We did not see this coming. Especially given that just two days ago Reds GM Walt Jocketty said that he did not think that there was any question that Baker would be back given that he was under contract through 2014. My guess: this was an ownership call.

Baker was 509-463 in six years as the Reds manager. He led them to two NL Central titles and with this year’s wild card he took them to the playoffs three times. But Baker’s performance in the playoffs has been harshly criticized by some in Cincinnati and the Reds have yet to win a playoff series under him. They are 2-7 in the playoffs in that time. Of course the team had missed the playoffs for a dozen years running before he got there.

For Baker you wonder if this is the end of the managing road. On the one hand he obviously still knows what he’s doing continues to maintain the confidence of his players and based on the fact that the Reds have won 90+ games in three of the past four years he’s obviously effective. On the other hand he’s 64 years-old and you wonder if he wants to start anew someplace else.

For everyone else: another plum manager’s job is open. Both Washington and Cincinnati are ready-made “win now” jobs that should attract a number of good candidates.