The Cincinnati Reds have fired Manager Dusty Baker after he led the team into the playoffs three of the last four years after not making the playoffs since 1995.
Cincinnati went 90-72 this season and finished third in the NL Central behind St. Louis and the Pirates. The Reds lost their final five games of the regular season and cost themselves a chance to host the wild-card playoff, which they dropped 6-2 at Pittsburgh on Tuesday night.
But the downfall of Baker’s tenure in Cincinnati began in the playoffs last year after the Reds took a 2-0 lead against San Francisco in the National League Division Series, only to lose three straight games at home as the Giants rallied to win the best-of-five series on their way to winning the World Series.
Since then, the team’s talent and overall play have deteriorated, and in a year in which the NL was lacking quality teams outside of the Pirates, Cardinals, Dodgers and Braves, the Reds were able to sleep-walk into the final Wild Card spot, only to be handled by the Pirates in an elimination game.
According to FOX Sport’s Ken Rosenthal, the Reds players simply had stopped playing for their manager:
Baker never was a favorite of the sabermetrically inclined, who harped on his many questionable strategic decisions. But he always excelled in a more important aspect of managing – motivation, getting the most out of his club.
For whatever reason, this team stopped playing for him.
Reds management no longer could say, “Dusty is the guy to take us to the next level.” Quite the contrary – it became clear that he wasn’t the guy.