The mess that is the 2008 season for the Cincinnati Reds is absolutely not all Dusty Baker’s fault. Jayson Stark, however, had some interesting thoughts on the subject in the ESPN piece we linked earlier:

We’ve heard some buzzing lately, among baseball men, scouts and players, about a recent Dusty Baker quote on the Reds’ troubles that sure looked like an attempt to absolve himself of all blame.

“I have never wanted to win more than I do right here, and I will,” Baker told the Dayton Daily News’ Hal McCoy. “But this is Wayne Krivsky’s team, not Walt Jocketty’s and not mine. I just hope there is enough out there after the season that we can get to help us.”

Maybe we’re not reading that right. But if we’re misinterpreting it, suffice it to say we’re not the only ones. And it appears Baker is saying that the Reds’ disappointing record is his players’ fault, and his former GM’s fault, but not his own or his current GM’s doing.

Well, obviously, Jocketty is only now beginning to put his stamp on this roster. And the players haven’t exactly overachieved. But doesn’t the manager bear some responsibility for this mess, too?

Scouts who have followed the Reds continually talk about their messy execution, their mediocre defense and their distinct lack of energy. There also has been plenty of second-guessing of Baker’s lineup choices (particularly those 242 at-bats Corey Patterson has gotten).

And there is no shortage of people wondering whether Aaron Harang’s forearm injury — along with his 1-6, 8.49 slide in the past 2½ months — might be a direct result of Baker’s decision to allow him to throw 63 pitches in relief on two days’ rest in a May 25 18-inning game, then start him on three days’ rest immediately afterward.

Dusty Baker has many admirable traits. And this is not an attempt to heap all the blame on him. We’re just saying that when teams like this fall apart, it’s everybody’s fault — including the manager’s.

Indeed. Maybe Dusty was misconstrued.