Chicago, IL - Don't look now, Cub fans, but one of your division opponents is cementing their position as the leagues dumbest team. The Cincinnati Reds announced that former Cubs manager Dusty Baker will fill their vacant managerial position next year. Most analysts agreed throughout this past season that the Reds were in dire need of one thing: pitching. I submit for your approval their additional need for a front office that focuses on winning as opposed to simply making headlines.
With arguably the league's best offense, the Reds are not that far away from being a playoff ready team. In fact, all they really need is five players. Unfortunately for them, those five players would be three starting pitchers, a seventh inning reliever, and a set-up reliever. Noticing a trend yet? Compare those needs with the painful history of Dusty Baker, and you have a recipe for a team that gives up too many runs, exhausts its pitching staff, overplays unreliable "veterans", and curses the institution of racism when explaining the reasons for its difficulties.
Baker has ridden the laurels of two mildly successful seasons for the better part of the last decade, one with the Giants and one with the Cubs. Perhaps the Reds front office wasn't paying attention to the only lesson worth learning during that time: Dusty Baker simply can't manage under pressure. A regular season in a Cincinnati accustomed to failure might alleviate some of that pressure, but what happens if things go awry and the team makes the playoffs. You will be left with an out managed, un-coached team that will make its exit sooner or later in the brackets. From Lou Piniella to Dusty Baker? Sounds like the wrong direction to me.
Timothy R. Geigner