Saturday, April 21, 2012

Bowden: Baker one of five managers 'feeling the heat'

What does the future hold for Baker in Cincinnati?
ESPN.com's Jim Bowden recently listed five managers who he believes is "feeling the heat" right now (link). And among the handful of big league skippers is our very own Dusty Baker.

Here's what the Reds former general manager had to say about the team's current manager:

Dusty Baker


Baker is in the last year of his contract, and despite winning the division in 2010, his contract hasn’t been extended yet, though the club has signed general manager Walt Jocketty, first baseman
Joey Votto and second baseman Brandon Phillips to long-term deals. So Baker remains somewhat of a lame duck manager. With the shadows of both Terry Francona and Tony La Russa looming, as well as Hall of Famer Barry Larkin, there is a growing sense that Baker must win to keep his job, or else one of those three will replace him. It is not a healthy position for Baker, and he will manage with more immediacy rather than over the long haul of 162 games.

One can assume Baker’s reliance on veterans such as
Ryan Ludwick and Ryan Hanigan instead of Chris Heisey and Devin Mesoraco in left field and catcher, respectively, are two instances of Baker’s pressured decision-making. Further, using Aroldis Chapman in a set-up role rather than a starter shows Baker might not be willing to risk losses just to shepherd the young left-hander. Conversely, in Texas, the Rangers are doing exactly that with Neftali Feliz. Baker does not have that luxury.

A few interesting takeaways from this blurb by Bowden: 1) He mentions Larkin as a possible candidate to replace Baker should he receive the axe. I find that intriguing, but also highly improbable being that Larkin has no coaching experience at any level. However, I wouldn't be against him managing the Reds one day once he gets some seasoning.

2) Bowden justifies Baker's tendency to use veterans over younger players (in this case in particular) in fear of letting the young players develop at a cost for winning. I couldn't disagree more. Just because a player is youthful and inexperienced it doesn't mean that they can't help you win ball games. All you have to do is take a look one year ago at Craig Kimbrel (Atlanta), Jaime Garcia (St. Louis), Stephen Strasburg (Washington), Mark Trumbo (Los Angeles), Freddie Freeman (Atlanta), Ivan Nova (New York) and Eric Hosmer (Kansas City) as evidence of that.

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