The End of an Era: Dusty Baker

Three days after the Cincinnati Reds were eliminated in convincing fashion in the NL Wild Card game, Dusty Baker has been relieved of his managerial duties. In other words, Bob Castellini and the Reds have fired Dusty Baker.

Judging by the talent and the recent success of this Reds team, 2013 was a big disappointment. They coasted through the season and never really came together as a team. Maybe it was due to lack of leadership on the field. Maybe it had to do with all the injuries. Or maybe it was simply time for a change in the clubhouse.

Dusty Baker is a good manager. He’s taken three different teams to the playoffs and been named Manager of the Year on three different occasions. You don’t rack up those kinds of numbers unless you’re doing something right.

Dusty prides himself on being a players manager. By all indications, guys love playing for him and rightfully so. He always sticks up for his players and gives them ample time to “find their groove”. Since taking over in 2008, he’s done a good job of keeping the pulse of the team and pushing the right buttons at the right times.

Until this year. For whatever reason, it seemed like Baker lost the team this year. Players seemed lethargic or uninterested at times and they rarely showed emotion on the field. Losing the last six games of the season and being dominated by the Pirates along the way proved it was time for a change.

Perhaps more than anything, this news proves it was time for Dusty to go…

Dusty

With all that being said, Dusty did some great things during his tenure in Cincinnati. Similar to what Carson Palmer did for the Bengals, Dusty helped make the Reds relevant once again. He led the Reds to their first playoff appearance in fifteen years in 2010 and changed the culture in Cincinnati along the way.

Eventually his laid back approach and stubbornness wore on the fan base and apparently on the ownership, but we shouldn’t forget everything Dusty Baker did for this franchise. He’s the most successful Reds manager since the beloved Lou Piniella and he deserves some recognition.

Alas, it was indeed the time for a change in Cincinnati.

While fans and analysts continue throwing around ludicrous names such as Pete Rose and Johnny Bench to become the next manager of the Cincinnati Reds, I will trust Bob Castellini and Walt Jocketty to make the right decision. The best part about this franchise is they have the right men leading the team from the very top.

Regardless of the decision, I hope Reds fans remember Dusty Baker for more than just this season.

Cincinnati Reds’ Bullpen Woes


The Cincinnati Reds are 39-26 and 3.5 games behind the St. Louis Cardinals in the National League Central division. The Reds are playing some of the best baseball in the majors through roughly a third of the season. Starting pitching has posted the second best ERA in the NL, while the offense has accounted for the third most runs scored in the NL.

Despite their best start in nearly a decade, the bullpen has become a legitimate concern.

Jonathan Broxton has struggled recently

Jonathan Broxton has struggled recently

In 2012, the Reds had arguably the best bullpen in baseball. They posted an ERA of 2.65 and were second in homeruns allowed per nine innings with .68. More importantly, the 2012 bullpen shortened games and helped the Reds win 97 games and runaway with the NL Central.

This season has been a much different story.

The bullpen has accounted for 13 losses and numerous blown saves to this point. Additionally, the bullpen is last in home runs allowed per nine innings with 1.27. Translation: relievers are giving up a lot of home runs. Home runs cost teams games.

Most recently, the bullpen blew games in Pittsburgh and then at home against the Rockies and Cardinals. Jonathan Broxton has looked uncomfortable in the eighth inning and is walking far too many batters. After looking nearly unhittable in the month of May, Sam Lecure has surrendered the lead in his last two appearances.

Furthermore, the bullpen is lacking a left hander to utilize in late game situations. Sean Marshall is out until at least July, and Manny Parra simply isn’t getting it done (posting an ERA of 9.00 over the last month). Outside of Aroldis Chapman, the Reds don’t have any left handed pitchers for Dusty Baker to rely on in crunch time.

Dusty has tried different pitchers in different spots to find something that will work. He’s already made it clear Chapman won’t pitch more than one inning at a time and he doesn’t want to wear out his arm.

The Reds miss Sean Marshall

The Reds miss Sean Marshall

For now, the Reds will continue to rely on starting pitching and clutch hitting to keep pace with the Cardinals.

History says the bullpen will begin playing to the back of their baseball cards and hopefully get back on track. Sean Marshall is feeling better and hopefully will return soon enough to give the bullpen a boost.

Even if the bullpen turns things around, don’t be surprised if Walt Jocketty brings in another arm around the trade deadline. Jocketty has shown he’s not afraid to make moves at the deadline if he can improve the team.

The Reds have a championship team and are among the 4 or 5 best clubs in baseball. There is still plenty of time to improve and solidify the back end of the bullpen. There is no doubt it will be needed come October.