The whys and why nots of Dusty Baker

To say that baseball fandom and team’s front offices are a bit fickle in their attitudes towards managers is a huge understatement. The Red Sox won ZERO World Series in the 85 seasons between 1918 and 2004.

Terry Francona led them to that 2004 win and then adds on another in 2007 and that buys him only four seasons of goodwill before he is sent packing after a 90 win season. The Chicago Cubs famously went from 1908 to 2015 before they won another World Series under Joe Maddon. And of course, Maddon was shown the door after three more winning seasons in Chicago.

The most famous of all fickleness happened more than 60 seasons ago. Casey Stengel had taken the Yankees to 10 World Series in his 12 seasons with the team, winning 7 of the 10. He had just missed his eighth championship when the Yanks allowed the Pirates to score six runs in the last two innings capped by Bill Mazeroski’s most famous walk-off home run that allowed Pittsburgh to win 10-9. The Yankees decided not to renew Stengel’s contract, which may have had as much to do with Casey having turned 70 years old a couple months before as with his performance.

By the way, Casey was a few months younger when he was let go than Dusty Baker was when he was hired by the Astros in January 2020.

Let’s face it, some of the problems with the fans’ acceptance of Baker as manager has to do with “IT”. If “IT” had not happened, the populace was perfectly fine with A.J. Hinch continuing to lead the local team. Heck, a lot of the fans would have been fine with a one-year sit-out by Hinch and a return in 2021 like Alex Cora pulled in Boston. The intriguing thing to think about is, let’s say Hinch had left for another reason, perhaps a health issue with himself or with his family. Would Dusty Baker have been hired to take his place? Perhaps, if they saw it as an interim position, caretaker spot, but perhaps not. The key here is that the owner (and perhaps in cahoots with MLB) saw Baker as a perfect fit for this spot after “IT”. He was a manager who has seen it all. He was someone with great respect within the sport. He was pictured as someone who could guide the young team through the tough times of hate after the scandal. And very importantly he was seen as a bridge to the next long term manager.

There has been a lot of grumbling about Baker’s style and substance as a manager, both when they were winning and more so when they have struggled. Let’s take a look at both sides of the sticky points with Dusty….

He’s too old and out of it – Yes, sometimes it is hard to tell if he is awake down there behind that mask in the dugout, but listening to his after game questions and answers, it is obvious that he is awake and involved in what is happening out there, even if he doesn’t give out controversial answers to questions. And how old is too old? Is pitching coach Brent Strom (8 months older than Dusty) too old for the game?

What’s with this coddling of players – Folks are a little hard on him for giving the regulars days off during the season. Why do 27-year-old kazillionaires need time off? Well, one thing that Dusty has on his resume that most of his critics don’t have is a 19-year major league career. He has lived the marathon of many a major league baseball season. He never played 162 games himself, topping off at 159 games and hitting 153 games twice. So, maybe he knows how a player reacts to both the physical and the mental stress requirements of a 6 month+ season.

Do these lineups make any sense – At times he has done some weird substitutions when giving players days off. Carlos Correa is out of the lineup and Robel Garcia is in his place, so he actually puts him in Correa’s spot in the lineup. I would get really upset if the team was not scoring 5.68 runs per game (0.6 runs more than the second-place Blue Jays). And as far as giving players days off, doesn’t that also tie into getting some starts for his bench players? The Astros’ bench is much better than in previous seasons and giving these other guys playing time may be helping with that.

He doesn’t have the (other) “IT” factor – This is his 24th major league season as a manager and he has as many World Series titles as the people making the complaints about him. He’s taken 5 different teams to the playoffs in 10 of those 24 seasons and has only one WS appearance to his credit. On the plus side, he has won the twelfth most regular-season games of all time. On the negative side, he has lost the 15th most regular-season games of all time. Would he be a better manager if he had won it all one of those seasons? Or this season?

  • So, what are your complaints about Dusty?
  • What do you like about him?
  • Do you think it is up to him when he will leave the team?

72 comments on “The whys and why nots of Dusty Baker

  1. I can’t complain about Dusty (at least not yet). At 48 – 31 we are tied with Boston for the best record in the AL. Would Hinch have done any better? I don’t think so; A.J. had a lot more talent on his teams than we have this year.

    Apparently, Jairo Solis just had TJ surgery. That makes 10 pitchers on this list that could be helping us now if they were healthy: https://www.espn.com/mlb/injuries

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    • Complaints: I don’t know that I have any with him because I don’t know if he is just following orders. And is he just playing cards dealt him. Likes: Nothing special but certainly no big complaints. Tenure: I would be surprised if he is back next year. I expect Click to pick someone he wants.

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  2. I am not sure, but I think we might need some help in the bullpen. I just loved Dusty’s comment last night. He kept Raley in the bullpen in case he needed a “closer.” Luckily he got to use him tonight.

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      • 45, I was wondering why we’ve been keeping Robel around. But we do need some fresh arms and they are not on the 40 man roster. What’s your plan? Please deliver us a victory tonight. Can our get a win from our good Garcia tonight?

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  3. Good morning! I’ll be on my way to the big city today after 2 plus years marooned on a tiny island in the tropics. I’m so looking forward to watching our Astros live and slowly sipping a 12 dollar beer with my brothers. Alas, it looks like a tough road ahead for our club. We really beat up on the Orioles just a week ago. Now it’s payback time. Unfortunately things won’t get better anytime soon. We still have no bullpen. And we’ve been saying that for more than a year. I’m not sure what the All Star break will do for us, but it can’t hurt. We’ve got to hope we can split against teams like the Indians, A’s and Yankees. Can we move on from Dusty Baker to James Click at this point? It’s a fair question.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. These are some interesting salaries on this site. First look at the salary or % of salaries on the 60 day injury list for each team. And then look at the retained salaries paid to former players to just go away. For example, Toronto has 18 % tied up on 60 day or gone. Baltimore is paying Chris Davis a second year of 36% of their payroll to stay home. So the Astros are in similar waters compared to several other teams. And Jon Singleton still counts in the total.

    https://www.spotrac.com/mlb/payroll/

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    • Just for consideration ONLY. DFA candidates off the 40 man pitching roster.
      Martes. Only 8 innings so far this year with 13 walks. He is only 25. Tyler Ivey. Only 6 innings in the minors and his MLB debut this year. WHIP: 1.89. He too is 25. Enoli Paredes. He has been effective in the minors. This year in the majors NOT. He too is 25. Austin Pruitt. He is 31. Career WHIP 1.36. (This year that would rank him between Stanek and Taylor. Nivaldo Ramirez. He is 24. Very effective in the minors, but in only 9 games in MLB – not so much. Scrubb is 25. Very effective in minors. In 40 MLB innings, WHIP 1.56. (This year that would rank him between Bielak and Garza. Joe Smith. Jairo Solis is only 21 and so far, he has been very effective in the minors. No data for 2021. Peter Solomon is 24 and out with injury. Nothing spectacular at Sugar Land. And the final two would be Verlander and Whitley. And of course a trade or release of a position player would do the same. Those could be Nova (21), Taylor Jones (27), Robel (28), and G. Stubbs (28). Again, just for review.

      Liked by 2 people

  5. Interesting point UK. I would assume that Click hasn’t been given the freedom to operate as Luhnow was up to this point. He couldn’t go over the luxury cap so he’s been somewhat hamstrung as to what he can really do. I would think next year will be a different story and we’ll see what he’s made of. Greinke, Verlander, Correa, and Joe Smith will be FA’s and that’s a chunk of change to play with. $81MM is not chump change even in this business. I’d like to keep Correa but if he’s looking for $30MM/yr it won’t happen. If he goes I’d suspect Bregman moves to SS and Toro to third but who knows. You basically have 5 starting pitchers already in house but no bonifide ace. That’s not to say that any of them could become one. We know where we are leaking like a sieve (relief pitching) so there’s a big test. It’s a risky proposition to sign players and then they don’t play (JV, Baez, J Smith). Doesn’t fair to well especially when you look in the rear view mirror. I guess we shall see how Click really works in the off season.
    BTW, I was told that Springer was Boo’d last night on his return by the Toronto fans. Wonder how he feels about that? He went 1 for 4 with a single, walk, and 2 K’s. Hitting a whopping .194.

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    • Zanuda, I’d really like to see what Click is made of this year. I’d hate to miss out on a post season run with the best offense in the game and one of the best rotations in the game. But coming up with a solid pen overnight is admittedly a tall order. At worst case, we’ve got to get into the post season and hope for three good starters to carry the load and a pen made up of our other starters, Pressly and a couple of guys that have gotten healthy and maybe a deadline deal.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. I was prejudiced against Baker because of the clubs he managed in the past. I just don’t like the Cubs and Giants. I also bought into the narrative that he ran starters out until their arms fell off each game. After a poor start to his years in Cinci, they turned it around. He was then manager for two years when Washington was my local team and saw them put up mid-90’s wins both years before losing his job. Why did he lose his job? It was the bullpen. Generally, I think he’s far more attuned to the players needs and when they physically or mentally need a break than any of the managers we’ve had since Dierker.

    I was critical of the Hinch hiring because he lost the clubhouse in Arizona so quickly. The story in Houston was that he was a great player’s manager who had everything under control, but the scandal revealed that he was just there to tell us to ignore the man behind the curtain. He lost control of the Houston clubhouse as well, the only question is what year that happened. Of course, we’re probably going to remember him for two “unorthodox” moves that didn’t pan out – bringing Keuchel in as a reliever against the Royals (when he had nothing) and not bringing in Gerrit Cole who we were destined to lose to free agency so why would the organization care to hold him back in relief in game seven of the World Series. Maybe that was a Luhnow thing – don’t let Cole get any more glory.

    Oh? I was supposed to be complaining about Baker? I don’t see much to complain about. He’s taking the steady course to the playoffs. The front office will either figure out how to fix the bullpen or not. If we don’t have a couple guys to rely on when we get there then it will be a short run. The fans will blame Baker for a myriad of BS reasons, but in the grand scheme of things, the players are always the ones who win or lose the game…even if a manager tries to get cute and it doesn’t pay off.

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    • Does anyone have a job description for a MLB manager? What exactly does he do? What are his areas of responsibility and duties? What are his goals? Have management (Owner) establish any performance metrics? Does he get a peer review from the other coaches or a 360 degree appraisal from his players? How about the Bat boy? Does he have a say so in what happens? And most of all, what about the fans? Do their opinions count?
      As Dan says, “insert sarcasm font here”.

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  7. Read this story and you will be so glad that Manfred is commissioner. So if you want to use rosin, go ahead. If you use rosin, make sure to wash your hands before putting on your glove. If you want to take a bath in it, go ahead. But if during your bath, a little rosin gets in your glove, 10 days in isolation. Who can follow these silly made up rules? So if a National Leaguer was pitching in the 9th and made the last out, who goes to second base to start the 10th?

    https://www.seattletimes.com/sports/mariners/hector-santiagos-suspension-is-more-about-mlb-making-a-point-than-brazen-cheating/

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  8. So sticky stuff is not the most of Trevor Bauer’s problems as he is being investigated for an assault claim. His lawyer says it was rough consensual sex.
    The world is nuts.

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  9. FROM ON FIRE TO ON THE ROCKS – NOTHING IN BETWEEN

    The top six batters in our line-up went 4-22 last nights with no extra base hits and zero runs batted in last night. Brantley and Tucker left six batters on base apiece; Alvarez left four, and Correa three. The night before the same group went 5-23, with the only EBH being Gurriel’s double. Brantley was 1-6 with 7 men stranded; Alvarez was 0-4 with three stranded. Altuve was 0-2, but walked twice and drove in two runs.

    If our top six all slump together, it really doesn’t matter wh0 we play or what our pitchers or our manager do.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Matt Harvey has been a just short of a train wreck. In his last three starts, he is 0-2 and has averaged making it through only 4.1 innings. He has averaged giving up 4 ER and 7 hits in each of those short outings. But tonight he gets to face the suddenly out-of-sync and impotent Astros offense … so prepare to meet the second coming of Cy Young.

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    • I can’t see the game on MLB but the website showed the ejection of Strom. TK and Blummer said the pitches were clearly strikes but CB Buckner said no so Strom voiced his opinion and got ejected. At least somebody’s trying to fire up the guys and support them. I guess our manager was hiding under his desk.

      Liked by 2 people

      • Thus my reasoning for Dusty being gone after this season. He always seems to be asleep or not fighting for our guys.

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  11. I tuned into the 1st inning late (well not 28 minutes late, but late). Looking at the pitch patterns on GameDay – Luis was unsuccessfully battling an umpire intent on calling strikes as balls.

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  12. Sorry, after that debacle of a series, I don’t have the energy or the inspiration for a parody. But does anyone remember Joe Walsh’s group the ‘James Gang’? They did a fairly famous song called Funk #49.

    I think the 2021 Astros have officially exceeded that number of funks. This seems like Funk # 70 at least.

    By the way, the last lines of Funk #49 were: “If you’re gonna act that way
    I think there’s trouble brewin'”

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  13. Shohei Ohtani gave up four runs and then left the mound with the bases loaded in the first inning Wednesday in NY. The pitcher who replaced him gave up a 3-run double, finishing Ohtani’s line for the night at seven runs allowed.
    The Yankees went into the ninth inning with a 8-4 lead and brought in Aroldis Chapman to finish the Angel’s off. He loaded the bases and then gave up a grand slam. Boone pulled him and the Angels score 3 more times and won 11-8.

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  14. I follow the NBA playoffs but I don’t watch any of it. But there is great news for me:
    Both LA teams are out!
    The Jazz are out!
    The Celtics are out!
    The Warriors were never in!
    James Harden’s team is out!
    Daryl Morey’s team is out!
    The no-good Celtics are out!
    Both NY teams are out!
    My dream scenario for the NBA finals would be Phoenix vs Milwaukee. Worst ratings ever and the two teams would combine for less than 200 points per game.
    Then next year, the five starters for the East All-Stars would would hold out and make their teams trade them to the Knicks, and the five starters for the West All-stars would hold out and make their teams trade them to the Lakers.
    Those two teams would play 81 games against each other and then advance to a six game championship series. Both would win 3 games and be declared co-champions and each get a trophy which would get run over by floats in their respective parades, which would have to be held in Miami because of Covid restrictions in NY and LA.

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    • I pay attention to MLB, also.
      Look at last night’s scores. Almost all the games were beatdowns.
      Bassitt is the only ace left who can pitch and there were 4,320 fans in Oakland to watch him. Of course, the first row of box seats in Oakland are like 60 yards from fair territory, so nobody actually saw the game. They come to listen to the drummers. Oh, wow, man.

      Liked by 1 person

  15. If the players need one day off each week, then so should the coaches. Strom is having to walk out to the mound and back multiple times along with Dusty. So I think Click should be the manager every Wednesday. And he can call up from Sugar Land and Corpus his coaching staff for that day. It is obvious that these days off are really helping the players staff focused and it should also help the elderly in the dugout too.

    Liked by 1 person

  16. Want to know how ugly that series with the Orioles – in our home park – was?

    We got outscored 27 to 12 [a last place team, over 20 games out, more than doubled our run total];

    We were out hit 39 to 22.

    Our starting pitchers averaged lasting less than 3 1/2 innings, and gave up an average of around 2.0 runs per inning.

    Our bullpen gave up 19 runs.

    They hit 7 home runs and 6 doubles; we hit zero home runs [not even a Crawford Box Special] and only one double.

    Our top five hitters collectively went 10 for 56 – i.e a .178 BA.

    On to Cleveland. Whoopie.

    Liked by 2 people

  17. We have to be careful here on what we suggest. Yesterday, it cost Martes his job. My suggestion is to switch the 1st place hitter with the 8th place hitter until one improves or the other craters. Reason, Altuve for last 28 days .258 and for last 28 days for Straw .346.

    Liked by 1 person

  18. Did anybody notice that the home plate umpire checked Framber’s glove and hat when he finished the 7th inning? Haven’t heard a comment on it.

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  19. Hello Astro fans! Boy, tough trip in. But alas, a safe arrival over 24 hours that was supposed to take 8. And tonight Mexican food and Margaritas and a win!.

    Everyone on the mound is getting their gloves checked. And tonight we were wondering if the new no goo rule has impacted Framber. He left a couple of curve balls out two feet off the plate. And he was afraid to throw the fast ball most of the night. No grip?

    Regardless, it looked bad early and he gutted out 7 huge innings. The homers were huge too. Right now, any win is an excellent win.

    Liked by 3 people

  20. https://www.mlb.com/prospects/astros/

    I have watched parts of most of the Corpus and Sugar Land games. The brightest spot to date would be Kory Lee. I see a lot of potential in Pedro Leon but his plate discipline is not ready for the big time yet. Jeremy Pena has not played this year and Jairo Solis with TJ again, will miss about 4 years of ball. All in all, currently I don’t see any help for next year. But with everyone except Carlos and our two elderly pitchers, we don’t have any more huge holes in 2022 except that testy bullpen.

    Liked by 1 person

    • If you retired with lots of time on your hands, let me suggest MILB TV. It cost $13 a month or about $40 for the season. It is run off the home team cameras and audio. But if you choose, you currently go back and see every game of a particular player. Or every inning for a pitcher or plate appearance for a batter. Some of the lower level clubs may not have all the games depending on if the home team for each game has cameras set up. Also, some games have no centerfield camera so you can’t see the catcher, pitcher action for location, etc. But you can see most games and how much control the pitchers have and how wildly the batters swing. (And you can advance 15 seconds which means the time between pitches is a couple seconds and the time between innings is about 10 clicks.)

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      • And while I am at it, FUBO allows you to watch all the Astros games. It is about $65 a month but only for the season. You can record each game and re-watch if you like up to 250 hours. No blackouts so it is one solution for the Suddenlink issue.

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  21. This is one of those weekends where the Astros “should” beat up on the opposition, but we know how that goes.
    Tonight McCullers faces off rookie Sam Mentges (1-2 / 7.32 ERA/1.99 WHIP)
    Saturday is Odorizzi against rookie Eli Morgan (1-2 / 9.37 ERA/ 1.53 WHIP)
    Sunday is Greinke against that pitcher that is so good he is just known by his initials – TBD
    Astros need to go out and put together good ABs and put these guys away.

    Liked by 1 person

    • And don’t forget that Cleveland is 42-36 with a .538 winning percentage. We should give thanks that we are not playing KC, Minneapolis or Detroit. Then we would be in big trouble. They all have losing records.

      Liked by 1 person

  22. * I am surprised how down on their team Indian’s fans are. I’ve been paying attention to the standings and am amazed how they have stayed in the race when their starting pitching has been decimated by their ownership and injuries.
    *Ryne Stanek is gassed. He hasn’t been able to coax grounders or popups and his fastball has carried him, because his other stuff hasn’t been working.
    As he tires, his fastball gets up and is either a ball or hit to the outfield. Of all our pitchers, the All-Star break may help him the most. With his walks, he just has to throw too many pitches to get three outs, further fatiguing him.
    * When Smith comes back, I think Garza goes down.
    * 13 walks in 8.1 innings in AAA, got Martes DFA’d. The Astros have enough guys who walk too many batters to try and figure it out. Martes will get another shot somewhere.
    * Pulling starting pitching from games early will continue woes for all MLB teams and will definitely trickle down to their farm systems.
    * The Brewers have the lowest team batting average in the majors and have the biggest lead of any division leader. They lead the NL Central by 6.5 games.

    Liked by 2 people

  23. I get that Dusty likes to give guys off days, but I wonder what McCullers thought when he saw Alveraz AND Yuli are BOTH sitting for tonight’s game.
    I’m crossing my fingers that Lance can finally go 7, because turning ANYTHING over to the bullpen is not a good idea these days.
    No Astros voted on to the All Star game….no surprise 2017 will NEVER go away. I had to break that news to my 12 yr old grandson who is heart broken.
    It is what it is. The A’S play the Red hot Red Sox tonight let’s hope they lose again!
    PLEASE, PLEASE don’t melt down tonight McCullers!

    Liked by 2 people

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