This goes hand in hand with Chris’s excellent post last night (definitely go read that one before it gets bumped too far down the page). America’s Best Sportswriter (TM) has weighed in on the ongoing debacle we are witnessing at the hands of our intrepid manager. An excerpt:

Still, it’s this latest bit of Dusty magic that has me nodding my head in admiration. Seven times this year — and twice in the last week — Dusty Baker has led off his lineup with center fielder Willy Taveras and followed him, in the No. 2 spot, with shortstop Alex Gonzalez.

There’s something awe inspiring about it. In case you are wondering what’s so special about this, well, Willy Taveras has a .279 on-base percentage this year. In case you are wondering, that’s the second worst on-base percentage in baseball (350 or more plate appearances), the worst being the always enjoyable Bengie Molina. Dusty is leading off with a player who makes outs 72 percent of the time he comes to the plate. His OPS+ is 49.

And then … he moves right to Alex Gonzalez who, almost unbelievably, is much worse. Gonzalez’s on-base percentage is .250 and that’s really not out-of-line with his career numbers (.293 lifetime on-base percentage, and he had a .229 on-base percentage in 2003 with the Marlins). He has no power, no speed and he has walked 11 times all year. It’s not too good. His OPS+ is 39.

Now, you really don’t want to have two players that weak offensively in the lineup at the same time. Maybe in an emergency situation. A day game after a night game. A second-game of a doubleheader. OK, look, I have followed bad baseball teams pretty much all my life, and I know that sometimes you just get caught in a situation where you have to play struggling players.

But to lead those two players off … well, that takes something more.

Sigh…. This whole Dusty Baker thing just exhausts me. It’s hard work to remain indignant day after day.

But let’s be clear: Dusty Baker is not going to change. And he is going to be the manager of the Cincinnati Reds next year. Get used to this nonsense.

Posnanski sums Dusty up perfectly:

And part of me just is in awe of the fact that Dusty Baker is still Dusty Baker, even after all these years, even after all the mockery, even after all the oh-so-obvious flaws. The world may change, but Dusty endures — he’s still just an ex-Marine looking hard into the eye of the storm and saying, “I don’t care. I am who I am. And I am invincible.”

Go read the whole thing. It’ll make you cry.

17 Responses

  1. RiverCity Redleg

    Great article. I actually think he sums it up best right from the first line when he refers to Dusty’s “chutzpah”.

  2. GregD

    What is Jocketty’s thoughts on all this?

    Does he have a problem with it?

    Does he have a talk with Baker and have insert more influence in the playing time and lineup decisions?

    Does he consider firing Baker?

    Does he retain Baker and make an effort to adjust the roster with players/team that will succeed under Baker’s style/lineups? i.e. getting (promoting) a centerfielder who can actually get on base.

  3. Matt WI

    You know, you don’t think twice in football when a new coach requires different kinds of players than are currently on the team to fit the new “system.” Getting Dusty players for his system may help, but I honestly believe there is a big difference between having a philosophy and simply following an outdated model. I’m fine if Dusty doesn’t do everything the way we would want, but he absoltuley has to show better judgment. A big difference in baseball is that you have the flexibility to put a catcher in the leadoff spot. That’s not the same as switching a RB to a CB, or teaching a linebacker a new blitz scheme. All he has to do is write the names down in a different slot. How hard is that?

  4. Dan

    Also, there are a lot of weird stats with weird acronyms that can get thrown around in discussions like this at times.

    But this is not one of those geeky, statsy, spreadsheety things…

    It’s just, given these 13 hitters you have available to you, you can pick some different guys here and there, and write them down in a slightly different order, and YOU WILL SCORE MORE RUNS.

    It really is just that simple and he just won’t do it.

    I don’t get it – this has to be the simplest part of managing, doesn’t it?

  5. Dan

    He’s making ***$3.5 million*** and he’s screwing up the easiest part of his job!!

  6. Matt WI

    As Pos said Sometimes a lineup pulled from a hat scores 10 runs and sometimes a lineup figured with mathematical precision gets shut out. I’d take Dusty using the old line-up out of hat at this point.

  7. AnnapolisRed

    Can everybody e-mail this article to Castellini and Jocketty?

  8. blazers34

    Ive got a lot of respect for you guys. Covering this team on a daily basis has GOT to turn into a grind. I surely couldnt do it.

  9. Kyle

    What is really painful is that the Reds have to be one of the teams that has to go through the cycle of trading their bigger names for good prospects, developing that younger talent, and waiting for it to all come together so they can make a run at the playoffs for 3-4 years before the cycle starts again. They are obviously at a disadvantage compared to larger market teams which is somewhat frustrating, but also fun to root for. To be able to hit on that 3-4 year window, they have to draft well, have a few prospects who outperform their projections, and generally be smarter than other teams. The Reds are proving that they are not smarter than other teams. They have exactly the wrong manager for the type of club they need to be and it is starting to seem like higher management doesn’t have a very good plan for maximizing this window either. The decisions the Reds make in the next year will be critical for the organization because once Cueto, Votto, Bruce, Volquez, and the rest become arbitration eligible that is where most of the money will go. And once those guys are no longer under the Reds control, it may be a longtime before we see that type of talent here again. They are not off to a good start on the decision making front.

  10. CG Hudson

    I’m with GregD on this; if Uncle Walt supplies him with useful players then Dusty can slot whoever he wants wherever because batting order don’t make all that much difference at the end of the day. To the extent that he leans on Dusty for personnel decisions, then he deserves fault too but it’s Jocketty’s job in name and title. If he goes and pulls the trigger on a worthless trip down memory lane (i.e., Rolen), what further proof do we need that he’s a complete dud?

  11. GRF

    When you spend this much time psychoanalyzing your manager, you know you have a problem.

  12. Mark in CC

    Let me start by saying that I agree Taveras and Gonzalez are terrible at the top of the order or in the line-up together.

    But looking at the players available to play yesterday, and also assuming Stubbs and Heisey need to stay at AAA so they don’t fall into the same trap Jay Bruce and Homer Bailey have, who else hits there? Janish? .229 BA, .312 OB; Nix .294 OB, Hairston .305 OBP, EE .333 OBP. I am just not sure the alternatives are that great. Maybe the best at this point, and I hesitate to mention the name, is Darnell McDonald and of course Hanigan if he gets healthy.

    If we are going to beat up Dusty, and we should because he has been as bad or worse than the rest of the team, at least 66% of the blame needs to go upstairs.

  13. Sultan of Swaff

    Remember when Dusty took over he intimated his charm and the work environment he fostered would help funnel free agents to the Reds? Ahh, the good old days.

  14. Mark in CC

    Sultan. The Free Agents like the Environment, how could you not as he is a “Player’s Manager” after all. But 75% of signing a free agent is “SHOW ME THE MONEY!” The only one who saw the money was CoCo and he credited Dusty with being a reason he came. But I bet he wouldn’t have without the money.

  15. BigRedMike

    Baker is a bad manager and a really bad fit for the Reds. I have no idea why he was hired in the first place.