(This post was written by long-time friend of the Nation Michael Howes.)

Some things I was just wondering about…

Dusty Baker continuing to lead off Willy Taveras and building the lineups he does — is that the single worst thing any recent Reds manager has done to hurt the team’s chances of winning?

Usually lineup construction doesn’t have a big impact, but the Reds are close to being a good team, their offense is terrible, and they lose a lot of close games because they can’t score. In other words, having players ahead of Votto and Phillips could have a bigger impact on the Reds winning or losing than it might for, say, a really bad team like Washington.

It could be that small thing that pushes the team over the hump.

For example, I posted the numbers in last night’s game thread that Taveras had led off 16 games where he has failed to get on base even a single time.

The Reds are not only 3-13 in those games, but 5 of those 13 losses are by 2 runs or less. Sure, 3 of those 13 losses were blowouts, so it probably doesn’t matter if we had Bonds leading off, but the Reds could VERY reasonably be in 5-10 more games this year with one SIMPLE SIMPLE change. That’s a potentially HUGE impact.

Think about it, it’s a pretty crazy stat. All you need is 2-3 more runs over those games, which should be SUPER easy because we are talking about replacing 0 (or even NEGATIVE) production.

The Reds have been among the worst teams in baseball for a handful of years now. But a lot of the time, it has been because of a bad GM signing bad players — in particular pitchers — and the Reds manager not having much choice. In this case, Dusty has options…the fault falls squarely on him (not on Willy).

Is this the single worst thing a recent manager has done to hurt the Reds chances of winning?