Re: Should Dusty Baker Receive an Extension?
I think the Reds need to go in a different direction. Dusty's loyalty to vets, emphasis on speed rather than OBP, and mismanagement of pitching substitutions has frustrated me.
I know some people disagree, but to me there is no way you start Mike Leake against the Giants in game 4. They owned him all year and we saw in game one that Latos can pitch effectively on short rest. He only pitched four innings and I would have started him vs. Zito and Arroyo against Cain if we lost game four. Arroyo does not throw hard and I think he can be effective on short rest as well. Bottom line, I think we had a better chance winning one of Latos v. Zito/Arroyo v. Cain than we had Leake v. Zito/Latos v. Cain. Starting Leake just about put all of our eggs in the basket of trying to beat Matt Cain twice in one series. That is a tall order.
Game four also showed you how effective a manager is who gives a pitcher the hook early enough when there are indications of a big inning, fatigue, etc. Giants pitching struggled in game 4, but the substitutions created good matchups to limit the damage. Meanwhile, Dusty's substitutions were always one batter too late. That was the difference in the game. Dusty would not have pulled Zito after 2 2/3. If Dusty was managing the Giants, he would have let him stay long enough to give up the big inning. I've seen too many Reds games to think otherwise.
Having Cairo make this roster was absurd. While I do not support Leake starting, I think he would have been better as a 25th player. He is a better hitter than Cairo, a better pinch runner, and could actually eat several innings (like 6 or 7) if there was a blowout on either side. Fraizer was available to backup Rolen or Votto and Valdez could backup Cozart or Phillips. We knew Cairo would not see the field defensively and he brings no bat and no pinch running ability. Leaving him on the roster was blind loyalty to a vet. Not having Leake on the roster may have ended up costing the Reds the NLCS if they would have made it given the decision to DL Cueto (if Cueto could have come back to pitch a game or two in that series). Having Cairo on the roster did not cost the Reds the series, but it very well could have and I don't trust Dusty to make good roster decisions when it comes to replacing a vet with a better performing younger player.
I think Dusty's record in big postseason games (elimination games) speaks for itself. Realistically, we have 2-3 more seasons of this group together in their prime. After that, guys like Latos, Homer, and Cueto likely will hit the FA market and we have a ton of money tied up in Votto, Bruce, and Phillips. You can't expect Arroyo or Ludwick (if he re-signs) to be effective for any more than 2 or 3 more years. If the Reds are going to win a world series with this group, it will need to be within this window. I don't want Dusty making the clutch decisions. It is too important.
I like Dusty as a person and appreciate his effort. I just think it is best if the Reds go in a different direction.