Reds have to decide on Baker after playoff exit

Associated Press Modified: October 12, 2012 at 11:47 am •  Published: October 12, 2012
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CINCINNATI (AP) — Manager Dusty Baker has trouble even thinking about next year.

"I don't know, man," he said, after the Cincinnati Reds' season ended with a collapse. "I'm kinda numb in this situation."

Pretty much summed up the season. A team that had been able to overcome so many setbacks couldn't get that one last comeback to make it something really special.

A 6-4 loss to the San Francisco Giants on Thursday knocked the NL Central champions out of the playoffs far earlier than expected. The Reds won 97 games and their second division title in three years, but couldn't get that elusive home playoff victory to move on.

Make it 17 years now since the Reds have won a postseason game at home.

"It was disheartening to have my club go through this," the 63-year-old manager said.

The Reds went through a lot, and handled all of it well until the final three home games in the playoffs. They became the first NL team to win the first two in a best-of-five division series and fail to move on.

What next?

The biggest question involves Baker, who was hospitalized in September for an irregular heartbeat and a mini-stroke. He rejoined the team for the final regular season series in St. Louis, feeling good and upbeat.

His two-year contract ends after this season. Owner Bob Castellini is fond of Baker and talked last February about giving him an extension. Baker feels he's healthy enough to keep managing.

The Reds have won 269 games under Baker in the last three seasons, their best such stretch in 30 years. Their two division titles in three years is the best such run since Sparky Anderson managed the Big Red Machine to World Series championships in 1975-76.

The question is whether the front office is ready to make a commitment to Baker after Reds lost in the opening round of the playoffs again.

"I'm not sure where my career is going here in Cincinnati," Baker said. "We're going to talk about that in the next couple of days. But I'm not through managing yet. I have more to do."

General manager Walt Jocketty has a few important player decisions to make as well, starting with the closer.

The Reds were prepared to have hard-throwing Aroldis Chapman move back into the rotation until closer Ryan Madson blew out his elbow in spring training. Chapman was eased into the closer's spot and was one of baseball's best, converting 38 of 43 save opportunities and a club-record 27 straight.

Do they simply entrust the job to Chapman? Or do they try to make him a starter again? Madson has a mutual option for 2013 at $11 million — too pricey for someone coming off major elbow surgery — with a $2.5 million buyout.

Third baseman Scott Rolen had another injury-filled season in his final year under contract, slowed by a bad back and a chronic shoulder problem. Rolen turns 38 next April and has to decide whether he wants to keep playing. Todd Frazier could take over at third.



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