Baker’s prescription for success
By Hal McCoy | Saturday, September 20, 2008, 03:46 PM
Dusty Baker watches what he is seeing on the baseball field these days from his Cincinnati Reds and feels good about 2009.
And he wonders what might have been in 2008, “If we hadn’t led the league in broken bones, had eight or nine deaths of close relatives that takes it toll emotionally, had to play so many different shortstops (six)and had so many injuries that left us thin in the outfield — like Ryan Freel and Norris Hopper.”
And he mentions three things at which the Reds must improve dramatically:
ONE: Road record (30-45).
TWO: Record within the National League Central (29-41), especially against Houston (2-10) and last place Pittsburgh (6-9)
THREE: Defense, “Improved defense, big-time,” he said. “There was a long period where we were giving away one or two runs every game.”
Baker, though, sees 2009 as a much better season.
“You look at Edinson Volquez (16-6), Johnny Cueto (8-13) and you know Aaron Harang (5-16) is going to be better and you hope Bronson Arroyo (15-10) is going to be the same,” he said.
“Then we have a young kid like Josh Roenicke and you know Francisco Cordero (5-4, 31 saves) is going to be better, even though he has been great lately,” Baker added. “Bill Bray made it through the year without injury for the first time.”
And Bake likes what he sees of some of the young players called up in September and said, “They’ll be better, especially if they make the adjustments and I feel they will.
“Our bullpen is better and I think Jared Burton (5-1) is getting better and better. Brandon Phillips and Edwin Encarnacion will have better years. We’ll hopefully have Jerry Hairston Jr. with us from from the beginning.”
Baker cited a deeper bench and more speed, “And I love speed,” then added, “There are a lot of reasons for optimism. We have a different team right now, one that’s young and with a good nucleus.”
Of course, that’s what every manager says, right?
“You want light at the end of the tunnel and you want hope, but you don’t want manufactured hope, you want real hope. We have it,” he said.
THOSE SEVEN home runs the Reds hit Friday night against the Brewers not only shattered the pysche of Milwaukee’s pitching staff, it emptied the supply of fireworks.
Fireworks are touched off after each Reds home run and after each Reds victory, but that won’t happen the rest of the season — a game today against the Brewers and one Monday against the Florida Marlins.
Because of last week’s windstorm, Rozzi’s World Famous Fireworks stopped production and the company’s supply is gone..
ON YONDER ALONSO: “He hit some good ones, showed some power and hit some line drives and, yes, he hit a few out yonder.” — Manager Dusty Baker after No. 1 draft pick Yonder Alonso took batting practice.