BOSTON -- There was a moment in the midst of the Reds' playoff loss to the Pirates the other night when Dusty Baker walked over to Johnny Cueto and looked directly into his eyes. He tried to connect, cajole and encourage. It was classic Dusty, whose strength as a manager was built on the fact that he connects with players -- not because of any X's and O's, but because he likes people, and supports people.
This is why scouts have always said that Dusty's teams have played hard for him.
But the Reds' front office clearly wanted more than that, which is why Baker was fired. Cincinnati's major league roster was steeped with talent this year, from its deep rotation to the presence of two on-base machines in Shin-Soo Choo and Joey Votto to the dominance of closer Aroldis Chapman. Club executives believed the team had the potential for a championship and instead it was bounced quickly from the postseason, fading down the stretch before playing just one playoff game.