As you’ve probably read, Dusty Baker has been signed to a three year contract to manage the Reds, replacing interim manager Pete Mackanin who replaced manager Jerry Narron. Narron was fired at the beginning of July after the Reds posted a 31-51 mark and the Reds promoted from within and hired Mackanin on an interim basis. He then lead the Reds to respectable 41-39 mark to round out the 2007 season.
Another stupid front office decision here if you ask me and I say that with reason. First, Ken Rosenthal reported the Reds were searching for a “high profile” manager to permanently take over the team. (I can think of a number of other potential “high profile” managers who would certainly trump anything Dusty Baker has to offer.) How exactly does a “high profile” manager bring about promise for a brighter future to a struggling franchise? I don’t think it does. Casey Stengel, Sparky Anderson, Bobby Cox, even: a manager is only part of the equation for a winning team.
Regardless, the teams Baker has managed over the years have not typically been “young” (Darren Baker not included) teams and have usually had a stock of seasoned veterans. There are numerous veterans on the Reds at this point (Dunn, Griffey, Harang, Arroyo, Hatteberg) but other than those, this is mostly a young team with plenty of in house talent. Dunn’s return is not unlikely but uncertain, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see Arroyo traded. Hatteberg has a $1.85 MM club option for 2008 and will probably be picked up for ’08.
So the question here is: how is Dusty Baker going to deal with and handle a team of young players? It’s too early to tell but if I’m a part of the Reds’ front office, I really wouldn’t like the idea of a manager coming to my team and managing a club with a different overall face than most he has managed. The Reds haven’t won a championship since 1990 and have only made 2 playoff appearances in the past 17 seasons since then. This really isn’t a time for the Reds to “experiment.”
Second, Pete Mackanin led the Reds to a very respectable 41-39 mark after being hired to replace Narron. Obviously, over the course of an entire season, this only translates to a slight mark over .500. However, it looks like you’ve already got the foundation for a winning club. Why bring in a new (“high-profile”) manager and create another process of players getting used to working under a new manager (the third in one year). If you leave Mackanin where he is and make some tweaks to the roster through free agency and/or trades, this team could be a contender under a manager who they are already comfortable with and who already have put up acceptable results under.
Problem: Pete Mackanin isn’t a “high-profile” manager. I’ll admit, I never knew who Pete Mackinin was until he temporarily had the Pirates managerial spot a couple years back. However, It’s unfortunate that a name is regarded over results. And, unfortunately, this further reflects the peak of the business aspect of baseball. I’m not saying the results Mackanin’s team produced under him in 2007 are what you expect to get year after year from Mackanin, but it certainly can’t be a bad sign.
Overall, I don’t expect the situation in Cincinnati to change any. Unless some big changes to on-field personnel (increased starting pitching, bullpen fortification, etc.) coincide with the addition of Dusty Baker, they’re probably going to be in the cellar yet again. I cannot see Dusty Baker making an (positive) impact on this franchise.
Who really knows, though. As the Colorado Rockies have proven, baseball is sometimes unexplainable and unpredictable. A world title in 2008 just might be Cincy’s Dustiny.