Dusty Baker is a quality baseball manager, but the low quantity of playoff success spelled his demise. The Cincinnati Reds gave the bench O.G. his walking papers on Friday, a few days after the Reds lost the wild-card playoff in Pittsburgh 6-2 ,ending the season with their sixth straight loss.
Baker, a 20-year managerial vet who’s known for chewing on tooth picks and rocking wristbands like he was about to go in the game and take some hacks, went 509-463 in his six seasons with Cincinnati, and finished third on the Reds' list for wins by a manager behind Sparky Anderson (863) and Bill McKechnie (744). The three-time NL Manager of the Year’s deathblow was the fact that he never made it out of the opening-round.
Baker took over a rebuilding Reds team in 2008, leading it to three 90-win seasons and three playoff appearances in the last four years. Not since the Big Red Machine, when Joe Morgan, Pete Rose, Johnny Bench and those cats were mauling MLB and winning World Series rings in the 1970s, have the Reds had such a run.
In the end, being perennial playoff contenders but falling short of the ultimate prize wasn’t enough for Reds GM Walt Jocketty.
"We appreciate what Dusty did here for six years and getting us to where we were," Jocketty said. "We felt it was important going forward to provide new leadership, a new voice, whatever you want to call it."
Despite taking flack for his throwback managerial style, handling of the pitching staff and dismissal of new-age sabermetrics, Baker has managed and made the playoffs with the San Francisco Giants, Chicago Cubs and the Reds. Depending on his health status and desire to still get his hands dirty, a spirited 64-year-old guy with Bakers’ track record should be back in business with the swiftness.