Baker facing difficult decision

While the Cubs' rotation ranks among the best in the game, Dusty Baker's ninth-inning plans remain a work in progress.

Originally Published: March 3, 2005
By Jerry Crasnick | ESPN Insider
MESA, Ariz. -- How tired is Cubs manager Dusty Baker of speculating on his closer for this season? Let's put it this way: He's almost as comfortable discussing Steve Stone's contribution to team harmony in the broadcast booth, or rehashing the particulars of that wacky final weekend when Sammy left the building.

Baker had Rod Beck as a reliable closer for years in San Francisco and rode Robb Nen's 43 saves to a World Series appearance in 2002. But that comfort level no longer exists in Chicago. While the Cubs' rotation ranks among the best in the game, Baker's ninth-inning plans remain a work in progress.

It'll be Ryan Dempster, Joe Borowski or LaTroy Hawkins, and you're not going to pry the answer out of the manager. Two weeks into spring training, Baker refuses to anoint someone as "the man,'' under the theory that the less he says now, the less he'll have to backtrack later.

Jerry Crasnick | email

ESPN.com MLB Sr. Writer

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