12/03/2002 8:38 pm ET
It's official: Remlinger joins Cubs
By Carrie Muskat / MLB.com
CHICAGO -- New manager Dusty Baker's influence paid off for the Cubs, who Tuesday signed free agent reliever Mike Remlinger to a three-year contract.
"When you start at the top and you bring in somebody with Dusty's track record, that says a lot," Remlinger said.
Baker, who was named the Cubs new manager on Nov. 15, had talked to Remlinger before the manager even signed with the team.
"Having Dusty Baker come here made it a lot easier for me to make the decision," Remlinger said. "I've got the utmost amount of respect for Dusty. To leave someone as great a manager as (Atlanta's) Bobby Cox and to have the opportunity to go and play for Dusty is really an honor for me.
"I'm just looking forward to coming here and helping the people of Chicago have a winning team for the first time in a while and ideally win a World Series," Remlinger said. "I've had the luxury of going to the playoffs for four straight years in Atlanta and I don't look at this as anything other than keeping that winning tradition going on and hopefully help develop it here in Chicago."
Baker, who guided the San Francisco Giants to the World Series this year, brings a new attitude to Chicago. The Cubs marketing department Tuesday unveiled a "Why not us?" campaign, based on a statement Baker made at his introductory news conference.
"Maybe it's a different breed of Cub here," Remlinger said. "I'd like nothing more than to be right in the middle of things in September and say, 'I told you we were going to win.'"
Why is Baker so special?
"The biggest thing with him is knowing his knowledge of the game and his ability as a manager," Remlinger said. "It's also a comfort level of knowing that he's a person who you can go and talk to. As long as you give him everything you have on the field, you'll get along great."
Remlinger, 36, will fill a significant void in the Cubs bullpen. Southpaw Jeff Fassero posted a 6.18 ERA in 57 games before he was dealt to St. Louis. Other lefties -- Jesus Sanchez (12.96 ERA in 11 games), Ron Mahay (8.59 ERA in 11 games), Scott Chiasson (23.14 ERA in four games) and Donovan Osborne (6.19 ERA in 11 games) -- struggled out of the pen.
Chicago relievers overall posted a 4.92 ERA with 23 saves in 48 chances and 32 holds. Remlinger totaled 30 holds himself last season with the Braves.
"We feel like we have one of the finest left-handed relievers in baseball and in our opinion, the best available free agent," Cubs general manager Jim Hendry said. "We'll continue to move forward to try to make the club better piece by piece, but this is a terrific start for us before the winter meetings. This was a priority for us and I think Mike knew that and that had something to do with it."
Remlinger had to pass a physical before the deal could be finalized Tuesday. The contract was believed to be worth $10.65 million.
"I look at this as a challenge," Remlinger said. "There's definitely an underdog role here and a lot of people enjoy that. I, for one, do."
Remlinger has followed the team, watching the Cubs afternoon contests in the clubhouse before the Braves' games.
"We watched every game -- it's either soap operas, fishing shows or the Cubs so we'd watch the Cubs," he said.
He is coming off his best season in which he was 7-3 with 30 holds and a 1.99 ERA in 73 outings. The southpaw averaged more than a strikeout an inning (69 strikeouts in 68 innings on the mound). Opponents hit .198 off Remlinger, who served up just three homers.
"Last year was a great year but I look at is as a better year than the one before," he said. "I don't like the words 'career year.' For me, I feel there's room to get better."
His ERA ranked fourth among all National League relievers who worked either 60 games or 60.0 innings. The lefty started the season 7-0, tying a club record.
One of the top left-handed setup pitchers over the last four years, he ranks second only to Houston closer Billy Wagner for strikeouts among southpaw relievers and tied for third in outings by a lefty.
Remlinger has pitched for San Francisco (1991), the New York Mets (1994-95), Cincinnati (1995-98) and Atlanta (1999-2002). In 439 Major League games, he has gone 44-41 with 16 saves and a 3.80 ERA.
Carrie Muskat is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to approval by Major League Baseball or its clubs.