The backlash was almost immediate.
Seconds after the release hit the wire announcing the Reds' hiring of Dusty Baker as their new manager the naysayers went to work, "Baker wears out pitchers, look what he did to Mark Prior and Kerry Wood", "Baker coddles veterans", "Baker (insert beef)".
Please understand, this isn't my personal Dusty Baker = Connie Mack diatribe. I do enjoy working with Baker. He's accomodating, professional and the most quotable and articulate Reds manager since, well ...
There are plenty of times when scribes in the press box are left scratching our heads about his in-game decisions. But, Reds fans need to look in the mirror, and take a closer look at their team.
For the first three months of the season, Baker had largely a Triple-A club hanging on in the NL Central race. Injuries have riddled this club, as did a 50-game absence of the club's best player - Joey Votto.
When Baker was hired he arrived with the most impressive big-league managerial resume of any newly-hired Reds skipper in recent memory, and that includes Sparky Anderson who had virtually none.
"Well, Baker had plenty of talent on those teams".
Isn't that the point? Find me a manager with a record worth its salt who didn't.
"Yeah, but look what he did to the Cubs ...".
Yep, he had them 5 outs from the World Series. The Reds could be so lucky.
Is Baker the man to guide the Reds to the promised land? Maybe, maybe not. He's guiding a .500 or worse ballclub currently. Not even Tony La Russa's self-proclaimed genius could change that.
Which begs the question: why is Baker getting the heat for the Reds' current condition and not GM Walt Jocketty and/or Bob Castellini?