What will Dusty do next?
Before coming to Chicago, Dusty Baker had a self-proclaimed reputation as a manager who knew how to handle his pitchers. He claimed that no-one got hurt under his watch. Well, we know that's not entirely true.
In 2003, Baker seemed good to his word. The Cubs rotation was immensely healthy. Only Mark Prior missed any time, and that was because of a freak collision with Braves second baseman Marcus Giles. Sure, the statisticians were going apeshit. They were pointing out that our Cubs rotation featured some of the most abused pitchers in all of 2003. But hey, the Cubs came within five outs of a pennant. They were just whining over nothing, right?
Well, we know what happened in 2004. Mike Remlinger missed the first few months of the season because he required arm surgery after 2003 ended. Prior and Wood combined to miss something like 20 starts. Joe Borowski was done after the first week in June. But that was a fluke, wasn't it? It was because we had some bad trainers. Guys who didn't know how to diagnose so much as a paper cut. Things would be better in 2005, right?
Ok, again, not so much. Prior and Wood missed most of Spring Training. Wood is again out with a sore shoulder. But the biggest piece of evidence I've seen yet regarding Dusty's abuse of pitchers falls on Chad Fox. Last night, Dusty probably ended the guy's career.
It was pretty unnecessary. The Cubs had a 7-run lead going into the 9th inning. Dusty was warming up Mike Remlinger and Fox, a 34-year-old reliever, recently designated as the new closer, who'd had two previous surgeries on his elbow, and who'd pitched just the night before. According to one Desipiomaniac, Fox's warm-up consisted of three tosses (yes, not pitches, but tosses) in the 8th inning, and then a few pitches before the 9th began. Dusty called on Fox anyway. He then proceeded to give up a 3-run bomb to Adam Dunn.
Then, on his 29th pitch of the night, Fox came up holding his elbow, wincing in clear pain. Dusty yanked him, and Remlinger got the final out.
Some people might be inclined to say that Fox was a ticking bomb. He would've hurt himself sooner or later, no matter what. But the job of a manager is to keep his pitchers healthy. If he knows they have a history of injury and are returning from a surgery, if he knows that cold weather makes it easier to hurt tendons, if he knows that he just used the guy yesterday, and that it's unnecessary to use him in the very next game due to the huge lead, then he should never, ever use that pitcher.
All we can do is hope that Jim Hendry also noticed Dusty's abuse of Chad Fox. All we can hope is that all of Dusty's bonehead, moronic mistakes are piling up. Otherwise, the Cubs won't win. They just can't. Not with Baker at the helm.