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D-backs proudly display lineup card from 2005 season opening 16-6 loss vs. Cubs

By bullpenbrian - February 28, 2013 - 3:05 pm Leave a comment.

Diamondbacks opening day lineup 2005

I stumbled across this picture on the blog Old Time Family Baseball. The writer, Michael Clair, is a finalist to join the MLB Fan Cave for the upcoming season.

He recently snapped the photo while on a tour of Chase Field in Arizona. Not entirely sure why this particular lineup card is on display at the ballpark–the Cubs won the 2005 season opener 16-6 vs. the Diamondbacks.

Nonetheless, there are some former Cubs ties with players Luis Gonzalez (1995-96), Chad Tracy (2010) and Koyie Hill (2007-12).

As for the game, the Cubs scored in 7 of 9 frames, mashing the D-backs’ pitching for 23 hits. Starter Javier Vazquez was lit up allowing 7-ER on 10-H in 1.2 innings.

Derrek Lee (who would go on to have the best all-around season of his career winning the National League batting title (.335), a Silver Slugger Award and a Gold Glove while finishing third in MVP voting), went 4-for-6 with a HR and five RBI.

Aramis Ramirez went 3-for-4, including a HR, 4 RBI and 4 runs scored. Jeromy Burnitz had 3 hits and Nomar Garciaparra added 2 hits and 3 RBI. Even Corey Patterson had a big day going 3-for-5 with 2 RBI and 2 runs scored.

Carlos Zambrano started for the Cubs, but lasted only 4.2 innings allowing 3 runs on 7 hits with 4 walks and 8 strikeouts. Glendon Rusch took over in the fifth, pitched 2.1 innings allowing 2 runs, and earned the win.

Despite a promising start, the Cubs lost the next three games and hovered around .500 until the beginning of May, when they suffered a 7-game losing streak. A few weeks later the Cubs bounced back winning 7 straight to jump above .500, but the success was short lived.

The Cubs thereafter experienced two 8-games losing skids, one in July the other in August, that wipe the team out of postseason contention. They finished the campaign (79-83) under Dusty Baker, then in his third season as Chicago’s manager (sad trombone).


No Need To Keep Hating On Dusty

By bullpenbrian - October 16, 2012 - 2:45 am 2 comments.

I get tired of Cubs fans reveling in delight at every misfortune Dusty Baker experiences as manager of the Reds, who extended its skipper for 2 more years on Monday.

It seems Cubs fans have developed some sort of self-medicating technique to ease the pain of the past by simply blaming Baker for everything from his 96-loss season in 2005, to the brutal NLCS loss against Florida, to the demise of Mark Prior & Kerry Wood, to just about every other countless Cubs failure during his tenure in Chicago.

Don’t get me wrong, Dusty is responsible for some of that blame. But all of it? Hardly.

The fact of the matter is, nothing will wipe away the heartbreak of coming within five outs of a World Series appearance, or the what-could-have-been careers of Prior & Wood.

What happened, happened. It’s over. Done. History, whether it’s Baker’s cross to bear or not.

But to think of this guy as a bum manager is ridiculous. Baker won 3 NL Manager of the Year Awards before he ever stepped foot into the Cubs’ dugout in 2003…and should’ve won a fourth with the Reds in 2010 (he lost by one vote).

Since taking over the down trodden Reds in 2008, Dusty’s resurrected the franchise to its highest success in 30 years, having won 2 division titles in the past 3 season.

He’s now just one of 6 manager in major league history to have won 3 division titles with 3 different teams (Billy Martin, Tony La Russa, Lou Piniella & Davey Johnson).

No, the playoff success hasn’t been there. And no, Dusty will never be considered a great tactical game manager. But you can’t ignore Baker’s boys love playing for him, or that more often than not, his teams are competing near the top of the league.

Who knows if Baker will ever find enough postseason success to win a world championship. But I hope he does, even if it comes with the division rival Reds while the Cubs are rebuilding (after all, anything is better than another Cardinals championship).

And I understand rooting against Baker may relieve some of your Cubs pain. But isn’t it about time we let the dead bury the dead, move on from Baker’s disappointments, Bartman, Billy Goat Curses, Black Cats and various other hexes as the crux of the Cubs’ postseason futility?

Even if Baker was once the root of all Cubs evil, he no longer is, and hasn’t been for some time. So why keep hating on the man?

Like countless other Cubs managers before him, it didn’t work out, for whatever reasons doesn’t matter. Dusty’s moved on, and as Cubs fans, we should, too.


Cubs Aiming To Become Reds

By bullpenbrian - September 20, 2012 - 6:20 pm Leave a comment.

Thank goodness the Cubs don’t face the Reds again this season. I’ve had my fill of Baker’s boys thumping the Cubbies, which I’m sure has tasted real sweet for the former Chicago bench boss.

POLAR OPPOSITES: We’re talking about two teams that couldn’t be more opposite. Cincinnati (90-59) is fighting for the best record in the National League after clinching a playoff spot with its 5-3 victory vs. Chicago this afternoon–completing a three-game sweep of the series. The Cubs, meanwhile, are fighting to avoid 100-losses (58-91).

The Reds are playing like a team poised to make a World series run, and they have all the parts to do it. Its starting rotation is both strong and reliable. They have one of the best bullpens in all of baseball. The lineup is solid top-to-bottom with good bench depth. They field the ball well…blah, blah, blah.

The Cubs are, well, being the Cubs and looking at a high draft pick and any help they can find…in all areas. For all intents and purposes, the Reds are exactly what the Cubs want to become, and where we hope the rebuild leads to–a World Series contender.

When that finally happens it will be a nice change of pace to the season series vs. Cincinnati, which has leaned heavily in the Reds’ favor over the past three seasons. Cincinnati is (33-15) against the Cubs, including a (17-8) mark at Wrigley Field since 2010.

In 2012 the Reds are (10-4) against Chicago and (7-2) at Wrigley. The Cardinals may still be the arch rival, but St. Louis hasn’t had nearly the success the Reds have had against the Cubs in recent memory. Ugh, painful.

IN DUSTY REDS TRUSTY: As much as Cubs fans don’t want to admit it, the Reds also have one heckuva manager in Dusty Baker, who will become just the third skipper in Reds history to lead the team to the postseason more than once joining Bill McKechnie, Sparky Anderson & Davey Johnson (yes, the same Davey Johnson skippering the Nationals (90-58)).

If Baker’s Reds do, in fact, take home the best overall record in the NL there’s a good chance Dusty wins his third Manager of the Year Award. His next victory, by the way, ties him with Pete Rose for the sixth most wins as a Reds manager in franchise history.

NOW ST. LOUIS: Next up for the Cubs are the Cardinals, winners of four-straight and leading the wild card by 2.5 games over the Dodgers and 3.0 over the pesky Brewers (at the time of this post).

It’s the last series of the season for the Cubs to really play a spoiler role in the National League. Colorado, Arizona and Houston are the final series of 2012 with basically zero playoff implications on the line.

If the Cubs don’t take two of three from the Cardinals this weekend, it probably spells the end of Milwaukee’s late charge as they head to Washington for a four-game series against the Nats.


In Quade We Trusty?

By bullpenbrian - August 8, 2011 - 1:01 am Leave a comment.

A tough 8-7 loss to the Reds on Sunday ended the Cubs seven-game winning streak. But the string of wins greatly improves Chicago’s chances of avoiding 100-losses.

That means little in the grand scheme of things, the Cubs still stink and remain one of baseball’s worst clubs, but it’s huge for Mike Quade.


Because it’s tough justifying the return of any manager whose team reaches triple digits in the loss column, and especially for a club expected to contend.


Rothschild At Blame For Prior & Wood?

By bullpenbrian - November 23, 2010 - 12:01 am 15 comments.

Dusty Baker is blamed for the downfall of both Mark Prior and Kerry Wood.
But what about former Cubs pitching coach Larry Rothschild?

Baker, of course, controlled the reins on how many pitches each threw and when they came out of the game. But does Larry get a free pass for not fixing the mechanical issues of Prior and Wood?


NL Manager of the Year Award 2010

By bullpenbrian - October 12, 2010 - 12:01 am Leave a comment.

*My vote

*Dusty Baker, Cincinnati – Baker shed his reputation as a verterans-first manager to guide a young and inexperienced club to an unexpected division championship.

Despite playing in a home ballpark conducive to hitting, Baker instead preached defense first and aggressive base running secondly. The Reds bought-in to capture its first winning season in ten years and its first trip to the postseason since 1995.

Charlie Manuel, Philadelphia – Manuel delivered his promise that his team “will be back” after losing the the World Series to New York.

Chuck marched the Phils back into contention in the season’s second half by masterfully handling a faulty bullpen and a roster depleted by costly injuries to key players.

Three straight division championships has won Manuel the respect of the home market that once mocked him and positioned Philly to become the the first NL team since St. Louis in 1942-44 to reach three straight World Series.

Bud Black, San Diego – No one predicted the Padres would win 90 games in 2010. But despite a new GM and zero significant additions over the offseason, Black led the Friars to within 2 games of the West division title.


In Dusty We Trusty

By bullpenbrian - September 29, 2010 - 12:01 am 1 comment.

So many Dusty Baker haters out there, but there’s no denying this guy’s a winner. He was a winner with San Fran. He was a winner with Chicago, and now he’s a winner with Cincinnati.

This is Baker’s fourth division championship–Giants ’97-’00, Cubs ’03, Reds ’10.
He’s just the ninth manager all time to lead three different teams into the postseason, and only the third manager to turn the trick in a nine year span.

Baker’s won three NL Manager of the Year Awards–’93,’97,’00.
He could easily win his fourth this season.

Cubs fans, however, loath Baker. He was the blame of nearly every Cubs misfortune from 2004-06. That despite coming within six out of the World Series, an 89-win season in 2004 and the Tribune company’s awful ownership group.

I’m not saying Baker deserved to stay with the Cubs, he didn’t.
The win loss record wasn’t there and neither was his clubhouse chemistry.
But to keep blaming Baker for all the Cubs’ shortcomings during his time in Chicago is ridiculous.

Dusty Baker didn’t fail here alone, he had plenty of help.
Kerry Wood and Mark Prior ruin themselves without Baker’s help. Sammy Sosa, too. Baker didn’t just wake up stupid one morning in Chicago. The Cubs, however, did and let a HOF manager get away.


Dusty Baker Out In Cincinnati?

By bullpenbrian - August 6, 2010 - 1:00 am Leave a comment.

Dusty Baker’s 3-year deal expires at the end of this season, and the Reds have made no indication as to whether or not Baker will be resigned to a new deal.

Since taking over the reins in 2008, Baker is seven-games sub .500 and has finished no better than fourth place in the division.

But an interesting scenario is unfolding this season with the Reds in a tight race against St. Louis for the NL Central title.


Former Cubs In The News

By bullpenbrian - June 23, 2010 - 1:03 am Leave a comment.

Mark DeRosa has quietly opted for season-ending surgery on his left wrist. He underwent surgery last offseason on the same wrist, but in a different area from his current nerve injury.

Because of the surgery, the Giants took much grief for signing the 35-year-old to a 2-yr, $12M deal this offseason. The criticism is sure to linger with DeRosa out after batting .194 with 1 HR and 10 RBI through 26 games.

–Gary Matthews Jr. signed with Cincinnati after the Mets cut him loose earlier this week. All indications show Dusty Baker is doing his long time friend, Gary Matthews Sr., a favor by bringing the Little Sarge aboard. The elder Matthews played four years for the Cubs (1984-87)…Matthews Jr. played two seasons on the North Side (2000-01).

–Eric Patterson, the younger brother of Corey, was DFA by Oakland this week. He was shipped to the A’s in the Rich Harden deal.

–Baltimore sent Oakland a minor league pitcher and cash to acquire former Cub Jake Fox, who was DFA by Oakland last week. If Fox rebounds to his 2008 form, .259, 11 HR, 44 RBI, it could spell the end to Garrett Atkins’ tenure with the O’s.


Big Red: Once A Cub Now A Rocky

By bullpenbrian - February 6, 2009 - 12:03 am Leave a comment.

The A’s recently traded former Cub Matt Murton to Colorado.

I think it’s a big-break for the big red-head.

With Matt Holiday sent packing to Oakland earlier this off season, the Rockies’ LF position is wide open for the 27-year-old Murton.

If given a chance to play everyday, I believe Murton can put up strong numbers, especially slugging in Denver’s thin air.

Plus, heading into his prime years Murton already brings to the table a respectable career average of .288 and a .354 OBP in just 900 at-bats.

I envision more power from Murton, more RBIs and perhaps a season so strong Cubs fans will want to know “why’d we get rid of this guy?”

  • Dusty Baker is a better manager than most Cubs fans give him credit for.

And despite his label as a veteran’s first guy, Baker has gone with youth in Cincinnati – that is, until he went good-buddy system with Jacque Jones and Daryle Ward.

Didn’t Dusty learn anything from bringing Corey Patterson to the Reds???

The man is passionate about baseball, and still is after 29-years of broadcasting nearly every single major sporting even.

When you get paid for fulfilling your passion, it’s not work.

The best part is MLB promising Costas that he’ll have free range in criticizing his new employer…but, we’ll see how long before Costas has the opportunity to do so.


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