Dusty Baker’s Cincinnati Reds have scored just 12 runs in their last five games, all losses. On a recent 10-game road stint, the Milwaukee Brewers scored just 12 runs. The Philadelphia Phillies have scored just 13 runs while losing six of their last nine games. And those teams aren’t alone.
The offensive slumps for what are typically some of the National League’s top offensive teams are a bit mind-boggling to some. But not to Baker. The Reds’ skipper isn’t blaming the whole thing on better pitching throughout baseball, he believes it all revolves around the weather.
It’s true, it’s been a pretty miserable spring for baseball. I, myself, have attempted to go to six games in five different ballparks only to see two of them postponed and to watch one of them in the rain. Baker says everybody’s bats will heat up once the temperatures do the same. Hopefully he’s right.
Dusty Baker joined 97.5 The Fanatic in Philadelphia with Larry Bowa, Brian Baldinger and Harry Mayes to discuss the success of the Cleveland Indians, Chase Utley returning against the Reds tonight, the offensive struggles for many teams early in the season, why he believes teams like his and the Philadelphia Phillies will turn that around, the future of Aroldis Chapman and his feelings overall on his club up to this point.
After getting swept by the Cleveland Indians, is it clear that team is just that good?:
“They’re pretty good. The thing about them is they have some good, young pitching. Some of the league doesn’t know their pitching yet, which I think is in their favor. Not to take anything away from them, but it really helps them a lot. … A lot of it depends on if they sustain this or not if and when they get Hafner and Grady Sizemore back. But they’re playing with a lot of enthusiasm.”
How will you pitch to Chase Utley now that he’s making his return to the lineup?:
“To tell you the truth, much like how we pitched to him in the past, I guess. This guy’s tough to pitch to. On the other hand, you don’t know if he’s Chase Utley or not, yet, because he hasn’t been at the big-league level. … The thing about Chase Utley has going for him that most guys don’t is his stroke is so short … that it doesn’t take long to get in sync.”
Has the pitching in baseball really been that much better this season or does the weather have a lot to do with it?:
“That’s a great question because I’m telling you that pitching just doesn’t get that great that quickly from one year to the next. Even though they do have some fine, young pitchers in baseball, I do think the weather has something to do with it. We’ve only had probably two warm days that I can remember in Cincinnati. … This has been the strangest spring I’ve ever seen. And, frankly, I think we’re all looking forward to warm weather.”
Does this Phillies team that he’s going up against look like a team that can win the World Series despite recent offensive woes?:
“To tell you the truth, I hope they don’t, because I want to get there. … If you’ve got that pitching, you can go a long ways. The guys are going to hit. It’s a matter, to me, if they’re missing Jayson Werth, how Utley comes around, if Polanco continues to hit, and how Raul Ibanez does. … That’s a lot of offense they’re missing. As a hitter, May was my toughest month because the weather is hot and cold and the pitchers are getting their endurance. … This is a late, late spring it looks like and I anticipate some of these guys are going to have some tremendous second halves.”
Looking ahead, does he see flamethrower Aroldis Chapman as a closer, a starter, or something in between?:
“We really don’t know. There are times he looks like he could be a closer, there are times he looks like he needs to be a starter. Lately, he’s gotten out of sync and we sent him out yesterday on a rehab assignment. We need him right now as a reliever. … He has the capability of doing both. I haven’t seen him much as a starter.”
Assessing his team at this point in the season and riding a five-game skid:
“Even though we’ve lost these games, other than that 12-4 game yesterday, we’ve been in every ballgame. We’re one run away, one play away. … The one thing about this team here is this team is a very resilient team. … These guys never really seem to panic or have a sense of urgency about much because they’re a very confident group.”