I believe in the grand scheme of things, the Reds could do a lot worse than Dusty Baker at the helm.
As a Giants fan, I can absolute affirm that Baker is not without his faults; namely, a deeply rooted loyalty to his players that translates into entirely too much rope for his starting pitchers. There is definitely a fine line between having your guy's back, letting him learn how to work his way out of a jam... And not knowing when to give somebody the hook. Amidst Games 4 and 5 of the NLDS, I got crazy de ja vu watching Baker as he allowed both Mike Leake and Mat Latos to shoot themselves in the foot. I can only imagine - if it was obvious to us in the Bay that Latos was disturbed by the shaky ball called to Gregor Blanco - that everyone in the Red's Nation knew it was time to make a change before the whole thing got out of hand. Unfortunately for the Reds, Dusty was in classic form and waited until Buster Posey ran into one before lifting Latos in typical too-little-too-late fashion.
However, Dusty's short-comings when it comes to holding and folding his pitchers cannot overrule the rest of his managerial prowess.
To my mind, Dusty Baker is a phenomenal hitter's manager; every team he manages seems to elevate to amongst the league's most feared lineups. Baker knows how to protect his cleanup hitter - a quality that Bruce Bochy doesn't share; the Giants were hitting Angel Pagan 5th for far too long midseason and I'm sure you folks all noticed Posey hitting without men on base all through the series. Baker assembles lineups like a true maestro; installing Brandon Phillips at the top of the order to provide thump right from the get-go, as he did with Soriano in Chicago and even Rich Aurillia in SF. Speedy, OBP guys at the top is the norm, but Baker is capable of defying tradition with marked success - how many managers can convince a home run hitter to buy into the idea of being a team's initiator?
It's also worth noting that Baker got the best season out of Ryan Ludwick since 2008. When I watched him frequently in the NL West playing for SD, he looked like he was done. In the NLDS, he looked damn near unstoppable. It was a monstrous turn-around and you can't deny that Baker surely had a hand in his success. Scott Rolen is another veteran that looked burnt out on other squads before Baker gave him second life.
Anyways, I suppose the bottom line is that the Reds are one of the NL's 2 most dangerous offensive lineups and that's a title they've earned under Baker. To me, he fits the bill for what Cincinatti is trying to do and despite a disheartening post-season record that's been marked by tremendously inspirational comebacks by opposing squads, Baker is far from incompetent and if he's healthy, he's an asset to any team.
Again, it goes back to Dusty not knowing when to fold em... or when to hold em. The Reds would be infinitely safer is Baker gave all pitching sub duties to Price. I always felt like that's what he should have done with Raggetti in SF.
I just Wish the Reds would get a different Hitting coach.. For 5 years this team has often not hit in the clutch. A different set of ears and hitting approach would do wonders..
I think Bochy outmanaged Dusty really bad in game 4. Actually, his use of the bullpen in game 4 was perfection...doesn't get any better. I thought Dusty managed the game of his life in game 1 in a really tough situation. Out of the others nothing really jumps out at me.
When you look at games 3 and 5 they could have gone either way. Dusty might have pulled Homer too early, but the way that game was going we needed offense. Bochy also had a quick hook with his starters, even when they were pitching well. I don't think he left Latos in too long either...in the situation I think we needed to trust Latos to get out of that. I would have liked a coaching visit to the mound though.
Overall I think Dusty and Bochy both put their teams in great situations to win the series, the Giants players just got it done.
Dusty-bashers choose to ignore the 99 games the team won this year, including two on the road in the playoffs at SF. Those mean nothing. But those three losses in Cincy...ah, those mean everything.
You'll never convince some people that getting swept by SF wasn't Dusty's fault, so the rest of us should just stop the wear and tear on our keyboards.