The Reds finished 90-72 on the season and made the playoffs three of the last four years, but after losing their last five games of the regular season and losing to the Pittsburgh Pirates, 6-2, in the National League Wild Card game on Tuesday, the team's last-minute struggles are said to be a big part of the decision to replace Baker. He had one year left on his contract, which he is expected to be paid for.
Yahoo! Sports' Jeff Passan reports that although the players like Baker, who took the helm of a struggling club in 2008, they felt it was the right move. The club was not able to crack through the first round of any of its postseason appearances under Baker's tenure as manager.
"Maybe the time is long enough because I was starting to get quite a few jeers and some hate mail and stuff," Baker said in a conference call with reporters, though he admits he was surprised by the decision. "So maybe it was time for me to move on."
Baker has 20 years of MLB managerial experience, including time with the Giants and Cubs in addition to the Reds. He leaves Cincinnati with a 509-463 record, good for third all-time in Reds managerial wins, and three NL Manager of the Year awards. The firing is the second of this new offseason for non-playoff teams, following the dismissal of Cubs skipper Dale Sveum.
Though his services are no longer needed at Great American Ball Park, Baker said he would like to continue managing.
"I've got a lot to offer somebody," he said. "I know it, and I think they know it, too."
Sports Illustrated adds that the team's top choice to replace Baker is Reds pitching coach Bryan Price. Price is supposedly being eyed by the Seattle Mariners, who now have a vacancy with the departure of Eric Wedge.