SI’s Jon Heyman created a few waves a little over a week ago. In his article where he delivers some insights on his favorites for the MVP for both leagues (as well as the other awards), he added the following:
"Sources suggest there has been some difference of opinion over playing time between Reds GM Walt Jocketty and manager Dusty Baker, who has a year to go on his contract. The Reds are over .500 for the first time since early July, but it is curious how much playing time veterans Miguel Cairo and Freddie Lewis are getting in a lost season. Rival execs say they also would have traded Ramon Hernandez before the July 31 trade deadline and employed Devin Mesoraco as catcher. Hernandez was claimed on waivers by a competitor and pulled back by the Reds. He would have helped the Giants, among others."
And it makes me (and maybe even you) wonder…
Forward ahead to a piece in the Chicago Sun-Times from a couple of days ago. Gordon Wittenmyer posts about a talk he had with Baker. Not in regards to Heyman’s blurb, but about Baker’s time in Chicago. Wittenmyer questioned Dusty about giving advice to those “in charge” of the Cubs organization, both then and now. Baker’s replies were insightful and telling of the issues he face while in the Windy City.
When asked about the “now”, Baker offered this:
"‘‘I can’t give them any advice and have them beat me,’’ he said. ‘‘I had answers when I was there, and they didn’t want to listen to them.’’"
Part of “they” would be the now disposed GM Jim Hendry. This one little quote also covers the “then” portion, too. Baker had opinions…and Hendry and possibly others within the Cubs front office decided not to heed the advice Baker offered.
And it makes me wonder even more if that could be a portion of this reported tiff between Baker and Reds GM Walt Jocketty. If they are not (or cannot) arrive at the same page, what would this mean for the Reds going forward.
There’s no question that Baker is a divisive figure within the Cincinnati fan base. For every game the Reds lose or narrowly eek out a win, those that clamor for Baker’s dismissal ring louder. It also holds true when the Reds win. One move Baker makes (or doesn’t make) is highly scrutinized. As of late, I have joined into the fold of those questioning Baker’s decision-making…not that I could do any better, but there have been more than a few occasions where I scratched a sore on my scalp.
SweetSpot’s David Schoenfield weighed in on the issue at the end of August.
"“One does wonder if there’s some issues in the front office, though. General manager Walt Jocketty decided to call up one of his top prospects late in the season, but Baker has basically refused to play him. That’s a situation that simply defies logic, and from the outside looking in it appears that the manager and GM may not be on the same page right now.”"
And Baker has previously voiced that he “hears” the cries…and that may be part of the problem. A wise man once said that if you listen to the fans, you’ll end up sitting among them. Not sure if that’s exactly how it goes, but it’s close. The one you should listen to is the guy that’s above you.
But what if there really is the disconnect? Yes, makes you wonder. Is Baker submitting his opinion to Walt? Is Walt being receptive? Is Baker’s “advice” being rejected as Baker states like his days in Chicago? Can these two co-exist amid these “reports”? And there’s this question I ask as well: How much of a peace maker is/has Reds owner Bob Castellini been if at all?
For those that are wondering…Jocketty’s contract is up after this season. As Mike Axisa of MLB Trade Rumors opines, Castellini will most likely want Walt to return. Under Walt’s watch, the organization has improved (with a big hat tip to Wayne Krivsky). Baker’s contract runs through the end of 2012. I have little doubt that Castellini will do everything to keep Baker on if for any reason, to avoid having to pay two managers.
The Reds will have an interesting off-season to say the least. The issues surrounding the team in regards to position that need filled, the starting rotation, a closer, etc, etc, may take a back seat to the relationship between Dusty and Walt.
And that would be bad. The window is open for this team. Let’s hope it doesn’t close for absurd reasons.
But it makes you wonder.