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Question of the Day
CINCINNATI — The Reds fired Dusty Baker on Friday, parting ways with the manager who led them to their best stretch of success since the Big Red Machine but couldn’t get them past the first round of the postseason.
The move came after the Reds lost the wild-card playoff in Pittsburgh 6-2 on Tuesday night, ending the season with their sixth straight loss. He had a year left on his two-year deal.
The final-week fade was a major factor in the decision, general manager Walt Jocketty said in a phone interview.
“Just the way we played lately was a factor,” Jocketty said. “But I think the way the season ended was kind of the final decision.
“The last six games certainly played a big part in this,” he added.
“Maybe the time is long enough because I was starting to get quite a few jeers and some hate mail and stuff,” Baker said during a conference call. “So maybe it was time for me to move on.”
The Reds are the fourth team with an opening at manager. Davey Johnson retired after the Nationals’ season, Eric Wedge left the Mariners and the Cubs fired Dale Sveum after finishing last in the NL Central.
Baker took over a rebuilding team in 2008 and led it to three 90-win seasons and three playoff appearances in the last four years, their best run since Sparky Anderson managed the Big Red Machine to two World Series titles in the 1970s.
Cincinnati couldn’t get past the opening round of the playoffs, however, building pressure for change.
“We appreciate what Dusty did here for six years and getting us to where we were,” Jocketty said. “Although he’s the one that ran the club every day, there are a lot of areas we can look at that could be to blame here, including the front office, the players, the coaching staff. It’s not only just Dusty.
“We felt it was important going forward to provide new leadership, a new voice, whatever you want to call it,” he added.
Baker had expected to return for the second year on his deal. The firing surprised him.
“Maybe it’s something I said, maybe something I didn’t say along the way,” Baker said. “I know I had a conversation with Walt that they were going to look to replace (hitting coach) Brook Jacoby, and I was like, ‘Oh, no, Brook’s not doing anything as one of my coaches that deserved that.’ It wasn’t an ultimatum, but I just said, ‘Hey, man, if we get rid of Brook, you might as well get rid of me, too.’
“The next thing I was called up to the office,” Baker continued. “I thought I was going to discuss Brook’s future and the rest of the coaches’ future, and I was told my services were no longer needed.”
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