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.
1B/DH Edwin Encarnacion signed a three-year, $60 million contract with the Indians early last month. The 34-year-old had spent the last seven and a half seasons with the Blue Jays, but his future elsewhere appeared to be written on the wall when the Jays signed Kendrys Morales in November to essentially occupy Encarnacion’s role.
Encarnacion spoke about testing free agency for the first time in his career and the situation that led to him leaving Toronto for Cleveland. Via Jorge L. Ortiz of USA TODAY:
“Toronto was always my first option, but I had never been a free agent, and anybody who gets to free agency wants to find out what’s out there,’’ he said. “I think they got too hasty in making their decision, but now I’m with Cleveland and I’m happy to be here.’’
Encarnacion last season hit .263/.357/.529 with 42 home runs and an AL-best 127 RBI. He’s now on the team that defeated his Blue Jays in the ALCS to advance to the World Series. Encarnacion effectively replaces Mike Napoli, who returned to the Rangers.
I’m on record saying that Sammy Sosa has been rather hosed by baseball history.
The guy did amazing things. Unheard-of things. He was truly astounding at this peak and was incredibly important to both his franchise and Major League Baseball as a whole. His repayment: he’s a pariah. His club won’t claim him and his greatness, by any measure, has not just been overlooked but denied by most who even bother to consider him.
Yes, he had PED associations, but they were extraordinarily vague ones. He’s in the same boat as David Ortiz as far as documented PED evidence against him, but Ortiz will be a first ballot Hall of Famer while Sosa barely clings to the ballot. He hit homers at the same cartoonish rate as Mark McGwire, but while Big Mac has been embraced by baseball and has coached for years, Sosa can’t get into Wrigley Field unless he buys a ticket and even then the Cubs might try to hustle him out of sight. The man has been treated poorly by any measure.
Yet, it’s still possible to overstate the case. Like Sosa did in this interview with Chuck Wasserstrom:
It’s like Jesus Christ when he came to Jerusalem,” Sosa told chuckbloggerstrom.com. “Everybody thought Jesus Christ was a witch (laughing) — and he was our savior. So if they talk (bleep) about Jesus Christ, what about me? Are you kidding me?”
At least he was basically joking about it. Still, it’s a totally unfair and almost offensive comparison.
I mean, anyone who watched Sosa’s career knows that he had trouble laying off breaking stuff low and away. In contrast . . .