The comeback: Baker does the job for Cubs

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The comeback: Baker does the job for Cubs

Saturday, April 23, 2011
Posted: 3:49 p.m. Updated: 6:34 p.m.
By Patrick Mooney
CSNChicago.com
Jeff Baker walked back toward the dugout and looked down at the binder Cubs hitting coach Rudy Jaramillo placed on the ledge.

The Los Angeles Dodgers were changing relievers in the eighth inning of what was suddenly a tie game. Baker went over his keys, a few quick tendencies on Blake Hawksworth and got ready for another professional at-bat.

The Cubs had already erased a three-run deficit against Matt Guerrier, who came into the game with a 0.00 ERA. Baker excels against left-handers but the Dodgers have none of those in their bullpen.

Manager Mike Quade could have pinch-hit for Baker, but liked how he was already in the flow of Saturdays game. Hawksworth left a breaking ball up, and Baker barreled it.

The line drove bounced all the way to the wall in right field, just below the 368 sign at Wrigley Field, for a two-run double that completed a 10-8 comeback victory.

Its a decision you make and say, The guys been doing a hell of a job for us, lets give him a shot to win this thing, Quade said. And Ill be damned, he did it.

Darwin Barney who has emerged to take the second-base job away from Baker scored first on the play. Aramis Ramirez the third baseman Baker backs up in case of injury scored next.

That leaves Baker as a utility infielder, starting at first base on Saturday in place of Carlos Pena against left-hander Ted Lilly.

Hes always prepared for whatevers thrown at him, pitcher Ryan Dempster said.

Baker will turn 30 this summer and understands how hes being perceived at this stage in his career. He does not want to be labeled as a utility guy and doesnt think the sample size is big enough to say he cant hit right-handers.

But youll never hear Baker whos hitting .361 ripping the manager or the organization.

Thats not my style I like to win, Baker said. Obviously, you in your mind have ways that you want it to go and you want it to happen. But if it doesnt, its not about just me. There are 25 guys on the team. Im not going to complain.

My job is to play when they tell me to play.

The Cubs needed contributions from all over the roster to finish off the Dodgers (11-11).

Reed Johnson another bench player went 2-for-3 with a walk, an RBI and two runs scored. Jeff Samardzija earned the win by getting four outs and getting the ball to Carlos Marmol, who notched his fifth save.

We know that we have a lot of pieces to the puzzle, Barney said. We believe in ourselves. We dont feel were out of the game until its over. We think we can do some things this year. Thats what keeps us going.

The 10-10 Cubs have set a major-league record by hitting the .500 mark every step of the way, which led Quade to say: Its been the strangest 20-game start that I can remember at any level, anywhere.

Inevitably, things will happen over the next 142 games and the Cubs will need players to step up. Baker will be ready for it. He wont be looking over his shoulder for a pinch-hitter.

Thats not my call, Baker said. I dont worry about that stuff. I believe I can hit righties, lefties, it doesnt matter. I dont prepare to go up there and get taken out. I prepare to go up there and get the hit.

Patrick Mooney is CSNChicago.com's Cubs beat writer. Follow Patrick on Twitter @CSNMooney for up-to-the-minute Cubs news and views

Report: Cubs preparing to roll the dice with Brett Anderson

Report: Cubs preparing to roll the dice with Brett Anderson

The Cubs are preparing to roll the dice with Brett Anderson, hoping the talented, frequently injured pitcher can stay healthy and provide insurance for their rotation.

Anderson posted a telling message on his Twitter account on Monday night, hinting at what would be another offseason check mark for the defending World Series champs.

The physical for the agreement — first reported by Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports and MLB Network — won't just be a formality as Anderson underwent back surgery last March and appeared in only four games for the Los Angeles Dodgers last season.

But Anderson fits on paper as a left-hander who will turn only 29 on Feb. 1 and won't have to carry front-of-the-rotation responsibilities or feel Opening Day urgency on a team with five projected starters.

The Cubs had been willing to gamble around $6 million on Tyson Ross, who recently signed a similarly structured one-year deal with the Texas Rangers as he recovers from surgery to address thoracic outlet syndrome.

The calculus would essentially be the same with Anderson. The Cubs have to factor in last year's grueling playoff run into early November, this season's sky-high expectations, the organization's lack of high-end, upper-level pitching prospects and the uncertainty surrounding the 2018 rotation.

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Anderson finished sixth in the 2009 American League Rookie of the Year voting with the Oakland A's, but he's reached the 30-start mark only one other time and never accounted for 200 innings in a single season.

Anderson underwent Tommy John surgery in the middle of the 2011 season, and the injuries piled up from there, dealing with a strained right oblique, a stress fracture in his right foot and a broken left index finger.

Anderson had such a fragile reputation that he accepted the one-year, $15.8 million qualifying offer from the Dodgers after a strong platform year in 2015 (10-9, 3.69 ERA). The Dodgers only got 11 1/3 innings out of Anderson, who didn't pitch during a playoff run that ended at Wrigley Field in the National League Championship Series.

The Cubs stayed exceptionally healthy while winning 200 games across the last two seasons and need to be prepared in case John Lackey sharply declines at the age of 38 or Mike Montgomery experiences growing pains while transitioning from the bullpen.

Whether or not Anderson is ultimately the answer, the Cubs will be looking to place a sixth starter into their plans.

"I don't know if a six-man rotation on a permanent basis is the wave of the future," team president Theo Epstein said earlier this winter. "But we certainly endorse it on a temporary basis as a nice way to pace guys for the whole season.

"We can get them some rest, whether you do it in April to preserve depth and ease guys into the season, especially after a deep October and November run. Or after the All-Star break in the summer to kind of get through the dog days and give guys a little bit of a breather as you ramp up for the stretch run.

"I think it would be tough to pull off all season long. But it's something that (could certainly work) in the right spot."

Report: Cubs have a deal with free-agent starting pitcher Brett Anderson

Report: Cubs have a deal with free-agent starting pitcher Brett Anderson

The Cubs are reportedly adding another pitcher to their 2017 mix.

According to Fox Sports' Ken Rosenthal, the Cubs have agreed to a deal with veteran left-hander Brett Anderson.

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Anderson started his career with a bang back in 2009, starting 30 games and striking out 150 batters for the Oakland A's and finishing in the top 10 in American League Rookie of the Year voting. But while he pitched well in some of the years that followed, staying healthy has been a consistent challenge.

After making those 30 starts in 2009, he started 19 games in 2010, then 13 in 2011, then a total of just 19 over the next three seasons, the third coming with the Colorado Rockies.

He burst back onto the scene with 31 starts (and a 3.69 ERA) with the Los Angeles Dodgers in 2015. But last season with the Dodgers, he appeared in only four games, making just three starts.

All in all, Anderson has a 3.86 career ERA in 685 2/3 innings over 127 appearances, 115 of which have been starts.

While the Cubs' rotation is packed at the top with Cy Young contenders Jon Lester, Jake Arrieta and Kyle Hendricks — and John Lackey has the No. 4 spot nailed down — the fifth spot is a bit more of an uncertainty. Mike Montgomery figures to be the favorite, but perhaps Anderson could get himself into the mix.

Regardless, he's en route to the Windy City.