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.

Yasiel Puig’s one-game suspension has been rescinded

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MLB.com’s Ken Gurnick reports that Dodgers outfielder Yasiel Puig‘s one-game suspension has been rescinded. Instead, he will make a charitable donation. The alternative “punishment” was agreed to by Major League Baseball and the Players’ Association.

Puig was suspended one game two weeks ago after flipping off some hecklers at Progressive Field in Cleveland. Puig showed remorse after the game, saying, “I stooped to their level.”

Entering Tuesday night’s action, Puig was batting .251/.331/.458 with 14 home runs and 41 RBI in 287 plate appearances.

Video: Adrian Beltre hits his 450th career home run

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Rangers third baseman Adrian Beltre picked a good time to hit his 450th home run. With the game tied 1-1 in the top of the ninth inning, Beltre took the first pitch he saw from closer Cody Allen for a ride, sending it into the left field seats at Progressive Field to break the tie.

The Rangers would go on to win 2-1. Beltre finished 2-for-4. He now has 2,969 career hits, leaving him 31 shy of becoming the 31st member of the 3,000 hit club.

On the season, Beltre is hitting .303/.373/.562 with five home run sand 22 RBI in 102 plate appearances.