Immediately following the Reds’ Wild Card Game loss to the Pirates, general manager Walt Jocketty gave every indication that manager Dusty Baker would be back for the 2014 season. Three days later, Baker was out of a job.
As a Reds fan, I’ve got mixed feelings about the news. Baker has never been a favorite of the new school stats crowd, which I tend to lean toward. But he won at least 90 games and made the playoffs three times in the last four years. That should count for something. And the players always seemed to respect him and respond to him (at least until the last couple of weeks of the season). That was evident in their reactions Friday, particularly from Jay Bruce:
“I understand that it’s a business and when teams don’t accomplish what’s expected of them there are changes, but any way you slice it, Dusty was an integral part of turning the organization around,” Bruce wrote in an email. “The Cincinnati Reds became relevant again with Dusty at the helm, and that’s something people should never forget. From a personal standpoint, I’m thankful to have had Dusty there with me from the time I was 21 years old. He taught me so many valuable things about the game of baseball, things that have helped me become the player I am today, and I’m very appreciative of that. Aside from the on field aspect, he took an interest in myself and the other players on a personal level that far exceeded that requirements of a manager.”