Cactus League media day was held on Monday at Chase Field in Phoenix with all of the league's teams being represented by their manager and GM. Cincinnati Reds manager Dusty Baker held court for an hour and it is obvious that he still looks back on his days as the manager of the Cubs with some regret especially over how his era ended.
"When we lost both (Sammy) Sosa and (Moises) Alou in the same winter I knew we were in trouble. If management had spent the money that they did after I left and had kept getting me the talent we would have kept winning and who knows, I might still be there," he told me.
Baker, looking noticeably thinner after a health scare in Chicago last September, is excited about his defending division champion ballclub, which boasts a young and talented roster that should again contend to win a championship. However, as we discussed his tenure in Chicago he was very honest about wanting to treat those four years as a period that he tries to forget.
"I've made (it) invisible, like that was a part of my life that never was," Baker said. "You know until I get back to Chicago, when I get back to Chicago, then it hits me front and center. You know, in life you can make anything invisible, because if you don't then, you know, some of the pain that you might have felt will always be there and you don't need that. So, like I said, I hear it when I go back there, but it's all good."
Baker also he said that when he was let go by the Cubs he was disappointed in how things went down towards the end of his tenure.
"At the time when I was sent out I wasn't ready to go then. When I was there they quit spending money and they quit reloading," he said. "Then right after I left they started spending money again. I would have loved the year we went to the NLCS to have added on and reloaded even more but the Tribune Company was in trouble and they quit spending. In one year we lost Moises Alou and Sammy Sosa and that is a lot of home runs and RBIs to lose. We also had some guys hurt and I was told to play some young guys to see what the young could do. That's the kiss of death because the record still counts against you and it goes on your record. It was all good, it's all for a purpose. I'm much stronger because of the experience. It made me stronger. Whatever doesn't kill you makes you stronger. You fill in the blanks."
Baker also believes that the 2013 Cubs are going to be much improved due to their offseason additions.
"The Cubs are going to better because of their improved pitching. The have good young players and they are going to be better. With Houston out of the division and the rebuilding process that they are going through leading to some wins for the rest of the division you will probably see less wins needed to win the division," he said.