The Hugs Are Over: Dusty Baker Needs To Be Fired

Illya Harrell@illya_1971Analyst IIApril 18, 2010

CINCINNATI - APRIL 11: Francisco Cordero #48 hugs Dusty Baker the Manager of the Cincinnati Reds after the Reds beat the Chicago Cubs on April 11, 2010 at Great American Ball Park in Cincinnati, Ohio.  (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
Andy Lyons/Getty Images

I've said it time and time again.  And this is the final straw.  Cincinnati Reds manager Dusty Baker needs to be fired.  Either Sunday night or Monday morning.

If, for nothing less, the disposition of this club that can and should compete.

I don't hate the man.  In fact, Dusty seems like a stand-up dude. 

But he is an absolutely horrible handler of young talent—where the Reds are stacked.

Arguments could be made that he was a fine manager while with the San Francisco Giants and Chicago Cubs.  There is a glaring difference between those teams and the Reds.

Both the Giants and the Cubs were stacked with veteran talent and just a few young studs.

The Reds are polar opposites of those organizations.

Just look at some of the names during his 10-year stint with the Giants:

Barry Bonds for all 10 years, Matt Williams, Will Clark, Jeff Kent, Ellis Burks, Willie McGee who was still productive at the age of 34, J.T. Snow, Rob Beck, 22-game winner John Burkett, Livan Hernandez, Jason Schmidt, and a young Russ Ortiz.

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He stuck with Beck as the closer, and he was quite effective. 

But he was at least partly responsible for letting a young Keith Foulke get away, as well as never giving Joe Nathan a shot in the pen.  

As soon as Nathan hit Minnesota, he became the premier shut-down man in the American League...discounting that guy who closes for the Yanks.

With the Cubbies, Baker was blessed with the talent of another super-slugger, Sammy Sosa.  Also included on those teams were Moises Alou, Derek Lee, and Aramis Ramirez.  All were in or very close to the prime of their careers.

Personally, I don't buy into the theory that Baker killed the arms of Mark Prior and Kerry Wood...but they were with his team as well as Carlos Zambrano, Ryan Dempster, and an older, but still fairly effective Greg Maddux.

Now let's take a look at some of his players in his two-plus years with the Reds:

Yes, Joey Votto is one of the best at first base.  At second, Baker can't seem to get Brandon Phillips to run out every ground ball—many of which have cost him infield singles.  At third, Baker had a young Edwin Encarnacion who never meshed with Dusty. 

In center, Baker first brought one of his Chicago boys, Corey Patterson, over and insisted on playing him regularly.  Every Reds' fan on the planet knows how well that worked.

The next year, General Manager Walt Jocketty signed Willy Taveras.  That's not Dusty's fault. 

But it was Dusty's fault that he continually used him to set the table in the lead-off slot with a season-ending .275 on-base-percentage.

In left, Baker just seems to pick names out of a hat.

Over at right, Jay Bruce continues to struggle. 

As do most of his pitchers. 

For the most part, Baker's pitchers have been very young: Homer Bailey, Johnny Cueto, and Edinson Volquez.

Baker has been properly labeled a "player's manager."  While there are exceptions, see Bobby Cox, they are not usually successful. 

A player's manager is more suited for Little League baseball.

If a guy is playing in the big leagues, he shouldn't need hugs and kisses.  Would Tony La Russa ever hug a player? 

After the Pittsburgh series ends on Sunday (win or loss) a 6-8 record is the best for which the Reds can hope.

They have an off day on Monday before a home stand.  Perfect timing to hand Dusty his pink slip. 

If they don't fire Dusty and give their Triple-A affiliate manager, Rick Sweet, a chance, I will first vomit, and then randomly pick and write for my new favorite team.

There is a strong possibility that I will quit watching baseball entirely, and become a fan of cricket.

No, that's not right.  Because if my scenario does not work I wouldn't be able to stay away from the Reds' page and constantly complain about Johnnie B. "Dusty" Baker.


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