|Monday, November 1
Cubs name Don Baylor manager
CHICAGO (Ticker) -- Don Baylor has been hit by more pitches than anyone in baseball history. Today he took over a franchise that has endured more than its share of pain.
The Chicago Cubs, who have not won a World Series in 91 years, named Baylor as their new manager today.
Terms were not disclosed, but ESPN Radio 1000 reported that Baylor will receive $5 million over four years. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution on Sunday reported a slightly higher money figure, saying Baylor will get a four-year deal averaging $1.3 million per season.
"There are Cubs fans all over the world," Baylor said. "Just think if we ever won here. I want to be part of it. It's not many times you are going to manage a franchise with great tradition like the Chicago Cubs."
Baylor replaced Jim Riggleman, who was fired after guiding the Cubs to a 67-95 record and a last-place finish in the six-team National League Central Division. It was the Cubs' most losses in a season since they finished 64-98 in 1980.
The poor performance came one year after Chicago reached the postseason as the wild card team. The Cubs have not played in a World Series since 1945 and have not won one since 1908.
Hoping to end the streak of futility, the Cubs won the battle for Baylor, who guided the Colorado Rockies for six seasons and was one of the most sought-after managerial candidates this offseason. The Anaheim Angels and Milwaukee Brewers also interviewed Baylor for their vacant posts.
This past season, Baylor served as hitting coach for the NL champion Atlanta Braves. He is credited with helping switch-hitter Chipper Jones hit for power from his previously weaker right side.
Baylor said that general manager Ed Lynch and president Andy MacPhail were "relentless in their pursuit" and the sides had what amounted to a handshake deal at the World Series.
Eight days ago, the Cubs inadvertently posted a profile of Baylor, dated November 1, on their official web site, listing him as their manager. The Cubs quickly removed the announcement when it was discovered by the Chicago media.
There was speculation that Hall of Famer Frank Robinson might be hired as a coach, but Baylor said no decision has been made.
"I'm looking for coaches to teach. Once (players) get here they think they know everything," Baylor said. "That will change, that's for sure."
The hiring of Baylor, who is black, fits Commissioner Bud Selig's directive that teams consider minorities for their managerial posts. Baylor joins Felipe Alou of Montreal, Dusty Baker of San Francisco and Jerry Manuel of the Chicago White Sox as baseball's minority managers.
Baylor is the first minority manager in Cubs' history.
Baylor was fired as skipper of the Rockies immediately after the 1998 season, when Colorado went 77-85 and finished fourth in the five-team NL West. He spurned club overtures to become vice president and also turned down an offer to become a coach with the Seattle Mariners.
After managing in Coors Field in Denver, his new job finds him in another hitter-friendly facility, Wrigley Field.
"This is a great offensive ballpark you can use to your advantage," Baylor said. "I know what it is like to be a visitor here. A lot of times guys don't want to pitch here."
The 50-year-old Baylor was the first manager of the Rockies, guiding them to a 440-469 mark, beginning with their expansion season of 1993. His direction led the Rockies to a postseason berth in only their third campaign and he was named 1995 NL Manager of the Year.
Riggleman compiled a 374-419 record in five seasons at the helm of the Cubs and was just the second Chicago manager since 1960 to record 300 victories with the team. But there was speculation that the Cubs quit on Riggleman, a charge Baylor disputes.
I don't know if I believe guys quit on Riggleman," Baylor said. "I know they were a team I didn't want to play in a playoff situation."
Baylor takes over a team that was hit hard by injuries last season. Righthander Kerry Wood, the 1998 Rookie of the Year, missed the entire season after elbow surgery.
A former player who was hit by a pitch 267 times, Baylor batted .260 with 338 homers, 1,276 RBI and 285 steals in 19 years with six teams. He played in the World Series each year from 1986 to 1988. In 1987, MacPhail, then the general manager of the Minnesota Twins, acquired Baylor in a late-season deal.
Baylor played for seven different teams and was American League Most Valuable Player in 1979 with California.
Baylor will make his debut as Cubs manager on March 29 in Tokyo against the New York Mets.