Dusty Baker fired because he protected hitting coach?
Dusty Baker was fired by the Cincinnati Reds on Thursday, two days after his team lost a one-game playoff to the Pittsburgh Pirates. According to a report from CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman, Baker was fired because he wanted to protect his hitting coach from being canned.
Heyman reports that Reds GM Walt Jocketty wanted to fire hitting coach Brook Jacoby following the season. Baker supposedly didn’t want Jacoby taking the blame for the team’s perceived failures, so he offered himself as a sacrificial firing instead. Jocketty took him up on the offer.
“It hurts. It hurts big-time,” Baker told Heyman. “It’s a double whammy being swept out of the playoffs, and two days later this.”
Baker indicated to Heyman that he felt his time in Cincinnati was up anyhow, which may be why he offered his job.
“The last couple weeks, I’ve been getting a rash of hate mail, racial mail,” he said. “Maybe it is time to go.”
The Reds went 90-72 and posted the fifth-best record in the NL. Baker thinks the team overachieved, though their pythagorean record indicates they did slightly worse than expected based on runs scored and allowed (their pythagorean record was 93-69).
Baker managed the Reds for six seasons, leading them to the postseason three times. They were swept out of the playoffs by the Philadelphia Phillies in 2010, lost to the San Francisco Giants in five last year, and they lost their 1-game playoff with the Pirates this year. Baker used poor strategy this season in the playoff game by leaving starting pitcher Johnny Cueto in longer than he should have when it was clear Cueto didn’t have it.
Baker went 509-463 in six seasons with the Reds. He told Heyman he wants to manage next year. And despite his problems with Jocketty, he believes he would have been back next year had he allowed Jacoby to be fired.