Feeling Dusty Baker's Pain

Illya Harrell@illya_1971Analyst IIAugust 4, 2009

PHILADELPHIA - JUNE 5: Dusty Baker #12 of the Cincinnati Reds watches batting practice before a game against the Philadelphia Phillies on June 5, 2008 at Citizens Bank Park in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images)

If you are a Reds' fan, even the harshest critic of Dusty Baker, and you do not feel at least a little sympathy for the man—then the color of your heart needs to be checked.

The world's best manager couldn't get this team to play .500 ball.

To rant, rave, and call for his firing (much like a certain Bleacher Report writer has) while he's playing with a loaded deck is one thing. 

These days, though, to moan when he is playing with a line-up full of guys who either are not Major League ready or are, at best, second stringers is both pitiful and fruitless. 

Be ashamed if you are one of these so-called fans.

Look at Monday night's starting line-up:

CF Willy Taveras (OBP .275), 3B Adam Rosales (OBP .286), 1B Joey Votto (very good numbers), 2B Brandon Phillips (solid numbers), LF Laynce Nix (OBP .292), RF Jonny Gomes (impressive so far—but still a forth outfielder on most teams), C Ryan Hanigan (.406 OBP—bat him in the two hole Dusty), and SS Paul Janish (OBP .299).

Tuesday night's line-up is about the same. Wlademir Balentien will make his first National League start in place of Nix, and Alex Gonzalez is back at short replacing Janish.

Newly acquired Scott Rolen is out of the line-up for the second night in a row.  He'll probably be back soon.

But Reds' fans expecting more than gold glove caliber defense need a reality check.  He was having a great year in Toronto.  "Was" is the key word in that sentence.

We should be happy if he hits .260 the rest of the year—and can keep himself healthy.

Dusty's current rotation of starting pitchers (Aaron Harang, Bronson Arroyo, Johnny Cueto, Homer Bailey, and Justin Lehr) have a combined ERA of 4.82 and a 1.44 WHIP.  

On the season, Reds' starters have given up first inning runs in 42 percent of their games.

Baker's lone returning all-star, Edinson Voquez, a second year player and projected anchor of the Reds' staff, is now out for what will be close to a year.

A certain Bleacher Report scribe with a funny Russian first name was the first journalist in the country to go on record with this information. 

Back on June 18 (six weeks ago), in an article titled, Cincinnati Reds: The Freemasons of Baseball, he was quoted as saying, "Listen up, Reds faithful:

And remember where you first heard this breaking news.

Edinson Volquez needs Tommy John surgery and will not be back this season."

It didn't take a genius to see something was seriously wrong after Volquez's 15-day stint on the DL and an attempted come back where he pitched one inning of a game and left with numbness (not soreness).

The Reds' brass (doubtful Dusty had much to say regarding this decision) chose to wait six weeks before ordering the surgery.  This was after seeing an MRI with major ligament damage. 

Six weeks translates into about seven starts and is the difference between having him back before or after the All-Star break of next season.

Baker's relievers have been have done well this season.  However, David Weathers has already started to show signs of fatigue, and Reds' fans can only expect the pen performance to further slide.

Watching Dusty in the dugout is painful.

His body language is that of a man who has just been told by his wife that she is leaving him for his best friend.

His post game interviews are hard to watch. He tries to be optimistic. 

It is very hard to think that even he believes his own words. Always something to the tune of, "We're about to turn it around. I can feel it."

Over the last 10 years, it really has made no difference who is managing. 

Dusty Baker just happens to be the current name on an old and long list of a losing organization.

Where's Marge Schott when you need her?