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How Long Before Dusty Baker Ruins Johnny Cueto?

In case you missed it Thursday, Reds rookie Johnny Cueto was rather impressive making his major league debut. The 22-year-old was perfect through his first five innings before giving up a solo HR to Justin Upton in the 6th, the only base-runner he allowed all game. Cueto went seven innings of one-run, one-hit ball, striking out 10 for the win. Needless to say, Johnny Cueto was nothing short of dominant. One problem, however. Given the fact that Cincinnati now has a new manager with a track record of abusing young arms, it didn’t take long for my man Pat Lackey to develop Cueto’s timeline to Tommy John. Check it out:

April 3rd- Dominant debut
May 27th- 14 strikeouts against the Pirates, Dusty ramps his pitch count to 125 to close out the 2-hitter. Some fans grumble, but are quickly given the evil eye.
June 15th- His first 130 pitch outing against the Red Sox
June 20th- His second 130 pitch outing against the Blue Jays
July 27th- “twinge” in his elbow
August 17th- Tommy John surgery
August 18th- FireDustyBaker.com gets one million hits

I’m not sure what was more impressive: Cueto’s debut, or Lackey’s timeline. Sad thing is, I think we’re looking at a realistic situation. These days it’s a surprise if a pitcher makes it through the first three-four years of his career without needing TJ surgery. What happened to the old days when they used to let pitcher’s throw with arms swollen like basketballs? Guess Dusty longs for those days.

Dusty Baker’s Hiring a Race Issue for Reds Fans?

Word came out over the weekend that the Reds had hired Dusty Baker as their new manager. Apparently the news was not well-received by fans in Cincinnati. Tom Fornelli over at MLB FanHouse quotes someone from the Dayton Daily News who’s suggesting the negative fan reaction is the result of Baker’s race.

Well, Cincinnati Reds fans wanted a big-name manager and now they have one.

Turns out, plenty of them seem to have wanted a big-name WHITE manager.

Saturday night the Reds signed Dusty Baker to a three-year deal – making him the first black manager in the history of baseball’s oldest franchise – and by Sunday morning the move was being met with some very nasty venom on internet web sites and call-ins to talk radio shows.

I’m guessing there are some fans out there who might be opposed to having a black manager (in addition to having a black head coach in Marvin Lewis), but I’m really thinking that most people are upset because they know Dusty Baker is a poor manager. Really, to know all you need to about Dusty, just look at the biggest game he ever managed — Game 7 of the 2002 World Series. Facing a predominantly left-handed hitting Angels lineup, Baker elected to start Livan Hernandez over southpaw Kirk Rueter, who threw six innings in a Game 4 win, and shut the Angels down coming out of the pen in Game 7 (after the damage had already been done). Oh yeah, let’s not forget that Baker elected to pinch hit Japanese slugger Shinjo over Dunston when the Giants were threatening with two men on in the 9th. Shinjo did what he does best — struck out to put the Angels one out away from the World Series win.

Baker is just a bad decision maker, and that’s why I’d be upset if he were hired to manage my team, and that’s why I’m guessing Reds fans are upset. That, and they were probably hoping for Tony LaRussa. But sure, blame it on race, that’s always good as an attention-grabber.

Guess Who’s Rocking the Soul Patch!

I don’t know, something about seeing 58-year-old men sporting the soul patch that just makes me laugh. You know, because I thought it was reserved strictly for 20-year-old surfers who hang out at the beach, not former major league managers currently serving as analysts for Baseball Tonight. But as my buddy Andy points out, Dusty Baker grew up in the 60s, and it is a hippie thing, so on some levels it could work. Whatev, it still cracks me up.