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Red Reposter - In Defense of Dusty, TGI Friday's Jack Daniels Grill

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"I'm divisive!"
"I'm divisive!"

Whelp, it's Friday again, which means my usual routine of going to TGIF's for breakfast, watching Jay Leno re-runs while I should be working and then compiling a list of Reds-related hyperlinks following an off-day:

DATELINE: BAKER BASHED IN BOFFO BROADSIDE!

Dusty was picked apart by an SI.com article yesterday, prompting a response from Jocketty - and John Fay. The offending piece:

"Dusty Baker not inspiring faith as Reds battle Cardinals" by Joe Sheehan
The vexing thing about his article is not that Sheehan isn't mostly on point about Dusty's miscues as a manager, but he's that he's trotting out very tired screeds that are all too familiar to those that follow this team (or Dusty Baker) closely, while turning mostly a blind eye to the things Dusty has done well.  And good gravy, there are so many articles about Dusty Baker "overworking" Kerry Wood and Mark Prior that poor people are using them to heat their shanties in Bidenville. Baker's use of Cabrera in the leadoff (and each of the most OBP challenged players in '08 and '09) is surely one of his biggest blind spots, but in the same breath Sheehan criticizes the use of Jonny Gomes because he's an "OBP sink" (as opposed to a wOBA spigot?) and then goes on to praise Jonny Gomes on having a good season. You cannot have it both ways - and then the other way again. The whole thing is a little scatter-shot, as most sports journalism this side of the Poz tends to be.

Sheehan also makes this prediction: if the Reds sign Matthews, he will play, because Baker likes experience. We all hold this fear deep in our hearts (see below), but let's not call it too soon.  Sheehan also contrasts Baker with LaRussa, asserting that, like TLR, "your manager should be finding the small things." It's not hard to agree that managers should find a competitive edge wherever possible - and that Dusty sometimes hemorrhages runs with tactical mistakes - but a truly open discussion of Baker would include those small things Dusty has done that have proven beneficial. Batting Phillips 2nd and moving Stubbs down in the order comes to mind. Regardless of where you land in this worn-out debate, it seems easy to fall into the classic, B&W world of all bad or all good, wherein Dusty is the only thing holding the Reds back from greatness.

On the heels of the SI piece, Jocketty (and Fay) came to Dusty's defense
This is the other side of the coin. Fay is spot on when he says: "(T)to say La Russa is  "cerebral" with an "academic approach to the game" and dismiss Baker is as "a leader of men" is going a little far."  But makes a pretty large and (possibly) willful oversight in saying Baker hasn't shown favoritism for experience players while with the Reds. Credit Baker for sticking with Bruce and giving Hanigan more playing time this year, but debit him for Corey Patterson, Willy Taveras and keeping Janish locked up.

RedLegNation has a full-throated reaction to the SI article, Fay's response
Nested in here is a link to a Baseball Prospectus article on Baker and the leadoff spot. If you're not already, join me in being annoyed for the millionth time, then kind of bored:

Now in his 17th season as a manager, the aggregate rates for a Baker leadoff hitter are .264/.327/.382. Baker leadoff hitters have drawn more than 87 walks in a season only once, in 1998. More often, they have drawn fewer than 60. Overall, his leadoff hitters have averaged 749 plate appearances and 61 walks per season. While we would expect leadoff hitters to have a higher walk rate than the average hitter, Baker’s leadoff men have actually had a slightly lower walk rate than the average National League non-pitcher.

Reds Minor Leagues gives us a birds-eye of the Reds farm system
Statistical leaders in every major category and some real surprises too.

Reds have officially signed Gary Matthews, Jr.
I didn't do my homework on this one, but judging by his name, this is a promising signing. Very baseball name. I imagine he can catch like Gary Carter, slug like Eddie Matthews and play CF like Ken Griffey, Jr. And apparently his father played baseball. Lock him up, Walt.

"Maybe I will," says Jocketty
Draw your own conclusions as to whether these comments are standard boilerplate or GM, Jr . will be patroling centerfield soon.

MLB.com decides on the headline "Bopping in background doesn't bother Votto"
Fall in love all over again. Maybe it's a gussied-up press release to bolster Votto's All Star campaign and media narrative about an unsung, soft-spoken slugger, but I swooned. Votto is very easy to root for. Though this part had me reaching for my thumb, so I could put it in the "down" position:

Phillies manager Charlie Manuel, who will skipper the NL All-Star squad, indicated the choice will be tough.

"I like Joey. I pull for Joey," Manuel said. "I've been watching him. I got 'em [on my radar]. There are a whole lot of first basemen in there. But he's a good hitter. He's a tremendous hitter."

This choice is not tough. Votto is second in WAR, 1st in wOBA and 3rd in OPS (.009 separate him and the leading Pujols) among NL first basemen. If you wanna go more traditional, Votto is 3rd in average, tied for 2nd in HRs and, hold my hair in case I puke, 7th in RBI.

Red Hot Mama continues her lettres d'amour unabated
Next up: the hot-hitting Brandon Phillips:

What I love about Brandon Phillips is his attitude. Kinda sassy, a little arrogant, but still willing to slow down enough to explain what "crunked" means to a Reds beat writer. I love that he’s not perfect and needs to have a kick to the seat of the pants sometimes. I love that he’s up and down with the team, feeling the energy of the city

Posnanski on the 5 set, 70 to 68 game final set victory for Isner