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If You Haven't Seen The Papers Today...

... they are absolutely chock-full of what we've been discussing here since Sunday; viz. the future of the Cubs and Dusty Baker.

Phil Rogers says the Cubs should keep Baker, under certain conditions:

I'm certainly not an unconditional backer of Baker's. If I could, I'd stop him from having his starting pitchers throw 120-plus pitches--arm injuries have already pretty much stopped that trend--and I'd tell him to try new batting and pitching coaches (he ought to consider immediately promoting Von Joshua from Triple A to be the hitting coach).

But the more I consider this morass of a season, it seems to me that the Cubs probably still need Baker more than he needs them.

Baker has a tremendous dignity, which he wears on his sleeve. He has credibility from his playing and managing days. He gets respect from umpires and opposing managers. If he wasn't running the Cubs, who would be?

That's the question you've got to answer.

Lou Piniella is available, and probably will be after the season. But if a winner like Baker can't succeed at Clark and Addison, would Piniella want to try? What would established managers think about coming to the Cubs if Baker's 2003 trip to the championship series with a team that had won 67 games the year before only turned up the heat on him?

I'm usually not a fan of Rogers' writing, but these are excellent points.

The Tribune also has a long interview with Jim Hendry, who says, among other things:

We've tried to [trade]. You can't force things. We're always trying to be aggressive in the trade market. At the same time, it's awful hard to pry good players away from other clubs.

It's easy to say we should go out and get somebody. But you're not going to get a better hitter to play first base than Todd Walker while Derrek Lee is out.

And if you think Baker might just walk away from his deal, think again:

"I've never quit anything in my life, and I'm not going to quit this," he said Sunday after the Cubs managed just two hits off 26-year-old Clay Hensley in a 9-0 loss to the San Diego Padres, the fifth time they'd been shut out in 16 games.

"I can't believe we're going this badly with the team we have. I've racked my brain. I can't sleep. We've got to find a way to fight our way out of this."

The Sun-Times has more:

This losing stretch has ignited fan anger more than at any time in the last two skidding seasons following the 2003 playoff fall. Baker, one of baseball's top 50 all-time winning managers, has become the latest Cubs boss to face the nagging question of why the franchise can't seem to right itself.

"Part of my job is to try to delete that [thinking]," he said. "What happened four years ago is different than this year. I try not to bring stuff from one year to the next. You have to be positive in order to have positives.

"In San Francisco, [broadcasters and former players] Duane Kuiper and Mike Krukow said 'to be lucky, you have to think lucky.' My whole thing is to continue to think positive and think championship."

But I'll give the last word here to Basil from the SB Nation Nationals site Federal Baseball, who called me "prolific and passionate" (thanks, man!) and wrote of the Cubs:

Then again, these are the Cubs, who are falling farther and according to a swifter reversal of fortune than Hans Gruber's rapid descent down the forty stories of Nakatomi Tower. Fourteen defeats in sixteen games isn't even something these Nats have accomplished. Yet.
Mmmmkay. Oh, Basil? According to the synopsis linked above, Gruber only fell 32 stories. Maybe the Cubs' fall will start to be broken tonight.