About Dusty Baker, Again

Multiple published reports in today's MSM indicate that Jim Hendry may be ready to "blow it all up" -- at least in terms of the coaching and managing staffs.

What Hendry said was:

"I'm evaluating everything. When you're having this kind of a year ... I'll sit down and reflect on the first half."

This led Mike Kiley to write in the Sun-Times:

You have to believe the Cubs already have sorted through their alternatives to Baker. Such changes aren't made overnight without forethought. Among the potential managers who could be plugged in immediately are Lou Piniella, Tom Kelly, Jimy Williams, Gene Lamont and Fredi Gonzalez -- all of whom have big-league managing experience, except for Gonzalez.

And Phil Rogers weighed in too:

You're going to be hearing all the familiar names in the next week, with most of the talk about Lou Piniella, the happily retired Tom Kelly and TV color analyst Bob Brenly (unless he takes his name out of consideration). Jimy Williams, one of the worst managers in history, would love another chance. Ditto Jim Fregosi, Lloyd McClendon and Tony Pena.

This is the same tired old stuff that we've all been debating here at BCB for weeks, although Rogers also said:

On the day that Jerry Reinsdorf passed out World Series rings at U.S. Cellular Field, he assured me he had never had a chip on his shoulder about the Cubs. In fact, he said, he had a great relationship with Tribune Co. Chairman/President and CEO Dennis FitzSimons and MacPhail.

Let's hope Hendry is open-minded enough to put Reinsdorf to the test by seeking permission to interview Razor Shines, the Sox's excellent manager at Triple-A Charlotte.

That's an intriguing thought, though as I have said here, IF Dusty Baker is not retained, my first choice would be Sox 3B coach Joey Cora, and next up would be Gonzalez.

But frankly, I think that all these writers read WAY too much into Hendry's statement that he would "evaluate" everyone during the All-Star break. Of course he'll do that. Why wouldn't he? But he's also gone on record as stating that he wanted to give Baker a chance with "his team", and that's only been (mostly) intact for a couple of weeks.

All of you know that I have defended Dusty Baker here. That is, of course, getting harder and harder to do, given the results of this catastrophe of a season. I still maintain that it is absolutely pointless to put some interim guy -- and it's been suggested that if Baker and the coaching staff were dumped, Chris Speier might be the only one retained and he'd be that "interim" guy -- in to finish out this morass of a year, and then conduct a search in the offseason, as they did in 2002.

Is that what you all want? Three months of another Bruce Kimm? What's the point?

Joey Cora's not going to be available right now. Fredi Gonzalez might be, given that the Braves are also going south at this time. Frankly, I'd rather NOT have a "big-name" guy -- because the Cubs have done that the last two times they hired a manager, with Don Baylor and Baker, and though they had some early success with both, the first ended with the Cubs having to pay Baylor for a year and a half to do nothing, and the Baker hiring may wind up in similar fashion. Thus, Hendry could look at teams like the White Sox, Angels, and at a lesser level, the Brewers, who have succeeded with guys who came in with NO managerial experience.

Thus, I'd let the year play out. Maybe the second half will recover to the point where Baker could be given an extension (with the condition that his buddy list of coaches be replaced by REAL coaches), or maybe it won't, in which case Hendry can spend the entire second half and early offseason getting someone in place, rather than just knee-jerking some guy into the job who'll have to be replaced anyway in October.

This season is lost. Why not take three more months to find the RIGHT guy for the longterm, instead of a quick fix to satisfy the angry mob?

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