Less than 72 hours after being eliminated by the Pittsburgh Pirates in the NL Wild Card game, the Cincinnati Reds have dismissed Dusty Baker as the team’s manager.
Baker had been at the helm of the Reds since 2008 and thrice led them to the post-season. Their NL Central title in 2010 would mark the Reds’ first post-season appearance since 1995. Another NL Central title followed in 2012 before capturing one of the two NL Wild Card spots this season. However, the Reds could not advance beyond the NLDS. In 2010 and 2012, the Reds were eliminated by the Philadelphia Phillies and San Francisco Giants, respectively. Last year, the Reds held a 2-0 lead in the NLDS before the Giants stormed back with three consecutive wins and eventually won the World Series. Despite this, the Reds rewarded Baker with a two year extension.
This dismissal was rather abrupt as Reds GM Walt Jocketty had said that Baker would be back in 2014 following the loss in Pittsburgh. But a short time later, the team had asked Baker to resign. When he wouldn’t do that, they asked him to fire hitting coach Brook Jacoby. When he wouldn’t do that, they fired him instead.
Reds owner Bob Castellini and Jocketty claim they asked Baker to resign because they are concerned about his health. During the 2012 season, Baker suffered a stroke and missed most of September. Bench coach Chris Speier managed the team in his absence.
So the Reds asked Baker to resign because of his health? If they were concerned about his health then why offer the man a two year contract extension after he suffers the stroke? Does anyone honestly think Castellini and Jocketty would be having this conversation with Baker if the Reds had beat the Pirates on Tuesday night?
It appears that Jim Riggleman is the favorite to replace Baker. Riggleman has previously managed the San Diego Padres, Chicago Cubs, Seattle Mariners and Washington Nationals. He abruptly resigned from the Nats in the middle of the 2011 season when the team wouldn’t discuss a contract extension with him. Riggelman has spent the past two seasons managing in the Reds’ minor league system.
As for Baker, he leaves the Reds with a 509-463 record. In 20 years as a big league manager with the Reds and previously with the Giants and Cubs, he has a record of 1671-1504. Baker is 16th on the all-time managerial win list and is only behind Detroit’s Jim Leyland in terms of active managers (who has 1769).
I suspect that Baker won’t be out of a job for long. There are managerial vacancies in his old stomping grounds in Chicago as well as in Seattle and Washington. The Yankees could be added to that list too should Joe Girardi decide to move elsewhere.