny Gomes can play left field better than Alonso? Do you really believe that?

7. Be honest with me on this one: how much does Scott Rolen have left in the tank? Is he trying to hit back-side because he can’t turn on pitches anymore? At what point does a beautiful piece of hitting the other way become all a guy can do?

8. Billy Bray has filled the role of 2010 Arthur Rhodes, at least it appears. Can we just start making Aroldis Chapman a starter now? If not, why? Have you seen how the Yankees screwed up Joba Chamberlain? And lets be honest, Dusty; Chapman becoming a #1 starter is the only chance you’ve got at winning a short playoff series with a Philadelphia, a San Francisco or even a St. Louis. We don’t need a 7th inning guy who throws smoke. We need a #1 or at the very least a #2 starter.

9. Why the reliance on such small sample sizes in some cases; you know like yesterday you hit Janish 2nd in the order because he was 3 for 7 lifetime against Cole Hamels; but you ignore such large sample sizes when it suits you?

10. What is it with you and guys who defy logic and overall just hurt a ballclub? Every year you get a fascination with somebody who is the albatross around the neck of us winning games. Ken Griffey Jr., Corey Patterson, Wily Taveras, Jonny Gomes. I’ll give you Junior, because he was Junior; though he had no business hitting 3rd until the day he was traded from the Reds. But what the Hell is your deal with these guys. I mean, I am shocked you did not derail last season to play Gary Matthews Jr. more. That really must of killed you.

What are your questions for Reds manager, Dusty Baker?

Dusty Baker cannot help himself with the lineup

Over the weekend you might have missed the post where the Reds are toying with the idea of hitting Jay Bruce lead-off.

You should not be surprised by this. Dusty Baker has been known for handling young players poorly for a long time, and building particularly funny lineups when the obvious answer is hitting him smack dab in the face.

On Bruce leading off: “What’s more important? On-base percentage or 1-0 to start the game?”

“The way Stubbie starts has a lot to it,” Baker said.

Baker also mentioned Bruce as one of the possibilities in clean-up when Scott Rolen is not in the lineup. Baker prefers not to have left-handers back-to-back in the lineup.

“I’d rather not have two lefties in a row,” Baker said. “Unless you have lefties like (Ryan) Howard and (Chase) Utley who don’t have as much trouble hitting lefties. If you’re learning to hit lefties, they can bring in one lefty to take care of two guys. I’d rather split them up. Eventually they might. Jay is getting better at hitting lefties.”

Because Lord knows, you just can’t build your lineup when there is the possibility of a match-up looming later in the game that might occur once or maybe twice. Where did this ignorant thinking come from?

Baker uses the shining examples of Ryan Howard and Chase Utley as who ‘don’t have as much trouble hitting lefties’ (as Jay Bruce and Joey Votto back to back). But a look at the numbers shows that DUHsty is once again incorrect.

Bruce hit .277 with 12 HR against southpaws last season. That is better than Howard who hit only .264 with 12 HR, and Utley was a hair better with less power, .294 with 10 HR.

So go ahead Dusty. Hit Jay Bruce lead off some nights. Why is it so damn hard to hit the kid 4th all year and see what happens? I swear, sometimes fans could manage a big league club better than these so called paid experts. This is ridiculous.

Let’s be honest, Dusty will hit him 6th or 7th, protect him again with the Dream Team of Ryan Hanigan, Ramon Hernandez and Paul Janish and wonder why he gets off to a slow start. At least hitting lead-off he would have the benefit of a capable hitter or two hitting behind him. Moron. Protect your young hitter, you goon.

Dusty Baker signs 3-year extension with Reds

National syndicates are running with it now. It won’t be long now–as is often the case after you see that happening.

But Hal McCoy breaks the story, and we can honestly let out an exhale of worry now that Dusty Baker is coming back for three years.

Cincinnati Reds manager Dusty Baker will be back next season, armed with a new multi-year contract – probably a three-year extension.

The deal could be announced before the Reds begin postseason play next mid-week for the first time in 15 years, but more likely after postseason play is completed.

This is great in a lot of ways. Dusty gets an opportunity for a happy ending. An opportunity to get that elusive World Series title before he retires. And he gets to see things through with his young boys. His young players who he’s become very much attached to.

My one fear–as far as this team competing for years to come–would be they would have to replace Baker and find a new manager to mesh with these young guys. What many outsiders don’t realize is that Dusty Baker has shed the reputation of being a veterans manager and has adapted. He’s become a father-like figure to many of these young guys.

I love Dusty Baker. He’s the perfect manager and perfect man for these Cincinnati Reds. He’s a good man, a leader of a group of good young guys in this game. Here’s to seeing it through and three more years that trump your first three, King Dusty.

Your 2010 NL Manager of the Year is…. Goddamn he's happy!

I’ve loved this man since the very beginning. If indeed this is the last season that Dusty Baker manages in Cincinnati or in baseball; he’s done the job that so many doubted he could do. He puts it in words pretty well how we all feel.

Dusty, can’t thank you enough for this 2010 season. Here’s to 10 more with you at the top step in that home dugout in Cincinnati. Thank you.

Now that we’ve clinched, I’m gonna have me some fun.

Finally, NL Central champions. But I’ve still got to field a competitive lineup. That’s the best part for the Dusty.

First off, we’re going to go with Paul Janish in right field. I’ve always wanted to put that little elf in right. We’re sitting Bruce tonight because he’s got a thing with his side. Doesn’t matter what it is, just leave it at that. It’s a thing with his side. Plus I look for any excuse not to play Bruce. But Janish is better anyways against lefties and he’s better at air hockey so he’s in there tonight.

The shortstop always hits second, and at shortstop; tonight I’m going with Bill Hatcher. Hatch, get your big ass loose and take some ground balls before we get underway. This is a big one tonight mayn. We gonna have some fun.

Bloomquist, you’ll go to first base. You played first base in pony league, didn’t you Bloomquist? Since the first baseman hits third that’s where you’ll be hitting. I don’t care that your lifetime statistics suggest that you’re useless. No matter. You’ll be at first, you’ll be batting third; and I know you got some good stuff for em’ mayn. That’s right.

Clean-up is where I have some good surprises up my sleeve. I’m bringing out my old teammate Glenn Burke; the inventor of the high-five. That’s right mayn. No I don’t mean that out. C’mon mayn. Burke’s a good ballplayer. He’s dead? Well if he’s alive, he’s hittin’ fourth in my lineup. He’s tough on em’ mayn. I don’t care that he’s a lifetime .237 hitter with 2 home runs. He’s a center fielder, and they hit clean-up sometimes. Good enough to clean up in my lineup. No I don’t mean that kind of ‘clean up’. You’re sick mayn, you know that?

Hitting fifth and in left field is Johnny Gomes. My reasoning is simple. Rain or shine, snow or sleet, I’ve stuck with this guy all year. I’ve seen him go through 0 for 35 droughts with about 881 infield pop ups. I’ve seen him strand small towns. I’ve rode him through winning streaks, losing streaks, ties, hangovers, and pregnancies. He’s going to hit fifth if for no other reason than I’ve done it this long and fuck–lineups don’t always have to make sense. This is fun! Yea mayn! K or double play, Gomes is my guy ’cause he can really ‘do it’ mayn.

Hitting sixth is my son Christopher. He’s gonna play second base. I like to hit the second baseman sixth. Just because, mayn. Christopher is a good bunter and I know you typically don’t stick a little guy who can handle the bat 6th in the lineup, but The Dusty does it. Christopher is my guy. Plus he likes Brandon Phillips and he wants to play at his spot. We’re just gonna do it this once (and maybe tomorrow and the next day if I wake up and feel that way). Batting sixth…. Christopher Baker. Go get after em’ mayn.

Hitting seventh we’re gonna go with Masset. He’s not pitching tonight he’s got something going on with his toe but he says he can catch. I like the catcher hitting seventh. They don’t clog up the bases with those worthless walks and every now and then–they’ll get that big hit mayn. Masset is built like a catcher, look at him over there. Plus he wears #40. That’s a catcher’s number so he’s gonna be hitting seventh and he’s gonna call the game tonight himself. His experience as a bullpen pitcher will serve him well as a catcher.

I like to hit my best hitter 8th as you know. That’s why all year when he was hot as Hell, I hit Jay Bruce 8th in the lineup. The best hitters don’t need protection other than the pitcher–and besides it’s not any ordinary pitcher that’s batting behind him tonight. I feel good about our 8th hitter tonight, I call him my M-V-P mayn. Miguel Cairo, batting 8th and at third. Utility guys are great. I don’t have to make up an excuse for the weird shit that I do when it comes to them. I wish I had 25 Miguel Cairo’s–because I favor veterans who are mediocre over young studs.

And batting 9th will be our starting pitcher; my dog Charlie Baker. Charlie is a golden retriever. They say they’re some of the smartest dawgs around, mayn. I mean he is a DAWG. He’s got somethin’ for them tonight. He don’t look like much but he is quick on the mound and he’s a winner. He’ll compete. You should see him play Frisbee at home.

Tony LaRusa’s Style is baking the Cardinals

Looking back on Tony La Russa’s history with players (and there’s more than one above average player on that list), you start to see why there’s some struggling going on in St. Louis.

La Russa has been successful for a long time in this game. He does small things to the lineup that are ‘cute’ when you’re winning but sets himself up for a lot of criticism when the wins aren’t pulled out–like last night’s 3-0 shutout loss to J.A. Happ and the Astros.

When the Reds lose and Dusty Baker downplays everything, I want there to be Hell to pay. I cringe and I get pissed. But the bottom line is, Dusty is right and we who practice losing our cool and want him to scream and yell and act like the walls are closing in are all wrong. What you’re seeing right now is Dusty’s style prevail in a pennant race.

No one’s talking about it, but I assure you that La Russa’s nit-picky, paranoid style is running it’s course on his roster in St. Louis and the negativity and toxicity of this man is reflecting his team’s play on a nightly basis.

On the contrary, Dusty’s relaxed, hands off approach is allowing his young players to go out and play without fear of losing their jobs on a nightly basis.

I don’t know which style is better, but for the roster set and positions that these two teams find themselves in right now; Dusty’s style is working and La Russa’s isn’t. It seems that the story coming out of St. Louis on a nightly basis is something that La Russa is complaining about. Something that rubbed him the wrong way. He’s acting like a ginger prick to any and all who will open an ear and his players have stopped responding with any type of motivated play.

Dusty Baker’s caring-grandfather style after so many seasons in the sun is motivating his men to run through walls right now. They’re the horse at the end of the Kentucky Derby who is running at full tilt without even being hit by the jockey.

Just something to think about as we finish up the last month of baseball. And something you hope the Cincinnati Reds front office takes notice of when trying to bring back Dusty Baker next season.

Duster's Last Stand

The Reds start a 3 city West Coast road trip tonight. This is ‘the big one’. This is the one that’s been circled on every die hard Reds fan’s calendar. As soon as you realized we were relevant, this became the “yeah, but” of the Reds 2010 schedule.

I was told a story about when the 1976 Big Red Machine, and after some research it’s been proved inaccurate.

But the story came from a member of the Big Red Machine, Johnny Bench in fact. The story went that when the BRM went out west they held a 4 game lead in the NL West race. They headed out west, and dropped the first five games of the West coast trip. As legend goes, legendary manager Sparky Anderson got on the team bus after that fifth loss and said:

“You guys are fuckin’ kidding,”

The rest of the Reds team on the bus looked up, wondering what their manager was talking about.

“You heard me. You’re just kidding about all this. You’re not really gonna blow this. Right?”

It was a great quote if there ever was one (and if it was ever really an occurrence).
We’re about to find out what kind of fibers this team is made out of. At Arizona, at Los Angeles for the weekend, and at San Francisco. In 9 days, 9 games take place.

A lot of people called the sweep at home to the Cardinals this past week “Dusty’s Last Stand”. But it’s not. The true Battle of Little Big Horn took place out west. That’s why this is going to to be know forever as Duster’s Last Stand.

One way or another, something epic is about to take place. But it could be filled with scalpings and blood lust.

Tonight's Reds lineup is shit

I want you all to take a look at the lineup tonight against Florida’s Josh Johnson. I want to tell you something that drives me crazy about Dusty Baker. Notice how he has Jim Edmonds hitting 5th and Jay Bruce hitting 6th?

That’s foolish.

All year long, a guy who was projected to hit between 25-30 home runs and be a great offensive player for you has been lackluster. No one really seems to know why that is. I can tell you this though, he’s NEVER going to come out of it while hitting with protection like Paul Janish, Ryan Hanigan, Ramon Hernandez, and whatever else the cat drags in.

Let Bruce hit 2nd; with Votto after him. Watch his production soar. Let him hit 5th even, because the 40 year old Jim Edmonds’ protection is better then what Bruce has had basically all year.

What the fuck good does it do to put Laynce Nix 2nd, and Jim Edmonds 5th?

That’s a horse shit lineup that I’d bet will yield horse shit results. I’ve been saying it all year. Give Bruce a chance to develop. The Reds and Johnny B. Baker haven’t fully done that yet.

I guess I did see Barry Bonds homer

I’ve always told people in conversation that while I saw Bonds play live by my count three times–that I never saw him homer. This isn’t accurate. I did see it as a 14 year old kid. On fall Sunday in September of 1996 I went to see Eric Davis play at old Riverfront Stadium. Eric was wrapping up his final days as a Cincinnati Red that month in his second stint. I remember I made an old poster board and sat up in right field in the second deck with my dad and my Uncle.

And thus is why I love, other then it’s the best site to spend all day on to kill time at work.

Earlier today after reading the Red Letter Days article from the 1987 Sports Illustrated (cover Eric Davis) I wanted to remember that day that my father and I ventured to see Eric play. He wasn’t the Eric that we’d seen as a kid, but he made a comeback and was hitting near .300 that year. He finished with 26 home runs. My sign said in big red marker: “ERIC DAVIS, 1996 COMEBACK PLAYER OF THE YEAR”.

And on that day in 1996 I saw Barry Bonds hit the 329th home run of his big league career off Dave Burba.

Managing in the Giants dugout that day? Dusty Baker. Man this game has a history and a memory for a fan with nearly every box score and statistic that exists. You can almost get lost in an afternoon of your life in it. And that’s why I love it.

Someone misplaced their nuts in the offseason

Nick Masset had the kind of year last year out of the pen setting up Coco that made us forget about trading a future Hall of Famer in Ken Griffey Jr. pretty quickly. Like, in a matter of seconds quickly. It looked like we had a future closer on our hands and a guy who would provide stability in the bullpen for years to come.

I was at a few games live and Masset’s 97 MPH fastball was on display along with a hammer of a curveball and a few other pitches he threw for strikes. Trust me, to say it was absolutely filthy wasn’t doing it justice.

This year, it’s another story. The guy is throwing balls down the middle of the plate and walking people in the most crucial of situations. He’s sporting a 32/13 K to BB ratio right now and has given up 28 hits and four home runs in 21 innings pitched.

It would appear to me that Dusty Baker is going to force-feed Masset to us in situations that the game is on the line. The hell with Arthur Rhodes allowing less growth on the basepaths then a drought produces, we’re gonna continue to let Masset be the set-up guy for Cordero.

Masset figures to have about 50 innings left to throw this season give or take if things go as they usually do. We need this guy to get it together and quickly. The biggest thing we see watching the games on an almost nightly basis is Masset is nibbling too damn much to the first hitter or two and then as soon as he gives up a hit he’s really nibbling.

Nick, find your sack again for us all and start retiring hitters. It’d be one thing if you didn’t have the stuff like Mike Lincoln. You’ve got Cy Young shit, son. Stop being a pussy and go right after the first hitter you face every inning with that fastball from Hell and fucking hammer 6-12 curve! Get it done!

Reds: It's Time to Circle the Wagons

I heard a veteran baseball fan attempt to preach something the other day that may have sounded nice, but I don’t necessarily believe in:
“Stats and standings don’t matter in baseball until Memorial Day.”
That fan was wrong. That may hold up in New York or Boston where you can go out and get the best player on the market come June or July to catapault you back into a pennant race, but in Cincinnati stuff like that doesn’t happen. You get off to a slow start, and it’s looking to the next season. It’s shopping veterans. It’s Bengals talk. Less and less Skyline Chilli sold at the ballpark and a lot of empty red seats out in the right field moon deck.
Some members of the fan base have listed reasons as to why we shouldn’t panic. Others know better, if we don’t turn things around quickly it’s going to be another season of disappointment.
The Reds return to Cincinnati to start a 6-game homestand where they’ve been markedly better over the past decade. They welcome in a Dodgers team who many have predicted to be a World Series contender and then the Padres over the weekend.
We predict that this homestand will define the rest of the season.
The Reds sit at 5-8 and are currently on a 5-game losing streak. More scary then that is that the Reds could have finished the past road trip 0-7 if not for two games in which the Marlins wasted last at-bat opportunities to win ballgames.
We’re about to find out where the 2010 Reds are at and where the future is headed. This team has to find a way to gut out a 4-2 homestand at the bare minimum to bring the record to .500 before heading to the road again to take on divisional foes Houston and St. Louis.
If the Reds come out flat at home in these six games, they’ll spiral further into the abyss and the talk will continue that Dusty Baker needs replaced before seasons end and that hitting coach Brook Jacoby needs fired.
The Reds are not pitching; they haven’t had a win from a starting pitcher yet. They are the only team in the Major Leagues with that dubious distinction. They aren’t hitting with runners in scoring position. They aren’t getting on base. They’re walking too many of the opposition’s hitters.
If the Reds cannot accomplish a winning homestand, this team is done for the season. Some people might think it’s premature. However, no Reds team that has started 5-8 has ever won the World Series. If you think that’s a lofty goal, the only teams that started 5-8 or worse in Reds history to make the playoffs was the 1995 team. The 1999 team also started 5-8, but of course missed the playoffs by one game. One game that the Reds have already blown could cost them a chance for October meaningful baseball.
But if the Reds don’t show up this homestand, it won’t even be a close shave by late in the year.
The Reds won’t extend Dusty Baker’s contract. Attendance will suffer. Veterans will be shopped, down to guys like Brandon Phillips, Bronson Arroyo, Jonny Gomes and Francisco Cordero.
If you like the current makeup of this Reds roster, and you like rooting for the 9 you see on the field regularly for this team; you need to pull for them hard this upcoming homestand or they’re on borrowed time in a Cincinnati uniform.
If you like King Dusty, you need us to pull out some wins right now.
The young guys have to come through. The veterans have to be in the lineup and get the timely hits; something that no one is doing right now. The Reds have to gut it out and find a way. The season is already at stake and time is ticking away with every out they make and every run they allow to cross the plate.

Diamond Hoggers Sunday Sermon: Love Thy Manager as Thy Self

Call this the Dusty Baker appreciation post. Call it whatever you want. I love the guy. He might never win a World Series. He might not always make the perfect move. His lineup strategies might cause you to scratch your head by the day. He favors ‘his’ boys, sure. He’s not the perfect manager, but he’s my favorite big league manager in the history of the game.
As far as I’m concerned, I want this guy managing my favorite ball club for as long as he wants. We’re privileged to have him.
I think that managing is more then just baseball knowledge and seeing a situation 100 times. It’s a chemistry equation of managing X and Y personalities. It’s about motivating your men for going to battle everyday. If you’ve played the game you know it’s a battle, I shouldn’t feel guilty in saying that. It’s a mental and physical grind. If you aren’t playing for a manager or coach that you respect and like; you’re going to have problems. I’d say it’s easier to motivate yourself and go to battle everyday if you’re going to battle for a guy like Johnny B. Baker.
Recently Baker gave Jay Bruce the day off to clear his head, and decided that he and Bruce were going to sit by each other in the dugout and just chat about baseball all day. Who knows what was said. But from what I know about Dusty he is a very caring man. He loves his players. You watch often enough, and you’ll see that Dusty goes to battle for his boys every single time you would want him to and even times you’d prefer that he doesn’t go after the umpire.
Dusty is like us. He lives and dies with every pitch, every out, every inning. Is that not a quality you want in your manager? The guy wants to win as bad as anyone in the game of baseball. As far as managers go he’s a warrior in that category. Again, we’re not saying that he always makes the right move; but we are suggesting that if Dusty can’t come up with the “W” it isn’t because he didn’t do everything he possibly could to do it.
You look around the league and you realize that there’s few managers in the game that have much as far as credentials go. Baker’s resume is impressive even though he hasn’t won the big one. And when we think back in terms of who we’ve had managing the Reds in our lifetime, only Lou Piniella might rival Baker. Jerry Narron was a fun guy, but he didn’t have the baseball IQ that Baker has.
There was a time when I thought that Dusty couldn’t manage this collection of young, inexperienced players. We’ve heard from a good source that it’s no misconception that Dusty likes his veterans. But you know what? He’s really adapted to this young roster of players. He talks about Joey Votto and Jay Bruce like they’re his own kids. They’d both probably tell you they’ve more then enjoyed playing for the old timer. Dusty can be hip when he has to be.
No matter how it ends up for Dusty Baker, he’s tops in our book. Not only is he a nice man who engages in conversation with the common fan when you are down at the ball park; but he gets the most out of his players and truly wants to win like his life depends on it. What more could you ask for from your skipper?

Song that needs played over the loud speakers at a ball park near you:

Judas Priest– Living After Midnight
MLB Draft Update
Tuesday is Major League Baseball’s 2009 amateur draft. The Strasburg kid out of San Diego State University will end up going #1 overall to the Washington Nationals. After that the Seattle Mariners have a selection. The older we get the more we realize the importance on hitting on your draft picks in baseball. Smaller market and even mid-market teams can’t afford to miss on these players that their organization will depend so heavily on. Pay attention to the guys your team selects in the first ten rounds. If they have success in the minor leagues and gain some recognition their is an excellent chance your team will make some noise at the Major League level in a few years time.

Game day snack of the week:
Good old salted peanuts. You know with all of the high tech foods that are being sold at concessions at the ball park nowadays, Peanuts are extremely underrated. Grab yourself a bag and enjoy. It’s American, damn it.