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Mike Leake hints Dusty Baker was too friendly with Cincinnati Reds players

Dusty Baker RedsThe Cincinnati Reds announced on Tuesday that former pitching coach Bryan Price has reached an agreement with the team to replace Dusty Baker as manager. Baker was fired following a disappointing season in which the Reds finished third in the NL Central and lost in the wild card round. Still, many were surprised to see the 64-year-old go after reaching the playoffs in three of the past four seasons.

Starting pitcher Mike Leake, who went 14-7 this season with a 3.37 ERA, seems excited that Price is taking over. During an interview with Lance McAlister on ESPN 1530 on Tuesday, Leake implied that Baker had become too friendly with the Reds players.

“No disrespect to Dusty, but he’s such a player’s manager that it’s tough for him to be commanding at times because he wants to be so liked by everybody,” the 25-year-old explained. ”Price is the same way. He wants to be liked, but on the other hand he’s not afraid to tell you what he needs to tell you. He can do that for us.”

That almost sounds like the same theory that ran Terry Francona out of town with the Boston Red Sox two years ago. A lot of players enjoy playing for managers who give them freedom, but it can work against the team if there is not a strong enough presence in the clubhouse.

“We have the talent on paper,” Leake added. “We need a little more relentless play. Not that people don’t work hard, but you have certain people that play the way they play and there’s not much fire. The whole team’s kind of like that. I’m hoping that (Pierce) can bring out a little more attitude in everyone. I think it would be a great thing for us.”

With guys like Joey Votto and Brandon Phillips, you would think the Reds have enough veteran leadership to work with a player’s manager. If Leake’s comments are any indication, that was not the case in Cincy this season.

Dusty Baker fired because he protected hitting coach?

Dusty Baker RedsDusty 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.

Dusty Baker: Joey Votto needs to control his temper, stop cursing

Dusty-Baker-Derek-Lowe-drinks-at-ballparkCincinnati Reds first baseman Joey Votto was incredibly upset with himself after he struck out in his first at-bat against the Cleveland Indians on Monday. He let his emotions get the best of him and tossed out a few expletives, which were unfortunately picked up by the television microphones. This did not make manager Dusty Baker happy.

“I understand (his frustration),” Baker said after the game, via Cincinnati.com. “I have a son that idolizes him. Sometimes an open display of displeasure is not a good example, whether you come through or not later. Joey is the face of baseball.

“I’d like to see him temper it a little bit.”

Votto later came through with a huge two-run homer in the 8th inning that broke a 2-2 tie and resulted in a 4-2 victory for the Reds. Like a disappointed parent, Baker made sure to let his All-Star know that his outburst was unacceptable even on a day where he played the hero.

Baker also said on Monday that he wishes Johnny Cueto and Matt Garza could be locked in a room together to fight it out after Garza ripped Cueto for throwing over David DeJesus’ head on Sunday.

“Just put them in a room, let them box and let it be over with,” Baker said. “I always said this, let it be like hockey, let them fight, someone hits the ground and it’s over with. I’m serious about that.”

Baker’s comments about Garza and Cueto fighting may sound contradictory when compared to his remarks about Votto’s outburst, but he did say to lock them in a room. I doubt he minds Votto swearing in the clubhouse, he just doesn’t like when it ends up on TV for all to hear.

H/T Hardball Talk

Dusty Baker refuses to shake Kirk Gibson’s hand after spring training game

Dusty-Baker-RedsKirk-Gibson-Diamondbacks

There are very few things that could happen over the course of a spring training game that would result in one manager refusing to shake another manager’s hand after the game ends, but Dusty Baker and Kirk Gibson apparently found a reason on Monday.

According to MLB.com’s Steve Gilbert, Baker and Gibson got off to a rocky start before Monday’s exhibition between the Cincinnati Reds and Arizona Diamondbacks. The two managers reportedly had a “testy discussion” at home plate while exchanging lineups, which apparently had to do with Baker wanting to use a DH and Gibson wanting to play by standard National League rules.

“I had it happen last year with a team, they tried to put the DH in there and that’s not the way it’s done,” Gibson explained. “I wanted to play a National League game. I notified them several times and they just wanted to do it their way and they couldn’t do it. So they didn’t like that. But we play by the rules here, that’s the way it is. We go over there we play by their rules. It’s very simple.”

Arizona was the home team, and the home team gets to decide if a DH is going to be used or not during spring training. According to Gilbert, Gibson wanted to play by standard NL rules so he could get pitcher Brandon McCarthy as many at bats as possible. McCarthy, who pitched in the American League last season, needs practice at the plate. Baker wanted to use Shin-Soo Choo as a DH instead of playing him in the field, since he is nursing a minor quadriceps injury. Gibson would not give in, thus upsetting Baker.

After the game, Gibson apparently extended his hand to shake Baker’s, but Baker refused.

“We didn’t have a very pleasant encounter at home plate,” Baker said. “That’s how it goes. It’s over.”

Now children, it’s only spring training. Let’s try to get along.

Fist pound to Hardball Talk
Photo credit: Troy Taormina-US PRESSWIRE

Dusty Baker: Derek Lowe was probably drinking at the ballpark and doesn’t remember what he did

If Dusty Baker and Derek Lowe didn’t hate each other prior to Wednesday, they do now. During the Indians 5-2 loss to the Reds, Lowe took exception to a Mat Latos fastball that was thrown close to him and he felt was intentional. He was right. Lowe ripped Baker on Wednesday night and Dusty was asked to respond to Lowe’s comments on Thursday morning. He fired back incredibly hard.

“He had some words for me,” Baker said according to Cincinnati.com’s Reds blog. “I really didn’t want to make a public thing or a public spectacle … No. 1, you’ve got to ask him why he hit Joey Votto in the back two years ago. Yesterday, he took exception to a ball inside that didn’t hit him, then hit Brandon Phillips after that.

“I’m not denying nothing. I didn’t order anyone to hit him. I told (Mat Latos) to buzz him and make him uncomfortable. That’s what happened. Nobody hit him. Then he hit our guy.”

So Baker says he told Latos to throw at Lowe, but not into him. As for the history between Baker and Lowe, the Reds manager really started coming at Lowe when he was asked if it bothers him that Lowe said he has no respect for him.

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Derek Lowe rips Dusty Baker after being thrown at: ‘I have zero respect for the guy’

According to Derek Lowe, Dusty Baker has been ordering pitchers to throw at him for the past five years. Due to various situations when he comes to bat, Baker has not had much success. During Wednesday’s 5-2 loss to the Reds, Lowe was brushed off the plate by a 96-mph fastball from Mat Latos at the start of the fifth inning. He instantly motioned toward the Reds manager and started to say something.

“Dusty will deny it,” Lowe explained after the game according to MLB.com’s Major League Bastain. “It has everything to do with him. They’ve been trying to do this (stuff) for years. I’d always come up with men on base. To say it didn’t come from Dusty, Mat Latos was with the San Diego Padres the last four years. He has no idea what’s going on. This goes back to my last year with the Dodgers. He made up some (bogus) story. A lot of people got involved. People almost got fired over it. There were a lot of people involved. I mean, by no means am I going to sit here and get into it.”

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Dusty Baker Bobblehead Is Awesome

On July 2nd, 30,000 lucky fans who attend the Reds-Indians game will receive this Dusty Baker bobblehead. Not only is it a bobblehead, but it also doubles as a toothpick holder. I thought the Angels’ giveaways were the best, but this Baker toothpick holder beats em all. Does it get any better than that?

Forearm bash to Darren Rovell for the picture