Cincinnati Reds: It’s past time for team to fire Dusty Baker

Loyal readers are cognizant that I don’t believe Dusty Baker is a quality baseball manager. In fact, I’ve written about it on multiple occasions — though not recently. Following his second consecutive early postseason exit Tuesday night, it’s high time for the axe to fall in southwest Ohio.

Do you need reasons why Baker should be fired? I’ve got them:

Dusty Baker• Consider the Reds arguably have the most talented roster in the National League, and if not, the second-best after the Los Angeles Dodgers, yet needed the additional wild-card in 2013 just to play October baseball.

• Consider that this team blew a 2-0 series lead to San Francisco in last year’s NLDS, losing the final three games at home.

• Consider the Reds lost their final five regular season games in 2013, all at Great American Ballpark (two versus the lowly Mets), then were swept by the Pirates when it mattered most, forcing Tuesday’s game up river to a rockin’ PNC Park, where they quickly flopped.

• Consider Baker chose to pitch Johnny Cueto over more seasoned hurlers in a do-or-die road game when the young righty had made just two starts since June.

• Consider that not only was Cueto erratic, uncomfortable and basically disastrous, many Reds also seemed lackluster and inexplicably ill-prepared for the biggest game of the season (as they were all last week), especially once Cincinnati fell behind early.

•Cincinnati is a pathetic 2-7 in the postseason with Baker at the helm. Are Reds fans satisfied with that?

• Consider Baker is well-known for ruining pitchers’ careers with excessive work: Mark Prior, Kerry Wood, Edinson Volquez, Aaron Harang and potentially Cueto, who’s been constantly hurt in recent years.

• Consider that while the man achieved success with San Francisco Giants and Chicago Cubs during 2002 and 2003 respectively, his in-game decisions cost both those teams shots at World Series titles.

The Giants were five runs up and five outs away from a first world championship in four decades when Baker made questionable pitching moves in the 8th inning of the potential 2002 Fall Classic clincher. San Francisco collapsed, losing Game 6, Game 7 and the World Series to Anaheim.

And Baker, even after capturing the National League pennant, was off to Chicago, where in 2003, the Cubs blew a 3-1 series lead against the wild-card winning Florida Marlins, dropping Game 6 and Game 7 at Wrigley Field.

During Game 6, Chicago was infamously up 3-0 and, yes, five outs from their first NL pennant in 58 seasons with a chance at their first world title in nearly a century. While most remember Steve Bartman’s mishap from that night, Baker’s ensuing managerial faux pas surely contributed to a 8-3 loss before a Game 7 shellacking.

Despite all this, now including four consecutive first round playoff exits, the media predictably rushes to his defense, while some websites still ponder whether Baker is a Hall of Fame skipper? I ponder why anyone will hire the 64-year-old if Cincinnati finally ends his tenure after this season, which it definitely should.


About AJ Kaufman

A former schoolteacher and military historian, A.J. now works in public relations. As an MSF columnist since 2009, he supports anything baseball-related. Raised in San Diego, A.J. has since resided in numerous parts of America, including Colorado, Florida, Indiana, Maryland, Minnesota, Nebraska, New York, Ohio and Washington State. After departing the coasts in 2005, he's traveled the back roads of all 50 states and prefers the Heartland. Married to Maria, A.J. is the author of three books and enjoys reading presidential biographies.


  1. Adam Kern says:

    You are absolutely right. Lots of the decisions he makes just have no excuse for being made. Like batting horrible hitters at the top of the lineup (not talking about Choo or Votto). I love my Reds, but the only way we win a world series next year is if we get rid of this guy. And our hitting coach, Brook Jacoby too. Both need to go.

    • AJ Kaufman says:

      There is so much. Most Reds fans I know agree. Unfortunately sometimes ownership falls in love with a skipper and is more interested in status quo or “loyalty” than winning. A good skipper would’ve won two NL pennants with the amount of Reds’ talent the past five seasons. Dusty hasn’t won a home playoff game, a single postseason series and collapses down the stretch. (Six straight defeats — four to the same team — to end the season!)

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  2. Well stated and factually supported. Plus the toothpick does not
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  3. D'oh! Dusty says:

    He should have been gone long ago. He’s a cheap date and management just don’t get it. Keep Chris, fire Dusty.

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  4. All valid points. I will say that it must be nice to recycle the same article from April 2010 and add a couple of bullets and call i a new piece. I wish I could be paid to do that.

  5. Nick – Right out of bed you bash a guy for telling the truth, and accuse him of doing it for the money? Small websites pay almost nothing to contributing authors. Not to mention the fact that if someone in the Reds organization stopped listening to MLB Network prop up Dusty (and Ron Washington) for political reasons, they would realize that all the “recycled” bullet points (and now these new ones) were true and warnings should have been heeded back then.

    Be fair. Especially when you agree with the guy.

    • AJ Kaufman says:

      Thanks, LM. It was a bizarre attack, and I hope Nick can reply and explain himself. I do like this line of yours:

      “if someone in the Reds organization stopped listening to MLB Network prop up Dusty (and Ron Washington) for political reasons.”

      It is true than MLB Network, and especially MLB Radio, spends a lot of time sticking up for Ron Washington (more so than even Baker) and demeaning any detractors toward a man who’s choked the past three seasons when it matters most (and was nearly fired four years ago for drug use), despite massive talent.

  6. Chris Callaway says:

    As a Brewers fan, I’ll be disappointed when he’s eventually let go, mostly due to the comic relief within the division. But dang, that’s quite the list of pitchers he’s had a hand in bringing down. Rough.

    • AJ Kaufman says:

      It’s been obvious for years. He’s just a bad manager, plain and simple. Uncertain why he gets recycled. Ditto Eric Wedge and many others.

  7. connecticut chris says:

    Guys I pray you are right , But i dont think management will blame Dusty!! Plus if they were going to let him go i think it would be quickly!! They will blame injuries which all the playoff teams had plenty of and overcame, plus we had everyone back at the end! REMEMBER thats why we didnt need to pick up any players at trade deadline..Jeez Dusty has to go but is letting Dusty go enough to fix it?

    • AJ Kaufman says:

      Management loves Dusty. Same with Washington in Texas, Gibbons in Toronto and others. This is a problem. They are detached from reality.

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  8. Tom Demas says:

    OMG — he isn’t fired yet? He should have been fired the nanosecond after that disgraceful performance. He’s the worst manager in the history of the game. Worse than even Bob Boone which is saying an enormous amount.

    • AJ Kaufman says:

      Again, you have a media and Reds ownership that likes this guy, and apparently is not interested in October results. Cincy talk radio often backs him up too, though callers and honest people know he is an epic failure. He’s not held accountable. It’s like he has teacher tenure or something and results don’t matter.

      There are articles everywhere today backing up Dusty. They say he won 90 games a few times. Please. You or I could win 90 games with the talent Cincinnati has. 2-7 in postseason as Reds skipper. Enough said.

      That was a poorly-managed team last night. A total embarrassment, especially after being swept by Pittsburgh the final weekend. All the MLBN goons picked Cincinnati to win — which shows you their bias and cluelessness.

  9. All great points and let me add one more: let’s not forget that in the game with the cubs with florida before game 6 that prior pitched (game 2?), the cubs were up something like 10-0 and he let prior pitch DEEP into that game and ran his pitch count up needlessly and thus set the stage for prior running out of gas in game 6 after bartman did his thing. had prior not foolishly been left in to pitch late in a 10-0 game, he would have probably had the gas to last in game 6. what a tool baker is.

    • AJ Kaufman says:

      The list never ends. Somehow much is ignored by an obsequious media and Reds management with no interest of improving their team by removing a terrible manager.

  10. Cueto was laughing and joking in the dugout after he was removed from the game. Cameras caught two Reds players yawning in the middle innings.

    • AJ Kaufman says:

      I’m not surprised. An ill-prepared team. It’s obvious to everyone except Reds management and the media, it appears.

  11. Serial choker…

  12. Baker needs to go. He is the NL version of Buck Showalter. Someone who can only get a club so far, and then lose the big games. From someone on the outside looking in, it looks like players love playing for Dusty, but he never gets anyone to take their game to the next level. It’s almost like he lets the players do their thing and places little or no expectations on them. Hurdle has his Pirates playing together and fired up to take on all comers. When you look at the Reds, they looked like they were checking the reservations for their trips home. There was no fire, no sense of urgency. People pointed at the Red Sox 2011 collapse as a classic example of a team who lost the desire to win. But, if you look at the Reds most recent post seasons, you see the same sort of lack of effort and desire.
    Pete Rose pissed away some good talent and it took someone with fire in his belly in Lou Pinnella to get them to believe they SHOULD be winning and wouldn’t accept losing. Dusty’s easy going style is rubbing off on the team and they all need a change.

    • AJ Kaufman says:

      You basically explained succinctly why he’s the wrong man to lead this team — or any team. Thank you.

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  13. hurricanephan23 says:

    I say he needs to go NOW!!! I have been saying that for 2 or 3 years now. Do you think it a possibility that Walt would give a call to his old manager La Russa? As much as I have despised him for sooooo long, he has won everywhere he has managed.

  14. An excellent article and intelligent conversation. Thank you everyone who has posted.

    My 2 cents.

    Managers who are successful and are legends have the attribue of “discernment.” Dusty Baker clearly does not have that quality.

    If I remember correctly, he comes from the Frank Robinson school of management. Also influenced by them, among others, was Bob Brenly. They leave pitchers in to get bombed, then throw up the white flag and don’t do anything about it.

    I sit back at home in my armchair manager role and can almost predict what will happen when their school of thought takes the field. I remember Sparky well and his nickname was “The Hook.” Yes, I agree, he sometimes pulled out pitchers too soon but most of the time, he was dead-on. Sparky had “discernment.” Dusty leaves pitchers in to get shelled, they barely make it through the inning and then he turns around and sends them back out again. When Cueto came up to bat in the 3rd for the first time, if I were the Manager, he would’ve been out. We had plenty of pitchers to fill the spot. Cueto was “not in the moment” and I could tell that after he was pulled, he was laughing and carrying on in the dugout. That really perplexed me. Why couldn’t Dusty tell that he didn’t have it? Either there is a lack of discipline or he is one marble short. I have seen this when I actually go to games. Cueto is in the dugout goofing off and looking into the stands most of the time, yet, he is the first to congratulate someone on a walk-off. He doesn’t take the game or his time seriously and why, tell me, why, did Dusty start this clown? I cringed when I heard he was the starter. For God’s sake, Homer pitched a no hitter this year.

    The discernment goes beyond pitching. Many times this year after Votto struck out 2 or 3 times in a row, I would think, “why doesn’t he put this guy on the bench and put in someone who can produce?” Yes, I know the argument about Votto having high base percentage but is that what we are really paying him for? I thought the #3 hitter was also supposed to drive in “clutch” runs. He reminds me a lot of Johnny Bench, a great catcher, but not a good clutch hitter. I remember Bench used to hit home runs with nobody on base and when the Reds were ahead by 10 runs. To me, Votto just doesn’t seem to be all there. Not sure what that is about; he appears to not want to be on the team…but that is another story.

    The last thing I will say is that the team is not aggressive enough and that strategy of the game is not managed properly. When Billy Hamilton came in, I was pumped to watch him. He knows how to produce runs. That is how the old Reds used to be…some of the best base stealers in baseball and when those runners were on, it disrupted the pitching and mistakes were made. Let’s get back to the fundamentals of scratching out runs, that is where it counts. Look at McCutcheon. He gets on base and moves, most of the time. Why can’t we have that?

    I live out of state but purchased MLB so I watch almost every game. I was really into it this year. Dusty’s mistakes far outnumber his positive moves.

    Lack of discernment with pitching – Strike one
    Lack of discernment with hitters – Strike two
    Lack of discipline and agreessiveness – Strike three

    Lineup change needed for the Manager position – Time for someone else to inject a little “fire” back into the Reds.

    • AJ Kaufman says:

      You nailed it all. Quite an analysis.
      And this morning Reds management/ownership finally came to their senses and dumped Baker. They have a business to run, and he’s ruining it. He’ll still get paid millions to do nothing in 2014–of course. That’s how bad they want him gone.

  15. Is criticizing Dusty Baker or Marvin Lewis the same as criticizing Obama?

    • AJ Kaufman says:

      It sometimes seems certain people are off limits — or certainly protected by the media — but no, not exactly the same.

  16. Great article…but “Lowly Mets” lets just call them “Rebuilding Mets.” But I think if the Reds let him go I can see him still working in MLB…maybe in Miami or Houston.

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