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Friday, February 14, 2014

Dusty Baker wants another shot

It was the Reds’ belly flops that did him in. A year after a blowing a 2-0 lead to the Giants in the National League Division Series, they lost their final six games last season, including the wild-card playoff game.

Baker’s strategy was second-guessed, and not for the first time. So was his style, which was characterized as too laid back.

Baker, without being prompted, addresses the criticism. He said he was following doctor’s orders to turn it down a notch, to keep his trademark enthusiasm in check. He had spent part of 2012 in a Chicago hospital recovering from an irregular heartbeat and a ministroke.

Baker concedes now that he entered last season not knowing if he would make it through the grind. He joked about feeling like the Bionic Man while dealing with a defibrillator, heart monitor and C-PAP machine.

Now, Baker said, he is back to his old self, having had an additional year to recover from the scary heart episode. “I know I’m strong,” he said. “Nobody needs to tell you when you’re strong.”

...Jim Bowden, a former Reds G.M. now with ESPN, suspects Baker might be back in the dugout this summer.

“He’s the perfect July hire for the team that’s underachieving,” Bowden said. “I can see him as a midseason replacement for a team that’s 12 games back. A G.M. is going to say, ‘I need a proven winner to come in here and prove that we’re better than this.’ “

Until then, Baker sounds at peace, even as pitchers and catchers report without him. The only other times he missed spring training since being drafted in 1967 was in 1987, the year before the Giants hired him as their first-base coach, and in 2007, before the Reds hired him.

For now, Baker said, he is enjoying his time with his family.

“Still,” he said, “I feel like I could help somebody.”

Thanks to Chino.

Repoz Posted: February 14, 2014 at 05:11 AM | 25 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: reds

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   1. RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: February 14, 2014 at 10:22 AM (#4656784)
I had completely forgotten he was fired. I don't think he'll be unemployed long, he's a pretty good manager with a proven track record.
   2. Harveys Wallbangers Posted: February 14, 2014 at 01:24 PM (#4656914)
dusty has always been laid back, this is not new nor tied to a health concern.

baker's rep within baseball likely took a hit when he ignored Phillips tirade against the reporter. you are not a leader of men when you let your employees have a public display involving profanity directed at a third party and the employee experiences no consequences. that is an abdication of your responsibilities

baker is not a young man or even middle aged. his age will be a barrier to many teams.

agree that he has been a good manager for a long time and was unfairly criticized over the years. but I suspect his days as a manager are likely done.
   3. if nature called, ladodger34 would listen Posted: February 14, 2014 at 01:49 PM (#4656932)
Harvs,

He let that Steve Stone crap fester in Chicago, too instead of telling his players to STFU and play ball.
   4. Harveys Wallbangers Posted: February 14, 2014 at 02:15 PM (#4656954)
post 3

agreed. but the Phillips thing was different. with stone you had players griping/whining but there was no real time confrontation where baker could choose to step in. he just stood there and let the writer get verbally abused

that was terrible
   5. SouthSideRyan Posted: February 14, 2014 at 02:31 PM (#4656966)
Harv there were confrontations with stone both on the team plane and an elevator. Now don't get me wrong, stone is an arrogant blowhard who gets what he deserves having to work with harrelson every day but that 04 collapse was just a fantastic snapshot of bakers clubhouse management.

It's not quite the managerial black mark that choosing to face mike ####### Lowell with a lefty over Lenny ####### Harris with a righty In extra innings of a tie game of nlcs game 1 was, but it certainly reflects poorly
   6. Harveys Wallbangers Posted: February 14, 2014 at 02:47 PM (#4656982)
ssr

I wrote 'real time' referencing in full view of cameras/public display. if it sounds like I am trying to parse I apologize

I just think there is a difference between a confrontation that is recorded and witnessed by non-team people and one that takes place out of public view and only with players/coaches in the vicinity

again, if folks equate the two I understand
   7. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: February 14, 2014 at 03:28 PM (#4657022)
Excellent idea. So do I. Bartender!
   8. Walt Davis Posted: February 14, 2014 at 06:08 PM (#4657128)
He probably could have one last stint as a "succeed in the short term by changing the atmosphere" kind of manager but between age and health and track record, I can't imagine anybody seeing him as a long-term solution. But, hey, it's about time for Showalter to wear out his welcome with the O's and Dusty would be the perfect guy to continue Buck's curse.

More likely I can imagine any number of teams would like to have him as a bench coach. The "wise old guy, has the players back" kind not the deep strategy kind. And I think he's generally been pretty good with hitters.
   9. RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: February 14, 2014 at 06:28 PM (#4657140)
Baker is only 64, he's not that old. He's two years older than Jim Leyland when he took over Detroit, one year older than Lou Piniella when he took over the Cubs, three years younger than Joe Torre when he took over the Dodgers, and four years younger than Davey Johnson when he took over the Nats. Sure, he's not a long-term solution for a team like the Astros, but if you're a team close to contention and you think Dusty could be the guy that puts you over the top, I think he'd be a terrific hire for the next 4 years or so.
   10. SoSHially Unacceptable Posted: February 14, 2014 at 06:37 PM (#4657147)
Baker is only 64, he's not that old. He's two years older than Jim Leyland when he took over Detroit, one year older than Lou Piniella when he took over the Cubs, three years younger than Joe Torre when he took over the Dodgers, and four years younger than Davey Johnson when he took over the Nats. Sure, he's not a long-term solution for a team like the Astros, but if you're a team close to contention and you think Dusty could be the guy that puts you over the top, I think he'd be a terrific hire for the next 4 years or so.


He's also three years older than Bobby V when he took over the Red Sox. While there are obvious exceptions, Dag's research shows that guys do tend to lose a bit managerially as they hit this age.

I think he's got a chance to get hired in a mid-season situation, going the Jack McKeon/Davey Johnson route. I'd be surprised if he gets a gig to start a season. I'd like to see it, because I've kind of become a Dusty guy, and I think it would be a shame if a manager who reached the playoffs in 3 of his last 4 seasons and wanted to keep going couldn't find a job.
   11. Jim Wisinski Posted: February 14, 2014 at 06:45 PM (#4657152)
Baker is only 64, he's not that old.


I think people forget that because he has looked like he's in his 60s for a long time.

Baker's managerial history is interesting for the way his jobs have ended. He led the Giants to a pennant but was allowed to leave during the offseason (light research says that it was due to issues between him and ownership?). The Cubs only kept him four seasons despite the quick turnaround in 2003 and them nearly making it to the World Series. Then the Reds had him for six but let him go after playoff appearances in 3 of the last 4 seasons (including two division titles). Yeah, you can say there were extenuating circumstances each time (ownership disagreements, collapses in Chicago, postseason futility with the Reds) and maybe it's just coincidental but it doesn't seem like Baker's teams tend to be all that interested in keeping him around despite his track record.
   12. PASTE Thinks This Trout Kid Might Be OK (Zeth) Posted: February 14, 2014 at 07:34 PM (#4657165)
Excellent idea. So do I. Bartender!


Apropos of nothing as they say, one of my favorite movie throwaway lines is from the bartender in the original Rocky, who responds to Rocky's indignant "He took his shot, what shot did you ever take?" response to his derision of Apollo Creed, as Rocky storms off:

"You want me to take a shot? All right!" (grabs bottle) "I'll take a shot!"

Cracks me up every time.
   13. Walt Davis Posted: February 15, 2014 at 12:38 AM (#4657228)
Baker is only 64,

Fair enough, I had it in my mind he was late 60s.
   14. Hank G. Posted: February 15, 2014 at 02:45 PM (#4657374)
Baker is only 64, he's not that old.


But he’s an old 64.
   15. Fancy Pants Handles lap changes with class Posted: February 15, 2014 at 03:11 PM (#4657383)
Baker is only 64, he's not that old.

I think people forget that because he has looked like he's in his 60s for a long time.


To be fair, he has also acted like he is in his 60's for a long time.
   16. Joyful Calculus Instructor Posted: February 15, 2014 at 03:24 PM (#4657387)
Wow, the BBTF opinion of Baker is vastly different than it was when he was with the Cubs.
   17. Dag Nabbit is part of the zombie horde Posted: February 15, 2014 at 03:56 PM (#4657398)
I feel like I should have something to add - but people have already said what I was going to say, especially Harv and Jim W.
   18. zonk Posted: February 15, 2014 at 04:52 PM (#4657420)
Wow, the BBTF opinion of Baker is vastly different than it was when he was with the Cubs.


It's really just that the horse has beaten dead for me -- I still think he has some real, real gaps in competence as a manager. However, even when bashing him - I've always said that I think he's definitely an "above average" manager, he's probably in the top 1/3 of his profession. I also think that if you're a team whose time is "now" - Dusty is a fine choice. My issues with Dusty just come down to this:

1) When it goes bad, it goes REALLY bad... His "us against the world" schtick with his players pays dividends near-term, but when he loses a clubhouse or other external factors pressure a clubhouse, it gets ugly.

2) He's not very good at handling a pitching staff. I guess he actually got a little better in Cincinnati, but I still would craft my staff with disposable rubber-armed veterans if I were running a team with Dusty as a manager.

3) He seems to be increasingly belligerent to learning new ideas...


But, hey -- he's good with players generally, they have a history of performing well for him, he seems to have a real good knack for keeping gimpy position players in the lineup more often, etc.
   19. PreservedFish Posted: February 15, 2014 at 06:33 PM (#4657443)
maybe it's just coincidental but it doesn't seem like Baker's teams tend to be all that interested in keeping him around despite his track record.


This happens in all sports, though. When a team that is consistently very good (but never great), the response from ownership is rarely to appreciate the team that they have in place, or to give credit to the manager for getting an average team to play over its head. The response is to try and find the manager that will take the team to the next level.
   20. Dag Nabbit is part of the zombie horde Posted: February 15, 2014 at 07:58 PM (#4657462)
This happens in all sports, though. When a team that is consistently very good (but never great), the response from ownership is rarely to appreciate the team that they have in place, or to give credit to the manager for getting an average team to play over its head. The response is to try and find the manager that will take the team to the next level.

That doesn't really describe what happened with Baker, though. He led the Giants to their first pennant in a decade - and only second in 40 years. They closer to winning their first world title under him than they had in decades. That's getting the team to the next level. His contract was up after that season and the club made zero effort to sign him.

The Reds had seven straight losing seasons before Baker showed up. They had 2 bad years unde rhim, and then won 90 games 3 times in 4 seasons. One year, they had the second most wins by any team in MLB. The Reds hadn't been consistently good for decades before Baker got there. And it was only a four year stretch - but it was their best four year stretch since the Big Red Machine.
   21. PreservedFish Posted: February 15, 2014 at 08:12 PM (#4657467)
I don't think that addresses or conflicts with my point. Fans and administrators have short memories.

Dusty inherits a crappy team.
Dusty makes them pretty good.
They're pretty good for a few years, but always fall short.
People ask: "Why can't the team take the next step?"
Some answer: "Dusty's the wrong manager for this team."

They forget that Dusty was part of the force that brought the team to contention - or they remember, but the rationalization is "Dusty helped us get to 90 wins, but he's not the right guy to take us to 100 wins."
   22. Harveys Wallbangers Posted: February 15, 2014 at 11:07 PM (#4657490)
Pf

Not to speak for reds fans but I don't think Cincy fans were thinking baker couldn't get the team from 90 to 100 wins

they want a guy who won't seemingly stand there oblivious as the team gets rolled in the playoffs

But maybe that is what you are saying
   23. McCoy Posted: February 15, 2014 at 11:09 PM (#4657491)
The only team that your theory kind of/sort of would apply to is the Reds. With the Giants he was there forever and he got them 5 outs away from winning it all. With the Cubs his team went backwards and was godawful in his final year. With the Reds the team improved while Baker was managing before appearing to "stall out" in the final two years.

I don't think any of those three franchises held your view of the situation and let him go for the reason you think he got let go.
   24. PreservedFish Posted: February 15, 2014 at 11:16 PM (#4657493)
I didn't mean to suggest that exactly this thing happened to Baker every time. Sorry. Just that the pattern described by Jim Wisinksi is not in any way unique to Baker - we see it all the time, in every sport.
   25. GregQ Posted: February 16, 2014 at 08:55 AM (#4657553)
I think Don Nelson's record as the coach in Milwaukee (NBA) is an example of a coach that the team feels will not take them to the next level. Seven consecutive first place finishes then they show him the door when the team finishes third.

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