Both the 2010 and 2012 seasons hold outsized places in the hearts of a subsect of Cincinnati Reds fans, most of whom were too young to truly experience the 1990 World Series title and had waited fervently for years for the team to be relevant once again. That era is when Red Reporter took off, really, as the emergence of the likes of Jay Bruce, Joey Votto, Homer Bailey, and Johnny Cueto helped flush the bad memories of a decade and a half of poor ball and replace them with talent, with optimism once again.
At the helm of those clubs was Dusty Baker, of course, who had shelved his tenure across the division with the Cubs in 2006 and come to the Reds beginning in 2008. It somewhat eschewed a reputation he had gained at the time of managing only star-studded teams, his Giants era coinciding with the move of Barry Bonds to the Bay and his stint in Chicago coinciding with a Sammy Sosa-led Cubs club vying for deep playoff pushes, too. The 2008 Reds weren’t that, by any means, and they promptly posted a 74 win season (followed up by a 78 win season) as the young talent figured out what the hell they were doing.
It took a bit, but they figured it out pretty well.
Dusty’s six-year tenure with the Reds never quite reached the heights we all hoped for, certainly not as the 2012 season rocketed to 97 regular season wins only to collapse in a heap in the NLDS. Still, he won 509 games in his stint (against just 463 losses), a mark that ranks third most in the history of the franchise behind only Hall of Famers Sparky Anderson (863) and Bill McKechnie (744).
Dusty is going to retire today, his Astros eliminated in the ALCS earlier in the week by the Texas Rangers a year after they won a World Series - his first and only in a 26 year run as a manager that saw him win 2183 total games between San Francisco, Chicago, Cincinnati, Washington, and Houston. That’s the seventh highest total in the history of the game, by the way, and will earn him enshrinement in Cooperstown as a Hall of Famer in short order.
Congrats to a great man, a great manager on a wonderful career in baseball. While I’d love to see him stick around in the game somehow to continue to make it better, a big part of me hopes he finally kicks back, enjoys some smooth whiskey on the rocks, and gets back to fishing every morning.
In other Reds news, Jacob Hurtubise had a big day in Arizona Fall League play for the Surprise Saguaros, driving in a trio of runs on Tuesday night. The former 39th round pick out of the US Military Academy at West Point turned a major corner during the 2023 regular season, hence why he’s in AFL play to begin with - his overall .330/.479/.483 line in 455 PA split between AA Chattanooga and AAA Louisville showing not just his long-known patience but also an emergence of some actual power, for once.
Doug Gray at RedsMinorLeagues.com had some interesting thoughts on Hurtubise earlier in the month as the AFL rosters were coming out, noting that he’s Rule 5 Draft eligible this season. Hurtubise is not listed among the top prospects in the Cincinnati system for many reasons - his lack of pop being one, his age at lower levels of the minors another - but if his 2023 breakout was truly real, he’s very much in the mix for a 40-man spot and protection from the draft in the coming months. It’s worth pointing out that only two players have walked more often than Hurtubise in AFL play so far, though he’s back to his pre-2023 type of overall production (high OBP, low SLG).
Reds in Four has an excellent look at Hunter Greene’s 2023 season, including a detailed breakdown of his pitch mix (and what he really needs to do to help expand it).
Finally, SNY’s Andy Martino reports that the New York Yankees and San Diego Padres have held preliminary trade talks around superstar Juan Soto, something that would certainly set the stage for a winter of blockbuster moves across the league. Soto’s got one final year of club control before reaching free agency and will be due some $30+ million in arbitration, and the Padres are already up against the luxury tax wall as-is. Watching the Yankees unload their farm for him (and then pony up a giant pile of cash for an extension) would be incredibly fun to watch, even if it would return them to their Evil Empire reputation of old.
Know who’d look awesome in the Cincinnati Reds lineup, by the way? Juan Soto.