One very bad week clinched Dusty Baker’s fate. The Reds decided they weren’t going to bring him back.
Not after they ended the season with six losses in a row, including the wild-card playoff game. Not after they failed to get past the opening round of the playoffs for the third time in a row. Not with all the booing at Great American Ball Park.
Instead of keeping Baker around for one more try, the Reds fired him 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 deep into the postseason.
“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 move came after the Reds lost the wild-card playoff in Pittsburgh 6-2 on Tuesday night, their sixth straight loss. 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.
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.
The lack of playoff success built pressure for change.
“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,” Jocketty said. “It’s not only just Dusty.”