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Friday, August 17, 2018

Calcaterra - Dusty Baker Drops Truth Bombs

In which Craig Calcaterra reads The Athletic $ piece by Ken Rosenthal, then writes this piece that you can read for free.

I say that because every time someone gets to Dusty Baker for an interview, he drops some major truth bombs that make you wonder why anyone wouldn’t want him in charge. Sure, like any manager he has his faults and blind spots — more so in his distant past than in his recent past, I should not — but the guy is smart, has more experience than anyone going and is almost universally loved by his players.

Recently he sat down with Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic to talk about life, baseball and everything, and once again the truth bombs were dropping.

Estimated 1-day post count for this thread is projected to be in the 150 post range. GO!

Bote Man Posted: August 17, 2018 at 01:33 PM | 45 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: dusty baker, manager, nationals

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   1. Pasta-diving Jeter (jmac66) Posted: August 17, 2018 at 07:23 PM (#5728971)
pass
   2. McCoy Posted: August 17, 2018 at 07:30 PM (#5728976)
I'm drawing a blank on a WW2 topic that would get to 150 posts in a day.
   3. Bote Man Posted: August 17, 2018 at 07:36 PM (#5728979)
Don't worry, once the Cubs fans start on this thread Jim will have to upgrade the server to keep up.
   4. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: August 17, 2018 at 07:40 PM (#5728980)
Eh, I just don't have the energy to devote to Dusty being Dusty these days.
   5. perros Posted: August 17, 2018 at 07:55 PM (#5728988)
I love Dusty, have since his days with the Braves, and think he's gotten a bum rap over the years. Yes, he's used questionable strategy and had an affinity for some weak performers, but he's gotten better performance from teams than those coming before and after him. He's a very good manager who is an excellent leader of men.

Criticism is one thing, animosity another, the latter mostly attributabe to being an outspoken black leader who doesn't pretend race doesn't matter.

I'll download the app this weekend to RTFA.
   6. SoSH U at work Posted: August 17, 2018 at 08:08 PM (#5728996)
Well, at least the Nats won't be bowing out in the first round again this year. So good job, Rizz.
   7. Sweatpants Posted: August 17, 2018 at 09:18 PM (#5729039)
Rosenthal: Bryce Harper struggled for two-plus months. He didn’t struggle for two-plus months when you had him…
Baker: I know.
Bryce Harper, 6/7/16-8/6/16: .219/.335/.364

The author theorizes that Baker thinks that the Nationals have messed Harper up somehow, but he's been better with the bat this year than he was for Baker in 2016. Maybe he thinks they're positioning him poorly in the outfield or something.
   8. Bote Man Posted: August 17, 2018 at 09:23 PM (#5729042)
Harper hid a nagging injury in 2016, only revealing it after it was too late to matter.
   9. Endless Trash Posted: August 17, 2018 at 10:26 PM (#5729066)
I don't have an opinion of dusty one way or another but it really is a good piece over at the athletic and you should check it out if you can.
   10. Jeff Francoeur's OPS Posted: August 18, 2018 at 06:15 AM (#5729163)
How many toothpicks did he go through in this interview?
   11. Slivers of Maranville descends into chaos (SdeB) Posted: August 18, 2018 at 09:46 AM (#5729185)
My particular beef is with those why try to paint Dusty as simpleminded, or just a kind of folksy father figure, when those who know him consider him one of the sharpest minds in baseball.
   12. PreservedFish Posted: August 18, 2018 at 10:06 AM (#5729187)
In Boswell's great taxonomy of managers - the Tall Tactician, the Peerless Leader, the Uncle Robby, and the Little Napoleon - Baker is an obvious Uncle Robby, the laid-back and affable "player's manager."
   13. greenback slays lewks Posted: August 18, 2018 at 10:13 AM (#5729190)
Baker seems like the perfect test case as a combo HoF candidate. His playing career wasn't a masterpiece, but it wasn't exactly Entenmann's either. Same goes for his managing career.
   14. Jesse Barfield's Right Arm Posted: August 18, 2018 at 11:06 AM (#5729202)
I think of Baker like I thought of Charlie Manuel; players just love him, but with some really big issues re: everyday tactics. I also hold a minority opinion in Philly that Manual burned out Halladay's arm, but that kinda seems besides the point these days. The big difference, of course, is that Manuel got a ring.
   15. SoSH U at work Posted: August 18, 2018 at 11:07 AM (#5729203)

Baker seems like the perfect test case as a combo HoF candidate. His playing career wasn't a masterpiece, but it wasn't exactly Entenmann's either. Same goes for his managing career.


Yup. Unfortunately, the Hall doesn't really do the combo platter, with the possible exception of a guy Dusty pretty closely resembles, Red Schoendienst.

Davey Johnson would be another of this type.

   16. SoSH U at work Posted: August 18, 2018 at 11:10 AM (#5729204)
The big difference, of course, is that Manuel got a ring.


For all skippers with 10 or more seasons managed, Cholly has the best average finish. His teams averaged a finish of 1.7, obviously a byproduct of his career taking place entirely in the six-division era.

   17. You Know Nothing JT Snow (YR) Posted: August 18, 2018 at 11:15 AM (#5729205)
Dusty Baker is the biggest racist in baseball.
   18. Jesse Barfield's Right Arm Posted: August 18, 2018 at 11:32 AM (#5729208)
Cholly has the best average finish. His teams averaged a finish of 1.7


Not bad, even counting the last few tough years in Philly. Should point out that the guy can just flat teach hitting too. Miss him even if Gape Kapler actually does the "right" things with his pen.
   19. PreservedFish Posted: August 18, 2018 at 11:38 AM (#5729209)
What's his opinion on coconut oil?
   20. Stormy JE Posted: August 18, 2018 at 11:39 AM (#5729210)
Yup. Unfortunately, the Hall doesn't really do the combo platter, with the possible exception of a guy Dusty pretty closely resembles, Red Schoendienst.

Davey Johnson would be another of this type.
Phil Rizzuto says hi, although his combo was for playing a decent shortstop, being an affable, clownish announcer, and pitchman for The Money Store.
   21. phredbird Posted: August 18, 2018 at 12:52 PM (#5729221)

geez, i don't feel like subscribing or doing a free trial that sucks you in ... isn't there any way to read the athletic piece for free?

it's not a big deal, just askin'.

i remember BITD of Primer people used to post passwords in the threads so folks could get to certain content. ... good times.
   22. Bote Man Posted: August 18, 2018 at 12:59 PM (#5729225)
From what I've come to understand, you can read The Athletic article "for free" via The Athletic App. Of course, then you're paying continually via data mined as you use that device. YMMV.
   23. Brian White Posted: August 18, 2018 at 03:11 PM (#5729307)
i remember BITD of Primer people used to post passwords in the threads so folks could get to certain content. ... good times.


Oh yes, the good old days of username: bselig, password: bselig.
   24. Walt Davis Posted: August 18, 2018 at 06:06 PM (#5729403)
150 posts? On a weekend?

Hard to react to anything since I can't access the interview. This from Calcaterra:

the truth bombs were dropping. About the state of front offices today. About the different way black and white ex-managers and ex-players are treated. About what seems to be collusion on the free agent market. And, of course, about the state of the 2018 Nationals,

None of those are reasons teams would offer him a job and, depending on what he said, might be reasons they wouldn't. Certainly an FO doesn't want a manager with contrary opinions to how they operate, don't want their managers commenting on collusion and it's never a good look to badmouth your former employer.

I would like to hear what Dusty has to say on the differential treatment and I don't see that coming up in a manager interview nor do I think teams would particularly care one way or the other what he thought about that.

I didn't follow Baker that closely in Cincy but what was this mysterious "mode of thinking." In SF and Chicago there wasn't any great mystery to his managerial style or decisions. He might have been right and we might have been wrong but his moves weren't inscrutable. Then Calcaterra:

the 2018 Nationals, who are likely to miss the playoffs despite being, more or less, the same team he led to those 97 wins last year.

C'mon, this sort of thing happens all the time. Dusty won 91 with the Reds in 2010 then just 79 the next year (then two good years). He won 103 in his first year with the Giants followed by 3 sub-500 years. It's usually just regression to the mean -- a little good luck and you're at 97 wins, a little bad luck and you're at 84. Have enough bad luck early in that second season and the team might start trading away value, cementing the disappointing finish (the Nats haven't done this to any great extent).

It is much the same team that won 97 last year ... but Murphy's been hurt and not super-Murphy whan he's played. Zimmerman has been hurt and not super-Zimmerman when he's played. The rotation has been quite good but Strasburg got hurt; the pen has been a disaster which is a Nats tradition. In two seasons under Baker, Harper had a 133 OPS+; this year he sits at 135. (I don't know when the interview took place.)

All that said, Craig's right that Dusty is an interesting interview and he's got lots of interesting stuff to say about broader issues in baseball and society.

   25. The Yankee Clapper Posted: August 18, 2018 at 09:02 PM (#5729502)
Baker got the opportunity to manage 4 MLB teams, 22 seasons combined, with only a 1-year & 2-year hiatus during his managerial career. I thought the Nationals were too quick to let him go, but MLB Managers take the fall for things beyond their control all the time. Being scapegoated is part of the job. I don't think Dusty has much to complain about, he had a good career - a couple more playoff wins would have made him a genius, but it never happened. That's life.
   26. Man o' Schwar Posted: August 18, 2018 at 09:13 PM (#5729507)
Eh, I just don't have the energy to devote to Dusty being Dusty these days.

Ditto. I hated his Dusty-ness when he was with the Cubs, and he certainly is on the list of contributors to the death of Mark Prior's career with the way he overused him unnecessarily in the second half of 2003. Plus 2004, when the team collapsed under his watchful eye and turned into a collection of whiny babies, and the continued slide from 5 outs to the World Series in 2003 to last place in 2006.

But now, meh. It's in the past.
   27. Howie Menckel Posted: August 18, 2018 at 09:36 PM (#5729513)
Phil Rizzuto says hi,

Rizzuto got within a whisker of HOM election with ZERO credit for anything post-playing career (many did give him WW II credit), though he was bidding for borderline selection and eventually got overrun by stronger new player pools.

there are dozens of worse HOF picks even if he had never become a broadcaster, you huckleberry!
:)

throw in decades of that, and he belongs in Cooperstown (even if my Mom couldn't stand him as she watched her favorite team - which was whomever was playing the Yankees - on that tiny black-and-white TV upstairs when I was a kid. whenever the opposing team homered, we could hear the pitter-patter of happy, 100-pound celebratory foot stomps resonating on the main floor. good times!).
   28. OCF Posted: August 18, 2018 at 11:37 PM (#5729554)
Re: Red Schoendienst:

To our eyes, he looks like a combo pick - not quite enough player for the HOF, not quite enough manager either, but he did both. But I'm pretty sure that's not how the Veterans Committee that elected him saw it. His managerial career helped focus attention on him, but that committee saw a long career by someone identified as a second baseman and some pretty fancy batting averages - and that was enough for them to elect him as a player. With our better access to and understanding of statistics, we can see that it was an "empty" BA and that some chunk of his playing time was at positions less valuable than 2B. He was still a good player, but not really at the higher level of HOF consideration.

As Howie mentioned, Phil Rizzuto isn't in the HOM but got into a lot of voters' consideration sets and racked up a good number of votes. The same cannot be said for Schoendienst - the serious consideration just wasn't there for him.
   29. Howie Menckel Posted: August 18, 2018 at 11:51 PM (#5729556)
As Howie mentioned, Phil Rizzuto isn't in the HOM but got into a lot of voters' consideration sets and racked up a good number of votes. The same cannot be said for Schoendienst - the serious consideration just wasn't there for him.

good point. as a player-only, Red was resoundly rejected by HOM. but MGR is not a mere broadcaster, either
   30. TomH Posted: August 19, 2018 at 08:23 AM (#5729580)
Dusty Baker managed 4 MLB teams. In the first year of each, the teams improved over their previous year record by 19 (Cubs), 31 (Ginats), 2 (Reds), and 12 (BNats) games, respectively.
After that things weren't usually so rosy. Any got a theory besides good fortune for this mark (well, and Barry Bonds)? Was Dusty an inspirer, or an educator? We know it ain't becausse he put in guys who hand't had a chance to play full time before who led the team to greatenss (See Perez, Neifi).
   31. TomH Posted: August 19, 2018 at 08:24 AM (#5729581)
Oh, and after Dusty left each team, they went +19, +7, -14, and "minus X" (Nats 2018) the following year.
   32. BDC Posted: August 19, 2018 at 08:59 AM (#5729585)
Any got a theory besides good fortune for this mark


I think you'd need to know the baseline expectation for new managers. It's possible that teams tend to improve under any new manager, just because teams tend to fire the old manager after a really bad season.
   33. SoSH U at work Posted: August 19, 2018 at 09:16 AM (#5729587)
After that things weren't usually so rosy.


How so? Other than the Cubs, his teams performed fine through most of his run. His last six Giants teams averaged 90 wins and his final one went to the World Series. His last two Reds teams went to the playoffs. And his second Nats team won 97 games.

He was an overall good manager, with some weaknesses. Like most good managers. He had two pretty ugly years in Chicago (and an ugly end to the second year of his stint). But that time with Chicago has carried way more weight than it should have in an evaluation of his managerial record.

We know it ain't becausse he put in guys who hand't had a chance to play full time before who led the team to greatness (See Perez, Neifi).


Neifi Perez played a little less than two full seasons under Dusty. He was a perfectly respectable 4.0 WAR during his time with the Cubs, and -1.6 WAR over the rest of his 12 big league seasons. Old Neif shouldn't have batted as high up in the lineup as he did under Baker's command (one of those weaknesses mentioned above), but his results were consistent with Baker's greatest strength - guys played better under him than they did elsewhere.
   34. Dag Nabbit at ExactlyAsOld.com Posted: August 19, 2018 at 09:49 AM (#5729592)
Oh, and after Dusty left each team, they went +19, +7, -14, and "minus X" (Nats 2018) the following year.

The Giants were +5 the year Baker left. (From 95-66 with him to 100-61 without him).

The weird thing in Baker's career is how often he's been let go despite good results. Six straight winning seasons in San Francisco - four of them with 90 or more wins - and a pennant in his last season. And they made no effort to resign him. With the Reds, Baker won 90 or more games in 3 of his last 4 seasons, making the playoffs in each of those 3 years. It was the franchise's best stretch since the 1970s, but they dumped him. Two years in Washington - 95 and 97 wins - and they got rid of him.

I dunno if there's ever been another manager let go immediately after winning 90 or more games by three franchises. Billy Martin is close - he had that happen to him in 1969, 1983, and 1985 - but not by three franchises.
   35. McCoy Posted: August 19, 2018 at 10:00 AM (#5729596)
Almost all of neifi's value of not all of it for the Cubs came in the form of fielding. His numbers for the Cubs were out of line with the rest of his career path. So either he figured something out, got really lucky, or the numbers are not a true measure of his abilities during that time.

The true villain was Hendry who picked him up and then had neifi around as the only viable option when everyone else went down.
   36. SoSH U at work Posted: August 19, 2018 at 10:01 AM (#5729598)
He also hit better in Chicago than he did elsewhere. Not well, but better.
   37. McCoy Posted: August 19, 2018 at 10:03 AM (#5729600)
In terms of inside baseball I think his issue is two things. 1, he's kind of the old school type who believes he runs the major league team and he makes the on field decisions and 2, his failure in the postseason.

Add those to up and you have front offices that look for managers that can get them over the hump.
   38. You Know Nothing JT Snow (YR) Posted: August 19, 2018 at 10:03 AM (#5729601)
Could this be due to Dusty’s, um, unconventional theories about weather impacting player performance based on their race?
   39. SoSH U at work Posted: August 19, 2018 at 10:05 AM (#5729602)
In terms of inside baseball I think his issue is two things. 1, he's kind of the old school type who believes he runs the major league team and he makes the on field decisions and 2, his failure in the postseason.

Add those to up and you have front offices that look for managers that can get them over the hump.


I think that's pretty accurate. And now he's not just old school, but old.

   40. McCoy Posted: August 19, 2018 at 10:07 AM (#5729604)
Re 36. The 60 odd plate appearances in 2004 is doing a lot of lifting for his cub career. It was also why Hendry then handed out a multi year contract that off-season. Apparently witnessing Gary Gaetti in 1999 didn't make him understand the problem of small sample sizes.
   41. McCoy Posted: August 20, 2018 at 08:15 AM (#5730066)
I thought I didn't have anything to talk about in terms of WWII until I read this; Why Japan Truly Failed and What China Can learn from it


Wow. The guy who wrote that is the chair of Maritime Strategies at the Naval War College. Was it lazy writing or what that made him write an essay full of contradictions and errors?

He never bothers to consider the economic issues as to why Japan attacked America, mentions the 1940 ship building bill for America and then quickly forgets about that when arguing his main point that not attacking would keep the Americans passive and not gear up for war. Ignores that Japan wanted to target the carriers at Pearl Harbor, ignores the reality of their planes and ships when saying that the Japanese should have targeted Pearl Harbor's ability to supply and repair ships. Says that Japan created a vast empire that they couldn't possibly defend and that defending forces had to be larger than attacking forces to successfully defend (which is just plain wrong) but then in his answer to what Japan should have done instead is argue for Japan to turn their island empire into island fortresses. Which is exactly what the Japanese did.

I stopped reading before I could finish up what China learned from all this because it looked like clearly this guy didn't learn from Pearl Harbor either.
   42. Steve Parris, Je t'aime Posted: August 20, 2018 at 09:58 AM (#5730097)
In terms of inside baseball I think his issue is two things. 1, he's kind of the old school type who believes he runs the major league team and he makes the on field decisions and 2, his failure in the postseason.

Dusty can also be amazingly self-sensitive. In the Rosenthal interview, he says "In Cincinnati, no matter what I did or what we did — we brought them from the bottom — they were all over me, all the time, no matter what." I'm not sure what he's talking about. By and large, the media was behind Baker. He didn't get any criticism from the Brennamania that I can recall. Things didn't get sour until towards the end, when he failed to reprimand Brandon Phillips after he called a beat writer a "fat ####\" right in front of him.
   43. DJS Holiday-Related Pun Posted: August 20, 2018 at 11:10 AM (#5730138)
i remember BITD of Primer people used to post passwords in the threads so folks could get to certain content. ... good times.

Unless my creeping senescence betrays me, I don't believe we ever linked passwords to *paid* sites, only the free ones that require a login.

As for Baker, he's a really good manager for a very specific type of team, one that basically has a set, veteran roster, and needs a people-manager to get them over the top. For a rebuilding team or one with a lot of decisions to make, Baker has typically been a terrible fit.
   44. SoSH U at work Posted: August 20, 2018 at 12:00 PM (#5730171)
For a rebuilding team or one with a lot of decisions to make, Baker has typically been a terrible fit.


Other than 2005-06 Chicago, which rebuilding teams has he overseen?

But I'm curious, where did he go wrong on these decisions?

   45. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: August 20, 2018 at 04:32 PM (#5730371)
I think that's pretty accurate. And now he's not just old school, but old.
And the last thing you want in your windowless clubhouse is an old man crop-dusting the place with truth bombs.

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