More Than Balderdash on Baker

While taking part in some Mother Day festivities, I was fortunate enough to catch most of the Chicago Cubs and Cincinnati Reds contest. This so happens to be a pairing of Dusty Baker’s two most recent employers, so there’s all that added excitement and motivation to an already anticipated divisional rivalry.

Baker takes heat for a lot of things. The two most common criticisms of Baker are his abuse and misusage of young pitchers and toothpicks alike. It’s not like the Cubs from his day or the present-day are dry on pitching prospects. As such, there’s a distinct possibility that Baker views the objects as ultimately similar in construction and availability.

Mike Leake, for his part, pitched well. He actually maintained a no-hitter through five innings that was broken up on an infield single by Starlin Castro.

I bring up Baker for more than a lame joke attempt, though. He – and I’ll assume he is the one who called for these plays – had the Reds execute two plays that were pretty fun to watch, even if they changed the outcome very little.

In the second inning, Jay Bruce and Jonny Gomes hit consecutive doubles to net the Reds a 1-0 lead. Drew Stubbs came up next and showed bunt long enough to bait Aramis Ramirez towards the plate, and sending an avalanching Gomes to third base without a throw. Gomes would then score on a Stubbs’ grounder to short. With nobody out it seems probable that Gomes would’ve scored anyways, but it was a fun and smart play that depended on Stubbs’ fake being believable and Gomes making the right read.

The other Baker act worth noting came on a Cubs’ bunt attempt following the aforementioned Castro single. Ryan Dempster got the sac down, but as Bob Brenly pointed out on the wonderful WGN broadcast, the Reds were set up for a pickoff play. First baseman Joey Votto charged earlier than normal, hoping Castro would take an excess lead while second baseman Brandon Phillips came in quickly to fill in at first base. Even catcher Ramon Hernandez was coming out of his stance before the pitch arrived.




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12 Responses to “More Than Balderdash on Baker”

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  1. Chuck says:

    I love that first play. I definitely have to keep that one under my hat and use it in one of my own games sometime later this year.

    As a side point, are you being serious when you refer to the WGN broadcast as “wonderful”? They have among the worst television broadcast products in Baseball. They spend an inordinate amount of time talking about anything but the game at hand. When the Cubs are home they actually give over at minimum one entire half inning to a booth guest to talk about their latest projects and whatnot, frequently not even referring to the action on the field. I know of no other broadcast that does this so regularly. And when the subject does happen to be the game or baseball in general, they expel more words while saying less than any other broadcast team in Baseball.

    It’s a typical Cubs product: all fuzzy Cubbie style, very little baseball substance. If they weren’t making money hand over fist from running on the fumes of Harry Caray, they’d be embarrassed.

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    • This is why even when the Cubs are on WGN, I pay MLB.com for the right to listen to the Pat and Ron show, aka. an actual baseball broadcast.

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      • Theron says:

        Are you out of your mind? Pat’s o.k., but Ron doesn’t do much more than shout “Gosh” or “All right!” in lieu of saying anything about the action. I’m forced to listen all the time while I’m at work, and would much prefer Len and Bob.

        They’re all better than Hawk though.

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  2. kamikaze80 says:

    uhh, so what happened on the attempted pickoff?

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  3. fire jerry manuel says:

    you missed the part where after leake gave up the lead in the 7th with a big double, single, wild pitch, and homerun, dusty let him hit in the bottom half of the inning with the tying run on second and no outs. he hit into a FC… and then dusty PINCH RAN for him.

    amazing.

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    • Dusty should have found a pinch hitter, but he’s Dusty, and probably would’ve used Dickerson over Hanigan and his reverse platoon split. As a side note, Leake actually laid down a good bunt, Koyie Hill just read the play very well and was able to throw out a slow runner at third.

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    • Rick says:

      Yep. Tying run on 2B with the top of the order coming up and Dusty wants to give away an out. Worth noting is that Leake isn’t a slouch with the bat. He played all over in college and is hitting over .300 in his brief MLB career.

      Considering that there was no double play possibility and that the next base runner represented the go-ahead run, bunting was just a bad idea there. And when he chose to pinch run once Leake got to 2B himself, you had to wonder why Dusty didn’t pinch run for Hernandez. I can understand wanting to avoid your SP getting involved in a play at the plate, but I’d be Leake is the faster of the two.

      Leake was at just 91 pitches when he was pulled.

      Obviously things did not go according to plan, but this is Dusty Baker it a nutshell. He does not know how to play the percentages, only the specific circumstances he envisions occurring. This shows up every where: from the Harang debacle in 2008 resulting from earlier misuse of his bullpen (using his lone long reliever in the 11th in an attempt to get the save — the long reliever failed and was pulled mid-inning for a short reliever, forcing Dusty to use Harang when the game kept going) to his daily lineups built around speed at the top instead of OBP.

      Trying to make a very specific series of events happen, rather than setting his team up to take advantage of the most likely sets of possibilities, is Dusty’s primary decision making process.

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  4. jrainesus says:

    I didn’t see the game, but Anderson said “Ryan Dempster got the sac down” so he put the ball in play because of that there was no pickoff attempt. had Dempster not bunted they would have been set for an interesting pickoff play.

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  5. Dusty is the best manager in the game. THREE time NL manager of the year. He did it without the talent that Bobby Cox had. How has the last couple of years looked for old Bobby?

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    • Jay10000 says:

      Dusty IN NOT the best manager in the game. Yes, he can be inventive and aggressive with some on the field strategies, however he CANNOT manage a pitching staff to save his life. He completetly disregards pitch counts for his starters, consistently leaves them in too long, and has ruined several big names dating all the way back to 1993 is SF. Burkett, L. Hernandez, Prior, Wood, Harang, Volquez, all either out of the game or shadows of their former selves due to over use. And how many World Series titles has he won? Zilch, zippo, nada, none. How you can even campare him to managers such as La Russa, Cox etc. boggles my mind.

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      • Jay10000 says:

        And apparently I’m not the best speller…. :)

        The first sentence should read “IS NOT the best manager in the game.”

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  6. zapalniczki says:

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