I know, the last thing anyone really wants to read is another freakin' piece bashing Dusty Baker. Do not fear, that's not what this is about. This one is all on Sir Hendry.
Back in July, Hendry stated that Dusty would stick through the season and Hendry would "try to move expediently and make a decision as to what direction to go"
once the season ended. Well that's all well and good and I do hope that the only thing he's deciding at this point is whether to fire Baker on the Monday morning following our last game versus the Rockies or do it right after the game to save Baker a trip back out to the office to clean out his collection of war books and designer toothpicks. My concern and where I believe Hendry may
have taken a misstep is not taking care of this mess a whole lot sooner.
What worries me is that the Cubs have a couple of guys on the team who will be vying for new deals this off-season, most notably Aramis Ramirez and Juan Pierre. When it comes to wooing free agents, itís my opinion that 98% of the decision-making is based on the money offered, with the other 2% a mixture of locale, amenities, manager, cronies and other such intangibles. But when trying to retain your own guys, I think the intangible percentage can play a bit of a higher factor especially if you want to sign those players for a few bucks less than they may get on the open market, which, of course, is certainly a wise business decision.
While the image of the modern ballplayers is one with dollar signs in their eyes and no sense of loyalty to their current teams, more a collection of mercenaries for hire rather than a group of soldiers fighting for a common ideal, I do believe that it's not quite that grim of a picture. I think most players would prefer to stay where they're at rather than go through the process of uprooting themselves and their family, having to worry about fitting into a new team, and all the other headaches of finding a new place to play. Granted, millions of dollars tend to soothe those headaches a lot easier, but I still think it's part of the decision-making process, albeit a small one. It's also my feeling that the longer the player has played in one place, the more they want to stay. And as you start taking things away that are familiar to that player, that's a few less reasons holding them here..
And this is where I think Hendry may have messed up.
Now Pierre already stated once that he doesn't want to come back if Baker is gone although he changed his tune recently. Plus he hasn't even been here a year, so I doubt he's going to be doing the Cubs any favors to stay. Ramirez is a bit of a different story. He's been here now since the middle of 2003 and has enjoyed the same successes and failures that Baker has as manager. Ramirez has at times come out in support of Baker as well. If Baker does get shown the door, do we lose some advantage in trying to retain either of these two players, particularly Ramirez? Is it one less thing holding these players to the Cubs? If Baker does go, would it have been better to make the move back in June or July so that the players could acclimate themselves to the new manager? Of course that assumes we'd have hired his replacement immediately rather than going with the more likely scenario of an interim manager. But even if the Cubs had gone that route, would it have been a good pre-emptive strike to let the players know that changes are definitely coming for next season, to get comfortable in a new working environment. Yes, more questions than answers, but I'm failing to see the advantage to keeping Baker through the season, IF
he was inevitably going to be shown the door anyway.
This could be much ado about nothing. Ramirez might not give a damn about Baker, he might be determined to test the free agent waters no matter what or he might hate Baker secretly and is only coming back if Baker goes.
But since our last poll was such a rousing success
, I thought I'd pose the question.
If keeping Dusty Baker means keeping Aramis Ramirez, do you bring Baker back? I understand it's a bit of a loaded question and there are circumstances and situations unknown to most of us that could sway the vote either way. But for purposes of this poll, let's assume Ramirez enjoys playing for Baker and as long as the Cubs offer is comparable to others he may receive from other teams, one of the ultimate factors for him staying is the presence or absence of Dusty Baker in the manager's role. So how say you, loyal readers?