The first order of business for the Reds, who were eliminated from the playoffs in the National League Division Series even after winning the first two games in San Francisco, is to decide on a manager for 2013. Incumbent Dusty Baker, who has led the club to the post-season for two of the last three seasons, is at the end of his current contract.
"General manager Walt Jocketty said he expects Baker to return," stated John Fay of the Cincinnati Enquirer. "They met Friday. A source told me Baker would be back if he accepted the Reds' offer. Baker hinted that he was set on returning early in the NLDS."
Before the Reds make an offer to bring back Baker, they should consider making a change. After all, baseball history is rife with managers who fail to contend the year after coming up short in the playoffs.
Just last year, Kirk Gibson led Arizona to the N.L. West championship, only to lose the deciding game of the NLDS by a 3-2 margin to the Milwaukee Brewers. The following season, even after adding free agent Jason Kubel, Gibson's team suffered a third place finish.
Just a few seasons before, Eric Wedge led the Indians to the American League championship series. The Indians lost to the Red Sox in game seven, and the next season saw Wedge and his Cleveland club fall to third place.
Baker himself has a past littered with disappointing seasons after a playoff run. His Chicago Cubs lost the heartbreaking game seven of the 2004 NLCS to the Marlins, after blowing a big lead the night before. The following season, Baker led the Cubs to a third place finish. In 2006, Baker and Chicago finished with a losing record, and they finished thirty games under .500 the following year.
Even as Reds' manager, Baker has experienced similar disappointment. After leading the Reds to the division title in 2010, he finished with a losing record with the same roster the following year.
Reds' GM Walt Jocketty needs to consider how his old club in St. Louis responded when its manager left after winning the Word Series last year. Tony Larussa retired, but the Cardinals have battled to reach the NLCS here in 2012.
The current Reds have performed best when there is a major change in the club. Their MVP first baseman had to spend over a month on the disabled list after the All-Star break, and the club went on to play its best baseball of the season. When Baker had to miss a week because of health issues, the club responded by becoming the first team to clinch its division.
A change of manager might just be what this club needs to win the pennant next season.
Doug Poe once delivered newspapers to Johnny Bench, Joe Morgan, and Tony Perez, three customers who have made him a lifelong fan of the Reds.
Cincinnati Enquirer, 10/14/12