Dusty Baker, recently ousted as Cincinnati Reds manager, didn't waste much time hinting that he'd be interested in taking over the Detroit Tigers, who are newly manager-less after Jim Leyland announced Monday he won't be coming back.
Baker had previously expressed interest in the open Washington Nationals skipper gig, though it sounds like they're not interested in him. We also wouldn't be surprised if Baker threw his hat in the ring for a job managing an Applebee's. ("The ad said manager opening, right? Is it better than managing the Mariners?"). We jest, we jest.
“I’ve always respected Dave Dombrowski and what Dave has accomplished. I have the ultimate respect and friendship for Jim Leyland. I’d be flattered and honored to be given such an opportunity.”
Dombrowski and Baker have history. Dombrowski once tried to lure Baker into the Montreal Expos farm system as a manager back in 1987.
At that point, Baker hadn't managed yet and Dombrowski hadn't general managed yet. In 2013, there are reasons the two could be a good match, writes John Lowe of the Free Press:
Baker managed Bonds for 10 years. Bonds in that time became the biggest name in baseball. The same thing can be said of Baker as of Leyland: If he can manage Barry Bonds for several years, he probably can manage any big star ...
If Dombrowski decides that a bilingual manager is an asset, Baker qualifies on that count, too. He has spoken Spanish since he was in high school. Reds general manager Walt Jocketty, who fired Baker, is close with Dombrowski. That may or not matter in any potential Baker candidacy with the Tigers. Leyland’s respect for Baker is strong, just as is Baker’s for Leyland. That may or may not matter, either.
Baker has 20 years MLB managerial experience between the San Francisco Giants, Chicago Cubs and the Reds. He's 1671-1504 in his career with one pennant-winning season (2002 with the Giants) and three NL manager of the year awards. In six seasons with the Reds, Baker was 509-454, with playoff appearances in three of the last four years. His team, however, lost its first series each time.
That may give pause to the Tigers, since they're a team built to win immediately, and they too are trying to get over a playoff hump. Detroit lost the ALCS in 2011, then the World Series in 2012 and this season's ALCS.
- - - - - - -