GM: Baker not to blame for funk

GM: Baker not to blame for funk

CHICAGO -- The Chicago Cubs need to get out of their funk, and the players should accept some responsibility for that, general manager Jim Hendry said.

The team entered Tuesday's game 3-10 in its past 13 games, and in that span, the pitchers have a 4.94 ERA and the club has hit .236.

"We're just not getting it done, that's all," Cubs manager Dusty Baker said.

"For whatever reason, we've been in a funk here the last five, six days that we haven't played good baseball and made a lot of mistakes and a lot of mental mistakes," Hendry said. "Collectively, we've also had a little bit of an offensive funk."

The problem isn't Baker, Hendry said.

"I know one thing: The 25 guys in that clubhouse aren't going to quit on Dusty Baker the rest of the season," Hendry said. "Hopefully, it's just a funk and we'll get out of it and make a run at it. If we're not in a better position at the end of August, then we weren't good enough."

With the Cubs in seventh place in the National League Wild Card race, 6 1/2 games out, Hendry was asked what Baker could do to rectify the situation.

"He's got 13, 14 years of doing it, and as we all know, players have responded well to him," Hendry said. "He's not going to go down without fighting every day. I think that will rub off on the guys. We've had some games that we're not proud of at all. The worst part is the timing.

"The players have to bear some of the responsibility themselves," Hendry said. "It's easy to put it on the manager, but the manager has done a pretty good job for 13 years in this league and done a lot of good things here.

"We need to collectively play better and understand there's not going to be any quit around here from the front office or the manager. Hopefully, we'll play better, pitch better, swing the bat better and win some games."

Hendry said the rumors swirling around Baker -- that he wants to leave Chicago and is headed to the Arizona Diamondbacks, the Los Angeles Dodgers or the Washington Nationals -- are unfounded.

"There's never been any attempt from him not to stay here and never any implication from me that he wouldn't be here this year and next year," Hendry said.

"He and I have a good, honest relationship. He's always told me upfront what's on his mind, and he's never mentioned that he wants out of here before it's over. I chose to ignore [the rumors] because there isn't anything to it. It can become a distraction. It's something he didn't want."

Maybe the problem is that the expectations are so high because of Baker's performance his first season with the Cubs in 2003, when they reached the National League Championship Series.

"The bar should've been raised," Hendry said. "We all expect to win, we all expect to play better than we have, and we're all part of why we're not. The only way out of it is to roll up your sleeves and work a little harder, and hopefully things get better the rest of the year.

"I'm not here to blame anyone," Hendry said. "It's a collective effort when you win and a collective effort when you fail. We still have time to salvage it, still have time to play better baseball."

Baker's contract runs through 2006, and Hendry said he and Baker have not discussed a contract extension. They don't intend to.

"It's not important to either one of us," Hendry said.

Carrie Muskat is a reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.