Dusty Baker given a vote of confidence

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Last night’s spectacularly unexpected start from Justin Lehr notwithstanding, the Reds are in freefall. They’ve lost tons of games — they’re 5-22 since their high water mark on the Fourth of July — their putative ace is gone until 2011, and they’ve made trades that are perplexing to say the least. In such situations, a high-profile, expensive veteran manager tends to be in serious danger because, hey, anyone can lose with these guys, so why not do it with a cheap organizational soldier at the helm? That’s not an option currently on the table in Cincy, however:

Reds CEO Bob Castellini said Wednesday that manager Dusty Baker’s job is safe.

“Absolutely,” Castellini said.

He said Baker will be back for 2010 – the final year of his contract – as well.

“Absolutely,” Castellini said.

The Reds had lost eight straight and 14 of 15 games going into Wednesday’s tilt with the Chicago Cubs. They were tied for last place in the National League Central with Pittsburgh.

“The team has not quit,” Castellini said. “They are still playing hard.”

Contrary to a lot of the stuff you see written about him, Dusty Baker is not a bad manager, and the extreme positions people take to that end are kind of silly. Baker has done well with veteran teams and has served as a stabilizing clubhouse presence. He is underrated in that regard, as that skill (i.e. serving as a stabilizing presence) is itself underrated.

Dusty has not done well with young and developing teams, however, and for that reason is he is probably ill-suited to be the Reds’ manager. It’s not urgent or anything — the manager is not going to be the difference between winning it all and losing in Cincinnati in the next year or so — but if I were Bob Castellini I’d investigate buying out the last year on Dusty’s deal and finding a young teaching manager to keep around until the team has a plausible case for contention.

Report: John Farrell won’t rule out a postseason return for Pablo Sandoval

BOSTON, MASSACHUSETTS - APRIL 11:  Pablo Sandoval #48 of the Boston Red Sox looks on from the dugout before the Red Sox home opener against the Baltimore Orioles at Fenway Park on April 11, 2016 in Boston, Massachusetts. The Orioles defeat the Red Sox 9-7.  (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)
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It’s been a strange season for Red Sox’ third baseman Pablo Sandoval, who lost his starting role in spring training, went 0-for-6 in three regular season appearances, and underwent season-ending surgery to repair a torn labrum in his left shoulder in May. That was the last the Red Sox were supposed to hear about Sandoval until spring 2017, when he was expected to rejoin the team after a lengthy rehab stint in Florida.

On Saturday, manager John Farrell was telling a different story. Per MLB.com’s Sam Blum, Farrell hinted that Sandoval could return to the team as soon as October, albeit in a very limited capacity.

At the time of the surgery, it was all looking at the start of next Spring Training,” Farrell said. “We’re not getting too far ahead of ourselves here, but at the same time, we compliment him for the work he’s put in, the way he’s responded to the rehab, the way he’s worked himself into better condition. We’re staying open-minded.

If the 30-year-old does return in 2016, don’t expect him to look like the three-home run hitter of the 2012 World Series. Should the Red Sox lose another player to injury, Sandoval might be called on as a backup option, but he’s unlikely to see substantial playing time under any other circumstances. Despite making two appearances at DH in the instructional league, Sandoval has not started at third base since undergoing surgery, though Farrell noted that a return to third base would be the next logical step in his recovery process.

Sandoval has yet to hit his stride within the Red Sox’ organization after hitting career-worst numbers in 2015. According to FanGraphs, his Offensive Runs Above Average (Off) plummeted to -20.2, contributing approximately two wins fewer than the average offensive player in 2015. (The Diamondbacks’ Chris Owings held the lowest Off mark in 2015, with -26.3 runs below average.) Sandoval has not appeared in a postseason race since the Giants’ championship run in 2014.

Heading into Saturday evening, the Red Sox could clinch their spot in the postseason with a win over the Rays and an Orioles’ loss.

Video: Adrian Beltre and Carlos Beltran give signs from the dugout

OAKLAND, CA - SEPTEMBER 23:  Adrian Beltre #29 of the Texas Rangers stands in the dugout before their game against the Oakland Athletics at Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum on September 23, 2016 in Oakland, California.  (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
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The Rangers got a bit of a breather on Saturday after clinching the division lead during Friday night’s win. Naturally, it was also a prime opportunity for another of Adrian Beltre‘s well-documented antics, as he spent his off day directing the Rangers’ infield defense with a series of signs. Even with Carlos Beltran‘s help, no one, least of all those playing the infield, appeared to have any idea what Beltre’s gestures were intended to convey.

You can add this to the list of in-game oddities Beltre has become so well-known for over the years, running the gamut from the way he kicked a ball over the foul line to his histrionics every time someone comes close to touching his head. If nothing else, it’s a convincing audition reel for the third baseman’s future in major league coaching — a career path that, I’d imagine, would end up looking something like this: