Over at the Red Reporter, I answered a few questions. I'm not sure why they snipped my 12,000-word response to a Kal Daniels question, but most of it is intact. And one of the questions made me do a double take:
On a scale of 1 to "I don't," how much do you miss having Dusty as your manager?
Man, that's right. Dusty Baker used to manage the Giants. I mean, I vaguely remember. There was a World Series. Something about Russ Ortiz. I blacked out for a bit and had a dream about J.T. Snow trying to score from second. There was a press conference with Matt Morris and Lance Niekro trying to become a knuckleballer … and when I woke up, Cody Ross was doing a little hop and jogging around the bases. So odd.
And you were there, and you were there, and …
My answer was that I'd rather have Bochy. Now I know that Bochy personally murdered your pet parakeet, and you're still bitter and venomous, but hear me out. A brief list of how things would be different if Dusty Baker were still managing the Giants:
The First Base Debate
Aubrey Huff might be in the doghouse with Dusty after coming to camp last year out of shape. Dusty's all about his veterans too, but I'd guess that Huff's lack of offseason conditioning would have rankled Dusty. That's not a bad thing, right?
But right now we'd be watching a Brett Pill/Mike Fontenot platoon at first. I can't share exactly how I can see into this alternate reality, but it's all true. Dusty loves his utility infielders. Loves putting them everywhere around the diamond. Fontenot would have had a hot first week, and Dusty would have been creative with how he got him into the lineup. Sorry, Huff. It's Fontenot's turn.
In this reality, Brandon Belt is in Fresno, plying his trade and raking, raking, raking.
Sergio Romo would be coming back in August after going on the DL with an elbosplosion last year. Dusty sure likes to ride the hot hand in the 'pen, as he did with Julian Tavarez, Doug Henry, Rich Rodriguez, and John Johnstone. It wouldn't have been easy to resist pitching Romo more often than Bochy did last year. Solution: Don't resist!
Another difference would be Jeremy Affeldt would be a specialist. If you thought his contract was pricey for his current role …
oh god bunting everywhere what is this more bunting and then pill came up and bunted and then the bunt hit a bunt and there was a bunt and then blanco bunted pagan over who reached on a bunt that hit another bunt that made babies with another bunt that grew up to be bunts and then the bunts got buntier and bunted more bunts until they bunted the bunt bunt bunt.
Dusty Baker uses the word "bunt" like it's "smurf," by the way. His jacket is bunty. His favorite tea is nice and bunty in the morning. You get the idea.
The common complaint is that Dusty shreds young arms, and he really did do some reckless things with Mark Prior -- oh, yeah, gotta let him throw 131 pitches when you have a seven-run lead -- but I'm not sure if that's legit or a chicken/egg thing. Blaming a manager for young pitchers going down is like blaming a cat breeder for some of his cats being aloof, people-hating jerks. It was probably going to happen anyway.
I'm not a wild fan of Bochy's strategy so far this season -- did I mention the jackassery of pinch-hitting Matt Cain for Barry Zito yet? -- but I know that Dusty would make me crazier. Dusty does all the things you don't like about Bochy, only with more bunts, more questionable pitching moves, and more clapping in the dugout.
Just thought it was worth a reminder. Maybe you disagree.
Hitter to watch
Gee, I don't know. Willie Harris? Wilson Valdez? Miguel Cairo? See what I mean? They're all on the same team. Amazing. Dusty plays utility-player Pokemon, and he's winning, people.
But I'm kind of fascinated by this Devin Mesoraco kid these days, even if he's being eased into the lineup real careful-like. I'm fascinated enough that I've stopped spelling his name Mesocorco, Mesorcorio, and Mecoraco recently. I love how he started his minor-league career, too:
Walks per season
1st year: 15
2nd year: 20
3rd year: 35
4th year: 43
5th year: 52
It'll be a bummer to see Bonds' walk record go down, but I'm thinking that Mesoraco will break it in 18 years. Also of note: Barry Bonds walked 232 times in 2004. The Giants walked 448 times last year. Figured I should point that out.
Pitcher to watch
Oh, Mat Latos. You smarmy jackass. We meet again. Here is Mat Latos. He looks like a thumb:
I miss Latos on the Padres, if only because it's nice to have a hated player on each team. Who am I going to hate on the Padres, Will Venable? Nah, not when I grew up on Max. Jesus Guzman? Nah, I'm happy he's found a niche (and he's kind of stinking this year). Cory Luebke? Yeah! Of course! He's the one who r … wait, no, that's a different guy. I'll bet he gets that a lot.
But Latos was a villain. It's not going to be the same with him on the Reds. That isn't to say that I'm not rooting for a line drive to whistle past his goofy thumb-face -- just to scare him, is all -- but it's not going to be the same.
This post will draw Dusty aficionados out of the bushes. They've been among us the whole time. Now they'll speak up. They're willing to sacrifice their credibility to voice their opinions. Also, to move the runner to second.