I was picking through some old Chicago Tribune articles in preparation for posting this at The Cub Reporter, and I came across an article by the Trib's Phil Rogers, dated 11/17/02.

It mostly defies comment, except to say that Reds phenoms Bailey and Johnny Cueto are probably in for the rides of their lives, not to mention some quality time with an orthopedic surgeon or two.

The one time you could always count on [Kerry Wood getting angry] was when there were runners on base and the manager--be he Bruce Kimm, Don Baylor or Jim Riggleman--was on his way to pull Wood from a game in which he had the lead.

One side effect of the Dusty Baker hiring is that this should happen less often...We can declare that for the Cubs the pitch count has gone the way of Illinois' death penalty--out of the picture until further notice, though probably not forever...

There are some things we suspect about Baker's approach to managing the Cubs.

He'll be reluctant to sacrifice hitting for fielding.

He'll bunt early and often, as did Baylor.

He'll bring in relievers to get one out...

But there is only one thing we can say definitively about Baker's approach: He'll get the absolute most out of Wood, [Mark] Prior and [Matt] Clement.

No manager pushes his starters harder.

In San Francisco, Baker's starters threw 120 or more pitches more times than any other team in the majors in three of the last four seasons. The only exception came in 2001, when Arizona workhorses Randy Johnson and Curt Schilling had 18 extended outings between them.

During these four seasons, Livan Hernandez and the other Giants starters worked 120-plus pitches 87 times. That's 50 more than the Cubs, who have proceeded with caution since Wood tore a ligament in his elbow after being ridden hard in 1998...

But there's an odd thing about the workload Baker has given the Giants' starters. It seemed to make them stronger.

Hernandez, Russ Ortiz and Kirk Rueter haven't been on the disabled list at any time over the last three seasons.

"A lot of that has to do with the shape [pitchers] are in," Baker said about the durability of San Francisco's starters. "They stay in shape during the winter. ... You've got to give [Giants pitching coach] Dave Righetti a tremendous amount of credit for when they throw in between starts, how much they throw, how much they run and how they stay in shape through the course of the year."

Baker, unlike many managers who were good hitters, never has seemed to have trouble being accepted by his pitchers.

"I considered myself a good clutch hitter, a good hitter, and in order to do that, you have to understand pitchers," Baker said. "You have to be tolerant to the point where you understand your pitchers and take time to understand them. ... I trust my staff and I try to let them do their job and not try to micromanage everything in every department."

Baker used 42 starting pitchers during his 10 years in San Francisco, including 11 in the magical 1993 season. John Burkett and Billy Swift were the only pitchers who made more than 18 starts that season. The rest of the cast included Trevor Wilson, Bud Black, Bryan Hickerson and Jeff Brantley.

Yet the Giants somehow improved from 72-90 to 103-59 in Baker's first season as a manager. And no, it didn't hurt that it was also Barry Bonds' first season in San Francisco.

No one is predicting Baker will trigger anywhere near this kind of a turnaround with the Cubs. But he's going to have fun working with Wood, Prior and Clement.


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