I’m still amazed when people say, without a hint of irony, that they think that Dusty Baker is the best manager in the league. Personally, I think Baker is a hell of a human being but one seriously shitty manager, and I can list off the specific reasons why I think so:
- He builds his line-ups based on field position. The center fielder leads off, followed by short stop. Wouldn’t matter if the center fielder were Prince Fielder, he’d be leading the damn game off.
- He has a serious love of the veterans. The closer a player is to his own age, the better, and he’ll make the young’uns sit the bench and think about what they’ve done until they get older enough to know better.
- He prefers strike outs to walks.
- He screws up pitchers.
- He makes the stupidest in-game decisions anyone has ever seen. More than once I’ve suggested that he put his ideas to a vote of the 5 closest fans in the stands before he puts them in play, since he’ll be overridden 90% of the time by anyone who isn’t under the constant care of medical professionals.
However, in this interminable spring training, I don’t get the resolution to see how his in-game decisions are screwing the team, and none of the pitchers have really had the chance to get hurt yet. In three games, I saw Brandon Phillips take TWO walks, and Dusty hasn’t made any infuriating public comments on the matter in the longest time.
That leaves the veteran love. I contend that the team has managed not to stock the team with old farts, and thereby set Baker up for better success than he would have otherwise had. On the other hand Red Reporter points out that the team isn’t exactly the 2003 Florida Marlins. Either way, there aren’t any frustrating platoons being proposed and the blockers number few.
So, the only thing left to keep my anti-Baker ire up is the line-up thing, which is–wow–so stupid, but only a fraction of the stupid that I’m used to.
I understand some analysts are picking the team as the sleeper despite their uninspiring cactus league performance, which might put some pressure on the team to actually perform and not just turn in the same losing season we’ve seen for so many years in a row now that I’ve lost count.
But even if the team is slow out of the gate, I’ve got that sinking feeling that they’ll find some injury or weather condition or phase of the moon to blame it on and extend Baker’s contract. If the team gets off to a hot start, I’m afraid we’ll be stuck with him until the Cubs win it all.