Thank you, Rick Morrissey, for writing the column that had to be written in today's Sunday Tribune on Dusty Baker and his managing in the 2003 playoffs.
After two years that I've spent on this site trying to defend Dusty's moves in Game Six, which I was at, I'm finally getting some backing. I'll let Morrissey speak for himself:
"You still can hear the moaning long after (Baker's) departure. Why, why didn't he take Mark Prior out of Game 6 when the Cubs were five outs away from going to the World Series? I don't know. Maybe it's because Prior had a three-hit shutout going into the 8th inning, and he was the Cubs' best pitcher. Perhaps it was because setup man Kyle Farnsworth didn't inspire a whole lot of confidence and Baker liked his chances with a pitcher who had gone 18-6 with a 2.43 ERA during the regular season."
Couldn't have said it better myself.
I'm not a wild-eyed Baker fan; in fact, I think he was awful in many ways - especially personality - and his strange attachment to certain over-the-hill players. But I'm sick and tired of hearing how Dusty ruined Mark Prior through over-use. As Morrissey points out, one study that analyzed pitchers from 2000 to 2006 found that Baker's starters averaged 3.68 pitches per start more than they would have been expected to throw under certain conditions.
"In other words," Morrissey writes. "Baker was not a pitcher killer." As I've been saying.
He notes that Prior's injury problems could have started in college or the minors - or under Baker. Nobody knows. "But that hasn't stopped fans and media members, many of them newly minted experts in biomechanics and kinesiology, from blaming Baker for Prior's undoing."