I have, at times, called for for the removal of Red's manager Dusty Baker. Although I'm frustrated by Dusty I've become more frustrated by the tactical mentality of MLB managers/management in general. The general baseball consensus on how teams should be organized, players utilized and monies spent is grindingly unimaginative and relies on the following premise: Create your team by determining the player roles and then sign or develop players to fill those roles. I believe that there is a consensus among most MLB baseball 'people' that management comes to agreement on the roles for their team and then proceeds to fill those roles with the best affordable players available. The expectation is that if those players perform their roles well enough - the team will contend.
This approach results in manager's trying to squeeze players into roles that they often aren't very good at performing, For example CF's are fast and make good lead off hitters, SS's are contact hitters who can 'move the runner over, good #2 slot guys - or you need to have a utility guy on your bench as the 'last resort' player and that guy is always the same guy - e,g, Paul Jannish or your best RH bat on the bench is your extra OF and he'll PH eve if he's not a good pinch hitter, no matter if there's a better option - e.g. Jonny Gomes and Micah Owings.
The converse approach would be to look at the specifics of each player's abilities and build the team around player's strengths. This approach makes sense for smaller market/lower payroll teams. It especially makes sense with a team like the reds who have a fair amount of exciting prospects and have guys who are able to to be flexible in their roles.
The Reds appear not to recognize that there is more than one way to skin a cat, Even Chris Welsh has defended Dusty's use of Wily Taveris as recently as this week, stating: (my paraphrase) "You have to stick with Taveris and let him work through this slump. He is the team's Center Fielder and you go with him, that's why he was brought over here to play center field and be your lead off hitter". Then yesterday (after I'd been thinking Doc Rogers was starting to see the light) I heard Doc say (my paraphrase)"The loss of Alex Gonzales is a tremendous one as he is one of the finest shortstops in the majors. Because he's been injured I forgot how incredible of a defensive shortstop he is and he's a good contact hitter and is exactly what the Red's need to bat 2nd in the order".
Why not abandon this archaic approach and change it around a bit? Sparky Anderson was only 36 years old he took the helm of the Reds and by the time the BRM was winning back to back WS he had instituted some pretty innovative tactics. He gained the nickname 'Captain Hook' because he didn't wait around until the 7th or 8th inning to replace a pitcher who was struggling on a given day. The 'role' of a starting pitcher wa to go out and pitch until the 7 or 8th even if they were getting hit pretty badly or more importantly they were expected pitch to players who were poor match ups...the manager would leave a pitcher in to face a hitter who 'owned him' or was on a hot streak (etc) and then after the batter beat the pitcher the manager would remove the pitcher. Not Sparky he didn't wait around he was afraid to use his bull pen extensively and successfully. He also moved players around position to position, Tony Perez from 3rd to 1st to keep his bat in the line up, Rose from LF to 3b to get Foster into the line up. He had a fairly set batting order but would not hesitate to adjust it to the pitcher of the day. By the time 1976 rolled around Sparky was only 42 and had 6 years of MLB management experience and had won back to back WS. Certainly the Red were a very talented team but it was how Sparky utilized the talent that made it work, esp, the again the bullpen. So maybe we need some younger managers in this game.
The average age of a MLB manager is 54.2 years old. From my viewpoint that's actually not very old. From a corporate or business point of view age 55 is prime time. From an academic, artistic or professional(Dr. Lawyer, Architect, Indian Chief) 50's to 60's are about the prime ages when folks are just hitting their stride. This doesn't seem to be the case in baseball. by the time the average manager is 55 hie is so myopic and unimaginative that the only thing that saves his team from a losing malaise is the amount of sheer talent on it. I think that the Reds need a young and fresh manager,By fresh I mean one who understands the accepted approach to managing but also has the creativity and courage to get of of the box and play to the player's strengths and not be so rigidly consumed with roles. who knows in this scenario Paul Jannish might even get a chance to play.