Here, give me the ball.  You go sit on the bench and get older.You really have to hand it to Dusty Baker. We all joked about how quickly he could stunt the “youth movement” with the Cincinnati Reds, but even we didn’t know he’d have it completely stopped by the fourth of March.


The Reds have, if you believe experts, four pretty studly prospects ready to contribute in the near future. Pitchers Johnny Cueto and Homer Bailey (two guys Dusty will use and use and use until Tommy John himself picks them up at the Birmingham airport to drive them to Dr. Andrews’ office) and center fielder Jay Bruce and first baseman Joey Votto.

Scott Hatteberg figures to steal enough of Votto’s at bats to fit Dusty’s profile. Even if Dusty’s going to get plenty tired of Hatteberg trying to clog the bases with all those walks. But really, the only thing in between Bruce and a full-time job in centerfield was Norris Hopper.

That actually seemed like a legitimate threat because Dusty spent the early part of camp lauding Norris and his scrappiness.

But yesterday…it happened. The unthinkable. The utterly hilarious.

Yes, Corey Patterson is a Red. Reunited with the Dustbag. No doubt about to be crammed unproductively into the leadoff spot. You can’t make this stuff up.

Hall of Fame baseball writer Hal McCoy is one of the best, and he’s legally blind, and that didn’t stop him from nearly passing out from fear of what he plainly sees is going on. Dusty’s turning the Reds into the Cubs. Not the 2003 or 2004 Cubs. The 2006 Cubs.


It’s not just Corey Patterson. Gabor Bako is already on the roster. So is Kent Mercker (one of Dusty’s favorite assbags). And if the kick to the nuts didn’t hurt enough, Dusty started gouging Reds’ fans eyes out by bringing in Jerry Hairston the Lesser.

How many of these guys are likely to make the team? In a normal world…none. In Dusty’s? All four. Nearly 20 percent of an already weak roster will be occupied by terrible ex-Cubs.

What’s not to love?

At least Dusty’s basic bullplop hasn’t changed.

“Main thing, [Patterson] is still young (28),” Baker said. “To me, he hasn’t even scratched the surface of what he can do. He is one of the fastest runners in the league. He plays a great center field.”

Right. He’s still young. He’s still fast. He’s had six years to learn what a strike is and hasn’t. He’s had six years to learn not to try to hit every pitch 500 feet and hasn’t. You were there for three of them, and you had such a great, calming influence on him.

“He was caught between what he wanted to be,” said Baker. “He didn’t know if he was a get-on-base speed guy or if he had enough power just to mess him up. He was confused. Didn’t know if he was a hitter or slugger. I think, through hook or crook, he realized he is a hitter.”

What? When did he realize that? When he got that on base average all the way up to .304 last year and couldn’t find a job until three weeks into spring training?

“He is the epitome of hype to the point where fans begin clamoring for him,” Baker added. “Where is so-and-so? He is where Jay Bruce used to be. In Chicago, they were saying, ‘We want Corey, we want Corey.’ I said once that the Cubs rushed him and I got in trouble with the organization.”

You got in trouble with the organization because you wanted to play Jose Macias in centerfield. Instead of batting Corey seventh or eighth, you insisted on batting him first and then complaining about it. Man, am I glad you’re somebody else’s problem.


Steve Stone is going to do every White Sox game on radio this year. Chris Singleton will join the prattle at ESPN’s Baseball Tonight, leaving the full-time analyst job to Stone. Steve Stone and Ed Farmer? Who needs Tylenol PM?

Good to see that Packers fans are keeping things in perspective. Can’t wait to see him come back and play for some random team this October when their starter blows out a knee.

John Heyman, who is often wrong, says that the Cubs and Orioles talks are ‘heating up.’ I assume this means that Jim Hendry’s been dipping his doughnuts in fondue while talking to Andy MacPhail on the phone. Look, it’s going to be Sean Gallagher, Ronny Cedeno, and Juan Mateo for Roberts. Why not just sign the papers and get it over with?

I’m off to Mesa for a few days, unless I get on the plane tonight and run into this: