Dan LeBatard On Joe Girardi

With the end of the season fast approaching and the Dusty Era (hopefully) coming to a close, Cub fans far and wide have been looking toward next season. One big question on everyone's mind is, "who will the Cubs' manager be in 2007"? Fredi Gonzalez' name has bandied about quite a bit recently (and, actually, since the last time the Cubs were looking for a skipper), and he's Arizona Phil's odds-on choice. But strange things are afoot in south Florida. Last month saw a strange series of events take place between Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria and manager (and Peoria native, Northwestern grad, ex-Cub) Joe Girardi, leading lots of Cubs fans to get excited about the possibility of Girardi coming to Chicago next year. In order to give us some idea what kind of manager he is for the Marlins and might be for the Cubs, we asked one of the best professional baseball writers out there, Miami Herald/ESPN columnist Dan LeBatard, to answer a few questions about Joe: ---------- TCR: I don't think many Cubs fans have a clear sense of what kind of manager Girardi is -- except for the occasional "what a great job they're doing on $15M" article, the national press hasn't covered the team much before this week. So what kind of manager is he, in broad strokes? Fiery like Piniella? Avuncular like Leyland? Crazy like Bowa? Stoic like Torre? DLB: Relentlessly optimistic and positive. The next controversial word he says will be the first. Polished. Professional. Disciplined. Big on the basics. More old school than new school. No on Piniella and Bowa. Closer to Torre, I suppose. Like that he wasn't afraid to grab the jersey of Scott Olsen when Olsen went on a temper tantrum. Wasn't John Gibbons-like. Players seemed to respect it because it was him, and it was unusual but necessary. TCR: What press the team has gotten has talked about Girardi from the leadership side, but how is he as an in-game manager? On a scale of 1 to 10, where 1 is where I think Dusty Baker belongs and 10 is where Tony LaRussa thinks he belongs, where would you put him? What does he do too much, or not enough? DLB: Closer to Baker than LaRussa, not that I think much of that stuff matters all that much. Girardi bunts way too much. Gives up outs in the first inning with Dan Uggla, one of his best hitters, against pitchers with an ERA of 6.00. Doesn't make sense. It's awful and frequent, but it isn't like it matters much because you can win in spite of it, as the Marlins have shown. Wednesday night, he bunted with runners on first and second and no outs in a 2-0 game he was winning with the eighth spot and a pitcher throwing a no-hitter. So he moved runners over for Anibel Sanchez, who is hitting .091. Exasperating. TCR: Girardi mentioned earlier this year that he had to spend a lot of time "teaching," especially at the beginning of the year. Do you have any insight on what that entailed? Did the team take extra practice? Was it Girardi out there hitting grounders or was it more behind-the-scenes stuff regarding situational baseball and how to act like a "major leaguer?" DLB: All of it. Jogging with players. Talking to them. Getting on the ground and blocking balls. It was teaching and talking. Getting in their ears, letting his coaches (like the exceptional Perry Hill) drill the smallest things. TCR: Girardi brought over the strict Yankees clubhouse rules with him regarding facial hair, etc., right? Do the players seem to mind? DLB: They're too young and grateful to mind. They don't like, it but whatever. They're in the big leagues at a time when meal money is still something exciting. They're not going to bitch about that silly stuff, even though it is silly. TCR: What adjective(s) would you use to describe Girardi's relationship with and approach towards the media? Does he keep them at arm's length, is he chummy, defensive, confrontational, etc.? DLB: I haven't dealt with him all that much but I'd go with "professional." TCR: Does the recent dust-up between Girardi and Loria really mean anything? Does it say something about Girardi, his ability to get along with higher-ups, etc., or is just much ado about nothing? DLB: It isn't much ado about nothing because it'll probably cost him his job, no matter how well he does this year. Management here can be clumsy and the details on that particular fight are immature and, evidently, lasting. But the front office is more important than he is, and more powerful. The front office is the reason this team is winning, not Girardi. And there have been whispers that Girardi wanted some unconventional things (Cabrera at first, Uggla in left, olivo not playing) that makes you wonder what he was thinking. TCR: Girardi seems to have done a great job of leading a team without much experience. Do you think he would have the same sort of success on a team with more veterans, or is his personality one which younger players can get along with better? DLB: I think he is having success because his starting staff is one of the best in the league. I think that has very little to do with him, just as Detroit's no. 1 pitching staff has very little to do with Jim Leyland, though we love to give these guys the credit with our love of coach worship. It's intellectually lazy. Team wins. We don't have explanation. so we credit the coach because we love the idea of the skipper on the top step of the dugout, elbow on knee, guiding the ship. It's the arms. TCR: And since I've been dancing around the real question for the last two, here it is directly: how do you think he would do as a manager of the Cubs, as they're constituted now? And, what do you think the chances are it will happen this off-season? DLB: It may be simplistic, but wasn't everyone excited about Dusty once? He was great when Prior and Wood were healthy, and he stunk when they weren't. He was great with Barry Bonds, not so great with Juan Pierre. That's how it works with these guys. Girardi will be excellent if his arms and offense are, and he will stink if they aren't. I believe a great manager can help push a team from great to excellent but not bad to good or even mediocre. Look at what happened with Piniella in Tampa, Leyland in Colorado, Art Howe with the Mets. ---------- I take exception to his statements that everyone was excited about Dusty once, or that he was "great" when Prior and Wood were healthy, but putting that aside he paints a picture of a guy who seems to do things the "right" way (except for the bunting thing, but we're used to that, unfortunately). Would that make a difference in Chicago? Le Batard is skeptical -- he says it boils down to the talent on the field, and he's probably right about that. Having a healthy team, and a good pitching staff, will make a manager look good, independent of whatever intangibles he might bring to the team himself. Still, I think that if Girardi does hit the open market (as Le Batard thinks he will), Jim Hendry ought to do whatever he can to try to get him back into a Cubs uniform. After the early highs and recent lows of the Dusty Baker era, bringing in a well-respected young manager with a Chicago connection would give Cubs fans something to be excited about, at least until we turn on him, too.
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Comments

This interview sort of makes me not want Girardi anymore. I hate bunting.

Nice article.

Sounds like Joe manages alot like Baylor. I don't think that's a good thing.

His discipline no bs clubhouse would be a welcome, and I remember Baylor was suppose to be that way and then next thing you know he was hugging Sammy after coming in a week late to ST.

What kind of info is there on Gonzalez?
I heard the Marlins want him too.

I have always postulated that a basketball coach has a more direct connection to wins and losses than a baseball manager. After watching Dusty work this year, I believe a baseball manager has more of an effect on losses than wins! After reading the interview I wonder; which managers have direct control over who plays where? LeBatard alluded that Girardi wanted to switch positions for certain players and/or not play certain players. He was overruled than? Would LaRussa have been? Pinella? Do rookie managers have to answer more to the 'front office' than say experienced ones? I would have to say yes, however you rarely hear a manager was hired and controls all aspects of players than say in basketball when a coach is hired as a coach/gm/president/scout/vendor. Your thoughts?

Everyone WAS excited when Dusty came. If your defense is pointing to one person and saying "He wasn't" or "I wasn't" I think you are taking the statement too literally.

Jonh, perhaps you weren't here at the time but the overwhelming tenor on TCR was moderate to negative.

I was very excited about Baker, of course I had no idea his in-game managing was so poor. It's amazing how the media then (and now) gives him such a free pass. His reputation was/is undeserved.

And for God's sake, no more bunting...

TOM C: I doubt that a young manager like Joe Girardi has much influence and probably has zero control over the 25-man roster. But for a veteran manager like Tony LaRussa or Dusty Baker, that would not be true.

Bill Veeck mentioned in his autobiography Veeck As in Wreck that he had to trade Gene Freese (the White Sox starting 3B at that time) after the 1960 season because Sox manager Al Lopez told Veeck he would not play Freese if he remained on the team. So why didn't Veeck just order Lopez to play Freese? Because Lopez was a veteran manager who had won two A. L. pennants and he that type of control & influence. Lopez decided who was going to play and who wasn't, and although he did not actually construct the 25-man roster, he had total control over making out his lineup, and therefore significant influence (if not direct control) over the membership of the 25-man roster. If there was a player on the roster and Lopez wouldn't use him, Veeck would get rid of that player. And if there was a player Lopez particularly liked, Lopez would tell Veeck and then Veeck would attempt to acquire the player if he was presented with an opportunity to get that player in a trade.

I would agree that a basketball head coach has the most direct effect on the performance of his team in a game than say (for instance) a baseball manager or a football head coach. However, a football Offensive Coordinator (although he is not the Head Coach) has at least as much of an influence on the performance and results of a game as a head basketball coach, because he is in charge of the Game Plan and calls most of the offensive plays during a game.

I would also agree that a baseball manager can lose a game by making a dumb move more than he can win a game by making a "smart" one (because there really aren't any "smart" moves that can be made in a game, just normal logical ones), but that dumb moves can be overcome by simply having the clearly better team on a daily basis. There are probably thousands of American school children who could handle the management of a baseball game as well as most MLB managers, deciding the starting lineup, when to change pitchers, when to use a "double-switch, etc.

The problem the Cubs have had in the last few years is that they have a team that (if healthy) is designed to "compete" (as Jim Hendry likes to call it), not to be the best team in the league. When Hendry designs a team to "be competetitive," what he is really saying is that the team is designed to win about 90 games (as long as everybody stays healthy), one that will stay in contention through to the last week of the season and sometimes get into the post-season.

This type of approach (striving to just "be competetive") requires doing all of the little things right. There can't be a lot of mistakes in scouting and player development, there can't be a lot of mistakes in constructing and managing the 40-man roster, the manager can't make too many dumb moves vis-a-vis lineup construction, game management and the handling of the starting rotation and the bullpen, and (most importantly) you can't lose a key cornerstone player or players to injury for an extended period.

Just one more thing about the College of Coaches theory I wrote about the other day. Phil Wrigley believed that a baseball coaching staff should be more like a football coaching staff (as they existed circa 1961), with a head coach running the game, but delegating Spring Training and pre-game practice to the various specialists ("assistant coaches"), and with player development and practice & drills (like bunting, cutting off throws from the outfield, pitchers covering first base, catchers blocking balls in the dirt) continuing every day throughout the regular season at the MLB level.

The one thing that really bugs me about baseball field management today is the lack of practice during the season. NBA & NFL teams continually practice during the season (even on off days), and in both of those sports, it's often "if you
don't practice you don't start."

Because MLB club play almost every day, practice on days off (except in unusual circumstances) is not necessary. But certainly pre-game batting, outfield, and infield practice is something that should be considered a daily requirement, with additional extra BP or infield practice for those players who need it. And the same drills that are done in Spring Training (bunting, pitchers covering first base, baserunners getting the proper lead off 1st base, middle-infielders turning the DP, infielders cutting off throws from of the OF, outfielders calling for fly balls, et al) should continue daily throughout the season.

This guy made the same comment Baker made about having good players helps you win, bad players will lose. Everyone got all over Baker for saying that, but it's the truth. If Girardi was managing this team, they would still be at least 20 games under. McPhail and Hendry are responsible for this. Unless they make significant changes, and I don't think they are capable of it, the team will suck again next year. If that's the case, I hope the park looks like it has the last few days, half empty. If people stop going, maybe these knuckleheads will do something.

I don't remember what it was, but I do remember Girardi making some bone-head move in his first series (game?) against the Cubs this year. I could write that off as a rookie mistake, but if the Baylor bunting show returns to this town, my excitement at having a local boy come back home will fade very quickly.

I still cringe remembering Ricky Gutierrez bunting ahead of a guy having a 60-home-run year.

I think Girardi managing the Cubs next year is not all that farfetched. We all know Loria & him had a falling out, but I think Hendry would give him the much needed autonomy that Girardi is liking these days.

dray: This guy made the same comment Baker made about having good players helps you win, bad players will lose. Everyone got all over Baker for saying that, but it's the truth.

Don't you think Dusty (even with the injuries) has more to work with than Girardi?

It makes no difference who manages the Cubs as long as MacFailure continues his patch, patch, patch and then patch some more, program of building a baseball team. Until the Tribune gets top management with a plan and committment to building a winner, we will continue to support mediocre Cub teams.

AZ Phil, is there anyone in this day and age that has that contol like Lopez did? I do not think Torre hs that kinda pull over Cashman/Boss, however, what about Bobby Cox? He has been there for such a long duration, plus he was a GM at one point. What about LaRussa? Leyland? Thanx for a great, detailed response.

Good post Ruz...

Man, I like the way this Dan LeBatard thinks. He made lots of sense with some of his thinking. I will have to try and read more of his stuff.

Also, even if Loria lets Girardi go, he is still under contract with FL (aka Pinella in TB and Brown with NYK). So I don't believe he will be a "free agent" and there would need to be some kind of compensation to sign Girardi. And if Loria is a big enough a dick, then he could basically block Girardi from managing the next 2 years unless they can come to some kind of deal.

In the Trib today it says under the Transactions header that Ryan O'Malley was activated from 15-Day DL, but it doesn't say anything on Cubs.com

#12 of 13: By Tom C (September 8, 2006 10:50 AM)
AZ Phil, is there anyone in this day and age that has that contol like Lopez did? I do not think Torre hs that kinda pull over Cashman/Boss, however, what about Bobby Cox? He has been there for such a long duration, plus he was a GM at one point. What about LaRussa? Leyland? Thanx for a great, detailed response.

--

TOM C: Because of the extreme wealth of the team and Steinbrenner's involvement, any manager of the Yankees is going to get a veteran team with a lot of the best MLB players available to be acquired and retained (usually free-agents). So the Yankees manager just needs to keep his mouth shut and not say anything stupid, and he'll get good players and he doesn't need to be brilliant.

In the cases of Cox, LaRussa, Dusty, probably Felipe Alou, Piniella when he was still managing, and probably Jim Leyland once again, I believe they have tremendous influence over the roster, especially the longer they remain at a particular place. Cox has been in Atlanta forever, and the Braves are Bobby Cox's team, just as the Cardinals are Tony LaRussa's team and the Cubs are Dusty Baker's.

That does NOT mean that Cox, LaRussa, or Baker set payroll budgets, or make trades, or make 40-man roster moves, just that they have profound influence (right of refusal, for instance) over who is on the team and who is not. I also believe they have a lot of influence if there is a particular player they would like to have on the team, such that the GM will do whatever he can to acquire (trade for or sign) that player, as long as it fits the GM's budget. For instance, Neifi Perez, Ryan Dempster, Glendon Rusch, et al would not have been re-signed if Dusty Baker had not wanted them to be on the team.

Joe Girardi does not have that "right of refusal" and almost certainly does not have the juice to ask Larry Beinfest to get him a certain player. He has to manage with what he's given, and if the players suck, he is expected to make lemonade.

Also, two interesting comments in the Trib today:

1) I think a few days ago some people were talking about if the coaches even go over scouting reports with the players. Well, it looks like the Trib answered that question:

Eyre also ignored the scouting report on Duffy. "He's a fastball hitter late in the game. Ö So why did I throw him two in a row? Dumb," he said. "Just amazing. I made a mistake. I can't stand here and say I should've done this or that. I didn't. I made a bad pitch today. Ö And every time someone makes a bad pitch this year, it hurts us bad."

2) Ex-Cub Jeromy Burnitz chimes in why he thinks the Cubs and other bad teams struggle:

"It's the same as everybody else's," the Pirates outfielder said. "It usually starts with starting pitching. Let's not make it like it's bigger than that. There's history here, and that's why [losing] becomes a story. "But the facts say that at every level it's pitching first, then defense and then timely hitting. It's that simple. It's no different for the Cubs or us or any other team that's not good."

I'm not sure exactly what managerial employment contracts look like, but I highly doubt any deal would be necessary if the Marlins fire Girardi.

Typically, when an employee under contract is released (not fired for due cause), the employer is still obligated to pay either the full amount of the contract or some preagreed termination pay. The employee is free to seek other employment, but the contractual pay due from the previous employer is offset by any subsequent income.

Even Wikipedia is getting in on the rumors:

Although the Marlins have said the argument is over with, speculation remains that Loria and Girardi dislike one another. This as lead to wide speculation Girardi will be allowed to interview for the Chicago Cub manager vacancy after the 2006 season, following the likely departure of current Cub manager, Dusty Baker.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Joe_Girardi

If Girardi is fired, his contract is terminated and he is free to seek employment wherever. But the Marlins still have to pay him.

I wasn't all that big a Girardi fan before this post, I'm less of one now.

Did someone from TCR write that Wikipedia entry? I love it when "reference' sources become the editorial pages.

Since Scott Eyre's crap performance was just brought up,

Eyre, with a team-best 2.78 ERA, >knew he wasn't concentrating in the ninth the same way he had when he entered in the eighth to strike out Jeromy Burnitz to end the inning. "I didn't go out there with the same intensity and made a bad pitch, plain and simple," he said.

This from a guy with a prescription for Ritalin...

Picked this up 2nd hand from a Desipio poster who got it from Baseball America...

Hill was a decorated prep from the Bay Area, a top college player at Miami (leading the Hurricanes to the 1999 College World Series title) and thought to be a sure-fire big leaguer. The Scott Boras client even held out for a year and played in the independent Atlantic League before re-entering the draft in 2001. While he was a Cub, though, that boy wasnít quite right, and he never panned out for the Pirates (he was part of their payment in the Aramis Ramirez trade) either. But the 28-year-old was everything Team USA could have hoped for in Cuba, hitting .522 while drawing 10 walks, posting an absurd .667 on-base percentage. Take a bow, Bobby.

I think we kind of poked fun at him being on the team. Nice to see that he did well.

Thanks for the interview -- great perspective and a nice antidote to all the Dusty-bashing I read these days. I tend to agree with his overall assessment that the Cubs success has mirrored the health of our starting pitching.

I also think you can't overestimate the incredible run of bad luck we've seen these past few years, whether it's Nomar's injuries, Prior's freak injuries to add to his structural problems, or Derek Lee this year.

I have no problem with Hendry's extension as I think he's been quite good despite the bad luck. I don't love how Aramis, Pierre and Jacque Jones have turned out, but I think all three were reasonable bets at the time and all three are still capable of being big pieces of our future success. Ronnie Cedeno hasn't panned out this year and our pitching staff is pitching like a pitching staff decimated by injuries usually pitches.

The biggest differences between the 2006 Cubs and our 2003 success has been Wood/Prior and the lack of any journeymen catching fire the way Lofton and Simon did in the second half. Is any of this Dusty's fault?

The grim reality is that five of our six franchise players (Aramis, Derek Lee, Wood, Prior and Nomar) have all spent significant time either on the DL or struggling to avoid the DL these past three years. You can bitch about playing time for Neifi or Matt Murton all you like, but the heart of our team has spent most of the past three seasons watching from the rehab chair.

#23 - Dad?

You sound just like my father. My father also feels injuries are the main cause of our problems, and not Hendry or Baker. He even likes Perez as a utility player.

But if anyone were to blame, he puts all of the blame on Larry Rothschild, citing all the injuries and lack of development of our young pitchers.

312-314, for anyone still objectively measuring the Hendry era.

Guys, I talked with the Marlins' Vice Pres of Player Personnel the other day. Told me and another guy the whole Girardi story. Sounds like the front office went to bat for Girardi and tried to keep him, and cool off hot-head Loria. However, they feel Girardi was wrong to curse Loria in public and see Girardi as stubborn with alot to learn. The main thing they like about Girardi is the players buy into him and respect him. I asked him about Fredi Gonzalez and he said Fredi is overdue to run a team an a terrific canadite. I hinted I knew the Marlins would be intrested if Girardi doesn't stay..he seemed to smile in agreement. It will be an intresting offseason.

poor bobby hill...never had power but had an eye and a decent glove.

even after his performance in SD's AAA he cant even get a sept. callup. whether he's injured or redundant, since his knee injuries took his speed, he's become middle IF castoff fodder.

if he still had his speed, he'd probally be at the very least bench for someone. too bad his arm wont let him cover 3rd in addition to 2nd (though SD gave t.walker a shot there).

Baker isn't the reason the team is bad, but that doesn't mean he should remain the manager...especially not at the kind of salary he will end up getting.

The team culture needs a change, and the best way to do that is to get a different manager.

Too bad Hill also has had a crap attitude since his early days in the Cubs minor league system. To be blunt, no one likes the guy, he's a horse's ass. You can get away with being a horse's ass if you're a great player (eg, Kevin Brown or Jeff Kent), but for a so-so player like Hill, it's a death knell. His loss.

What? I have never heard a single story about Hill being a problem.

That being said. *puts on flame shield*

Is it crazy to think that I would rather have Bobby Hill at 2nd base than Cedeno at this point?

After that interview, I kind of don't want Girardi to manage here. In a simpler time, when I didn't over-analyze every bunt or double-switch, I would have loved to see Girardi. Now, I just know that as soon as the Cubs start losing, soon enough we'll start pointing the finger at Girardi.

Girardi is beloved by Cubs fans, and I don't want anything to tarnish that. He'd have almost insurmountable odds to turn this team around, and failing that would lose favor with the fans quickly.

not that im a hill expert, but he really pissed off the wsox via boras when he was drafted by them and the negociations that followed...no big deal in the modern era where millionaires are made before playing their 1st game.

that said...

anyone who wants hill...30 teams...could pretty much have him. he's not SD's 2nd baseman of the future and from the looks of it, not even a bench player of the future. who wants him, though?

Got tired of Bobby when he was with the Cubs and would step out of the box after every pitch and readjust his batting gloves. Loosen, tug, tighten, repeat. Each at-bat was torture. No wonder he had a good eye, the pitcher got bored throwing to him.

It's fascinating to watch the opinion pendulum swing back and forth regarding Dusty's fault for the mess that is the Cubs. For a while "everything is Dusty's fault", then it shifts to "none of it is Dusty's fault."

It's tough to have an intellectually thorough discussion about something which all/most of us have no inside information about. But for those who feel that Dusty is being unfairly or disproportionately blamed, I have a question: what DO you admit that Dusty is specifically to blame for in the Cubs mess?

And I'm not talking about the general accountability due to his position in the organization. I mean, what has he done to screw up the Cubs?

Is your answer "nothing?"

Great post Ruz - finally you posted something that makes someone want to read TCR other than AZPhil scouting reports.

However, something that I don't understand about your post is your conclusion - Joe "seems to do things the "right" way"? I am sorry but what I read from Dan's words was a guy who is not a good field manager (sort of like Baker) but he brings old school discpline and fundamentals (sort of like Don Baylor). I don't get it what makes him the best candidate for the Cubs?

Nice work Ruz, I see the interview posted on BTF too.

My comment about Girardi seeming to do things the right way was mostly in response to this from LeBatard:

"Jogging with players. Talking to them. Getting on the ground and blocking balls. It was teaching and talking. Getting in their ears, letting his coaches (like the exceptional Perry Hill) drill the smallest things."

Those are good things, and that's the sort of thing I'd like to see from a Cubs manager right now -- a sense of being there for (and with) the players.

A lot of that may be due to the fact that he has so many rookie, and it might not play in Chicago (that's what I was trying to get at when I asked Dan about how Joe might be with veterans, a question he ducked pretty much completely), but I'd like to see it given a chance.

Casey Stengel, after winning five consecutive world series, was asked, "How did you do it?" His alleged response was, "I couldna done it wit out da playas."

A manager or coach can be no better than his players. But he can be worse. Baker is an average manager. If he has good players, he will succeed; if he doesn't, he won't.

Shouldn't the next Cubs manager reflect what direction the 2007 Cubs makeup is all about. In other words, if the team looks a bit younger, which I am not advocating, maybe you would want someone like Girardi or Fredi Gonzalez but what if the team is more veteran orientated - which i think it will be with Hendry at the helm. Doesn't make sense to bring in someone who is a veteran manager and good field manager and low key such as a Jim Fregosi, Bob Brenly or even Bruce Bochy.

The things we've grown to love about Dusty:

1)His never-ending parade of excuses for everything

2)No accountability (except toward rookies)

3)Holding rookies/youngsters to a higher standard than vets: Murton platoons after the inevitable rookie slump but "I gotta see Jacque fail against lefties with my own eyes."

4)extreme man-love towards fringe players

Anyone who expects a genius for a manager will be disappointed. At the very least, get a guy who:

1)doesn't make you want to puke by pointing fingers and making excuses

2)gives every player a fair shake regardless of age

3)builds a lineup using logic and not favoritism

4)doesn't have obsessions with no-hit utility players because he thinks they bring good energy to the team or leadership or other such crap.

No manager could have won with these walking-wounded Cubs, but a different manager might have won more games. How many? Eight or ten games--maybe more.

Here's a specific example: Theriot versus Cedeno. It turns out Theriot can play and Cedeno can't. Who knew? If Theriot had gotten Cedeno's bats this year, or even since about June when Cedeno went into what looks a terminal funk, we would have won more games. And that's just one player, one position.

Somewhere along the line Cedeno became one of Dusty's guys. Like Scott Williamson said, if you're one of Dusty's guys, life is good. It's not that long ago that Cedeno was outside of the circle, but now he's inside, for whatever reason. Dusty is a big-hearted guy and he falls in love with his players and he protects them.

Meanwhile, Hendry has been pushing Theriot on Dusty all year. But Hendry doesn't tell Dusty who to play, that's off limits. He just puts guys on the roster. Earlier in the season, Theriot was on the team for about three weeks and never played even though Hendry obviously wanted him to.

I think Hendry got even by not firing Dusty at the all-star break. Dusty would have left the Cubs with a winning record. Not any more.

I have a question: what DO you admit that Dusty is specifically to blame for in the Cubs mess?
--
Personally, I have a problem with players making bone-headed plays. He is responsible for guys repeatedly making poor baserunning decisions. He is responsible for guys bunting in situations they obviously shouldn't. He is responsible for not knowing when to play (or not to) a player when they are in a slump or on a good streak.

I will not lay the blame on the injuries which resulted in starting a bunch of rookie pitchers or nobody at 1st base for months.

Sounds to me like LeBatard is insinuating that Girardi is an overglorified bench coach...reminds me of the Toothpicked Lizard Baker. However, I put little stock in anything baseball related coming from LeBatard considering he's Miami's version of Mariotti. ie strong writing skills from a technical standpoint, and anything of any substance is ripped from a Peter Gammons or Jayson Stark column then mix in some shock value and stir. I swear I remember him saying on PTI that he hadn't even been to a Marlins game this year after being posed a question on the lack of attendance at Pro Player or Dolphin Stadium or whatever they're calling that eyesore these days.

C: Baker isn't the reason the team is bad, but that doesn't mean he should remain the manager...especially not at the kind of salary he will end up getting.

The team culture needs a change, and the best way to do that is to get a different manager.

IMO this is what happened to Mazilli. Speaking of, what's he doing now? I always liked him.

rory: Shouldn't the next Cubs manager reflect what direction the 2007 Cubs makeup is all about. In other words, if the team looks a bit younger...

Yes he should, great point.

big john stud: 4)doesn't have obsessions with no-hit utility players because he thinks they bring good energy to the team or leadership or other such crap.

In case anyone is wondering, he is refering to Neifi, Macias, Bynum, Enrique Wilson, and Ojeda (who I think Dusty fully intended for him to spend the year with CHC)

But for those who feel that Dusty is being unfairly or disproportionately blamed, I have a question: what DO you admit that Dusty is specifically to blame for in the Cubs mess?

- Influencing the roster in a very negative way. Given Dusty's track record and the lineup choices he's made, I think he deserves a hefty chunk of the blame for the light hitting "speedy" contact hitters that have plagued this team for the last few years.

- Bad team habits. Despite heavy turnover in the roster, the same problems keep appearing: embarassing fundamental defensive and baserunning gaffes; overaggressiveness at the plate--especially when facing walk prone scrub pitchers; a sullen victim mentality with the press/fans; etc.

- Ignorant/old school approach to lineup construction and in game strategy. Off-and-on platooning of Murton while regularly letting Jones try (and fail) to hit lefties; speed/contact at the top over on base percentage; endless shifting of batting order; double switches that make no sense or are counter productive; misusing relievers (Remlinger's r/l splits, pulling a hot arm too early, etc.); cronyism with the coaching staff; sticking with crap for too long (Hawkins); and so on.

- Terrible attitude. Always the victim, always someone else at fault. Frequent misleading or utterly incorrect statements. Encouraging an "us versus them" mentality among his players with respect to the media. Throwing some players under the bus while always protecting his "boys." Baker has successfully killed the "lovable loser" tag, but he hasn't replaced it with a "winner" tag. Now we're just losers.

et cetera ad nauseum.

It isn't Dusty's fault that Prior/Wood/Lee/Nomar/etc. have been hut the last few years. It isn't even Dusty's fault that we haven't been to the World Series. I think it is Dusty's fault, though, that this team has become so amazingly frustrating and disappointing to watch on a daily basis. Baseball is ultimately entertainment; I put on the Cubs game because it's a fun diversion. The day in and day out frustration of watching terribly built lineups play terrible fundamental baseball bookended by ignorant and arrogant commentary from Dusty Baker has completely taken away the entertainment factor for me.

I continue to watch out of a family-bestowed addiction and morbid fascination, but I can't say I've enjoyed Dusty Baker's Cubs for the better part of a year now. There's just very little left to like.

does it really make fans that upset that dust deals without stuff out of the public eye?

is it that it disconnects the fans from the game, or a part of the game they want that isnt even on the field?

when a manager calls a player out in the press 1- they become documented fodder 2- the manager has got to go not only deal with the issue with the player anyway, but has to clear up any misconceptions the media presents when expanding upon the statement?

just cuz WE dont get to have the celebrity gossip and somehow leyland or pinella saying "blah blah dogged it" is somehow respectful and manly or whatever...it doesnt mean nothing is getting done.

this is "our" chicago cubs (without us, no one would be getting paid or playing for a living), but depending on who's in charge or who's willing to leak info...that's what we get.

leyand yesterday said dimitri young's release was purely based on his play...if you believe that...if that's the truth you demand...well, they're looking people to stand around in the desert protecting capitalist venues under the guise of looking weapons of mass destruction that needs some help.

In case no one else posted this, Cubs.com is reporting that Wade Miller will get the start in place of Z tomorrow. My humble prediction 3.2 IP, 6 R, 5 ER, K, 3 BB.

#47: It's not that he doesn't call out players, it's that he shows favoritism and a bias towards bad play when he calls out his players.

"Clogging the bases" vs. "Just trying hard."

"Made a dumb play" (rookie) vs "was just trying to make something happen" (vet).

etc.

well the "clogging the bases" thing is beyond misused...its not even about walks...or ob%...not even in the realm.

its about going from 1st to 3rd or 2nd to home or 1st to home etc etc...its about speed...its about the result of the walk when the player is applying his skills on the bases, not how he got on base.

its been rehashed and rehashed and rehashed...if you asked anyone who covers the club to clear up the comment that's what you'll get told...you'll also get told that dusty isnt the best interview in the world. its not cuz dust is hard to get an interview with or he's a bitch, but cuz he's so damn vauge or uses unclear analogies etc etc

its funny he's a public speaker in the offseason cuz aside from his little "baseball stories" he's really cruddy at expressing himself and his points to an audience at large.

he's a guy you gotta take at face value, but you also gotta put everything in context to the audience he's speaking to. you're just not gonna get the raw with him on a press conference vs. a 1-on-1 interview.

Reminds me of when the first Mayor Daley's Press Secretary pleaded with reporters: "Don't write what he says; write what he means!"

hey, dust isnt going around bitching every turn about the media and crying over every little thing.

who has the impression he really cares about the media anyway?

nomar garciappara is cut right from the school of dust when it comes to interviews...just get it over with.

its one thing to make your statements then spending weeks doing damage control and overexplaining everything while your media issues pile up...its another to just say it and let it fly.

when's the last time anyone saw a "checked-in" emotionally charge or even 1/2 way interesting press conference with dust anyway?

"3)builds a lineup using logic and not favoritism"

This is probably the least informed thing ever said about Dusty. You think he sits there and say, boy that Murton kid can hit but Neifi is a better fisherman!

No! He builds his lineup on what he thinks is best. The problem is that you are putting you subjective opinions on his lineups. All mangers do what Dusty does, you just don't like his choices.

when's the last time anyone saw a "checked-in" emotionally charge or even 1/2 way interesting press conference with dust anyway?

Hey Dusty treats interviews like he runs his team.

"who has the impression he really cares about the media anyway?"
----

Boo-hoo, how many other TOP MANAGERS have a website like firedustybaker.com

"well the "clogging the bases" thing is beyond misused"
--
Not really. You can keep saying that, but it won't make it so.

"This is probably the least informed thing ever said about Dusty.
--
Hardly, the least informed thing ever said is that he was a good manager.

No! He builds his lineup on what he thinks is best."
--
Okay! Then he's mildly retarded

Rob G.:
"If Girardi is fired, his contract is terminated and he is free to seek employment wherever. But the Marlins still have to pay him."

So you have a link for this or is your law degree enough proof? IMO, I don't think if Girardi goes to another team, that FL still has to pay him. Only idf he stay sunemployed, but I am not certain.

sorry, can't find the link for "common sense".

But as Vorare mentioned in #17, I'm sure the Marlins are off the hook if Girardi gets another job or pay the difference or whatever. I'm sure there's some standard clause in a contract that if the team terminates the contract, the manager is free to seek employment with another organization,blah, blah, blah, legal mumbo jumbo, can't give out the recipe to our secret stadium sauce, etc.

I wouldn't put too much credence in what LeBatard has to say about Giradi. LeBatard is the "shock jock" equivalent of a columnist (is that redundant?). Like Marriotti, LeBatard brags about how seldom he goes to the ball park, yet writes as if he's an expert about what goes on there. Plus, LeBatard does a radio show in Miami with David Sampson, the President of the Marlins and the son-in-law of owner Jeffrey Loria. If LeBatard speaks well of Girardi while the Loria clan is feuding with him, LeBatard might lose his in with the front office.

Girardi is not that hard to figure out. He had a long playing career, including spending time with the Cubs, and he was a coach in NY. His coaches and fellow teammates love him because he always played hard and didn't make excuses. As a manager he has shown those same qualities and has held his players accountable.

IMO, Girardi would have done a better job this year with the Cubs than Dusty has done, but he's not a miracle worker. The team was doomed from the start because of the way Hendry built it. As my old high school basketball coach used to say, "it's always good when you're given lemons to make lemonade, but even I can't make chicken salad out of chicken shit."

what manager DOESNT have a fire____.com site?

hell, fireleyland.com is owned by a website hosting/scalping company already =p

firetorre.com is owned by torre supporters who wanted to head it off.

ITS MEDIA...its a beast unto itself.

when you watch CNN replay 9/11 footage from 5 years ago just keep telling yourself its news...not a ratings ploy. tell yourself what you're seeing is legit and today, not something from 5 years ago that has no real impact on the NEWS, though it is an interesting piece of history.

""well the "clogging the bases" thing is beyond misused"
--
Not really. You can keep saying that, but it won't make it so."

go email carrie or dave or etc...see what response you get. just cuz you choose to apply your own meaning to it doesnt make it fact, especially when its a pretty common consensus (except in the realm of joking) what he means by that. i said its been rehashed over and over cuz it is...and i didnt start it, and im not gonna end it, either. its not just me...seriously, go email some of these writers for explaination. then go call them liers cuz its where i got my info from.

"Made a dumb play" (rookie) vs "was just trying to make something happen" (vet).

I thought he made the "was trying to make something happen" quote about Theriot getting thrown out trying to steal third with two outs or some other baserunning mistake. (I'm getting better at repressing the details as the season goes on, but remember the Theriot quote in on of Paul Sullivans "recap of how they screwed it up yesterday" stories.)

"Made a dumb play" (rookie) vs "was just trying to make something happen" (vet).

I thought he made the "was trying to make something happen" quote about Theriot getting thrown out trying to steal third with two outs or some other baserunning mistake. (I'm getting better at repressing the details as the season goes on, but remember the Theriot quote in on of Paul Sullivans "recap of how they screwed it up yesterday" stories.)

what manager DOESNT have a fire____.com site?
--

Exactly. You missed my point... Dusty is the one who whined about it, not Torre or Leyland.

I'm not e-mailing Dave or Carrie Mouthpeice to hear any bullshit. Everyone knows how Dusty feels about patient hitters and walks.

End o' subject

Managing is like playing blackjack. The basic strategy is the ONLY strategy, and that keeps you at right around 50%. Everything else is just a gift to the casino.

Bunting? No thanks, I lived through the Baylor years.

No facial hair? What is this, Russia? These are grown men making millions of dollars, they should be able to grow a fuckin' Fu Manchu down to their belt if they want to.

Pass.

This Marlins rep thats being talked about is probably Dan Jennings I would surmise!!

I agree with...
1. Baker does not make his players accountable.
2. He is correct to handle players in private not in the press.
3. He prefers vets to rookies but not to the degree that his critics say.
4. Bonehead baserunning has been a symbol of Dusty's teams.
5. He does favor agreesive hitters over taking pitches.
6. He lost control of the Cub lockerroom with the Mercker phone call to the TV booth and the subsequent hostility toward Steve Stone ( I still miss him).
7. If more of Baker's in-game moves had worked we wouldn't be having these discussions.
8. He likes speed at the top of the order.
9. He always sounds like the victim.
10. He will never make fans happy with his handling of pitchers as long as they end up with injuries.
11. He will always be loved by his players because he lets them play and treats them as men.
12. He is best if he has healthy stars in his lineup.
13. The majority of MLB managers do the same things as Baker with pitching, double-switches, and bunts but Cub fans don't watch those games.
14. There are far more old-school managers and GM's than the new-school type and there always will be.
15. The Cubs are no longer the-losers but Dusty didn't cause it the fans expectations did.
16. Cub fans who post here would hang Larussa, Cox, Torre or Leyland if they had been here this year with this roster.
17. We won't have any more patience withthe new manager.
18. When things are going great you are a genius and when things go bad you are a jerk.
19. Being competitive annually should be the goal, then luck and health decide if you will win.
20. No team has been as big of a bust as the Cubs this year, but there are always teams that fit that description every year.
21. Baker is not alone with the trend of players not practicing before the game. It's spreading all through the league. This is where I have real problems with Dusty...the players should not get to decide.
22. Young players seem to struggle playing for Dusty...probably because they are not playing relaxed knowing that an 0-4 will put them on the bench and also knowing that 4-4 won't change it.
23. It's not taking pitches that matters it's not swinging at pitches out of your hitting zone early in the count that matters.
24. The culture changes positively when Baker got here and has returned to a losing one again since we blew it in '03. The Cubs wait for something to go wrong instead of making something good happen. You have to expect success!

the individual who replaces baker is nowhere near as important as the act itself.

baker has never been the sole problem of this club, his in-game "strategery", his bullpen and bench/at-bat management, and influence over hendry and the roster notwithstanding; therefore his exit will not cure all ills.

but it is vital that he leave so the clock can begin in earnest on hendry. (there is no clock ticking on mac fool, as he is keeping a chair warm until commissar dud selig steps aside, at which time andy will move to mlb central). if a manager arrives and has better influence on hendry for roster selection than baker has had, hooray. if not, hendry will/should be sent packing. hendry's contract extension last april was pre-mature; he needs to warrant the tribune trust in him beginning october 2 by completely cleaning house, as no decent managerial candidate will agree to punch the cubs time clock if he must work with this years dreck.

mr. hendry, if you are reading this, i wish to cast one write-in vote for arizona phil to be your next cubs skipper. he seems to be as familiar with the personnel (strengths and weaknesses alike) as anyone on the payroll, and i feel certain he would accept only half of baker's 4 million annual compensation, giving you an extra 2 million to plow back into the player payroll.

thank you,
dc

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