Some quick thoughts on Lou Piniella’s retirement and a few questions.
To start, Rob Neyer examines Lou’s HOF potential and thinks he comes out pretty well. More on that later.
Piniella came to the Cubs with the rep as hot-tempered, base-throwing skipper. What we got was a grandfather-type who usually didn’t sweat the details. Usually.
Many have lauded Piniella for what he’s done as a Cub manager. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve liked him just fine but much of his success came from a team that he inherited and he rode that wagon as long as he could. It seemed evident when he took over that this would be his “sunset” team considering his age and stage in his career.
My take on Piniella for the first part of his reign of the Cubs is this: His managing ability to get the Cubs to the postseason was fine. Once they got there, they stalled. Does Piniella share some of the responsibility of not inspiring his team when the going got tough? Maybe.
Was his retirement a surprise?
Not to me. This is Lou’s last year of his contract. With grumblings already about his performance, I just didn’t see him re-upping.
Is Piniella really retiring?
Yeah probably. Piniella deserves some retirement and I mean that in a nice way. I just don’t see another team picking him in the future. Look to see him as an analyst behind an ESPN desk soon.
What’s next for the Cubs?
Fortunately, the Cubs have time to think about this. I’m not as pro-Sandberg as some might think. If I had my druthers, I’d like to see them pry Joe Giardi away from the Yankees (yeah, dream on) or give Alan Trammell a shot.
While we’re changing leadership, is Jim Hendry’s job safe?
Yes. There are a lot of fans calling for Hendry’s head at any given time. That said, for any bad move he’s made (and there have been some), he’s made some quiet deals that have kept the team afloat.
Piniella in the Hall of Fame? Really?
I don’t know. I haven’t really thought about it. Between his above average performance as a player plus his seven postseason appearances as a manager, he has a shot. He ranks 14th all-time in wins which isn’t too shabby. I wouldn’t count it out.
Interesting addendum: Gene Mauch is the only non-active manager with more wins than Piniella who is not in the Hall of Fame. He has 1902 wins.
Perhaps the fact that Mauch has only two playoff appearances (and no World Series ring) in 26 years has something to with it. That and his losing record (.483).