Fired by Reds, Dusty Baker wants to manage in 2014

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Dusty Baker was fired by the Reds today with one season and $3 million remaining on his contract, which led to speculation that he might decide to take a year off before going after a new gig in 2015.

However, in speaking to the Cincinnati media this afternoon Baker said: “I’m not retiring. I’m not taking a year off unless I’m forced to.”

Baker also confirmed Jon Heyman’s report on CBSSports.com that he balked at general manager Walt Jocketty wanting to fire hitting coach Brook Jacoby, telling C. Trent Rosencraus of the Cincinnati Enquirer:

We talked about Brook about a week ago, and they were talking about replacing him and I didn’t think that was right. All the coaches get blamed for everything. Maybe it was time to go. I did say something like that–and they did it. It wasn’t a mutual thing. There’s probably some other things in there, some things that were said or didn’t get said, stuff that was done over the years and then they said we didn’t have much motivation and spunk over the last week–but our pitching was bad and we didn’t hit.

Baker has repeatedly indicated that he thinks the front office should have added more help at the trade deadline, which probably didn’t set very well with Jocketty either.

Justin Turner is a postseason monster

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A not-insignificant amount of the Dodgers’ success in recent years has to do with the emergence of Justin Turner. In his first five seasons with the Orioles and Mets, he was a forgettable infielder who had versatility, but no power. The Mets non-tendered him after the 2013 season, a move they now really regret.

In four regular seasons since, as a Dodger, Turner has hit an aggregate .303/.378/.502. His 162-game averages over those four seasons: 23 home runs, 36 doubles, 83 RBI, 80 runs scored. And he’s also a pretty good third baseman, it turns out. The Dodgers have averaged 95 wins per season over the past four years.

Turner, 32, has gotten better and better with each passing year. This year, he drew more walks (59) than strikeouts (56), a club only five other players (min. 300 PA) belonged to, and he trailed only Joey Votto (1.61) in BB/K ratio (1.05). He zoomed past his previous career-high in OPS, finishing at .945. His .415 on-base percentage was fourth-best in baseball. His batting average was fifth-best and only nine points behind NL batting champion Charlie Blackmon.

It doesn’t seem possible, but Turner has been even better in the postseason. He exemplified that with his walk-off home run to win Game 2 of the NLCS against the Cubs. Overall, entering Wednesday night’s action, he was batting .363/.474/.613 in 97 postseason plate appearances. In Game 4, he went 2-for-2 with two walks, a single, and a solo home run. That increases his postseason slash line to .378/.495/.659, now across 101 plate appearances. That’s a 1.154 OPS. The career-high regular season OPS for future first-ballot Hall of Famer Albert Pujols was 1.114 in 2008, when he won his third career MVP Award. Statistically, in the postseason, Turner hits slightly better than Pujols did in the prime of his career. Of course, we should adjust for leagues and parks and all that, but to even be in that neighborhood is incredible.

In the age of stats, the concept of “clutch” has rightfully eroded. We don’t really allow players to ascend to godlike levels anymore like the way we did Derek Jeter, for instance. (Jeter’s career OPS in the playoffs, by the way, was a comparatively pitiful .838.) Turner isn’t clutch; he’s just a damn good hitter whose careful approach at the plate has allowed him to shine in the postseason and the Dodgers can’t imagine life without him.