Monday, October 02, 2006

Bye, Bye Dusty

As expected, the other shoe dropped today for Cubs skipper Dusty Baker. Technically, Baker was not fired. His contract expired at the end of the season and the Cubs have decided not to re-sign him.

I am not as big of a Dusty hater as some. Neither am I a big Dusty supporter. I think Dusty is a good guy with some baseball knowledge who also gets along well with his players. What he is not is a master technician or a skilled leader. In order for Dusty to be successful, he needs to have a well built roster with some power and he needs things to go well (i.e. no injuries, no distractions, and no conflicts). Obviously, that was not the situation he found himself in with the Cubs, particularly in 2004, 2005 or 2006.

To me, this last point is Dusty's biggest sin. He is not a leader, he is not a motivator, and he is not a guiding force for positive results in the midst of turmoil. And to be a successful manager in MLB, you have to be able to lead a group of disparate players toward the common goal of winning, even when adversity arises. If the prerequisite for your success is that you have to have a team that is so well built that even you can't screw it up, then you're probably not a good manager.

There was a phrase that gained popularity over the past couple of years on blogs and chat rooms that perfectly describes the situation with Dusty and the Cubs. It was said that for the Cubs to win, the team needed to be "Dusty proofed." What people meant when they used this phrase was that Jim Hendry needed to make moves to save Dusty from himself. The most famous situation was Dusty's penchant for batting Neifi Perez second in the order. When Neifi was traded to the Tigers, blogs said that Hendry was just trying to "Dusty proof" the team.

Unfortunately, Hendry did for too little to "Dusty proof" the team. It was Hendry who built a team that Dusty had no chance of leading to the post-season. Sure, Dusty did a poor job with the players he was given, but Hendry set him up for failure in both 2005 and 2006. There were several managers who could have done a better job than Dusty did those two years, but I don't think there was anyone on Earth that could have built the 2005 or 2006 Cubs into a winner.

Goodbye, Dusty. You didn't do a very good job in your four years with the Cubs, but it wasn't all of your fault. Your boss, Jim Hendry, is primarily to blame for the fiasco of the past two years, and now he's in charge of rectifying that mess. There's a saying that applies to this situation. "The same thinking that created the crisis will not solve the crisis." For the sake of the Cubs and their fans, I hope Hendry changes his way of thinking.


Post a Comment

<< Home