Addison Recorder Mailbag, 1st Edition: Farewell, Dusty

In other news, the byline should probably be: “Holy S%!&, somebody asked a question!”

Ahem.

I speak on behalf of every one of the writers/editors here at the Addison Recorder when I say that we openly welcome your questions, and will always do our best to respond in a timely fashion. (Especially if they keep coming one at a time.) We accept them through email, Facebook, and Twitter. This firstĀ and only question comes from Twitter. You’ll excuse me for fleshing it out….slightly.

“Travis,

Dusty fired. Thoughts?

Ryan, Cincinnati”

(Has anyone noticed how much tweeting is like sending ol’ timey telegraphs? All that’s missing is the insertion of the word “”STOP” every three words. Seriously, I expect future tweets to read something like: “Travis, College football this weekend. Stop. Bring chips and guac. Stop. Also, Cherokee look restless. Stop. Expect buffalo crossings at Edgewater. Stop. Alex, Lakeview.”)

(On the other hand, I don’t think that’s 140 characters. Two tweet/telegraphs, maybe.)

(Anyway, the question.)

dusty

I have several thoughts on the firing of Dusty, and am of slightly mixed opinions. (Even though I finally got a postseason prediction (somewhat) right!) The first is that Dusty truly showed himself to be a poor planner for opposing strategies that could be seen a mile away. Things such as starting a left-handed pitcher who is death to left-handed hitters in a one game playoff, and then responding by stacking your batting order with lefty hitters. Things like bunting if the sun is in the sky, and bunting if the stars are out, and bunting if there’s a slight breeze.

And yet, the Reds still won 90 games this year, despite looking bored and listless throughout the entire season. Despite having the OBP of Dave Kingman. (Remind me to tell you my opinion of Kingman’s performance, someday.) Despite a roster that’s more top-heavy than Aretha Franklin. (BOOB JOKE, HAHA, MAKE NICE)

Dusty always knew how to get the best out of his players, what some refer to in baseball speak as squeezing every drop out of your roster. Which makes the Reds sound unfortunately like an orange, but it’s true. I firmly believe that under a lesser manager, this is an 80 win squad at best. Too many people forget that for much of the 2000’s, the Reds were terrible. There were talents such as Adam Dunn, Felipe Lopez, Austin Kearns, and the decaying hulks of Barry Larkin and Ken Griffey Jr. But they either flamed out, came to nothing, broke down, or consistently failed to remember that hitting something OTHER than a home run is a good thing (looking at you, Mr. Dunn). While Dusty’s first few years were nothing to write home about, he did set about developing the young talent that is the core of the current roster, bringing along your Joey Votto, your Jay Bruce, and your Johnny Cueto. He worked to transform the aura around the clubhouse from one of losing to one of victory.

What went wrong?

Well, Dusty’s aforementioned old-school ideas just aren’t as popular in these modern eras. Also, since they’ve been shown to not work quite as well as other strategies, you can understand their wearing on the fans. His misuse (or lack of use) of Aroldis Chapman, about who many firmly believe that he should be starting, can be questioned. I honestly don’t see a man with essentially two quality pitches being anything other than a dominant closer, so I have less beef with that. On the other hand, it wouldn’t have hurt Dusty anything to maaaaaaaaaaybe use Chapman in the 8th inning from time to time. You know, like the Yankees did with their closer for all those years. I think that worked out okay.

What it comes down to is under-performance, and that isn’t Dusty’s fault. He’s always been a class act, and if you read the stories, he may have taken the fall for Brook Jacoby, the hitting coach. No, under-performance does fall under Walt Jocketty, who in his tenure at St. Louis signed a lot of free agents, but is most successful for drafting Albert Pujols. Apart from that, he’s a fairly mediocre GM.

A change of scenery was necessary for all parties, from the sound of it. I’m sure Dusty’s tired of the constant questioning/harassment from the title-starved fans in Cincinnati. (Things got dark in the 2000’s, when the Bengals and Reds both were terrible. Getting this close to a title and falling short in painful ways hurts. Give ’em a break, Dusty, they know not what they do.) And a new face in the dugout might be enough to shake the complacency from players such as Devin Mesoraco, Zach Cozart, and Co.

The real question is: who will it be?

Somebody tossed around Joe Morgan. That’s the worst possible thing they could do.

Somebody mentioned Pete Mackanin, former interim manager, and that would be a return to the constant shuffling between the Bob Boone’s and Jerry Narron’s of the world. Good guys who have enough to get through the season, but not winning managers.

Other managers mentioned include Bob Brenly (…shudder) and Jim Riggleman. (You know, the guy who quit on the Nationals halfway through the season because….the sky was blue. I honestly don’t know, but I do recall that he wasn’t doing a lot of winning there either. Granted, any half-assed manager could probably wring 85 wins out of this team, but the potential for 95 wins? That takes someone who knows what they’re doing, and does it well.)

Former players like Matt Williams, David Bell, and even my childhood hero Barry Larkin have been brought up. (I’m not sure about Larkin at the moment, though he’d be a name draw, and would provide instant leadership in the clubhouse. I’m just unaware of his tactical agility as a manager at this point in time; I would gladly like to find out, though.)http://www.addisonrecorder.com/wp-admin/post-new.php

Several people have called for Bryan Price, the pitching coach, to assume the duties. Of all the names, that one actually seems like the best choice. He’s proven to be excellent with pitchers, he’s competent and dependable in the clubhouse (and well liked), and would maintain a sense of winning continuity in the organization. This would be especially important, because a lack of continuity is what drives teams like Pittsburgh into the ground for years at a time. (Just look across the street at the Bengals of the 90’s. It wasn’t until Marvin Lewis arrived that the Bengals began to win, and even when they have down years now, they bounce back fairly quickly. Why? Continuity within the organization. Good leadership that remains consistent. Players notice that kind of stuff.)

At the end of the day, the Reds have made a change, but every Cincinnati fan owes Dusty Baker the biggest THANK YOU for helping to rescue the team from the small abyss into which they had briefly tumbled, showing them the way back to the winning path. Best of luck, Dusty, and here’s hoping that you find a new baseball home soon.

Travis J. Cook

Travis J. Cook

Travis J. Cook is the Editor-in-Chief and one of the original founders of the Addison Recorder. He writes about baseball, movies, and music, among other topics. He resides in a hole in the ground near Wrigley Field.

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