Entries Tagged as 'Lou Piniella'

Dawson: Cub, Expo, what does it matter? He’ll be in.

I did a quick poll of the top stories of Andre Dawson entering the Hall of Fame.  Of those articles with photos of him playing, the ratio of him in a Cub uniform as opposed to an Expo uni was about 2 to 1. 

But I’m not jealous.  Really.  I’m just happy he’s getting in.  And part of me is glad the Expos aren’t forgotten.  But Joe Jaffe from ESPN thinks Tim Raines should have been the first Expo, though.

and what’s this… more talk about Lou Piniella eventually getting into the Hall?  So says soon-to-be inductee Whitey Herzog.

Lou Piniella, lame duck

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.

My questions…

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).

Cubs’ owner interviewed

Chicago Breaking Sports (an oddly chosen, yet perhaps appropriate name for WGN/Chicago Tribune’s Sports site) has posted an interview of Cubs owner Tom Ricketts where he “discusses life as Cubs’ owner”. 

On Lou Piniella’s future

Ricketts said general manager Jim Hendry ultimately will make that decision. "If you insert yourself into that discussion, you’re not adding value, for one thing, and you want accountability," he said. "It’s Jim’s responsibility, and he knows it."

Passing the buck..

Seriously, good to hear that one fat cat owner isn’t going to micromanage his team. 

Let’s just pack it up now, cuz it won’t get any better for the Cubs

The Cubs won today.  And you know winning the first game of spring training means everything in the world, right? 

But the Cubs did get the right hits from the right people.  Fuld, (homerun), newly acquired Marlon Byrd (2 for 2, homerun), Tyler Colvin (2 doubles, homerun), Derrek Lee (homerun, yawn), and Starlin Castro, who seems to be everyone’s freakin’ darlin’, (triple). 

I kid, I love the guy.  Castro came in relief for Ryan Theriot and his triple seemed to say, “Find a another position, Cajun dude!”  Which just might happen.  The baseball pundit hordes are calling for Theriot to move to second base and it’s probably on Cubs management’s mind, too.

But first and foremost on Cubs manager Lou Piniella’s mind, is how to spell Kosuke Fukudome’s nickname.  From Cubs beat writer Carrie Muskat, Lou says it’s “Fuke”.  I guess that “e” keep us Cub fans morally clean.  Perhaps they should issue a press release. 

The press (mlb.com and the Cubs in particular) have been making a big deal about Alfonso Soriano and how gosh darn healthy he is. 

I don’t know about you but that kind of talk scares the beejeezus out of me.  One, you don’t talk about it unless there is something to be worry about and two, why are they tempting fate?  Almost like talking during a pitcher’s no-hitter.  “Well, Ron, Soriano’s gone through the season so far a not a hint of a hamstring pull.”  “We’ve been pretty lucky.  He’s sure to go through the whole season without a visit to the DL.” 

Then BAM!

Let’s just keep it quiet and count our blessings.  And win another… even if it is just spring training.

Twitter’s not for ‘Prime Rib’ Lou

On the heels of the news that Ozzie Guillen is giving Twitter a try, Cubs skipper Lou Piniella is weighing in on his take on the micro-blogging tool. 

Seems like Lou probably won’t be using it anytime soon.  When it comes down to it, Lou’s a pretty old-school, meat and potatoes kind of guy.

”No, no, no, no, no,” he said. ”First of all, I don’t know how to Twitter, and second of all I’m not going to learn how to Twitter.

”I’m really not a Facebook or Twitter guy. I’m a prime rib and baked potato.”

Errr. Lou must have been pretty hungry at the time.

Cubs’ Harden taking off the rest of the season

Rich Harden and the Cubs have agreed that the right-hander will take the rest of the season off.

“He doesn’t want to pitch and we respect his wishes,” Piniella said. “I spoke with him briefly and he’s not going to pitch any more. He’s done a real nice job here and the staff has done a nice job of keeping him nice and healthy.”

In an email, my friend DonS explained his thoughts on the matter.  He senses a little behind-the-scenes agreement between the two.  Here’s his speculation:

The Cubs agreed to let Harden take the rest of the year off, in exchange for a promise. Under the secret agreement, Harden declares for free agency, the Cubs offer Harden arbitration and Harden turns it down, as promised.
 
  That way, the Cubs get the draft choices that the present team gets when the free agent turns down arbitration and Harden gets the rest of the year off with pay and becomes a free agent.
Thoughts?  Is DonS on track or just a conspiracy theorist?

Cubs’ Fukudome finding leadoff spot quite comfortable

Cubs’ beat writer Carrie Muskat tells us what most Cub fans having been thinking for years now…

…put Kosuke Fukudome or more precisely, anyone other than Alfonso Soriano, in the leadoff spot.   In this case, Fuk has fit the bill quite nicely.  In the 11 games he’s led off he’s done what leadoff hitters are supposed to do. 

Fuk is hitting .317 (13 for 48) in the top spot.  More importantly, he’s taking the walk up there, too (6 walks).  Yes, it’s a relatively small sample size but it’s a good trend and a sign that the Cubs management is open to change in the matter. 

Now, finding a spot where Soriano can excel is key.  Soriano is the kind of player who likes consistency… he wants to know he’s penciled in a particular spot every day.  Perhaps that’s why he was so wedded to the leadoff role. 

One more thought on Soriano and regarding Monday’s game.  Give me an 0 for 4 performance and flawless fielding over his 3 hits and his atrocious play in left.  The look on Piniella’s face after Soriano butchered that ball… I see that look on my wife’s face sometimes. 

I hope that Soriano felt the wrath from Lou later.

Does Patton have shot in Cubs’ bullpen?

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David Patton, the Cubs’ Rule V pick this year is going to give it his best shot.  And according to Lou Piniella, he’s “in the picture”. 

While the Cubs’ bullpen is crowded, that’s not to say it couldn’t use a little improvement.  But is Mr Patton the answer?  The Bleacher Report seems to think so calling Patton “a gem”. Others may be a little more skeptical. 

Here are his minor league numbers.

The Cubs acquired him from the Reds but he originally hails from the Colorado system.  His farm numbers looks ok.  He has high strikeout rate but his control isn’t anything to write home about.  But hopefully that would come in time.

Much is being made in the media of his spring numbers this year.   One run allowed in 7 2/3 innings with 9 strikeouts.  Impressive but I don’t need to remind any baseball fan of falling for stats within small sample sizes. 

We’ll know in a couple what the future holds for David Patton.  He has a long row to hoe if he has a shot in the Cubs’ bullpen.  But the way he’s pitching now, this is his chance.

Cubs News Bits

-Curt Schilling says he’s not sure he’s coming back but if does, the Cubs are on his short list.

-“I’m going to strike him out.  I’m going to try. He’ll be the enemy out there.”   Marmol said this with a smile about Geovany Soto.  The two of them may face each other in the World Baseball Classic.

-Carlos Zambrano pitched a near perfect two innings Monday in his first appearance in 2009.  Big Z only sin was giving up a walk and he struck out three.  Lou Piniella is still debating the Opening Day starter issue, though.  It’s ok, Lou.  You still have about a month.

-Finally, Lou Piniella supports Carlos Marmol’s decision to attend the WBC.

“It’s an honor to represent your country.  He’s here competing for a job, and he was a little concerned. I said, ‘Lay your fears to rest. We’ll let you compete for that job when you get back and we’ll make a decision then.’ No decision will be made without Marmol being here.”  

Now, just stay healthy, Carlos.

Piniella: "Don’t abandon ship"

In his post-playoff interview with WGN’s Steve Cochrane, Cubs manager Lou Piniella encouraged Cubs fans to stay with the team in 2009. 

His latest weekly interview with the flagship station started out rather routinely with Lou and Steve discussing the Cubs picking up Rich Harden’s option and looking toward next year as far as the Cubbie pitching staff was concerned. 

But as the interview wore on, Piniella began to wear his heart on his sleeve.  It is apparent losing the playoffs meant a lot to Lou and more importantly, he knows that the ones it hit hardest were the fans.

That said, Lou encourages fans to come back next year.  "Don’t abandon ship",  he said. 

You can hear Steve Cochrane’s interview with Lou Piniella (the last regular one of the year) at WGN Radio’s web site.