As crushing as last season’s postseason loss to the Giants was, I wrote that Dusty Baker deserved to be rehired. Not that he was necessarily the best guy for the job, only that he’d earned his return with 97 wins in a season when Votto’s knee and Madson’s elbow had shredded.

In the aftermath of another terribly disappointing finish, I’ve reached a different conclusion. But maybe not for the reasons you expect.

And before I get started, I want to be crystal clear about this: The failure of the Cincinnati Reds is not primarily Dusty Baker’s fault.

Today, Dusty Baker is an easy, convenient explanation for all the Reds deficiencies. But it’s wrong to exonerate the players. They themselves are ultimately responsible for their shortcomings on the field.

And as I’ve been saying all year, the front office was seduced by the comfortable status quo. Other than the Stubbs-for-Choo trade, the Reds have been far too complacent to expect to win the division. The Chapman disarmament, not fully responding to Ryan Ludwick’s injury, and the trade deadline paralysis, were all steps that created strong headwinds for the team’s success.

That all said, just as criticizing the manager isn’t the same as saying everything was his fault, acknowledging the failure of the players and GM doesn’t absolve Dusty Baker.

My case for replacing the Reds’ manager is not about lineups and bunts, (collectively known as the Baker Tax). As Chad Dotson pointed out, a different manager may not be better when it comes to in-game tactical decisions. Dusty Baker is far from the only graduate of the Old School. If the Reds replaced Baker with Jim Leyland, you’d be cringing at just as many sacrifice bunts and his misuse of the #2 lineup spot. Ask Tigers’ fans.

The reason the Reds need a new manager isn’t the Baker Tax. It’s the Baker Ceiling.

Dusty Baker is first and foremost a player’s manager. He reasonably believes, based on his own considerable experience as a major league player and then as manager, that if he can put his own players at ease they’ll perform better. It’s a genuine and thoughtful formula from a man who deeply cares about his team and wants more than anything for them to win.

Baker implements his approach, in part, by assigning defined roles to players — whether a lineup spot, a position on the field, a fixed pitcher-catcher battery, or a relief pitching duty. Then, once the role is assigned, Baker resists change. Other managers, like Joe Maddon of the Tampa Bay Rays, routinely switch batting orders and fielding positions around.

Again, for Baker, it’s about making the players comfortable to help them play relaxed.

Part of that is minimizing the threat that the player will lose his role. The theory goes, you don’t want players looking over their shoulders at other players or their manager.

There is nothing intrinsically wrong with Dusty Baker’s philosophy. Managers and head coaches in other sports have been successful with it. For certain teams at specific times, it’s absolutely the right approach. There’s even an argument that Dusty Baker was the right manager for the development of the Reds in recent years.

But at other times, a club needs someone like Lou Pinella.

Being a player’s manager is directly at odds with holding players strictly accountable for their performance. It also conflicts with vigorously challenging your players to do better. Over time, it begins to show. As the Reds slouched toward elimination, we witnessed horrific base running mistakes, batters swinging at pitches way out of the strike zone, players going half speed down the first base line and the careless fielding errors, many at first base.

The Reds too often play like no one on the field or in the dugout is concerned with fundamentals.

But the problem with Baker’s recipe goes beyond the culture of unaccountability.

His approach of keeping the players loose also ill-prepares them to win at the end of the season. Dusty Baker tries to shield his team from pressure, consciously downplaying the “must win” importance of any regular season games.

Due to its private nature, we generally don’t know how a manager handles his clubhouse. But in this case, we do have a peek inside from, of all the unlikely places, Marty Brennaman’s pre-game interviews with Baker himself.

Several times in the past few weeks, the Reds Hall of Fame announcer has prefaced a question to Baker with the notion that the Reds faced an important series or stretch of games. Each time, Dusty Baker clearly rejected the premise, explaining that he didn’t want his players thinking that way because it put too much pressure on them.

Jeff Brantley, after hearing those interviews and presumably with a bit of additional inside information, characterized Baker’s approach as “well, we’ll just get ’em tomorrow.” According to the Reds broadcaster and former closer, it’s Baker’s failure to put pressure on his team throughout the year that best explains why, “when it comes down to crunch time ballgames, they come up short.”

You can’t take the stress off your players all season and expect them to handle it when it inevitably arrives at the end. Brantley made the point last night that the Pirates, in contrast, had lived under pressure all season. “They pushed and pushed and pushed all year because people kept telling them they were going to collapse.”

I’ve been at games this season when, in contrast to Dusty Baker, Clint Hurdle and Mike Matheny, were managing like the game had great importance. It adds up. And it’s become a pattern now with the Reds. When the team reached for a faster speed this week, they not only couldn’t find it, they slipped out of gear. It was painfully obvious last night that one of the teams was ready to face the pressure and one wasn’t.

If the Reds’ organization wants to go farther than they did the past two seasons, they have to make a fundamental change in their approach. They need a new voice at the top — one that preaches and follows through with accountability, mental toughness and attention to details.

I doubt Dusty Baker would do it and it’s not even fair to ask him.

He’s taken this group of players as far as he can.

254 Responses

  1. CincyGuy

    Well said. Fair and logical.

    I’ve been searching for the rationale as to why the reds defense and baserunning have become so error-prone towards the end of the season and why nothing was done about it. Your reasoning is persuasive. It also stands to reason that keeping Dusty next year will mean a further erosion of fundamentals and (in my opinion) this team missing out on the postseason entirely.

    • CincyRedsFanInFL

      @CincyGuy: I would argue that lots of little league coaches could have taken this year’s Reds team to the post-season. My little league coach was an in-your-face accountability guy, so he probably would have been better than Dusty, although Votto might have started to cry after strike outs knowing the weight of the expectations and wrath he would incur.

  2. Steve Mancuso

    Want to thank my friend Mike Maffie for giving me feedback on the article and also the suggestion of the title.

    • kywhi

      @Steve Mancuso: Very well written. From what I have been able to learn about Dusty Baker since his arrival in Cincinnati, he seems to be a fine person with a wide range of knowledge and interests. However, like you, I have also come to the conclusion that this Reds team will not go any farther with Baker at the helm. While I really don’t see the Reds’ brass eating the final year of his contract, I could certainly understand if they did decide replacing him would be in the best interests of the organization. By the way, you mentioned last night that you had theories about Votto’s inconsistent play at first base and about his base running blunders. I take it that the “culture of unaccountability” figures into your thinking.

      • Steve Mancuso

        @kywhi: Yes, that’s what I was thinking. I just wonder if any of the coaches or Baker ever says anything to Votto about his defense, base running and just his general togetherness other than at the plate. Votto has never had a professional manager other than Dusty Baker.

      • redskaph

        @Steve Mancuso: I would suggest a correction: Votto has never had a manager at the major-league level other than Baker. He had minor-league managers, as did the other Reds. Makes me wonder where the instruction on fundamentals has been throughout the organization. But your points are very well presented and likely very accurate. I’m also sure we (I) would fuss at other manager’s in-game moves (I have in the past, for sure), but the main problem seems to be Baker’s managerial style and philosophy, and we know those won’t change.

  3. AccuRater

    It seems that the players like Dusty, and probably respect him as a thoughtful, decent, well meaning person. But his bizarre in-game strategic decisions have to come at a cost in the clubhouse. I’ve worked for decent, well meaning bosses who were poor managers. It has a demoralizing effect. And, as Steve emphasizes, combined with his unwillingness to push his players, results in sloppy play and less than full effort. Dusty has lost the clubhouse and is incapable of getting the best out of his team. This is why he needs to be replaced.

  4. Drew Mac

    As usual, the analysis with regard to Baker seems spot-on to me. However, I wonder if there is another factor at work here as well. IF the Reds had a prominent position player (I don’t believe it can be a pitcher or backup player) who was an alpha-type/charismatic/rah rah guy, perhaps much of Baker’s deficiency in “keeping the pressure on” would be moot. However, they do not have this kind of guy (think of what Russell Martin has done with the Pirates), so this is yet another reason why Baker must go.

    • Steve Mancuso

      @Drew Mac: I had a paragraph in the post about this, but cut it out. If the Reds had strong veteran players who had the stature to demand from each other mistake-free baseball, that could take the place of the manager in that role. Maybe Scott Rolen provided that to a degree. That was one of the stated reasons by WJ for making the Rolen trade.

      • Drew Mac

        @Steve Mancuso: I also believe there is a longitudinal element at work here. That is, Baker may have been a fine manager (I did not say tactician) for this group of players in 2010. However, the core of this group has seen him for way too long and has, as it seems you also believe, fell into to some bad habits when it comes to accountability. So, there is reason number 78 to thank Dusty for his time, give him his 3.5 million, send him on his way, sign Price long-term as pitching coach, and bring in someone who can demand the respect of the players while also understanding that (the right) numbers should actually impact decision making.

      • gschiller13

        @Steve Mancuso: If you want to fire Dusty who is the replacement? There are no quality managers out there, should have hired Francona last year. I do not any Miley Or Narron type they were pathetic embarasasments. At least Dusty got us to playoff level. There are terrible options out there and Dusty is much better than anyone we could get.

      • CharlotteNCRedsFan

        @gschiller13: I’m sorry but this is silly. So we all agree that Dusty can’t take us the last mile but let’s keep him because there are no decent managers available? I can not subscribe to your philosophy.

      • Zabka84

        @gschiller13: so basically if you have a girlfriend you don’t really like you should keep dating her because you don’t know who you’d replace her with at the time? Seems logical to me.

      • prjeter

        @gschiller13: A lot of times, quality managers don’t have to be big names. Former players who have never coached, or long-time minor league coaches can sometimes be the right person at the right time.

        Ultimately, the change has to be the the TOP. The owner and GM have to hold the manager accountable and the manager has to pass that on to his players.

        Any person who can accomplish this, while being able to make sound baseball decisions in-game, has the potential to be a good major league manager.

      • redskaph

        @prjeter: Right. Nobody had heard of Sparky Anderson in 1970, and LaRussa was nothing but a former utility infielder.

      • D Ray White

        @gschiller13: Sciosca, Mike. Stated another way, one of several managers who have outmanaged Dusty in the Playoffs and won a WS as a result. Sciosca is also wise in the ways of NL-style ball, and the Angels often played like an NL team.

      • hoodlum


        While that line of thinking is wrong in every failing situtation, it especially wrong in thsi case as we have a coach on staff already (Price) who would be a better manager.

      • anthony_in_ohio

        @hoodlum: I don’t know that Price would be a better manager, but I would rather give him a shot and find out than continue on with Dusty.

      • RedLeg75

        @hoodlum: Agreed. Price seems to have a good head on his shoulders, a man of reason. Hiring him as manager would also keep other teams from stealing the best pitching coach the Reds have had in recent memory.

      • redskaph

        @gschiller13: I would suggest Baker took the Reds to the playoffs mainly because the team’s talent has been much greater than it was before he got here. Compare his usual lineups with those from the previous 10-12 years and I think you would have to agree. Only the 99 team had similar talent, and its pitching wasn’t nearly as strong.

      • hits56

        I am an avid reader of this site I have been reading reading for several years I find most of the people here to be the biggest fans of the nation. I have never left a post but enjoy reading, but today I feel ripped off I was sold a bill of goods that was bogus. The whole year was on hold there was no sense of urgency. When in all actually after we made the trade for Choo(great trade by the way) we were selling out this was our chance. I feel as an organization as a whole felt when we were healthy we would be the best team in the national league. I feel all we managed to acomplish was a 1 year rental for Choo resigning a pitcher for 7mill per with health issues whom was supposed ti be our closer(WHATEVER! ) I just feel that this season was a waste of time. Its our fault we all bought into the line we were content we all felt wait till we get healthy I feel the organization and fans felt this alike. The realization of things we are on the clock even without Choo we face the realization of the contracts of Latos and Bailey so what we do? I have came to a conclusion I dont think we lack athletic talent I think we have the most athletes in the mlb I hate to say it what we lack in is baseball players. I am not sure if the reason is Uncle Walts personel decisions or Dusty’s managing all I know is one or the other has to go. WHAT A SHI**Y TO WEEKEND TO BE A CINCINNATI SPORTS FAN!

    • Eric

      @Drew Mac: The problem with that line of thinking is that even when the Reds had those types of players they still were extremely disappointing come playoff time. In 2010 the team had both Gomes and Rolen and managed to get no-hit in the first playoff game, completely blew game 2, and were promptly shut out and swept in game 3.
      In 2011, both Rolen and Gomes were back to start the season and that was an incredible disappointment. Rolen was injured in 2011, but he was inured in 2012 also. (269 PA IN 2010, 330 PA in 2012). It’s also that kind of thinking that resulted in the Reds signing Rolen to a 2 year deal after 2010 (and possibly the reason Ludwick got a 2 year deal after 2012). It was that reliance on veteran over production that blocked Todd Frazier in 2011 (in favor of Cairo) and would have blocked him again in 2012 had Rolen not been injured.
      The 2012 Reds also had Rolen and vertan gritty guy Ryan Ludwick and they managed to lose 3 in a row at home to lose the NLDS.

      • prjeter

        @Eric: I think you have an important point here. As much as Baker has seemingly hurt the Reds, everyone agrees the players still have to perform.

        However, the odds of the performance being substantial enough in the post season lessen when the manager has a style that fosters poor habits and a lack of accountability for those poor habits.

        Rolen/Gomes (perhaps) were enough to have that intangible leadership. It could be the case that the Phillies were just a vastly superior team. And Halladay, at the time, was. Ultimately, a team with vastly superior players will win most of the time. That’s probably what happened in 2010.

  5. vared

    I agree with everything stated here. I think another dynamic that ownership must take into consideration is the toxicity that has built up with a large portion of the fan base. If they bring back essentially the same team with the same manager and April/May resembles September, they are going to be big losers at the gate. People will be a little more forgiving with a new manager/new start, rightly or wrongly.

  6. PRoseFutureHOFer

    Can’t argue with much here, other than to add that the Dusty Tax is, just for me, still the bigger reason I want him to go. And I did not sense quite this same “lack of urgency” last season. Why not? What changed? Hate to suggest it, but maybe Dusty’s health issues did play a role in his overall philosophy this year.

    And as for needing someone like Lou Piniella…how about Lou Piniella? I usually am against pulling a guy out of mothballs, but Lou is an interesting guy to consider.

    And while I’m in a 1990 kind of mind, I’m a huge Paul O’Neill fan and have been privately hoping they could find some way to get him back into the Cincinnati fold. Hitting coach?

    • Kyle Farmer

      @PRoseFutureHOFer: From everything I know and read, O’Neill hates Pinella and Pinella has little respect for O’Neill. Not much chance of them working together.

  7. LWBlogger

    Ok, so maybe it is time for the Baker era to end. My worry is that with this frot-office, a guy like Ray Knight, Sweet Lou, Buck S, David Bell, or Ron Lester, will be the kind of guy the Reds hire. Sure they would hold the player accountable but in the wrong ways. For example, Dusty may have hinted that Votto needs to swing the bat more and be more aggressive with guys on base. A guy like Sweet Lou however would flat out call Votto out and say “He isn’t paid to walk!” My issue is that the Reds aren’t going to hire a Joe Maddon or even a Terry Collins. They will hire a fiery old-school kinda guy. Maybe it will work but I doubt it. The Reds whole front-office and organizational philosophy is dated and that’s why the team will fail. Not just because of a field manager’s laid back approach.

    • Hennessey

      @LWBlogger: I agree. While I’m persuaded by Steve’s argument, the question becomes “if not Dusty, who?” While I trust the current front office a lot more than the prior two regimes, I’m still a bit haunted by going from Jack McKeon to Bob Boone, and from Davey Johnson to Ray Knight before that. Surveying the field of “available” managers, who fits the bill? It’s easy to compare Dusty against a generic (i.e. imaginary) manager. It’s a lot more difficult to pick out actual names of managers who would do a better job, are available, and potentially willing to come to Cincinnati (but then again, my brain has been fried since the 3rd inning last night).

    • pinson343

      @LWBlogger: This is a genuine concern. Ray Knight was a total disaster, so I’m not worried about him. Sweet Lou was great in 1990, but he can only be recycled as a manager so many times, as of 2010 he was tired out and ineffective with the Cubs.

      Your point about him and Votto is interesting. Piniella hurt Paul O’Neill’s development by insisting that he pull the ball more to hit more HRs. O’Neill of course developed into one of the best hitters in the major leagues when the Yankees allowed him to hit in the way best suited to him.

    • redskaph

      @LWBlogger: Decent points, but I don’t think a managerial change means you have to get a “firey” guy, maybe just one who’s not as unfirey as Baker. It seems obvious the atmosphere around the team needs to change, but not necessarily in dramatic fashion. A new type of manager probably would need to come with a new key player or 2 who likely would fit with the new approach. I would tend to agree the problem might be more organizational. Players ought to have better fundamentals when they get to the bigs, and Walt’s lack of action at the trade dealine was similar to Dusty’s general approach: “Don’t worry, do nothing.”

  8. RedZeppelin

    The first half of your argument is spot on. And while the second half may apply (impossible to know for sure), I remain baffled that any professional athlete would need a manager to tell him when a game or series is urgent. Can the players not see that for themselves and act accordingly?

    • petejohnson


      I agree with you on players needing to know urgency, but I think it’s more of a problem that Baker is preaching to his players that the games are NOT urgent unless it’s game 7. Unfortunately for the Reds, they have not been to a game 7 with Dusty (though you think a game 5 last year and a 1 game series this year should have counted)

    • Steve Mancuso

      @RedZeppelin: The soft player’s manager might actually defuse the normal instinct of the player that you point out. The players say in the locker room, this is important we have to win this series etc. and the manager hears that and says, I don’t want you guys getting too stressed out. If we lose this game there’s always tomorrow. And the players take that cue. All speculation in this specific case, of course.

  9. LWBlogger

    I hate posting from my phone. That should have been “Ron Oester” not “Lester”

  10. Kurt Frost

    I think when datdudedp was dropping F bombs in front of the camera about OBP and Baker sat there with a “I just crapped my pants” look on his face spoke volumes about what kind of discipline goes on in the clubhouse.

    • prjeter

      @Kurt Frost: Agreed. This was the straw that broke this camel’s back. As soon as I saw Baker let BP do that, I lost all respect I had.

      Even if you are a player’s manager, you can’t let someone do that on camera in front of you without being reprimanded. It needed to happen publically. Whatever he said to BP in private (if he did) probably won’t stop it from happening again.

  11. rfay00

    So lets say everyone gets what they want. We get a new manager. Does this team have a down year due to the change in philosophy? More of those intangibles start to end up being more obvious than we see because the current manager down plays them?

    I’m all for change, but I just don’t want to see this team sacrifice the pitching staff and the few years they have left together due to a change of philosophy.

    • CincyGuy

      @rfay00: Didn’t we sacrifice one year of the pitching staff this year due to Dusty? I certainly wouldn’t call this year a success.

      We need a new philosophy in order to avoid wasting this pitching staff.

    • prjeter

      @rfay00: I think the argument here is that most manager’s (a few notable exceptions) have their player’s respect and admiration. That comes from sticking up for them, not coddling them.

      Just abouy ANY qualified manager (in my opinion) will have enough of the intanglible stuff needed to maintain respect and order in the clubhouse.

      Take a guy who can do that and would pitch Chapman in a 1-game elimination, and voila, you’ve got a better team.

  12. Sultan of Swaff

    Whatever happens, Dusty will be managing as a lame duck and the headwinds will be very strong. How will that play out in the clubhouse and the front office if they sputter along in April and May?

    IMO, that environment of uncertainty and the players feeling like they have to perform to save his job would mean the one thing Dusty is good at (keeping guys loose and easy going) will be difficult to achieve.

    In effect, he is now a placeholder and the player’s will feel the weight of expectation to keep him from getting fired. As if these guys needed more pressure from their playoff failures, now they have to contend with an albatross named Dusty hanging from their collective necks.

    It’s time for a fresh start.

  13. Eric the Red

    Good stuff. I think your analysis is spot on.

    I fundamentally believe that whether Dusty is back next year is really a question about Bryan Price. If the Reds believe he’s the Manager of the future, then that will probably be accelerated into next season. If not, Dusty will be back, but Price may not be.

    • Lost and Found

      @Eric the Red:

      This has the ring of plausibility to it. Pryce will be sought after in some way, remember the rumors last off-season, it was the marlins who were interested, right?

  14. Jason1972

    What do we know about Bryan Price’s potential as a manager? Dusty is God awful at his job, but who out there is better that is a known quality?

    • doctor

      @Jason1972: If Dusty was let go and a new manager search executed, given the talent on the team, i would think several “surprise” guys would line up. Who knows, maybe Girardi is really tired of NY and wants out, or Bud Black is tired of the rebuilding program in SanDiego. Perhaps Reds find the next Francona, point is we wont know until Reds start looking. First step is telling Dusty thanks for your effort but you max’d out here. Need someone else to carry the ball now.

  15. CharlotteNCRedsFan

    Fantastic article Steve. When you nail it, you really nail it. Wish you could get a meeting with Bob C. You would be one heck of an adviser.

    Told you before and I will tell you again – you need to writing for the Enquirer, MLB, Yahoo Sports, etc.

    AS an aside, I personally appreciate you laying off Marty. I have learned so much about analyzing baseball from RLN but in particular you.


      • Zabka84

        @CharlotteNCRedsFan: Who would you hire? There are not any quality candidates.

        Well then keep dating that ugly girlfriend of yours. Who knows if you will ever find one you want.

      • prjeter

        @gschiller13: Just curious what qualifications you have that let you determine there aren’t any “quality candidates” out there.

        In my opinion, anyone who understands that batting a bad hitter in the 2-hole isn’t a good thing, is a “quality candidate.”

        Filter those people for experience with baseball management, and BINGO, you’ve got a list of qualified candidates. The ability to manage “egos” is not as important, in my opinion, as many people think.

        You’ve got 25-40 A-personality alpha males who don’t want to look stupid in front of their peers. The fear of underperforming, once everyone is formally challeneged by their manager, should be enough to keep everyone motivated and in-line. Also, have an assistant who is a “players guy,” let the BOSS be the BOSS.

      • gschiller13

        @D Ray White: @prjeter: I would hire Scioscia in a second he is far better than Dusty. However, he has a job but if he was free no way he takes Reds job. He would be a great hire.

      • redskaph

        @gschiller13: How do you know? There are a lot of good baseball men throughout pro ball a lot of us don’t know about because they weren’t well-known players. Dusty became a manager mainly because he played in the bigs a long time, but many og the best managers nearly always were unknown minior-league guys before getting a shot (Sparky Anderson, Tony LaRussa, Tommy Lasorda, Joe Madden).

  16. Steve Mancuso

    From Paul Daugherty’s column today:

    “The Reds owned mojo sporadically, when they owned it at all. They never went on the run that Dusty Baker assumed. Worse, they never seemed interested enough to do it. That’s an indictment of how the club was run.”

  17. gschiller13

    There are not any quality managers out there for the Reds to hire and the Reds do not have any internal candidates. Price no way? and no one in minor leagues. Dusty is the best manager the Reds can get and afford. No more Narrons or Mileys either!

    • Eric the Red

      @gschiller13: Why “Price no way”? I have no knowledge one way or the other, but everything I’ve heard says he can potentially make the transition to Manager. With the exception of Ondrusek–who should be more successful with his stuff–Price seems to have really improved the pitchers. Do you have any info, or are you just defending Dusty?

      • gschiller13

        @Eric the Red: I want a proven manager to replace Dusty. I dont want a manager in training. This should be a contending team. I dont want to train a Miley type which I feel all Price is.

      • CincyGuy

        @gschiller13: This is a team that has been to the playoffs 3 out of the last 4 years. This is a team that set attendance records this year and has steadily and substantially increased its payroll. This is a team with a perennial MVP candidate at 1B, a budding MVP candidate in RF, and one of the best pitching staffs in all of baseball.

        So I submit to you, who wouldn’t want to manage this team?

      • Eric the Red

        @gschiller13: That’s a fair point. You might get further with some of the posts down below by focusing on this rather than saing “no Price!”

        I do think it’s a shame to have to switch managers with this team, with a narrow contending window. But they gave the status quo a try this season, and it was a disaster. There’s no way Dusty will get an extension, so he’s a lame duck. It’s a real shame they didn’t get started on the transition this season, particularly as they could have had Francona. Now, if you insist on an experienced manager the choices aren’t obvious. How about Davey Johnson?

      • LWBlogger

        @gschiller13: If the Reds are indeed to replace Baker, I would generally agree that a proven manager may be the way to go. That said, Mike Matheny did a very, very good job with the Cards this year. He had zero managerial experience at any professional level of baseball and yet Mozeliak tapped him as Manager. Jocketty could easy tap Price in much the same way. By the way, Mozeliak was never a GM before either and he’s done a FANTASTIC job as the Cards GM.

    • al

      @gschiller13: Just because you don’t know them, doesn’t mean there aren’t good candidates, first off. Was Mike Matheny on anyone’s radar? If the last few years of baseball have shown anything it’s that guys with zero managing experience can manage teams just fine.

      Also, Manny Acta. There’s a guy with managerial experience who I think would be great for this team.

      Also, why not Price? Because gschiller13 says “no way?” Other teams have been looking at him as a manager for a few years. He’s going to manage somewhere, and probably pretty soon. Why not for the Reds?

      • gschiller13

        @al: You think Acta is a better manager than Dusty? I just cannot agree with you there. If another team that isnt competing wants Price, they can have him. I just dont see him being a contending team’s manager.

      • al

        @gschiller13: Yes, I think Acta is 1000% smarter than Dusty. He was well liked in the clubhouse in Cleveland, but was given talentless teams. Read his interviews, then read Dusty’s, then tell me why you think Acta would be worse.

        Your opinion of Price makes no sense to me. He’s basically worked miracles with our pitching staff. That is all we know about him except that other people in the business think he could manage. But somehow you’ve figured out that he can’t?

      • gschiller13

        @al: I just do not want a first time manager. Miley was terrible. I want a proven manager. Price does not have managerial experience.

      • CP

        @gschiller13: And people like you are exactly why the same terrible retread managers get passed back-and-forth from team to team.

        Let’s just say that smart GMs like Epstein will find someone that’s a good fit for his long term vision.

      • OhioJim

        @gschiller13: George Anderson was a first time manager when he took the reins for the Reds

      • cincyreds14

        @OhioJim: OhioJim – you mean the one and only, universally loved Sparky Anderson? He was pretty darn good for 6-7 years for the Reds – and he was only 40 when he signed on.

        Price would be great.

      • Johnu1

        @al: Gibson did all right in Arizona. I thought Ventura had some hope in Chicago, not so sure now. Sandberg will get a chance with the Phils.

        What I would hate to see is another ‘let’s recycle the old guy’ syndrome that keeps people like Don Zimmer on somebody’s dugout seat for 65 years.

      • pinson343

        @Johnu1: A small point, but Joe Torre missed Don Zimmer after he left. At least a lot of people thought so.

    • preach

      @gschiller13: I’ve just glanced at the posts, so forgive me if someone has brought this name up already, but I’d give Riggleman a chance. Throw things at me if you want to, but he’s already in the system, he has experience, and he’s not Dusty……I was kidding about throwing things at me, unless it’s currency.

  18. Davis Stuns Goliath

    I fully admit that I haven’t given Dusty credit he probably deserves over the years, but I completely agree with the premise of this piece — perhaps the team couldn’t have gotten here without him, but with him, they’ll never graduate beyond “above average.” It was obvious that the team was running on fumes by the last week of the season, and for all of the complaints about the coin-flip nature of the wild-card game, I don’t think a 3- or 5-game series would have seen a different result. They needed a spark — and their two most explosive players (Hamilton and Chapman) were near-invisible.

    On another note, please let me echo the praise above. This site has thoroughly enhanced my fandom this year, and I’ll greatly miss my daily pit-stops here in the coming months. Thanks for everything.

  19. Johnu1

    I thought Dusty’s style was stale a year ago and was disappointed that they delivered it again this year — and evidently, next year. I still cling to the ‘be careful what you wish for’ mantra but there’s no reason that a sensible replacement can’t be found.

    • gschiller13

      @Johnu1: Please name a sensible replacement. There is not a sensible replacement.

      • Johnu1

        @gschiller13: Perhaps you can define a “sensible replacement” so that all of us who seem to have an idea about that won’t feel so demoralized when you offer your authoritative insight.

      • al

        @gschiller13: you think that there is no one of the face of the earth that is a) not managing another team already, and b) not better than Dusty Baker?

        How did all those other teams get managers over the last couple years I wonder.

      • prjeter

        @gschiller13: I feel like you’re trolling at this point. I’m an engineer. I don’t have my ear to the heart-beat of managerial candidates. None of us can make a list like Walt Jocketty could.

        I GUARANTEE there are 20 qualified people out there who could manage the clubhouse in an acceptable manner and use some logic in making lineup and pitching decisions.

        Just because I personally cannot name them does not mean they do not exist.

        Conversely, I can also admit that just because I say they DO exist does not mean they actually exist.

        Basically, I’m trying to say your “name a replacement” campaign is getting old.

      • gschiller13

        @prjeter: I am not trolling. I am also not pleased with Dusty this year. My point is I do not think a better manager than him would take this job. In my opinion I do not see Acta or Price as improvements. I just dont think many great candidates would be interested in the job.

      • Just A Fan

        @gschiller13: First you said no to Ron Oester, then Bryan Price. Why? Just because they don’t have managerial experience? What about Bryan Price’s experience sitting next to the manager for years? Sparky Anderson didn’t have any experience when he took over. Mike Matheny seems to have done a pretty good job as Tony LaRussa’s replacement. My opinion is that they need to go with someone who has never managed before. Someone with new ideas, not old possibly outdated ones.

  20. PanrovianMonk

    Hear, hear!

    Great article, other than disagreeing with last year’s assessment, I wholly agree with everything you said. I was actually very surprised to hear Jeff laying into Dusty on last night’s broadcast, not that it wasn’t deserved.

    • pinson343

      @PanrovianMonk: Brantley criticizes Dusty on a regular basis. He doesn’t always do it directly. For example, the Reds will have a lead that’s vanishing and Brantely will add: “And there’s no one warming in the bullpen”. He’ll say it quietly, but with obvious frustration.

      Brantley is a terrible play by play guy, he drives me crazy. How many times have I heard him say “Inside …” and then after a long pause he adds: “Corner.”

      Because of that, and because he does believe in things like “clutch”, he gets dissed or ignored but if you listen to him he knows a lot, especially about pitching.

      Often I listen to the first couple innings of a game on the radio and then have to leave. I’ve found that how Brantley says a pitcher is pitching is a better predictor of his performance than how many runs/hits he’s allowed so far.

      When he saw Marshall return, he raised a red flag. By his pitching motion, he felt Marshall was not ready for prime time and could not throw a quality fastball. Marshall’s lack of a fastball got exposed last nite.

  21. CaptainTonyKW

    I do not disagree with the premise of this article but someone clammored for a “proven manager” to replace Dusty. What does that even mean?

    Does it mean an active/younger manager that has won a World Series? If so, the list is short, and includes flawed managers like Leyland, Charlie Manuel and Ozzie Guillen.

    Does it mean an active/younger manager who has taken his team to the World Series? Again, it would be a short list, and include flawed managers such as Ron Washington and Dusty himself.

    • rightsaidred

      @CaptainTonyKW: It means that it’s time for a change. That change is dictated by a good owner and GM, not by us, so rest easy.

  22. Eric the Red

    1) I think expressing concern about handing a team with a narrow window of contention to an inexperienced Manager makes sense. I’m not saying it’s right, but I imagine if Bryan Price doesn’t end up as our next Manager this will be the likely reason. At the end of the day Jocketty is pretty Old School, and rookie managers–and Managers transitioning from Pitching Coach–probably aren’t at the top of his shopping list.

    2) I don’t know who might replace Dusty. But concern about that can’t be a reason for keeping him. Best case, he’s a lame duck. Best case, he could win a WS, but the evidence suggests he won’t. The “plateau” argument is compelling, so it’s time to move on. Whoever we get, I hope he’s Terry Francona-like, because I think he balances old and new thinking well, he’s experienced, and I’ll always be frustrated we didn’t pick him up after last season.

  23. al

    This part of the article sounded like there could be some changes coming:

    Jocketty will meet with his staff and discuss possible changes.

    “It’s too early to say at this point,” he said. “We’ll sit down in the next couple of weeks and evaluate and try to see what we can do to improve things.”

  24. Eric the Red

    I’ve got no idea what the real story is with this Dallas Latos assault in Pittsburgh. I just hope the Reds are supporting her properly because 1) She’s married to one of our players; 2) I don’t want any bad blood to impact free agent considerations. The latter point may seem mercenary, but dropping the ball on this sort of thing is the kind of mistake bad organizations make.

    • pinson343

      @Eric the Red: Great point. After Yankee fans poured beer on the head of Cliff Lee’s wife, the “experts” said that won’t matter, he’ll sign with the Yankees for money and a good shot at a WS ring.

      Crap, haven’t any of those guys ever been married ? I knew there was no way he was signing with the Yankees.

      • Eric the Red

        @pinson343: I forgot that example. Thanks for bringing it into the discussion.

  25. RichmondRed

    I think while you obviously risk failure in bringing in someone new to the club in a playing or managerial capacity, you nearly guarantee it with the complacency carrying over from the 2012 offseason, to now, to 2014.

  26. vared

    No clue what the guy is making, and it doesn’t matter now anyway, but I wonder if the Reds hadn’t extended Dusty last year if they would have had a shot at Francona.

  27. Zabka84

    Writing like this, and the great comments, are why I keep coming back. Best baseball blog out there! Well done Redleg Nation Crew!

  28. desertred

    If there are no better managers than Dusty Baker out there, then baseball is doomed.

  29. George M

    All of the posted opinions are asking for “change”. Most are asking for the termination of the manager. Some justify the actions with the manager’s perceived inability to “win the big one”. There is also the thought that it is a sports blog so anything typed here is fodder to keep the blog alive and well. Steve has produced a logical and his fair personal appraisal of Dusty. None of us has player, club house, or senior management access; we only have our feelings and opinions. The opportunity to share these two things with like minded fans is a gift. Old school or new school thinking is part of the equation yet my feelings are that the evaluation of the current and future manager needs to consider these points; development of young players; in-game decision making; use of the roster; the manager’s ability to create a culture of accountability, hard work, and preparation; and the ability to develop solid, trusting relationships with players. No matter whom you feel would be good manager try using these criteria when you make the claim that anyone would be better than Baker, not that any of these criteria’s are strength’s of Baker.

    • pinson343

      @George M: Excellent comment. As I go thru your list, I think of someone not yet mentioned: Barry Larkin. His lack of management experience scares me, but I’m wondering what people think ?

      Also has Griffey Sr. shown promise as a manager ?

      • George M


        Those are two fine suggestions and for the Reds I would put them in the mix to be considered.

      • prjeter

        @pinson343: Larkin managed the Brazilian WBC team. He speaks fluent Spanish, IIRC. I like him as a leader and as someone who understands what it takes to win, but he’s a bunter. He’d be better than Dusty, I think, but Larkin is old-school, too.

      • Chris DeBlois

        @pinson343: Sometimes I wonder if I’m coming late to the party and the lights are off and everyone’s gone home. Maybe I’m late with this comment again. I’ll post lower down about Baker in general, but I’ve said several times on this blog in the last couple of weeks that my top three candidates to replace Dusty Baker are:

        Barry Larkin. Bryan Price. Ryan Hannigan. So I agree 343. And I don’t think Larkin would be too old school at all.

      • LWBlogger

        @pinson343: A friend of mine swears it will be Joe Morgan. He’s my inside connection to all things Reds and is a very reliable source. It is my understanding however that Joe Morgan hasn’t ever really had any desire to manage.

  30. Eric

    I understand people feeling that professional athletes should be self motivated and should play with urgency without the coaxing of a manager. That’s how we imagine our robot players. But there really is a lot of human interaction, and when you have been around a guy for 3, 4, 5 years, as most of this core has been around Dusty for that long, it’s really easy to see how that complacency can creep into your daily routine.
    Dusty is rarely motivated by results. And I don’t mean to say that he doesn’t care about winning but I know he does. But when it comes to playing time and roster construction, Dusty very rarely looks at who is actually performing the best. In any work environment, when performance isn’t rewarded, it’s easy to become lazy in a sense. Todd Frazier in 2012 clearly outplayed Scott Rolen, but when it came playoff time, 3B was Rolen’s, not because he was better but because he had “experience.”
    Go back and read some of the quotes towards the end of the 2011 season. Playing time was being determined by players nearing “milestones,” and veterans that were playing for a contract the following year.
    When BP was moved to cleanup spot, his goal wasn’t “win the division,” it was “Get 100 RBIs.” Maybe that’s a bit unfair because he may have thought reaching 100 RBI was the best way to help the team win. But the 1st thought should always be winning.
    Hell, when Ludwick got hurt this year, 2/3 backups (Heisey/D-Rob) were better defensively in CF than Choo. Rather than move Choo to left when either of those 2 started, he kept him in center so he could feel “comfortable.” I’m sure there was a part of him that also knew Choo would be more valuable entering free agency as a CF.
    I don’t want the Reds to make the mistake Boston made and get a guy who yells and screams just to yell and scream. I want them to get a manager obsessed with winning. Someone who takes losing personal. I think that can become just as contagious as Dusty’s complacency. Someone who isn’t afraid to base playing time off of production and not whether a guy is a good guy or has been around for a while or any of that other stuff. I don’t personally know who that guy is. Maybe it’s a former player that hasn’t done any managing yet. Maybe it’s a guy like Terry Francona who has failed somewhere else. Whoever it is, I know it isn’t Dusty

    • George M

      Thank you Eric for not mentioning salary. If professionals did not need leadership then why have any structure at all and just let then go out and do what they know.
      Nice comment

  31. pinson343

    It bears repeating: outstanding post, Steve. This is the best argued and most fair assessment of Dusty Baker that I’ve read anywhere.

  32. Y-City Jim

    The issue with Baker’s player’s manager approach is that it makes the player the top priority. While I’m not saying that the emotional well being of the player isn’t important, it is not the most important priority. The team comes first. That means holding players AND coaches accountable. It means letting them do their job without interference.

    I also contend that Dusty Baker does not HATE losing. He dislikes it but if he hated it, he would play every game like it was of the utmost importance. I guarantee you that Baker had no trouble sleeping last night.

  33. George M

    To those of you who watched the game;Did you see who was sitting deside Bob C.? Yes it was Joe(the man) Morgan. I would have paid real money to be sitting behind those two during the game.

    • prjeter

      @George M: I thought it was fitting that the camera switched to Morgan after BP’s error on the routine DP ball.

    • OhioJim

      @George M: A real coup would be Joe Morgan in to replace Jocketty and Morgan’s pick to run the team on the field.

      • redskaph

        @pinson343: @OhioJim: Wow. Interesting idea. Walt definitely has some culpability in this year’s shortfall. I wonder if Joe would be interested.

      • cincyreds14

        @redskaph: I’ll put a vote in for Morgan as next Reds GM – he would run circles around Walt.

  34. Shchi Cossack

    Why not Bryan Price? Price was brought in as the pitching coach by WJ. Price does not have the major league pedigree as a player that Dusty has, but quite frankly, I see that as a positive rather than a negative. As a pitching coach, Price has taken three seperate pitching staffs for three different organizations from mediocrity to elite status. The Reds’ pitchers praise Price for his quiet accountability and extraordinary communication. Those are specifically traits lacking in Dusty and required by a successful manager. Price has quietly supported every decision made by WJ and Dusty during his tenure as the pitching coach and that accoplishment was a high-wire act at times. Any disagreement was handled professionally and behind closed doors. That is another significant trait required by a successful manager that Dusty lacks.

    Price would be an in-house promotion. The players know him and respect him so that familiarity will minimize any struggles in adapting to an outside manager coming into the team. Granted, Price will not be able to teach or coach a player on proper hitting technique, be that’s a wash since Dusty can’t do that either.

    I foresee two significant obstacles in hiring Price as the manager for 2014. The first is his demonstrated loyalty. Price already demonstrated his willingness to resign as a pitching coach when his manager, Bob Melvin, was ousted. I’m concerned how this might play out in the current situation. The second is his status as arguably the best pitching coach in baseball. If he becomes the manager, the team will need a new pitching coach. I’m more comfortable with this problem. I think Price and WJ would work very well together to obtain an outstanding primary pitching coach and I also think Ted Power might be at the top of their short list.

    Bryan Price might fail miserably if given the opportunity, but there are no guarantees that anyone would succeed. What we do know is that Dusty won’t succeed.

    If not Bryan Price, how about Manny Acta? There are certainly good, qualified candidates available if the Reds (BC) decide to make the single most positive change for 2014 to make the Reds a more serious playoff contender. Of course there are still other issues to address, but the 2014 manager should be paramount.

    • OhioJim

      @Shchi Cossack: Dusty has often referred to Price as his “pitching coordinator” and drawn the parallel to offensive and defensive coordinators in football. We’ve also read and heard that one reason Price has (perhaps) passed up opportunities elsewhere is because he likes being allowed to run his own show.

      Given this, any criticism of “Baker’s” use of the staff probably needs to fall equally or even greater on Price than on Baker. Dusty may make the final decision for example to pull a pitcher but it is more than fair bet that Price is calling who the next man up is.

    • Kyle Farmer

      @Shchi Cossack: Acta scares me big time. The team that he managed to 90+ losses last year had their best hitter traded away in the off seasaon and still turned around to win 90+ games and host a playoff game this year under a new manager.

  35. robj8hammer

    I’ll add an example for your argument:

    Michael Phelps. His coach continuously pushed him to be the best, not only so he would become the best, but for him to able to thrive under pressure and even during unforeseen circumstances. I’ve read plenty of articles about his rigorous training, his coach being tough on him etc. I’ve read that at one point the coach would hide his goggles and still make him practice; sometimes make him swim with his goggles full of water. Maybe that seemed like torture in practice, never letting Phelps get comfortable and complacent, but when his goggles filled with water during an international meet, Phelps still won because he had been prepared to thrive under that type of pressure.

    If Dusty ever wants these guys to win big games and go deep into the playoffs, the players will have to get comfortable feeling uncomfortable. They have to be able to perform under all the pressure around them. Cueto surely knows that after having 40,000 people taunting him during the game last night.

    If Baker can’t help them with this, he should move on.

  36. francisp

    Great article.

    I also hope the front office keeps in mind what a PR disaster Dusty is. How many businesses have their public face constantly insult and belittle their most rabid customers? I’m sure Dusty is a nice guy (at least everyone says he is), but every time I see him I think about his latest straw man attack on any fan who dares to criticize his moves. After all these years in the big leagues, I can’t believe how thin-skinned he is.

    I live in the Tampa area now, and although the Reds are always my team, I much more enjoy watching the Rays. Maddon is willing to consider any information at might help his team, and he is rarely, if ever, thin-skinned enough to insult the fans. They are a fun team to watch – and highly successful considering their income.

    And BTW, Maddon was an “unproven” manager when he was hired, and look how he has done.

  37. brandon11

    To the poster who keeps saying there are no managers out there better than Dusty, how could you make such a statement?

    A) we know what Baker can and can’t do. We know his strengths and weaknesses. We have a large sample size to base that from and the vast majority of fans, and probably media types as well seem to be in agreement he isn’t right for this job any longer.

    B) They might give someone a chance like Price or someone else that isn’t proven. Just because he isn’t proven certainly does not mean he can’t do a better job than Baker.

    C) You don’t know who may or may not be interested in the job.

    I’m sorry to say this. Everyone is entitled to their opinion but IMO, to say no one out there better than Baker is one of the dumbest things I have ever read on this site. Maybe, it was meant as a joke.

    • gschiller13

      @brandon11: I am the one who made the comment. I do not want Price as the manager, let him go somewhere else. Name the other managers who would take the Reds job that would be better. I do not think Price would be.

      • LWBlogger

        @prjeter: Ha! Rob is a fairly close acquaintance but I’ve gotta tell you that players would NEVER respect him. Rob would be great in a “Special Advisor the the GM” role in my opinion. The problem is that there aren’t that many GMs that would listen to him either.

      • prjeter

        @LWBlogger: I always thought it would be fun to put an intellectual in that sort of position and see how they did. You’re probably right about the player respect, though.

      • hoodlum

        @brandon11: I am the one who made the comment. I do not want Price as the manager, let him go somewhere else. Name the other managers who would take the Reds job that would be better. I do not think Price would be.

        I don’t think any of us realized that this discussion was going to involve someone offering a suggestion, you giving a subjective “I dont like them,” with no data to support it, and then you demanding another name. I hope you are smart enough to realize how absurd that is.

  38. 90reds

    Lots of people here seem to be lamenting the missed opportunity to hire Francona last season. Obviously I would love to have him as a manager, but if I remember correctly he was either hired or very close to being hired by the Indians before the season even ended. It was definitely before the Reds started the series against the Giants (sorry for even bringing it up). At the time, there was no way to fire a manager coming off 97 wins and one of the favorites to win the National League. It looks bad in hindsight, but unless you send secret messages to Francona to pass on a job he has already been offered for the chance that another one may open soon, there was no way to hire him last year.

    That said, I’m on the Fire Dusty bandwagon as well now.

  39. pinson343

    This is a change in topic, but everyone’s posting on this thread right now, and I did not see last nite’s Votto interview brought up in the recap thread.

    Joey Votto said that he’d had an “off season” offensively and “an even worse season” defensively. Yet just a few days ago Joey rightly said how proud he was of setting the all time Reds record by getting on base 316 times. He said how playing 162 games, like Rose did, was very important to him. His playing 162 games and getting on base nearly 2 times a game was remarkable.

    So what was he talking about ? He was NOT talking about how he should have swung at more pitches out of the strike zone, he’s made that very clear. He’s not talking about HRs either, in 2012 he was not hitting a lot of HRs but was on pace to set the all time single season record for doubles.

    A relevant stat is his slugging pct. His slugging pct. of .491 this year was the first time in his career it’s been below .500. He slugged .600 in his MVP of 2010 and .567 last year. Based on that and observing many of his ABs, I would say he was not “driving the ball” as well this year. For example, on his opposite field swing, balls that used to go over the left center field fence or were scorched off the left center field wall were fly ball outs or singles.

    His hitting mentor, Ted Williams, always talked about driving the ball.

    Comment to be continued.

    • pinson343

      @pinson343: Joey made a remarkable statement: “I thought I did well with what I had.” “With what I had” ??!!

      He’s not one to invent a handicap and use that as an excuse. He’s insisted all season that he’s 100% physically and denied ever feeling tired. There’s no point to endless speculation about what he meant, we’ll never know. But some scouts said the knee was affecting the way he’d use his legs when swinging and robbing him of power.

      Joey referred to having a “lot of work” to do in the off season. I don’t think we’ve seen the last of the 2010 Joey Votto. Maybe not as many HRs, but the 2013 Votto with a good number of doubles and HRs substituted for outs would be a great, great hitter.

      • prjeter

        @pinson343: I was thinking about this, too. In the Keith Hernandez interview posted a few days ago he mentioned the knee wasn’t “hurt” but it was affecting his play for the first half of the season. Leraning how to play on a surgically repaired knee is a mental hurdle. He claimed to be over that now.

        I feel like his comment about being proud of the walks and OB records can, indeed, coincide with him having an off-year. Something like “Yeah, I’m proud of what I accomplished, but I feel like I could have done more to help the team win.”

        I think Votto is pragmatic enough to understand he can be happy with what went right, but not be complacent enough to not try and improve upon what he did poorly (defense, perhaps baserunning).

      • Johnu1

        @pinson343: There’s zero reason to NOT be bullish on Votto. I’m also bullish on a number of the core people with this team.

        But no matter, if the hitting overall doesn’t improve — and I hunch it won’t if Jacoby is still on the staff — we may need to be more than bullish on Votto.

  40. Carlos Danger

    Need a manager? Fire Dusty and hire Corky F’N Miller. ‘Stache rules all.

    • Johnu1

      @Carlos Danger: I would venture that if Corky is offered a job in the low minors, that may be his time to decide whether to be a minor league manager in Billings or a AAA catcher in Louisville. The pay is probably the same.

      • redskaph

        @Johnu1: Didn’t “the real” Crash Davis take the job in Vasalia? … Some managerial experience is needed.

  41. gschiller13


    I am as disappointed about the season as anyone. I am not trolling here. Dusty annoys me quite often. I just dont think a great proven manager would take the job. In my opinion I dont think Acta is a good manager and I dont want an unproven manager like Price. Others can think Price would be a good manager, I just dont share that opinion and welcome him to go elsewhere to be a manager.

    • CharlotteNCRedsFan

      @gschiller13: Okay, we got it. We understand your angst but do not share it. We know what Baker is and no longer want it. All “your” worrying is not going to change it.

      • pinson343

        @gschiller13: On every team baseball blog, the bloggers complain about and second guess the manager. But at times they will add “But OK he’e better than” some previous manager(s). On this site I’ve read a number of times this year from people criticizing Dusty: “But sure he’s better than Narron, and a lot better than Boone.’ Often Miley is put on the “worse than Dusty list.

        Whoever and whenever the next manager comes along, there will be complaints about him. But hopefully the RLN bloggers, even the ones who like Dusty, will also say: “But he’s better than Dusty.”

  42. reaganspad

    Great post Steve, agreed

    Pinson 343, I have wondered about Joey’s health also. and 2014 we will know if his knee was bothering him. I’ll bet he is strong next year and over 500 again.

    Eric Wedge is out there. I think a lot of managers get a bad wrap from the bad team assembled for them. Jim Bowden was a terrible GM, did not assemble a fair team let alone a good team and Dave Miley was a bad manager??? Please, spare me. Dave Miley had a losing bunch thinking they could win games, gave us Norris Hopper bunting, a player who had done nothing before or since and had zero pitching.

    I was at the Bartman game in Chicago. Who do you think Dusty blames for that loss, Bartman or the shortstop who had a tailor made double play ball go thru the wickets on the very next at bat? I have never heard a word about the play of that shortstop.

    Great post you old Cossack you about Bryan Price. Spot on

    and gshiller13, I would take Dave Miley in a minute over Dusty.

    4 million is budget dust for a team on the precipice. It goes up or down from here and down happens fast.

    Thanks Dusty, we hardly knew ya

    • gschiller13

      @reaganspad: I respect your opinion but dont agree. Eric Wedge? Come on, Seattle fired him. I dsiliked Miley as much as you seem to dislike Dusty.

      • reaganspad


        and Dusty was fired by the giants and the cubs. so what?

        I am not necessarily an Eric Wedge fan, but he is “experienced.” Thanks CP for the clarity.

        I would be fine with a different direction and was trying to make a point that I didn’t make well. I am ok with the Barry Larkin idea, but I still have a bad taste with the way he handled himself at the end. I think Sean Casey would be interesting. Those guys were both captains/leaders of the team

        I think Bryan Price is a no brainer.

      • Johnu1

        @gschiller13: Being fired isn’t always a good reason to not consider a guy for manager. Some of the best of them were canned — and some of them managed the Reds.

        Is Wedge a fit for the Reds? That is a better question.

        My guess is, that if they were to choose today, it would be Chris Speier. Riggleman might be the second pick.

        Delino DeShields would be very intriguing as an option.

        Or Ken Griffey the Elder.

      • redskaph

        @Johnu1: Unless SPiere, or Price, have said or agree that they don’t like the way the tam has been run I wouldn’t be comfortable with them – risking the same ‘ol same ‘ol. Like Steve writes, its the atmopshere and general team direction that needs to change.

    • pinson343

      4 million is budget dust for a team on the precipice. It goes up or down from here and down happens fast.

      reaganspad: You’ve got that right. Down happens very fast. Look at how fast the Cubs sunk after a couple of good years. And the Brewers.

      The Cardinals and Pirates will be good next year. The Brewers showed a lot of life in the 2nd half and the Cubs might be better next year.

      I’m optimistic about the Reds in 2014, but some changes have to be made.

      • Johnu1

        @pinson343: If Milwaukee played ball in May, they’d have contended. If Braun hadn’t gotten caught, that is. If the pitching hadn’t folded, that is. All that can’t happen twice in a row. Those guys were very tough after June.

    • CP

      @reaganspad: “It’s the new generation. It’s all this sabermetrics stuff, for lack of a better term, you know what I mean? People who haven’t played since they were 9 years old think they have it figured out. It gets in these kids’ heads.” -Eric Wedge

      Pass. I don’t think the Reds need a manager who is a card carrying member of SABR (despite what some might think, leadership skills is still the #1 requirement in my book), but I don’t want someone openly hostile to them either. We know the Reds are using sabermetrics behind the scenes. It’s time the Reds had cohesion in the front and back office and push this team forward.

      • Johnu1

        @CP: Sabermetrics is quite a lot more useful to teams who are looking to build a roster, ala the “Moneyball” scenario.

        For teams that are going to use the same one, you have to work inside the parameters.

        The new Reds manager would probably be gifted with much of what we have in 2013, maybe with an exception in the outfield.

        You can make a case for USING your roster better with advanced data, which is what the rap against Dusty has been.

        If Wedge is of the same cloth, then we’d be likely to see more of the same, or worse.

  43. StealYourBase

    I get the feeling only Jacoby will get the ax and that will be the big offseason change.

  44. Tony Larussa's Tissue

    I agree with the sentiment that the team has reached a ceiling with Baker, I still don’t understand why Joe Maddon always gets mentioned as a better manager, I haven’t seen him have as much success as Dusty.

    More than a Maddon, I think the team needs a guy to hold players accountable like sweet Lou did. You can bet Votto would not be able to get by saying he is working on some things and leave runners on base. I think complacency with the defined roles is a key.

    • Johnu1

      @Tony Larussa’s Tissue: I think there’s a perception that low budget = less talent. Therefore less talent that succeeds is the product of a good system. I see the connection with Maddon but the problem is that there’s a lot of attachment to “payroll” that clearly is debatable.

    • CP

      @Tony Larussa’s Tissue: Maddon has won 41 more games than Dusty since Dusty was hired in 2008, and has made the playoffs 4 times during the span.

      Not to mention Maddon has had to compete within a better division, with arguably less talent, particularly on the offensive side. I think the Rays’ organization is probably better run overall, but Maddon has shown the ability be ridiculously flexible.

      Maddon is an interesting manager for sure. He isn’t a pure saber guy, seems to be a player’s coach, yet is able to avoid the pitfalls Dusty gets in.

      • TraviXDM

        @CP: Plus, he brings penguins, a DJ, a magician, cockatoo, etc. into the clubhouse.

        Sounds like a winner to me 😀

      • Tony Larussa's Tissue


        I thhink your missing the point of the article, it’s talking about a team reaching a ceiling. Maddon has reached a ceiling as well, yet, he is somehow held in higher regard than Dusty. I think Dusty has reached a ceiling but so had Maddon, the Rays look to be in need of a different manager as well.

      • CP

        @Tony Larussa’s Tissue:

        “I still don’t understand why Joe Maddon always gets mentioned as a better manager, I haven’t seen him have as much success as Dusty.”


      • prjeter

        @CP: If you discount the idea that less payroll means less talent overall, then sure, Maddon hasn’t been more successful than Dusty, for the most part.

        However, if you look at a guy who goes with less than half the payroll (I think) and manages to win both his 1-game eliminations this year, I think you have to pay attention to him.

        A “ceiling” is only a “ceiling” with the players you have. If Dusty all of a sudden had Clayton Kershaw to add to the rotation and Melancon and Grilli in the pen and added Puig and Ramirez to replace Ludwick and Cozart, then boom, Dusty has a WS title.

        Every manager’s “ceiling” is determined by the tools they have available. I agree, Dusty can do no better with his current team, much like Maddon probably cannot. BUT, I would venture Maddon could do much better with this Reds team than Baker has. My $0.02.

      • Tony Larussa's Tissue


        I’m assuming you are being deliberately obtuse. Again what I said in context with the article, Maddon has not had any more success than Baker, the article is about ceilings, not trips to playoffs, if it was a trip to the playoff article, I’m sure the writer would be happy with Dusty, because in all likelihood, he can get this team to the playoffs in most years, what the writer (and most of us) is looking for is someone to take this team all the way. Maddon has shown he has hit a ceiling with Tampa Bay. I hope that helps your understanding of the article.

      • CP

        @Tony Larussa’s Tissue: Oh, I apologize, I should be able to read your mind.

        Let’s ignore the fact that Maddon coaches for a team which limited resources versus teams with significantly more resources…

        Maddon has not only approached his ceiling more times than Dusty during the same time span, he took his team to the WS, therefore his ceiling his higher than Dusty’s ceiling. I like higher ceilings.

        “I still don’t understand why Joe Maddon always gets mentioned as a better manager, I haven’t seen him have as much success as Dusty.”


      • Tony Larussa's Tissue

        @CP: It’s actually about reading the article, not my mind. If you can’t comprehend a simple article, you’d have no chance with that. Baby steps. Baby steps.

      • CP

        @Tony Larussa’s Tissue: Was this in the article?

        “I still don’t understand why Joe Maddon always gets mentioned as a better manager, I haven’t seen him have as much success as Dusty.”


  45. Just A Fan

    Once again, great article Steve. You made some very good points. In all sports there has to be a fall guy when the team fails and it usually is the manager. Dusty has to realize that. It’s one of the pitfalls of the job. I don’t see the team getting any better with him and it was nice to see him get credit for how far they’ve come. I hope the front office is thinking the same way you are.

  46. MikeC

    The way I look at it is it’s a similar situation to the one faced by the Chicago Bulls after several years with Michael Jordan and gang being coached by Doug Collins. They had done well, making the playoffs regularly, but could never get to the title. The Bulls decided to replace Collins with Phil Jackson. Collins had done well, but the team needed to move on to a new leader who could take them to the next level.

    I think the Reds are at the same point. Baker has done well with the team from where he started, but they need a new leader to take them to the next level.

  47. timgraddy

    If we get rid of Dusty, I just want someone that didn’t play with Hank Aaron!

  48. this_one_belongs_to_the_reds

    How can you keep a manager with the following track record:

    – multiple trips to the playoffs with no WS
    – can’t handle a pitching staff
    – gives certain players special treatment
    – talented team underachieves
    – fans and media think it is time for new manager

    No, I am not talking about Dusty Baker. It is the end of the 1974 season and everyone is questioning how you can keep Sparky Anderson for another season. In no way is Dusty Baker another Sparky Anderson but I get the feeling that many of the posters on this site would have been calling for Sparky to be fired. Let’s give Walt a chance to figure this out. Either way it should be an interesting off season.

  49. Drew Mac

    For those not thinking that a suitable candidate is to be had in lieu of Baker, I believe the circumstance and morale is now bad enough to go with nearly anyone this side of Bobby V. and see improvement. Of course, I think the panacea is Bob Melvin. However, I would be just fine with Jim Tracy or virtually any other recent MLB manager (though I would be more prone to want a person with a very solid grasp of mathematics. Also, I know this may lead to me wearing a coat of tar and feathers, but has LaRussa rules out ever managing again?

  50. Johnu1

    There always have been managers who could only lead the horse to the river.

    Dick Sisler was considered that sort of manager.
    Gene Mauch, another.
    Dave Bristol, another.

    Great at building the team … but it always was somebody else who got the credit for the winning.

    To some end, Sparky Anderson initially is in that group though, clearly, Sparky proved himself as MUCH more than just the guy who took the BRM over the top.

    But Bristol doesn’t maybe get enough credit for his work in the late 60s. The Reds were generally competitive every year he was there.

  51. anthony_in_ohio

    I would rather not ever see LaRussa in a Reds uniform. I’m not doubting his track record or anything like that. I’m don’t doubt he would be an improvement. I just can’t stomach it. I would rather go a different direction.

  52. sezwhom1

    What’s with the ‘Nati? Always lose in the First Round yet retain your job or get a contract extension. Be it Marvin or Dusty. Both need to go. Wake-up people. Three first round losses. 2 & 7 in the Playoffs. Yeah, let’s keep him. Jeez. Give me LaRussa. You’d change your opinion Anthony_in_ohio when the Reds actually made it to the 2nd round.

    • anthony_in_ohio

      @sezwhom1: If they hired LaRussa there is nothing I would be able to to change it. You are correct, I would be happy to see them make it past round one. Just like a lot of fans here, no matter how well or how poor the Reds do and no matter who they do it with, I’m still supporting them. At the same time that doesn’t mean I would be happy to see LaRussa sitting in the Reds’ dugout. It’s irrelevant anyway because LaRussa is done.

    • santa barbara reds fan

      @sezwhom1: I agree. Both Baker and Lewis have reached the limits of what they can accomplish for the Reds and Bengals. With more effective managing / coaching, the Reds could still be playing and the Bengals currently could be 4-0. But, the ownership of both franchises seem content to accept premature exits from the playoffs.

  53. Johnu1

    I was on the MLB site, reading Reds 2013 nostalgia, decided to click the SCORES link. This came up:

    The Cincinnati Reds have no games scheduled on 10/2/2013

    That seemed a tad more painful than I had envisioned.

  54. Redgoggles

    It’s probably not the right place to post this, but i just read where Dan Uggla was left off the Braves post-season roster in favor of……Paul Janish. Crazy, but kudos to Braves for making the difficult choice regardless of the “politics”. This is an example of where Dusty is very predictable, and to a fault. Sometimes, you have to make the hard, unpopular choice. He doesn’t do that very often.

  55. jessecuster44

    IF Dusty is let go, I am more comfortable with the idea of WHAT the manager will do than WHO he is.

    I want a manager who will use Aroldis Chapman effectively – like for a 4-out save when the situation asks for it.

    I want a manager who recognizes his players limitations – for example, he does not run a LH batter, who struggles vs lefties, out versus all lefties for continuity and ego’s sake.

    I want a manager who removes his starters before damage is done, giving a reliever an opportunity to work out of a jam.

    I want a manager who will tinker with a lineup if the team, or a player, is in a slump.

    I want a manager who will go toe to toe with an umpire once in a while.

    I want a manager who will call out his players when they do wrong

    I want a manager who values fundamentals, but not the sacrifice bunt.

    You cannot tell me that an appropriate candidate to replace Dusty is not out there. Do some due diligence, vet a few candidates, and I would be shocked if the Reds didn’t find a good match.

      • Johnu1

        @jessecuster44: Baseball is slower to change than a Revolutionary War cemetery. New ideas are basically old ideas with different people, but it wouldn’t hurt, for example, to teach guys to hit better so that they wouldn’t be as inclined to have to use the sac bunt.

    • tombkeeper

      @jessecuster44: You would rather have a pitcher strike out than moving the runner(s) over or Phillips hit into a double play than bunting. I believe it depends on who the batter is and the game situation. Some bunts are good!!

      • jessecuster44

        @tombkeeper: agree, but could the 2013 Reds bunt? No. Should you try a sac bunt 5 times in a game, which Dusty was doing late in the season? No thank you.

      • prjeter

        @tombkeeper: Assuming a succesful bunt everytime for the sake of math, a sac bunt nets you 1 out every time you do it, let’s call it .98 to account for throwing errors and infield hits. Letting a hitter hit who MAY hit in a DP (liek 15% of the time) nets the odds of the hitter making an out (.7 for a .300 OBP hitter) plus the extra part of the out from the DP (15%*1out = .15), which is .7+.15 = 0.85. I made these numbers up, but that’s the basic reason why mathematically inclinded folks agree bunting isn’t good. Over the long run, you’ll expect .98 out per bunt attempt and 0.85 outs from not bunting. (Obviously this is oversimplified. You could come up with an actual out expectancy for each player based on their GB% and BABIP on ground balls).

        The pitcher sitution is a bit more dicey, I’d expect. Since their OBP is worse than a position player, their out expectancy when not bunting is higher. I’d suspect, however, it would still come out in the favor of not bunting. People just don’t ground into DPs as much as folks thing. It’s observer’s bias. You think about a DP, see a DP, and boom, it seems like it was just unavoidable!

    • gschiller13

      @jessecuster44: A manager who does those things you list will not take the reds job. I not see mediocre or worse candidate taking the job.

  56. MDredsfan

    I like this article a lot, as well. Like many people, I’m not short-sighted enough to blame Dusty for the shortcomings of the team this season. At the same time, I agree that we know what Dusty’s ceiling is. We know how he manages and what he’ll do, and what that’ll get out of the team. My biggest problem with Dusty’s “it’s a marathon and not a sprint” attitude is that (as a marathon runner) you train for the long haul, but you run the last 15% of the race only because it’s the quickest way to finish.

    I also agree that there’s risk involved picking an “unknown” manager, but–at least for me–it’s a risk worth taking. As someone who’s really gotten back into the team the last 4 years, I’m also starting to think I just want to see something new. If they keep Dusty, I would assume they’ll win 87-93 games again (depending on other moves) with a possible (likely short-lived) playoff appearance, but I also think that many of us will be left wondering if the team couldn’t have done more. Taking on a new coach might mean something like a window of 80-100 win season (also dependent on other moves), which could mean missing the playoffs (since the Rats and Cards will be well-positioned as well), but also a potential WS run. As I fan, I’d rather opt for the latter. It might mean more frustration, but at least it would be a different kind of frustration. I’m not sure I can take another season as a fan of agonizing over the Dusty Tax or at least reading about it here.

    I don’t think, ultimately, they’ll get rid of Baker. But if they do, I’d be happy with Price. As many have noted, he may not have what it takes. But from what I’ve seen, it’s clear that the pitching staff respect him, and I get that he’s cerebral enough that players that Votto and Bruce will respect him. If I had to bet, I would be that Votto (although he would never admit it) has serious qualms about Baker and how he runs the club. Many have said it here before, but it’s worth repeating: I think it’s difficult when your manager and your 200mil man have opposing philosophies about how the game should be played. I just don’t see it as conducive to success.

    And since this is probably my last post to the spring, I’ll just say this: I don’t think Frazier is the “answer” at 3B, and he certainly has his liabilities, but good god, I really wish more of the team played with his attitude. Last night was wholly depressing (I stopped watching after 5 because I couldn’t stand it–I was at a bar where everyone seemed to be pulling for the Bucs), but his foul ball catch just seemed to epitomize what he brings to the club, and it reminded me of why I like this team so much.

  57. ToddAlmighty

    We just need a stopgap manager to replace Dusty for the 2014 season. Then after that season, Bud Selig will retire with his final act to be unbanning Pete Rose from baseball. Then Joe Morgan being Castilini’s guy will make it all the easier to hire Pete Rose as manager, which will lead the Reds to be the most hustling, best hitting team, as well as two straight World Series Championships.

  58. Steve Mancuso

    Thanks for all the kind words. I enjoy writing for the site – especially when so many thoughtful comments follow. I’ve read them all.

    The point of the post was to present my reasoning for why I don’t think the Reds will go any further with the same manager. I don’t have an ideal alternative in mind, but I don’t think the replacement would have to be perfect to be an improvement now. Naming an alternative is a more difficult project because so much of the relevant information is beyond our knowledge — stuff we don’t know about candidates that would come out in an interview.

  59. Nick Heitmeyer

    Very well said…. You found the words that many of us have been looking for over the course of the season.

    The Reds were flat all season long… they lacked that fun, energetic vibe (a’la Tampa or Cleveland)

    It starts with the Manager…

    A player with the personality like a Jonny Gomes, Hunter Pence, or Nick Swisher would also be impactful.

  60. Redgoggles

    Another thought for consideration; is Clint Hurdle a much different manager than last year when the Pirates collapsed? I’m speaking from both sides of my mouth, but I can live with pretty much everything that is well documented that Dusty does that drives us all nuts EXCEPT the lack of accountability/leadership that he shows and requires. I feel that is a primary role of the manager, and this seasons team reflects poorly on the job he did at that.

  61. Johnu1

    I recall my opinion of the Baker hiring, thinking at the time that I wasn’t especially happy with it … but willing to wait and see if it worked out. He had a lot of work to do. I think that work has been accomplished. I suppose, if nothing else, he and Jocketty have made the Reds relevant. Until 2010, I think very few people could call the team relevant.

    What we want now is a lot more than that. Winning “it all” is always difficult. But I don’t think Dusty is giving the Reds a chance to get there.

    But the guy has made the Reds relevant.

    • gschiller13

      @Johnu1: this collection of reds players cannot win the pennant or World Series.their best players aren’t good enough. I’d trade anyone with value

      • Johnu1

        @gschiller13: Trading “anyone with value” is, I hasten to say, an example of “VFW mentality” that you’d hear around the bar at your local post.

        First off, you don’t just “trade” people who have long contracts. Just “trading them” to somebody is … what?

        You expect to get the 1975 Reds in a deal? All of them are available, I hear. A bit slower.

        This is the sort of mentality that picks at me a little and I am trying to be kind here. It illustrates an alien knowledge of baseball.

      • gschiller13

        @Johnu1: Yes trading players with long term contracts is very difficult if not impossible, but I would try. In my opinion this collection of players has gone as far as they can go, I would advocate a remaking of the team, if it can be done. Not sure if it can.

      • Johnu1

        @gschiller13: You want to remake the team? Let’s see your lineup and … PLEASE … endeavor to justify trading Joey Votto for … oh, somebody who fits nicely with your concept of a veteran manager. Start with the pitching staff … let’s see your rotation.

        If you aren’t sure it can be done, why advocate it?

        You still haven’t provided a definition of a “sensible replacement” for the manager.

      • Kyle Farmer

        @gschiller13: And now, if it wasn’t before, it is 100% clear that you’re just a troll.

      • gschiller13

        @Kyle Farmer: I am not a troll. I just advocate making major changes. And I just question what managers would be willing to take the job if a change was made. And sue me I am not a fan of hiring Price as manager as is my right.

      • reaganspad

        @gschiller13: Lets summarize:

        You want to trade all the Reds Players to get players that Dusty can manage.

        Good luck with that.

        A quicker fix is to watch what a new manager can do with this talent that was able to win 97 games last year

    • redskaph

      @Johnu1: OK, but I’d say Joey Votto, Jay Bruce, Brandon Phillips and the best Reds pitching staff in any of our memories have had more to do with it.

      • Johnu1

        @redskaph: I don’t think I dismissed the players as having a role. I just know that the Reds ARE relevant. Baker is the manager. Make of it what you will.

  62. WVRedlegs

    Very thoughtful article. No vitriol. I’m glad you didn’t pile on.
    However, a change is needed. Thank Dusty Baker for getting the Reds this far, but for acheiving more, a new leader is needed.

  63. redmountain

    I would agree with everything you say, but i would add that is time to change over the everyday players. No one should be exempt from a decision to move a player if good value can be had. Everyone is on the block.

    • Johnu1

      @redmountain: IF good value can be had. How do you define that? I recall that the National League All-Star team this year got 2 hits.

  64. OhioJim

    The Reds need an attitude adjustment and more effective leadership. It is hard to see those coming from Dusty Baker at this point in his career/ life.

    This team just flat out ran down this year. A lot of it was from the injuries and lack of support from the front office when the injuries piled up. But in the end, the manager has to find a way to provide a spark; and, Dusty just seemed to be symptomatic of the problem instead of part of a solution.

    You never know when to take things Tracy Jones says seriously; but, today on air he talked about Dusty seeming to be tired. I’ll take that at face value and say I agree very much. Something just seems changed or different about DB this season.

    I believe there is a lot to be said for the comments made here that Dusty was the right call for this team in 2010 but for whatever reasons, as the situation has developed, he doesn’t seem to be now.

    All things considered, a change in the manager’s chair would be the best for all involved including Dusty himself.

  65. Josh

    My Manager options would be:

    Bryan Price
    Jim Riggleman
    Barry Larkin
    Joe Giradi

    Hitting coaches:

    Eric Davis
    Joe Morgan

    Last year I would have hired Francona, let Broxton and Ludwick walk, trade Hanigan and resign D Navarro. We would have saved 36 M and that could be used to maybe resign Choo or go get a RH power bat.

    • Josh

      I forgot to add something. My number 1 choice would be Joe Girardi. He’d be perfect for the Reds. Plus I think he could have a major impact on Mesoraco. Also, Jocketty needs to gage interest in Bryan Price, we CAN’T AFFORD to let him leave.

    • gschiller13

      @Josh: Price isnt proven. No way Girardi takes this job. Riggelman is a quitter. Larkin I would consider. I dont see how Eric Davis would be a good hitting coach, he had unnatural hitting style.

  66. RedLeg75

    Spot on article, Steve. This team is not challenged to succeed.

  67. DK in Erie Pa

    Excellent article Steve and excellent work all year. While I did not agree with you all the time, I found your points to be well thought out and you had a reasoned opinion. Now, regarding Dusty; at this point, the Reds have to make a decision; is making the playoffs good enough or not. This is a very important point for the Reds to make. Stay with current leadership and you know what to expect OR make a change and risk that things may progress or may regress. My opinion is that a change has to occur. Dusty has a track record and it’s out there for all to see. Three trips to the playoffs, zero wins in elimination games, zero wins in games that will advance to the next round. Replacement? Instead of focusing on a person, I would like to see a style targeted. Someone who can embrace the wealth of information now available and use that information not as the only means to make decisions but as a tool. For example, the use of defensive shifts; how many hits did Bruce and Votto get taken from them simply because they hit into the shift? Yet, the Reds refused to embrace this information defensively. How many outs did the Reds give away with the sacrifice bunt when the numbers show that giving away outs hurts your team? Yes, clubhouse chemistry is important, but who says you can’t have both. I don’t want a manager that uses only statistics, but at least acknowledges that they exist and have a value. They are also roster issues that exist (Arroyo, Choo, etc) but until you have a new manager with a different philosophy in place, how can you best address those issues? This club is still strong and should be able to win now and in the future. How much winning and for how long? That’s why they play the games. Go Reds!

    • LWBlogger

      @DK in Erie Pa: Disagree about the shift. The Reds actually position themselves very well defensively. Most the time it isn’t as pronounced as some of the other teams, particularly the Rays, but they do shift to good effect. It’s one of the few areas where we see them using metrics to their full advantage.

  68. DieHardRed

    Excellent article Steve! I’ve been harping on the lack of fundamentals of this team for the last two years, even going as far to recommend that management MANDATE that the players arrive early in 2014 Spring Training to focus on the basics. Your logic fits perfectly with the lack of fire and passion, sense of urgency, lack of discpline, etc.this team has demonstrated all year. For example, I counted 5 times in the last two weeks when Frasier swung at a 3 – 0 pitch, either missing or fouling it off before ultimately making an out. Point here….his is a .234 hitter!!!! A change is indeed needed to get this team to the next level as is an addition of someone who will be an on the field leader. Now, the bigger question is WHO???? Thanks again for a well written, logically explained article.

  69. TC

    I love this post. Through the 2012 season I was firmly in the pro-Dusty camp. That was until last year’s melt down where you HAVE to blame Dusty for his in-game management mistakes. However, we’ve seen some pretty bad managers here in Cincinnati, and even now I’ll say I believe Dusty is definitely NOT a bad manager. I most cases I like what he brings. The Reds are full of players who want to play in Cincinnati. And I can tell you it’s not because they want to play in front of Cincinnati fans (who in my estimation are the worst I’ve ever seen). It’s not because they want to play in the beautiful city of Cincinnati, because let’s face it, the town is okay but it’s nothing special. It’s not because they want to play for such a storied team. If that’s what they want then they’d be punching their tickets to New York or St. Louis. They want to play in Cincinnati because the team is a very close family of talented players. I feel Dusty has done a lot to create that family.

  70. TC

    One the other side of the coin of what I just said, I’ve been hearing from the pro-Dusty camp that it is up to the players to get prepared. “They are professionals. They should know how to prepare themselves.” Well, I am a professional too. I don’t play ball, but I get up and go to work every day just like ballplayers do. I try to do my best every day but some days I just can’t bring it. I am not alone in this. None of us can find it within ourselves to operate at 100% every day. That is why we need someone to help us find it within ourselves to come to work and do our best.

  71. greenmtred

    Steve: I really appreciate your thoughtful, measured comments. I have no idea how the Reds would have done with a different manager (well, actually I do, but it’s just an idea), and have been saying endlessly that the players matter, too. Thanks for the article.

  72. zab1983

    I’m not the biggest dusty fan, i hope the reds bring someone in more “new school” than dusty is. But anyone that watched that game knew that dusty on the blame pie chart would probably be responsible to 25% IMO. Starting Johnny over Homer and bringing in Marshall (who hasn’t pitched all season and still probably isn’t 100%) in the highest leverage part of the ball game was same ole dusty and reprehensible IMO. I agree with everything u say mr. mancuso but Votto and Phillips deserve 75% of the blame for losing that game, I think someone should write an article about how BAD votto looked in that play-in game. if Dusty gets an article, Votto deserves one because that was totally inept on his part. I’m still holding out hope that his knee isn’t 100% though. A positive though at the end with the reds down 6-1 the camera went into the dugout and i saw that BP wasn’t smiling at least…..

  73. zab1983

    I’m not the biggest dusty fan, i hope the reds bring someone in more “new school” than dusty is. But anyone that watched that game knew that dusty on the blame pie chart would probably be responsible to 25% IMO. Starting Johnny over Homer and bringing in Marshall (who hasn’t pitched all season and still probably isn’t 100%) in the highest leverage part of the ball game was same ole dusty and reprehensible IMO. I agree with everything u say mr. mancuso but Votto and Phillips deserve 75% of the blame for losing that game, I think someone should write an article about how BAD votto looked in that play-in game. if Dusty gets an article, Votto deserves one because that was totally inept on his part. I’m still holding out hope that his knee isn’t 100% though. A positive though at the end with the reds down 6-1 the camera went into the dugout and i saw that BP wasn’t smiling at least…..

    • zab1983

      [email protected]zab1983: also the scariest/saddest part of watching that play-in game to me was thinking about votto/phillips stats 3 years from now. (if they are even on the field)

  74. hydeman

    Having watched almost ALL the Reds games during Dusty’s tenure, and being aware of his past, I couldn’t agree more. A very well stated piece. Dusty is just being Dusty and to ask him at this stage of his career to change is just not practical. This team needs a new direction as well as a new attitude. The right managerial change could and should propel these guys to a deep playoff run. How is it that so many people connected with this organization see this and yet nothing will change?

  75. Jason1972

    I don’t think it’s completely unreasonable to believe that this team could have won nearly 100 games but for the Baker tax and the organization’s complacency with LF. Those two factors alone were compounding to each other since it allowed Baker to put a below average hitter (Phillips) in what would have been Ludwick’s spot for a majority of the season.

  76. beens999

    This is a really well reasoned and well written post. Great stuff, Steve.

  77. Chris DeBlois

    Motivation. Inspiration. Expectation. Accountability. Those are the things we’re really talking about here. I think it’s fairly easy to evaluate someone’s X’s and O’s strengths, but those intangibles and a more modern approach to strategy and tactics are what everyone seems to agree the Reds are missing. Dusty Baker is simply not that guy. Bryan Price might be. Barry Larkin might be. Ryan Hannigan might be. All of them would have and keep the respect of the players. All of them in MY opinion (no one else has to agree) would be an upgrade. But the point I’m making is not that it has to be one of those men to replace Baker, but if there are three available candidates that would be an upgrade, is it that hard to imagine that there are 23? I’m betting there are. The Reds only need one of those. Start right there. Then go sign some pitchers (Latos, Bailey, Cueto extension?). Then hypnotize Scott Boras and resign Mr. Choo. Then upgrade 3B and 2B and the bench. Then go win a couple of world series.

    Or was it too early to post my Christmas list?

  78. BearcatNation

    I didn’t read all the comments and maybe it was mentioned above, but in all seriousness, if we are looking for a replacement, why not hire Barry Larkin?

    Now obviously he is unproven as a manager but his personality I think is perfect for a manager. He understands the game, would be willing to be open to new ideas when presented with a logical argument, and would be an EXTREMELY popular hire for the Reds. I bet you that would get the fanbase very excited.

  79. gschiller13

    Though I advocate a proven manager, I would be more than pleased if they hired Barry Larking. he would give Reds credibility.

  80. John

    The Cardinals hired an unproven manager and look where they are. The Reds hired a “proven winner” (Bob Castellini’s words, not mine) and look where they are.

    • gschiller13

      @John: The Cardinals have a much better offensive lineup than the Reds and had good pitching this year.

      • John

        @gschiller13: Not sure it’s that simple. Cards run differential was 78 above the Reds, but they only won 7 more games. Reds pitching was as good or better overall. Cards beat up the Reds in the season series. Otherwise the two teams got very similar results.

  81. Shchi Cossack

    Stay with current leadership and you know what to expect OR make a change and risk that things may progress or may regress. My opinion is that a change has to occur.

    This is a very delicate perspective. The Reds went for a deep playoff run and possible WS in 2013. No matter who manages the team in 2014, I think we will see a regression for one simple reason: the Choo factor. Choo provided the Reds the best, bar none, leadoff hitter in major league baseball, something the Reds sorely lacked. Unfortunately, Choo could only fill one of the two top-of-the-order lineup positions and the Reds had no one else to fill the 2nd top-of-the-order lineup position. For 2014, the Reds will be missing any viable alternative for either top-of-the-order lineup positions, so we are back to no one getting on base for the middle of the order.

    We don’t know what organizational changes might be contemplated by WJ, but with the currently available roster, the offense will be significantly worse in 2014 than it was in 2013 and it wasn’t consistently good in 2013. After the brief 2013 window was wasted, we better be prepared for a regression in 2014. There are options coming through the farm system, but they are 1-3 years away from any major league impact. If WJ plays for a competative run in 2014, the Reds may be hindered in their ability to compete after 2014. If WJ plays for long-term, competative runs after 2014, we may really not like the results for 2014. The decisions facing WJ right now and the lost opportunity in 2013 was the reason why the contract extension for Dusty after the 2012 season was so mind-boggling. Those tough decisions would have been seriously tempered with a deep playoff and WS run.

  82. gschiller13

    I do not know of any pitching coaches who have been successful managers. Does anyone recall any?

    • Johnu1

      @gschiller13: The best I can see from your comments is that you want to unload the team and keep Dusty Baker as the manager. Somehow, amid all that, you are trying to convince us that you want the team to succeed.

      • gschiller13

        @Johnu1: Obviously if major talent changes were made I do not expect them to succeed next year. I dont expect them to major changes, but I would if possible. With current team, I just think Dusty is the best Reds could get. In my opinion I dont see others wanting this job. Heck i dont see Larkin taking it and he played here. If its a chocie between Riggelman and Dusty I will keep Dusty. And yes Price is in my crosshairs. Great pitching coach, dont want him as a manager.

      • gschiller13

        @D Ray White: Those two are valid and I think Red Sox manager Farrell was, so there are 3 examples.

  83. Sergeant2

    If the Reds hire a new manager (fingers crossed) it would be best to let that new manager put together a staff of his choosing. Are there any guesses as to when the Reds will make an announcement on the matter.

    • Steve Mancuso

      @Sergeant2: No rumblings in Cincinnati that change is coming or imminent. Traditionally, clubs wait until after the World Series to make important announcements so as not to step on the coverage of the postseason.

  84. Benchwarmer

    Last year at this time there were a few national sports articles questioning Dusty Baker’s future as the Reds manager. A few days later the Reds announced a new 2 year contract for Dusty. It seems quiet on a national scale this time, how is it in locally in Cincinnati? Are we just wishing on a star or is there a realistic possibility of a change in Cincinnati?

  85. Carl Hudson

    Excellent analysis. I would add that another dynamic was the collective personality of the Reds’ players. This appears an introspective group of guys in which the best players–the potential leaders–are not leaders. The combination of Baker’s failure to demand accountability and the lack of any player leadership on or off the field was a recipe for underperformance. That’s what we got. It will easier to find a new manager, then to change the team’s collective personality.

  86. [email protected]

    Hello Guys
    I have been a Reds fan since birth, from before the 70’s reds, (I am not that old). I remember when Sparky came on board (My father told me this), he had a seriuse conversation with players and wanted them to know, things will be changing, rotation will change, players will be dismissed ect.. He was a players manager but expected progress from them. Bench talked about this when Sparky died, he was striked and fair, every body loved him and respected him. I remember an interview when he mentioned this, he gave his players enough time for them to learn his position, and if not another position (remember Pete Rose). Conclusion: We need a Young Sparky Anderson, with a fever to win, to make changes, to fire, to dismiss ect. GO REDS!

  87. BarryIngram

    In my fantasy world, Morgan takes over as the manager with Pete (reinstated as Selig’s final hurrah as commissioner) coming in as the hitting coach

  88. Redsfanx

    Well done, Steve. I agree that Baker has taken the Reds as far as they’re going to go. And not putting pressure on players is ridiculous. You don’t get to the majors without dealing with a lot of pressure and these guys have dealt with that since high school. Lou Pinella would be good but he’s a bit old in the tooth now. Sparky Anderson was an unknown when he took over the Reds in 1970.

  89. Johnu1

    As to whether the Reds F.O. is inclined to replace a manager, it also seems that since they already have one and don’t have to negotiate (a.) a buyout or (b.) a search for a replacement, that there’s no reason for them to undergo the bureaucratic process of either. There is not a job to be addressed, so why expend energy on it?

    The question becomes one of — there’s that word again — urgency.

    Kinda depends on what the definition of failure really means to the ownership group.

    Attendance is up, profits are up.

  90. reaganspad

    You know with Dusty’s inability to work with young players, I think that plays into 2014. Cozart had a hard second year as did Super Todd. Mesoraco was untrusted and poorly used and Heisey has not progressed as a young player either.

    Add prize Billy Hamilton to the mix, and that is a significant part of your roster that Dusty is incapable of grooming.

    Fortunately we have a developer of talent working with the pitching staff so Stephenson will be ok. But Chapman is still at issue because of where and how he is mandated to be used by the manager

    So a coach who can work with developing youngsters would be my preference

  91. Johnu1

    I need to add that there are a lot of former ballplayers who wouldn’t take a manager’s job on pain of death. There’s something about spending a retirement from baseball in the box seats or on the golf course … and not wolfing down Maalox tablets from March to October.

  92. icee82

    My grandfather was a good man and he wanted me to be comfortable when I came to his house but there was no discipline. I did what I wanted to do when I wanted to do it to whom I wanted to do it to. That is Dusty’s philosophy. He is like their grandfather. He has taken this team as far as he can. We have probably wasted two years on this doomed management team. The window in baseball is very small and you have to capitalize when it opens. We have two years that were wasted. I love Joe Morgan but it would be a disaster to bring him in as manager. Hall of Famers rarely make great managers, i.e. see Ted Williams, Rogers Hornsby, and countless others. Morgan and Pinella are both 70. Baker is 64. I would love for Piniella to return to Cincinnati. Another dark horse candidate that has a proven track record with a team that youth is paramount is Charlie Montoyo of the Durham Bulls. In seven years at Durham, he has won six division titles, two Governor’s Cups, and the Triple A Championship once. He has not won the division only in 2012 when he had a team that had zero offense but he was still competitive. He is a fireball and a players’ manager as well.

  93. OhioJim

    I’m surprised nobody has thrown the Scott Rolen into the pool of possible managers for the Reds. Isn’t he this area’s home grown Kurt Gibson?