Reds optimistic about Baker's return as manager

Reds optimistic about Baker's return as manager

CINCINNATI -- One of the big questions the Reds are facing in the offseason is whether manager Dusty Baker and his coaches will return for 2013.

A baseball source familiar with the situation told MLB.com on Friday that the forecast was "optimistic" that Baker and his staff would be back.

The front office, Baker and the coaching staff held their regular end-of-season review and meetings on Friday, one day after Cincinnati's stunning Game 5 elimination by the Giants in the National League Division Series.

According to USA Today, Baker will likely be offered a short-term contract. The 63-year-old has often worked with shorter deals. After his original three-year contract expired, Baker was given a two-year extension following the Reds' 91-win season in 2010, but before club was swept in that year's NLDS by the Phillies.

Going in Baker's favor this year is that Cincinnati won 97 games and the NL Central title, despite an array of obstacles that could have derailed most teams.

The Reds overcame the loss of three relievers to injury during Spring Training -- including new closer Ryan Madson -- to post the league's best bullpen ERA. They survived the loss of Joey Votto for 48 games starting on July 16 and posted a 32-16 record -- at one point running off a 22-3 record over 25 games from July 6-Aug. 4.

And when ace Johnny Cueto was injured eight pitches into Game 1 against the Giants, Baker and pitching coach Bryan Price acted fast by using Sam LeCure until Game 3 probable starter Mat Latos was ready and found a way to win the game.

Baker joined Bill McKechnie and Sparky Anderson as the only Reds managers to lead the franchise to multiple postseason berths. Since coming to the Reds in 2008, Baker has a record of 419-391 (.517). His 1,581 wins over 19 seasons as a manager ranks 19th all time and is second among active skippers.

Mark Sheldon is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Mark My Word, and follow him on Twitter @m_sheldon. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.