Friday, October 01, 2004

Here’s What We Know

Dusty Baker has officially seen his honeymoon end. I’m not calling for his firing. Hell, I was on the radio two summers ago just before Don Baylor was fired suggesting that the Cubs hang onto Baylor until the Cubs knew if Dusty was going to be free to negotiate. But the luster is off. It’s not even the in-game strategies that are the problem. Dusty was hired to keep an orderly clubhouse. In 2004, he failed. From Kerry Wood going off on the umps in April, to Moises Alou going off on Steve Stone, to Kent Mercker doing the same, to Nomar Garciaparra whining about being tired, this was a loathsome group of men. Dusty’s job was to keep them in line and keep them happy. He didn’t. If Dusty is a mediocre-at-best game manager, he’d better be the best locker room manager ever seen. He wasn’t in 2004.

The lineup needs major overhauls. Korey Patterson is not a leadoff hitter. I heard Peter Gammons on the radio this morning. He was saying that Adam Dunn’s strikeout record would be broken in the next few years. I’d venture that #20 on Chicago is a good candidate. If Korey comes back to this team in2005, it should be at a position in the order lower than 6th. Moises Alou needs to leave. So does Sammy Sosa. Michael Barrett? His bat disappeared lately. And he was calling pitches in all the extra inning losses. I don’t know what to do with him. I’m torn over Nomar. While the Cubs need one of Cabrerra, Nomar or Edgar Renteria, I’m leaning towards Edgar. Something makes me think that Nomar is now a chronic disabled list guy.

The starting pitching staff is fine. Mark Prior is back. Carlos Zambrano is an ace. Kerry Wood, while not a #1, is an excellent #3. Maddux can be #4 and a rookie (see list at right) can be #5. That’s a winning starting staff. A genuine closer is needed. Korey may be your best bit of trade bait given the availability of Carlos Beltran and the grooming of Felix Pie.

2004 is over. It’s been over for quite a while, but it’s now about to be official. Jim Hendry has a lot of work to do. Dusty Baker has a lot of soul searching to do.

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