Why Pay Dusty Baker $3.5 Million?

The Cincinnati Reds just signed Dusty Baker to a three-year contract worth $3.5 million per year. Why do this? The mean and median manager salaries in 2007 were $1.45 million and $940,000. Yes, Dusty Baker has a lot of managerial experience, and because his broadcast position is opportunity cost is higher than some other managers. However, I don’t see why the Reds would fork out this money for a manager. Is this the main problem? Both the hitting and pitching are below league average when controlling for the ballpark. I would think the team could use is resources in a better way and just hire an unproven bench coach for less.

It is possible that Baker gets more out of his players than other managers, but I don’t think that is the main reason for this hire. I suspect that the Reds are trying to signal to fans and free agents that this team is going to make a major effort to turn the team around. A big-name manager may help keep some season-ticket holders in the fold. Plus, free agents who want to play on a competitive team may see the Reds as changing course. I would not be surprised to see the Reds make a play for some big-name free agents this offseason, including A-Rod.

10 Responses “Why Pay Dusty Baker $3.5 Million?”

  1. I suspect that the Reds are trying to signal to fans and free agents that this team is going to make a major effort to turn the team around.

    This is the same impulse that led to the Eric Milton signing. Good times for Reds fans!

  2. David says:

    For Homer Bailey’s sake, I hope he’s trade bait.

  3. realbbbb says:

    I think the real question is why sign Dusty Baker at all for any price. Even ignoring the fact that he destroyed Prior & Wood with ungodly pitch counts, he has not clue about the modern game. You think it was a coincidence that the guy who complained about “clogging up the bases” led to his team OBP’s of .319 in 2006 (dead last in NL), .324 in 2005 (11th in NL), and .328 in 2004 (11th in NL).

  4. Ron says:

    I guess the Reds really, really wanted Baker and wanted to make sure he signed with them now rather than see what other offers he got. I feel sorry for any promising pitching prospects the Reds have.

  5. Marc Schneider says:

    The question is, who are the best managers and how do you determine how good a manager is? What factors are important; eg, is being able to handle the clubhouse more important than game strategy and, if so, how do you rate that? How much difference does one manager make over another?

  6. JeremyR says:

    The Reds owner wanted Tony LaRussa, but failing that, signed the next closest thing, which would be Dusty.

  7. Brian Mills says:

    Honestly, I agree with JC on this one. There is no reason to fork over sums of money like this on any manager. The effect on field performance that the manager has is so small that you’re better off hiring someone within the organization that knows it inside and out and has a standing relationship with the players. Hopefully, if the Reds are looking for a publicity stunt, they have a former team star that can fill that role (see Mattingly, Pena, and Girardi with the Yankees). I think the Yanks are on the right track here, but I’m sure they will splurge ridiculous amounts on one of these guys. On top of this, Dusty Baker is totally clueless in the press box AND on the field.

  8. GUS says:

    It has been reported that the Reds spoke with Scott Boras the morning of oct. 31. concerning ARod.

    The Reds were rumored to have offered Griffey, Dunn, The Gold Star Chili franchise and Chad Johnson for ARod.

    When Boras informed them that ARod was a free agent and not in trade negotiations, the Reds reportedly said, “Our bad, carry on”.

  9. Jason P. says:

    I think it is safe to say the Reds need a manager that:
    1) Does signal a serious change in philosophy of just floating into each season without a plan
    2) Has some name recognition (and former division rival)
    3) Could manage a big banana like A-Rod, ego and money being the reason
    4) Has seen a WS in recent memory – unlike the Reds

  10. Brian Mills says:

    I understand the name recognition and ‘representing a change in philosophy’, but when Baker was in San Francisco, he didn’t exactly settle down the Bond-Kent problems. I also don’t understand this image of Arod as an attention hog with a huge ego. Yes, I’m sure he has an ego, he’s the best player in baseball. But it has never gotten in the way of his contributions to the team. Not to mention, there’s no way the Reds get Arod. They should have a plan, you’re right. The plan should be to field a team that can win games and make money for the owners. I don’t see how this move helps that in any way.