Wednesday, August 10, 2005

the dusty watch: final installment?

following on yesterday's chuckler, the 1060west dusty watch is 33 vigorous days old -- and speculation is hot and heavy around the cubosphere -- from ivy chat to the cub reporter to goat riders -- that the dusty era is about to end with a whimper.

i'm just dumb enough to bet that, if the slide goes into the weekend against the cardinals -- mulder v maddux (L), marquis v big z (?) and carpenter v williams (L) -- the furor by sunday will be so deafening that the trib will have to act out of sheer embarrassment and a belated concern for their $105mm investment. they can use the sunday sports page to deficate all over baker, as they've already begun to, in order to make themselves look like the good guys yet again if this slow-motion trainwreck hasn't ended by saturday night.

so today's matchup of hill v milton is huge for dusty, i think -- and so is marquis v zambrano on saturday. he might be saved -- perhaps reprieved is a better word -- if he gets a W in one of those. maybe.

there's also a contingent (including bleed cubbie blue) which points out correctly that firing baker isn't the end of the cubs problems. this team's failure is multifaceted, as this very page has long argued.

however, if you're going to clean out the closet, you have to start by throwing something out. and dusty is an excellent place to start, even if just to assure that he won't have to be placated in the roster changes that are certainly coming. there's nothing more retrogressive for this franchise than hanging onto deadweight dusty-cronies like neifi perez, trenidad hubbard and calvin murray -- one and all glue-factory candidates and former frisco giants collecting checks in either chicago or iowa as recipients of dusty's patronage.

this team will have capital to work with in the offseason before 2006 -- a season which, to me, looks increasingly like a possible turning point year. zambrano comes up for arbitration, and he has earned a raise from $3.76mm. but the real breaker could be after 2006, when prior comes in for arbitration and derrek lee for free agency. prior, for all his injury problems, is sure to command a big contract from the cubs that will go multiple years to avoid his testing free agency after 2007. and lee is showing why he may well get double his current $7.77mm 2005 salary. those two deals may be mutually exclusive even for a team willing to dump $105mm on this year's disaster -- and thus start to break up the cubs maturing talent core of prior/zambrano/lee/ramirez/barrett.

time will tell, of course. but i'd certainly rather see the back of this fool of a manager before this team has to start constructing what may be the most important cub roster of the decade.

UPDATE: you can add desipio to the mob screaming for the head of dusty.

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