Notes and Quotes: Ron Santo, Dusty Baker

"I have a dog who was learning to love me that doesn't any more," Cubs broadcaster Ron Santo said.

Radio analyst Ron Santo returned to the booth on Sept. 27 after missing eight road games because of an atrial fibrillation condition.

The former third baseman, who dislikes the New York Mets because they passed up the Cubs for the pennant in 1969, found it hard to take when the 2004 Cubs dropped two one-run games against the Mets on Sept. 25 and 26. He said it was rough to be around watching those games at home.

"I have a dog who was learning to love me who doesn't love me any more," Santo said. "And my wife, who might have loved me -- I know doesn't love me any more."

RF Sammy Sosa hit .253, which is his worst average since 1997. He did hit 35 homers but failed to drive in at least 100 runs for the first time since 1994.

While it's doubtful the Cubs could trade him, there were late-season rumors the New York Mets might be interested in him. Any team that would trade for him would have to pay $35 million over the next two years.

RHP Renyel Pinto, who was 11-8 with a 2.92 ERA for Double-A West Tenn, was honored before a Sept. 27 game at Wrigley Field for being the organization's minor league Pitcher of the Year.

1B Brian Dopirak, who hit 39 homers and drove in 120 runs to go with a .307 average, was named the organization's minor league Player of the Year.

On Tuesday, Sept. 28, the Cubs eclipsed the 2,962,630 mark in attendance, setting a team record set in 2003. The following day, they broke the 3-million barrier.

THE NUMBERS DON'T LIE: 1-5 -- Cubs record after they held a meeting to divide their potential playoff shares.

ON THE RECORD: "Heck, man, the thing that I hear from true Cub fans is that it's been exciting. It's been up and down. Sometimes you want to kiss the TV and sometimes you want to kick it." -- Manager Dusty Baker on the 2004 season.

Closing in on a closer: With LaTroy Hawkins blowing nine games in 2004 after taking over for injured closer Joe Borowski, look for general manager Jim Hendry to either seek out a closer from the outside or try to develop Ryan Dempster as the closer.

Who's at short?: It's unknown if Nomar Garciaparra's price tag will be affordable to the Cubs. If the star shortstop, whom the Cubs picked up in a four-team Aug. 31 deal, can't come to terms with the Cubs and becomes a free agent, they will have to look elsewhere. Boston's Orlando Cabrera, whom the Cubs eyes before the Garciaparra deal, and St. Louis' Edgar Renteria could have the Cubs' interest.

No. 5: Greg Maddux, Carlos Zambrano, Mark Prior and Kerry Wood will be back but free-agent starter Matt Clement will likely be gone. The Cubs could re-sign part-time starter Glendon Rusch back but would he automatically fit in as the No. 5 starter? Internal candidates could be Sergio Mitre, Angel Guzman and Renyel Pinto but it's a good bet general manager Jim Hendry will be considering a free agent or seek out a trade.

STATE OF THE FARM SYSTEM: Triple-A Iowa and Class-A Boise qualified for postseason play. Class-A Daytona was named co-champion of the Florida State League with Tampa but the teams did not face off in the postseason because the playoffs were called off because of the hurricanes. Some of the top performers this season still may be a few years away from helping the parent squad.

OF Jason Dubois hit 31 homers and had 99 RBIs in 109 games with Triple-A Iowa but was a bench player in two call-ups this season. Still, he could head into camp vying for the left field job if the Cubs part ways with Moises Alou.

RHP Renyel Pinto was named the organization's "Pitcher of the Year" for 2004 after a strong season at Double-A West Tenn (11-8, 2.92 ERA with 179 strikeouts in 141 2-3 innings). If the Cubs part ways with RHP Matt Clement and are in search of a fifth starter, Pinto could be among the leading candidates.

RHP Michael Wuertz had 19 saves with Triple-A Iowa and got some valuable time on the major league level. While he may not be primed to be the team's closer, he could serve as a valuable member of the bullpen as a setup man.

MEDICAL WATCH: OF Todd Hollandsworth never made it back from a June 28 shin injury and hopes everything will heal and he will be ready in 2005. RHP Joe Borowski (torn right rotator cuff) hopes offseason surgery is not needed and that a few months off will help strengthen his arm for 2005.

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