Dusty Baker given a vote of confidence

Leave a comment

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.

Yankees, Mariners expressing interest in J.A. Happ

Getty Images
4 Comments

Jon Morosi of MLB Network reports that the Yankees and Mariners are both expressing interest in Blue Jays starter J.A. Happ.

Happ is posting a 3.48 ERA and a 94/25 K/BB ratio in 82.2 innings across 14 starts and has been stingy with the hits as well. Between that, the Blue Jays’ lack of contention and the fact that Happ is in the walk year of his three-year, $36 million deal, all signs point to the Jays trading them.

In normal circumstances you might not expect the Jays to make a trade with the Yankees, but at this point it sort of doesn’t matter, does it? It’s not like Happ in New York on a couple month rental will impact the 2018 Jays too much. And, given his pending free agency, it’s not extraordinarily likely that he’d haunt the Jays from the Bronx long term either.

There’s not a ton of elite pitching currently available, but as the trade deadline approaches — a little over a month to go on that score — the talk about Happ, Cole Hamels, Francisco Liriano and others will heat up. Figure the Yankees will be linked with any and all available starters.