Our good friend OhioJim, long-time commenter here at the Nation, made this interesting post in Saturday’s recap thread:

Also there is a very big presumption being made by a lot of folks that just because Baker’s game management skills are his weak point (and I agree with that), that some other manager would have done better (or even as well) with this team. Given the upheaval of all the injuries to key pieces and the failure of the front office to bring in a single true MLB level replacement, I think it is very possible that instead of doing better, this team might have well imploded WITHOUT a manager who has Baker’s skills to manage personalities.

While we are criticizing Dusty’s daily in-game shenanigans, isn’t it also fair to consider whether Jim has a point here?

This is actually the reason that I haven’t called for Dusty to be fired, unlike nearly everyone else on the planet, it seems (I think I may be in the minority among RN editors on this issue, for what it’s worth). It’s the point I made in our last podcast. I’m perfectly willing to believe that Dusty’s purported strengths as a manager — things we can’t see on the field every day — are (a) a much bigger part of his job than anyone wants to believe, and (b) a key ingredient in the fact that the Reds have qualified for the playoffs for the third time in four years, winning 90+ games in each of those seasons.

Sure, a boatload of others could have made better on-field decisions than Baker. I feel confident that I could have. But there’s no way I could do the rest of Baker’s job. No way in the world.

I haven’t changed my mind that his managerial weaknesses are magnified in a short series (i.e., the playoffs, in contrast to the long season), and it’s why I don’t have particularly high expectations for the 2013 post-season. He’s not a good manager. But he’s not the worst. He isn’t even the worst manager the Reds have had in the last ten years.

Before you call for Baker to be fired, you’d better have some idea of who will replace him. And keep in mind that Sparky Anderson ain’t walkin’ through that door.