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.
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?
Good to see Mark Prior back on track for the majors.
And glad we’re not talking about the towel drill!
Prior joins Triple-A Oklahoma City, a Rangers affiliate, this weekend.
The 30-year-old envisions his comeback as a reliever, not a starter.
The obvious health questions aside, Prior has a tough road to reach the Rangers’ bullpen. Texas relievers lead the AL in wins (25), are second in strikeouts and have posted a 1.80 ERA since August 19.
There are also two sure-fire prospects blocking Prior’s chances. Left-handers Michael Kirkman, who was named the Pacific Coast League Pitcher of the Year this week, and Derek Holland, who went 6-2 with a 1.87 ERA for Oklahoma City before his recent call-up to Arlington.
However, a strong showing for Prior in Triple-A could earn a late September call-up. And although he would not be eligible for postseason play, an invite to spring training 2011 could put Prior back in the majors before we know it.
Prior spent one month this season pitching for the Orange County Flyers of the Golden Baseball League. In nine releif appearances Prior allowed just one unearned run, striking out 22 of 44 baters faced.
Why Cubs fans fear a sophomore slump for Randy Wells I don’t know.
He showed up early to spring camp…has a perfect 3-0 record in Mesa…and shows no signs of a Geovany Soto letdown.
Wells should have been a 15-game winner in 2009…maybe even more…but the Cubs gave him practically no run support in his first seven outings.
He started 0-3…didn’t earn his first win until his eighth appearance…and yet he led the staff in ERA (3.05) while tying Ted Lilly for most wins (12).
Noah Lowry should be a realistic option for the Cubs.
The Cubs need more depth to the rotation and Lowry, looking to sign before the start of Spring Training, is in the market for a cheap, one-year, incentive laden deal.
Of course, the guy’s a total rebuild project, not quite reaching the level of a Mark Prior, but heading down the same road, nonetheless.
Since last pitching in the majors two seasons ago, Lowry has suffered through neuromuscular forearm problems, bones spur removal in his pitching elbow, the removal of a rib and thoracic outlet syndrome–shoulder and neck pain that causes numbness in the forearm. Yeesh!
I think Mark Prior makes a return to the bump with SD this year.
His situation is ideal for it: he’s under no pressure, has plenty of money and is far removed from Chicago.
Of course, I’m not saying it will be a successful return, but I’m still pulling for the guy.
If by some medical miracle he stays healthy, there’s still enough time for him to make a career of it. After all, he’s just 28-years-old.
The question is, can Prior reinvent himself from thrower to pitcher?