Fire Dusty?

just stop!

Fire Dusty?

The Cincinnati Reds lost to the Pittsburgh Pirates 6-2 in the National League Wild Card game. The Reds sent out their ace, Johnny Cueto, to pitch the winner-take-all game. Cueto gave up four runs in three and one third innings pitched. The Pirates would go on to score a couple more runs in route to their first playoff win since 1992.

After the game, some Reds fans were calling for unconventional manager Dusty Baker to be fired. Dusty has never been a fan favorite. Whenever the Reds lose, the fans will somehow blame Dusty. But, when the Reds win it is in spite of Dusty.  Fans have disliked him since he took the job. Fans have multiple complaints about the manager. But, let’s give Dusty some credit for what he has done with the Reds.

Many think that he leaves in pitchers way too long. Dusty has always been knocked for “killing pitchers’ arms.” The most famous example of this is Mark Prior when they were both with the Chicago Cubs.

Although, that instance may be true this is argument is unfair to Dusty. Over the last two years, pitching has been a strength for the Reds. In 2012, Reds starters only missed one start in the regular season and that was the second game of a double header in which the Reds didn’t want to screw up their rotation. Also, that year the Reds had one of the best bullpens in baseball. This year, the starting pitching carried a horrific offense. The Reds pitching was fourth in ERA at 3.38. They were first in BAA at 2.36, and WHIP at 1.17. In quality starts they ranked fourth with 94. That is with their ace, Johnny Cueto, going down for much of this season with multiple injuries.

On top of that, their best two relievers not named Aroldis Chapman, Jonathon Broxton and Sean Marshall, missed a significant part of the season as well. How many teams can say they made the post season and put up the numbers the Reds did without three of their best pitchers? Dusty has done a great job in this area. He was able to weather a storm that the Reds did not see coming.

Another common Dusty criticism is of his line ups. Dusty was hammered by fans for putting Brandon Phillips in the fourth spot in the order, or the “clean-up hitter”. Everybody thinks that we have to put Jay Bruce at clean up because he is the biggest bat in the lineup. Well, Dusty’s strategy of Phillips then Bruce has actually paid off very nice. Before he was hurt, Brandon Phillips was having a career year. He was leading the MLB in RBI’s at that point. Then, he got drilled by a fastball right on the forearm and the Reds beat writers say he has not been healthy since.

Yet even with the injury on his right forearm Phillips finished fourth in the league with 103 RBI’s. Jay Bruce has also done very well in the fifth spot in the lineup. Bruce finished third in the league with 30 home runs and finished second in the league with 109 RBI’s. Everybody says “they get more chances at RBI’s than everybody else because Choo and Votto are top two in on base percentage. They can’t hit with runners in scoring position.”

That is actually not true. They both ranked in the top twenty with batting with runners in scoring position. Brandon Phillips finished ninth in the league at .338. That is pretty dang good. That “horrible offense” ranked 12th in runs and 6th in on base percentage.

Dusty also gets grilled because he tends to play veterans more than the youngsters. Is that actually true? Todd Frazier and Zach Cozart, only in their second years, played nearly all of the games they were available. In fact, Cozart started every postseason game he has played in. Veteran Ceasar Izturis has barely even seen the field.

The one case that might apply is the catching situation. Ryan Hannigan and Devin Mesoraco are the two catchers the Reds have kept on their roster the last couple years. Hannigan is one of the best defensive catchers in the game. He is the offensive coordinator for three of the five starting pitchers the Reds have. Whenever Hannigan is not behind the plate for those three guys, they get rocked. While Mesoraco’s offense and potential far exceeds Hannigan, Hannigan is way more important to the team because he is the brain behind the plate. So, let’s not blame Dusty for game planning to help out his pitching.

Should the Reds have fired Dusty Baker?

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People want Dusty fired for his lack of postseason success. Do Reds fans remember what they were before Dusty Baker? So, it’s not like Dusty Baker inherited a World Series team and has only taken them to the playoffs. He inherited a franchise that was stuck in rebuilding mode and molded them into a contender. Dusty should in fact be rewarded for getting to the postseason. They have been a force in a division that features one of the best franchises in sports, the St. Louis Cardinals. Without Dusty, the Reds went 12 straight seasons of missing the playoffs.

The bottom line is that Dusty Baker has lead the Reds to the playoffs in three of the past four seasons, including two division titles. Dusty has gotten the Reds to the playoffs, he can’t control it if the Reds players choke in the playoffs. As for the fans, stop blaming every little thing on Dusty Baker. Everything bad that happens is not all his fault, and everything good that happens might have something to do with Dusty. Anybody that thinks Dusty should be fired is ignorant to the facts.

Who should replace Dusty Baker?

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