If you had a pitcher who has had great success in one role and repeatedly failed in another role, which role would you put him in? It seems pretty simple, put him in the role that he succeeds in. This will be best for both the player and the team. Somehow Dusty Baker does not see it this way. In today's Bright One Chris De Luca writes that Dusty Baker favors LaTroy Hawkins for the closer role. WHAT??? Did Dusty miss the disastor at Shea last September? Did Dusty miss LaTroy's 3 blown saves down the stretch last season?
LaTroy looks to the ground after Clemente H.S. Grad Victor Diaz takes him deep at Shea. This loss triggered the 2004 Cubs death spiral.
Hawkins failed in the closer role and he did the same on the Northside in 2004. That being said, LaTroy has been great in the setup role throughout his career. He was the Twins bridge to Everyday Eddie Guardado during two of Minnesota's AL Central title runs. If the Cubs don't use LaTroy in the 8th who will they use? Mike Remlinger? That worked well last year. Why is Dusty Baker sticking with Hawkins. Baker has always been loyal to veteran players (remember him putting Lenny Harris on the field in 2003?) he's also very hesitant to play a young player (good luck Jason DuBois) or change an experienced players position or role.
The fact that Dusty may use LaTroy in the closers role again weakens the Cubs in two spots. It weakens them in the eighth inning and the ninth. Dusty needs to put Hawkins into the role he is comfortable with and has succeeded at. Give Hawk the 8th and find someone to work the ninth -- either from within (Jim Hendry's choice Ryan Dempster) or via a trade.
RUMOR MILL: Speaking of the Cubs bullpen and a trade, ESPN 1000's Bruce Levine continues to insist that Hendry is trying to acquire Octavio Dotel to close for the Cubs.