Walt Jocketty stays, but it’s time for Dusty Baker to go

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Sure, they’ve dealt with some injuries, but the 2011 Reds have most certainly underachieved.  Playing in what’s arguably baseball’s weakest division, Cincinnati is likely to finish with a sub-.500 record for the third time in four years under Dusty Baker.  Baker is currently 319-323 at the helm of the Reds.  It gives him the same .497 winning percentage he had during his four-year stint with the Cubs.

So, it’s time for Dusty to go, again.  His handling of the Reds’ pitching staff has left much to be desired this year.  His lineups are problematic.  And he’s simply not winning.  The Reds’ have outscored their opponents by 17 runs this year, yet are currently 76-80.

Baker hardly deserves all of the blame.  It’s not his fault that the only Reds pitcher to make 30 starts this year was the extremely disappointing Bronson Arroyo.  It probably wasn’t just his call to stick with Edinson Volquez as long as he did.  Also, Scott Rolen’s injuries and ineffectiveness left the Reds minus a key bat they really had no one to replace.

However, Baker just hasn’t helped.  He kept moving Drew Stubbs out of the leadoff spot because of all of Stubbs’ strikeouts, ignoring the fact that Stubbs kept scoring runs anyway (69 in 94 games, which works out to 110 runs in 150 games).  He overworked setup man Logan Ondrusek, who went down with a strained forearm in August and hasn’t been the same since returning.  He stuck with Jonny Gomes in left field, even though Gomes was far from the team’s best option against right-handers.  He actually turned Paul Janish, whose only asset was his glove, into a utilityman so that Edgar Renteria, whose only asset was his… ummm… leadership, wouldn’t have to play anywhere other than shortstop.

Bringing back GM Walt Jocketty was the right move for the Reds.  I’m not sure I’d say Jocketty has been outstanding since coming over from the Cards, but there’s certainly been more good than bad.

Baker’s positives don’t outweigh the negatives, though.  The Reds have no reason not to make a change after such a disappointing campaign.

Angel Hernandez ejects Asdrubal Cabrera from a spring training game

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You don’t see many ejections in spring training games. The stakes are virtually non-existent, so it’s not like a player is likely to blow up at a bad call or something. That’s especially true now, as we enter spring training’s final week. Everyone wants to get through it uninjured and without fuss. And it’s getting hot in Florida in Arizona too. No one’s got time for that.

Yesterday Asdrubal Cabrera and Angel Hernandez did, though. Cabrera was batting in a road game against the Nats. He asked for time to step out of the box. Hernandez didn’t give it to him. This annoyed Cabrera who, after hitting a single, jawed at Hernandez as he ran out of the box and then pointed at him once he reached first base. Hernandez ran him.

Cabrera didn’t quickly leave the field. He took a slow, slow walk to the outfield and left via the gate in right, which is where visiting players tend to enter and leave spring parks. Watch:

 

Here’s what Cabrera told reporters after the game:

“‘C’mon, man, you’re better than that,’ ” Cabrera said, recalling what he yelled at Hernandez. “And he threw me out.”

Eh. I have no love for Angel Hernandez, but “you’re better than that” is a weak sauce insult. For one thing, maybe the person isn’t better than that? For another, it’s functionally equivalent to “you know better,” which is a thing a parent says to a kid. It’s fine when your dad says it, but Cabrera isn’t Hernandez’s dad and thus saying so carries with it an implicit belittling intent. It’s an ad hominem, which violates the usual ump-player understanding in which you can say a call was b.s. but don’t say the ump is a jerk personally.

More generally, it’s just cowardly. It’s designed not to deal with the substance of the beef. “You are a fine person all of the time, kind sir, but in this instance you are not up to par.” Well, why? Say so or shut up and quit being passive-aggressive.

Again: Hernandez is generally horrible. He’s not better than that, actually. But Cabrera deserved to get run, if for no other reason, than his insult was lame.

Report: Jung-Ho Kang not granted a visa to enter the United States

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This could be a problem for the Pirates.

Ballwriter Sung Min Kim tweets that, according to a Korean report, which you can read here if you know Korean, Pirates infielder Jung-Ho Kang has been denied a visa to enter the United States. The report just broke this morning and has yet to hit the English language press.

He adds that the report suggests that Kang, who was just convicted of a third DUI in Korea, may have a DUI conviction in a third country, though that part is unconfirmed. It’s also unclear whether that, or the mere fact of his conviction in Korea, has held up his visa.

Either way, Kang has yet to see a day of camp and will almost certainly not be ready to start the season for the Pirates, even if he gets his visa today. It sounds, however, like this could be a more drawn out process. We’ll stay tuned.