CHICAGO (AP) -- Dusty Baker knows he'll have to be more than just a manager in his new job. He'll be a teacher to young players, a rulemaker -- if needed -- for veterans and maybe a psychologist.
"I'll try to get us all on the same page. I want to get rid of the stigma that the Cubs can't win and that they can't win playing daytime baseball," Baker said Friday when he accepted a four-year deal to manage the Chicago Cubs.
Less than a month after leading the San Francisco Giants to the World Series and then leaving after differences with owner Peter Magowan, Baker has found a new home and formidable assignment that will test his baseball acumen.
"I love baseball, No. 1. I love challenges, No. 2," Baker said. "I'm not a miracle man. I don't know if it will take two or three years or whatever, but we're dedicated to winning. A number of players have indicated that they would like to come to Chicago and possibly play for me. They are dedicated to bringing in the best players."
Baker, a three-time NL Manager of the Year, agreed to a four-year contract, a deal thought to be worth between $14 million and $16 million, making him the second-highest paid manager in baseball behind the Yankees' Joe Torre.
Baker's presence should help the Cubs attract some free agents and one of them could be Jim Thome, who hit 52 homers for Cleveland last year.
With the hiring of Baker and Bob Melvin by Seattle earlier in the day, all 10 openings for major league managers have been filled.
General manager Jim Hendry also interviewed Melvin, Ken Macha, Buck Showalter and Fredi Gonzalez, but it was no secret Baker was the man the Cubs wanted and that's why they waited, to see if he would leave the Giants.
"I thought we had a good list that we were comfortable with, but we felt Dusty was the guy," Hendry said. "We felt he was worth waiting for."
The Cubs will be Baker's biggest managerial test. They haven't won a World Series since 1908 and have made the playoffs only three times since 1945, their last World Series appearance.
Since 1945, they've had only 16 seasons at .500 or better. They haven't even had back-to-back winning records since 1972.
Baker replaces Bruce Kimm, the interim manager who was fired at the end of the Cubs' 67-95 season. Kimm had replaced Don Baylor, who was fired July 6 as Chicago got off to a horrible start and went on to its third 90-loss season in four years.
Baker went 840-715 in 10 seasons with the Giants and over the final six seasons his teams averaged 91 victories.
After handling Barry Bonds, now he gets to deal with another superstar -- Sammy Sosa.
Baker said one of his first tasks would to talk with Sosa and other current players and hire a coaching staff that will likely include Gary Matthews as hitting coach.
He also plans to chat with former Cubs such as Ernie Banks, Andre Dawson and Billy Williams and get their opinions on the effect afternoon baseball has on players physically and their performances. The Cubs play more than 60 day games at home.
"You've got to convince guys they might need a day off and you got to have a pretty strong bench," Baker said of his initial approach to a slew of afternoon games. "Everybody has got to be strong in September."
Baker recently had a long conversation with his friend Baylor, who was fired after 2 1/2 seasons with the Cubs. In fact, Baker may even stay in Baylor's old condo until he can get situated.
"There are plusses and negatives everywhere," Baker said. "It was an unfortunate situation for Donny (Baylor). I wish he'd still have been in the job."
Baker took his wild-card Giants to wins over Atlanta and St. Louis this past season and to within several outs of a winning the World Series.
San Francisco had a 3-2 games lead and was ahead 5-0 in the seventh inning of Game 6 before Anaheim rallied to win the series in seven games.
The Giants and Baker parted ways last week and San Francisco quickly named Felipe Alou to the job on Thursday.
Baker, who will be introduced at a Wrigley Field news conference Tuesday, said he's happy to be coming to Chicago for several reasons.
"You got to go where you are wanted," he said.
Brainerd Dispatch ©2013. All Rights Reserved.