Just a matter of days after the Reds were eliminated from the playoffs, manager Dusty Baker has re-signed with the team for two years, meaning he'll be with the team until after the 2014 season.
Initially, I thought that the team's blown 2-0 lead in the NLDS against the Giants along with Baker's health problems would lead to him not returning for a sixth season with the Reds. The team's 97-65 record was its best over a full season since 1976, when the team won 102 games and a World Series championship.
At any rate, the Reds still haven't won a playoff series since 1995 (when Baker was in his third season of managing the Giants), and 2012 looked like their best chance to do that in recent years, but they fell short after losing three straight games at home to the Giants. The 2013 Reds team will probably look very similar to the 2012 team, with the only free agents being bench players Dioner Navarro, Wilson Valdez, and Miguel Cairo, reliever Jonathan Broxton, and retiring third baseman Scott Rolen (who was hurt for half of the year). Reliever Ryan Madson (who missed the year after Tommy John surgery in the spring) and left fielder Ryan Ludwick both have mutual options on their contracts that could result in them leaving town.
Baker's tenure as Reds manager has been spotty at best. The team won the NL Central in 2010 and 2012, and finished under .500 in 2008, 2009, and 2011. Baker was the runner-up for NL Manager of the Year in 2010 when the Reds won their first division title in 15 years, and will likely receive some votes lower down the ballot this year. But this has become a do or die situation for him, in that the Reds absolutely need to make some headway in the next two seasons with Joey Votto, Brandon Phillips, and Jay Bruce still in their offensive primes and signed long-term with the team.
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