Saturday, January 14, 2006

Dusty Will Chalk Up Another

Chicago Cubs manager Dusty Baker's many accolades DO NOT include patient nurturing of young, fragile talent. First Baker wrecked the career of promising first-round pick Corey Patterson by trying to force the youngster to transform himself into a groundball-hitting leadoff man instead of his true identity as a free-swinging gap hitter with power. Another of Baker's casualties was the once highly regarded farm prospect Hee Sop Choi, whom Baker turned into a platoon player just as the rookie was learning how to hit major league lefties. Baker's influence on former rookie Jason Dubois, who last year was to have competed for an everyday outfielder's job, also appears to be negligible if not outright disenfranchising. Expect Baker's next target to be young Matt Murton, the projected opening day left fielder. By the time June rolls around, Baker will have undermined Murton's confidence by reducing his ABs for the benefit of 38-year-old OF Marquis Grissom, and like Choi, Dubois and Patterson, Murton may never recover. His only shot may be to continue his torrid pace of '05, when he batted .321 with 7 HRs in only 140 ABs and hope Baker won't try to fix what ain't broke.