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Read Between The Lines

This is going to be a very different Cub season.

How do I know this, you're asking. There hasn't even been a single spring training game yet.

Here's Dusty Baker talking about who could become a leader of the 2005 Cubs:

We have quite a few guys that could end up having that star to superstar tag on them. You just don't appoint a leader. People gravitate toward leaders. Leadership is something that happens. I've never had a captain on a team.

Hmmm. There's a couple of slams at Sammy. "Never had a captain." "You just don't appoint a leader." To me, that says that Baker, while claiming he "inherited" the captain's designation given to Sosa by Don Baylor, never viewed him as a leader of the ballclub.

Here's Dusty talking about who's going to be the closer:

I don't know yet. That's why we have spring. One thing for sure, I'll figure it out. That's my job.

This, to me, shows Jim Hendry's influence on this edition of the Cubs. Hendry's already shown the door to Baker's pet coach Wendell Kim, and to some of his favorite ex-Giants players, such as Ramon Martinez and Tom Goodwin.

I have said this before and I will say it again. Regardless of what has happened in the past, regardless of Baker's track record in San Francisco, regardless of the miracle division title in 2003, Hendry is essentially saying to Baker: "We did it your way and it failed. Now we'll do it MY way."

Dusty Baker has proven that he has excellent people and management skills. Those skills failed him last year. Because many of the people involved have not talked, or when they have it's been "He Said, He Said", we cannot know if this is all Baker's fault, all everyone else's fault, or the most likely scenario, a combination of factors.

But we are about to find out just how much of a genius Dusty is. Me, I'm willing to give him some rope.

Let's play ball already!