Friday, June 6, 2008

Dusty Baker- Lover of Boys.

This just can't wait till Monday. I know very well that hilariously critiquing the stupid fluff pieces the media writes is more of a job for HJE, and they do it better than anyone in the business, but please, just please, let us take a look at this ESPN shlop about Our Man Dusty.

"Baker sold on Reds' youthful transition"

Already this looks promising. How many sentences till a Hank Aaron reference?

"If we've learned anything new about Cincinnati manager Dusty Baker in April and May, it's that the man has a flair for child care.

For years, Baker has been characterized as no fan of young players -- a perception that would suggest he's intolerant of mistakes, impatient with growing pains and unwilling to endure the inevitable hiccups that the maturation process brings.

Jim Leyland craves nicotine. Tony La Russa is autocratic. Lou Piniella is a walking Vesuvius. And Dusty Baker, when he's not subjecting young pitchers to overly onerous workloads, is supposedly a "veteran's guy."

Haha. Jim Leyland is the manager who smokes! That must be why his team is losing! Tony La Russa is a Russian Czar? Oh that Lou Piniella, he's angry! Grr! Note the furrowed brow! Furrowed because he's angry!

Seriously, I know we all have fun with the Fiery Lou Piniella jokes, but has anyone noticed how jovial the man is this year? You know, because he's in first, something Leyland, LaRussa, and especially Dusty, can't relate to?

"Not true, claims Baker, who insists this bogus notion was concocted by a San Francisco radio critic -- the same guy who was fired for saying that former Giants manager Felipe Alou had Cream of Wheat for brains. Baker calls the rap against him "asinine," along with an eight-letter word that begins with "bull."

"When I came up to the big leagues, I had Hank Aaron not only telling me what to do, but showing me what to do, and that was a blessing," Baker said. "I always yearned for a team full of young kids so I could teach them how to play."

The answer to the question above? Nine. Nine sentences. How often do you think Dusty Yearns for young kids? What would you teach them Dusty? The plate discipline you hammered into Korey's head? The composure you instilled into Mark Prior during Game 7? The importance of setting your feet and not rushing throws that you apparently skipped over in regards to teaching Ronny Cedeno? A complete and total ignorance of the importance of on-base percentage? How chewing a good toothpick can remove you from the responsibility of having to pay attention to your team's pathetic on-field performance?

"In a roundabout and constantly evolving fashion, Baker got his wish. Two months into the Reds' 2008 season, class is in session.

As Ken Griffey Jr.'s 600-homer watch drags on ad infinitum and Cincinnati muddles along in fifth place in the National League Central, the team's warts are readily apparent. The Reds are tied for third in the league in homers but rank 10th in runs scored. They're also 14th in fielding percentage, 12th in starting pitchers' ERA, and 10-22 on the road."

What in Gods name does a roundabout and constantly evolving fashion mean?? The guy supposedly yearned for a team of young kids. Two months into the season, they're called up. What exactly do you mean by roundabout? Do you mean how Dusty Baker actually wanted nothing to do with the bevy of young talent this team had and left Bruce and Bailey to rot in the minors while he gave Korey (.193 avg.) two months in the lead off spot, kept Josh Fogg (9.85 ERA) in the rotation, and even when you decided to go the minors for outfield help the first time, called up Jerry Hairston? If by roundabout you mean "there's no way Dusty wanted this to happen, but after two months of suck from his guys was forced to accept them in a roundabout way" then yeah, I guess so. But then that negates the whole thesis there, doesn't it? Also, thanks for listing off all the ways that the Reds suck. That truly does give the impression of a class taught by Dusty Baker. Also, whats with the dig at Ken Griffey Jr.'s home run pace? He's got 6 homers, which ranks him tied for 23 out of 72 qualified outfielders. How dare a 39 year old guaranteed Hall of Famer with 599 career homers stretch his quest for 7 home runs on the season into the first week of June. That slothful son-of-a-bitch.

"Still, the fits and starts are easier to take because of the glimpses of the future that were on display during a four-game series in Philadelphia this week:

Joey Votto, who staked a full-time claim to the first-base job when the Reds released Scott Hatteberg, broke up a Brett Myers no-hitter in the seventh inning and drove in two runs in Cincinnati's only victory in the series Wednesday. Votto's .875 OPS is second to Cubs catcher Geovany Soto's among major league rookies.

• Starter Edinson Volquez, acquired from Texas in a December trade for outfielder Josh Hamilton, looks like an All-Star Game lock with his 8-2 record and 1.32 ERA. Volquez is the first pitcher since Al Benton of the 1945 Detroit Tigers to allow two or fewer runs in his first 12 starts in a season.

• Former No. 1 draft pick Homer Bailey returned from the minors Thursday and threw a quality start in a 5-0 loss.

• Second baseman Brandon Phillips went 2-for-15 against the Phillies, but he stole two bases and is on pace for his second straight 30-homer, 30-steal season.

• Rookie sensation Jay Bruce is hitting .432 despite back-to-back oh-fers against Myers and Cole Hamels. Even as people anoint him as the second coming, Bruce gushes over the privilege of playing alongside Griffey."

I'm just gonna hit this point by point if this bastard wants to give Dusty credit for all of this.

- Votto. Baker went with Hatteberg as the Opening Day starter and probably wanted nothing more than for Votto to flounder so he could go with veteran experience, Brah. Early in spring training Baker criticized Votto, who had a .385 career OBP in the minors to go along with a .861 OPS, for not swinging enough. I mean if you have a kid who actually shows plate discipline in the minors and in his 24 game call-up last year (.321/4/17/.360/.548), that's practically a ready-made major leaguer, you might as well fuck with his whole approach, right? That's just a sound educational practice.

-Volquez. I won't deny the kid's been lights out this year, but the criticism of Baker and young pitchers hasn't been his reluctance to play them, but his overuse of their arms, and in 9 of his 12 starts Volquez, whose young arm has never been subjected to more than 144 innings in a single season, has thrown at least 100 pitches or more, and recently Baker used the young righty for 39 pitches in relief during an extra inning game, less than two full days after his last start, in which he'd thrown 92 pitches. Tender, loving care from Headmaster Baker.

-Homer Bailey. You mean the Homer Bailey who was inexplicably left in the minors due to "seasoning" reasons, while similarly untested rookies Volquez and Johnny Cueto were handed rotation spots, and while veterans Fogg (9.85 ERA), Bronson Arroyo (5.61 ERA), and Matt Belisle (7.28 ERA) were all tried for two months before Bailey was called up? Nice job on the quality start though, Homer, we were all impressed by your 1:4 Strikeout to Walk Ratio.

-Brandon Phillips. I'm sorry, is Dusty Baker seriously being given credit for playing Brandon Phillips? The guy who made his major league debut in 2002? Who has been entrenched as the Reds starter at 2nd base since 2006? Who hit 30 homers last year? Even Dusty couldn't justify Not playing the guy. I didn't realize 27 year olds who've already been forsaken by two other organizations and now qualify as veterans on MLB's own arbitration schedule could be considered young players in need of Dusty's nurturing hand. In that case maybe we can shuck the responsibility for his mediocre.328 OBP on Dusty as well.

- Jay Bruce. The Crux of the matter. Yeah the kid's a stud, something Baseball America, Sports Illustrated, the entire Reds fan base, and everyone But Dusty Baker knew. Dusty was the one that played Korey Patterson in Bruce's place for two months while Bruce posted a 1.023 OPS in AAA. As a matter of fact Bruce's slugging percentage in the minors (.630) was higher than Korey's OPS in the majors (.573), but we're supposed to believe Dusty was Yearning to have Bruce on his team? Do you think that the GM or anybody in the Reds organization would have hesitated to bring Bruce up if Dusty had so much as hinted that he wanted that to happen? Or was Dusty leaving Korey in the lead off spot for 28 games to force the front office's hand? Does Anybody believe that?? Also, I really don't want to hear anymore news involving Bruce gushing alongside Griffey.

-Also, lets mention something this article of shining praise toward the Reds young talent glosses over. Remember the Unhittable Johnny Cueto? Why wasn't he mentioned? Could it be his 5.11 ERA? Are we supposed to hand Dusty credit for the Dead Ball Era statistics of Volquez and blame Cueto's struggles on himself? That, sir, shall not pass.

""It's surreal," Bruce said. "Like I've been telling people, there's only one Ken Griffey Jr. There's never going to be anyone who takes his place or steals spotlights from him. It's a pleasure and an honor to play on the same team with him and watch him approach history."

After seven straight losing seasons, the Reds are reaping the benefits of a farm system that has vaulted from 29th to third place in the Baseball America talent rankings. Former general manager Wayne Krivsky, who was fired in April and replaced by Walt Jocketty, did his part to ensure continuity with several astute moves.

True, Krivsky gave out some bad smaller contracts to the likes of Corey Patterson, Mike Stanton and Juan Castro. But he also picked up Phillips, shortstop Jeff Keppinger and reliever Jared Burton for next to nothing, and he acquired Hamilton in the Rule 5 draft and spun him into a deal for Volquez."

Ok. The farm system is solid. Wayne Krivsky did a fine job building it and was handsomely rewarded with his walking papers because the organization threw itself at Walt Jocketty's feet. But lets not blame him for the Corey signing. Patterson was a free agent all fucking winter with Zero suitors, and the Reds had no interest in him. Patterson was signed by the Reds midway through spring training once Dusty had decided he wasn't going to let the young Bruce start the season. So if we're justifying Krivsky's firing based on Dusty's stupidity, well, that too contradicts the point of this article. Then again, Krivsky hired Dusty, so he deserved it.

"Even the trade for which Krivsky was most vilified -- Austin Kearns and Felipe Lopez to Washington for bullpen help -- is looking much better in hindsight. Lefty Bill Bray has pitched well in relief, and starter Daryl Thompson, 5-2 with a 1.55 ERA in the minors, could be on the verge of joining Volquez, Johnny Cueto and Bailey as youthful sidekicks to Aaron Harang in the rotation.

If you think Baker was oblivious to the surplus of young talent when he signed a three-year deal in October, guess again.

"Heck yeah, that was one of the things that sold me," Baker said. "It was one of the things that sold me [with the Cubs]. Before I go someplace, I ask somebody to research for me what they got coming."

That's right, before Dusty Baker commits to something, he rolls up those arm bands, sets his nose to the grindstone and....has somebody else look stuff up for him. All that reading is hard, Dude. You think Hank Aaron got to the majors looking up stats and stuff?

"For those who suggest he's anti-youth, Baker points out that he has run a baseball school in California the past 25 years and has a 9-year-old son, Darren, scampering around the house. Though Baker's teams in San Francisco generally were veteran-oriented, he'd find a place for a Royce Clayton here and a Marvin Benard or Darren Lewis there if they were ready to contribute. He did the same in Chicago for Matt Murton and Ronny Cedeno."

What the hell does Darren Baker have to do with playing young players? Is Dusty gonna throw him out in center? Jesus Christ. Thats just... I can't even justify a response to that. Also, are you using Royce Clayton, Marvin Benard, and Darren Lewis in DEFENSE of Dusty? And yeah, we remember how he found a place for Matt Murton. Remember 2005 when our outfield was a total shit hole thanks to Corey's .212 average and the parade of suck in left that was Jason Dubois, Todd Hollandsworth, Jody Gerut, and Matt Lawton, while Murton was hitting .335? Remember how Dusty sent Murton down to Iowa? Apparently the place Dusty found for him was a hotel in Des Moines.

"Watch all the kids and how they gravitate toward me," Baker said. "The people I get along best with, honestly, are elderly people and young people. The people that don't like me most of the time are people my own age, because I don't think like them."

So Dusty gets along best with senile old people and kids? Because he thinks more like them? Why am I not surprised.

Baker calls everybody "dude" by force of habit, wears wristbands to wipe the sweat off his forehead (not because he's still clinging to his playing days) and chews his trademark toothpick because it keeps him off tobacco. He's open to new ideas in his reading, well-versed in his music and eternally progressive at age 58.

"Dusty can be a military sergeant at times, but he's about as cool and as hip as you're ever going to find in a manager," said Reds pitcher Bronson Arroyo. "This guy is out at the jazz clubs and he knows all the hot spots in town. In his mind he's still 21. He's fun because he can relate to the things that he knows guys want to do on and off the field."

I'll let you decide whether being called Hip by Bronson Arroyo is legitimate praise. Also, there is nothing surprising in Dusty spending his nights out clubbing. No wonder he never cracked down on Corey or Farnsworth for doing the same thing. We like our managers to spend the night like Lou does. With a bottle of scotch and a lineup card.

"There's a special challenge, of course, in managing a club in transition. The Reds still have 11 potential free agents on the roster, and that makes it tougher for Baker to sell the concept of team over individual accomplishments."

At 28-32, I'd say he's not making the sale.

I'll skip to the last paragraph of this article since the next three paragraphs of an article about the team's youth movement are inexplicably about re-signing Griffey or Adam Dunn.

"As Griffey prepares to depart -- and Dunn ponders the possibility -- Baker can take solace in the presence of Bruce, Volquez and other talented young players who are ready to take their places. Cincinnati's bridge to nowhere has been replaced by a bridge to the future, and Uncle Dusty is perfectly at home in his role as project foreman."

Uncle Dusty? Isn't there some kind of taboo regarding calling African-Americans Uncle? I don't understand the premise of this paragraph? The bridge was always there. Krivsky built the fucking bridge. The bridge to the future is always a bridge to the future. Now that those players are ready for the majors that doesn't mean that the bridge just suddenly appeared. Dusty Baker had nothing to do with this!