Baylor Could Be Victim of Struggles
Byline: Barry Rozner
It seems a bit early, but there's already talk surfacing in the Cubs organization that manager Don Baylor could be in some trouble if the team's fortunes don't soon change - and games like Wednesday night's don't help matters.
If the Cubs did make a change, the obvious choice to replace Baylor would be new Tigers bench coach Felipe Alou.
The affable Alou is legendary for his ability to develop and nurture young players, and the Cubs have a boatload of talented kids on the verge of making it to the big leagues.
They'll need a manager who can help the kids find their way in the cruel world of Major League Baseball, and Cubs insiders don't believe Baylor is the right man for that particular job.
Assistant GM Jim Hendry has spent thousands of hours and millions of dollars drafting and developing young players and if Baylor won't play them, or encourage them, Hendry will dump him.
And when they play like they did Wednesday night in Montreal, you have to think Baylor is closer to the end than the beginning.
However, the Cubs won't start to think young until they've fallen helplessly out of the race, and that's almost impossible to do when you play Cincinnati and Milwaukee 31 more times. That doesn't include 14 against Pittsburgh, which isn't likely to maintain its current pace much longer.
Several things could save Baylor:
Mark Prior. Injuries as an excuse. The schedule. A division where no one's going to run away and hide. And a year-and-a-half left on an expensive contract.
The Cubs don't like to eat contracts, especially in light of an exploding $76 million payroll that's up 17 percent from last year.
But several things could sink Baylor:
An exploding $76 million payroll that's up 17 percent from last year. The Cubs think it should be enough to win.
Baylor's in-game strategy and suggested inability to handle the pitching staff is getting picked apart by the fans, who are growing impatient.
And if the Cubs fall far out of the race early enough in the season, Hendry will want to see the kids.
Again, it seems early, because if the Cubs can get healthy they have lots of time to make a run. It's unfair to blame Baylor for the rotten play of the club thus far, but someone always pays and it's usually the manager.
Meanwhile, the real future of the Cubs isn't that far away, and almost no one believes Baylor will be a part of the next rebuilding phase, whether it's this year or next.
Speaking of backroom conversations, there's a Jeff Kent-type rumor going around about Kyle Farnsworth's broken foot. …