9/29 Lou takes a stand

Lou Piniella took offense to a column in the Chicago Sun-Times on Tuesday which said he was “disinterested” and suggested the new ownership group should remove him as the Cubs manager.

“I’ve been in it from the first day I’ve been here to the last day I leave here,” Piniella said. “I take pride in the team winning and playing well to please our fan base, which to me is the best in baseball. We work exceedingly hard here as a staff. If you want to stick around and be here until 1 o’clock, 1:30 in the morning when the parking lot is closed, and we’re having meetings on how we can get the team better, you’ll see we’re very interested and have a lot of pride.”

The column described Piniella as “tired, cranky and disinterested.” Not true, Lou said.

“I take exception to that,” he said. “I can take criticism, believe me. invariably in this business here, you’re going to have to be able to take criticism and you’re going to have to have a thick skin. But at the same time, at least be correct in your assumptions.”

Piniella is one win away from becoming the first manager since Charlie Grimm in 1933-37 to have winning seasons in his first three years as the Cubs skipper.

— Carrie Muskat


This season was a let down for me as a Cubs fan. It wasn’t the coaches fault- but the players! Lou is on the verge of doing something that hasn’t been done in mine or my dad’s lifetime. So as disappointing as the season was for cubs fan we are moving in the right direction – baby steps but still!

“Piniella is one win away from becoming the first manager since Charlie Grimm in 1933-37 to have winning seasons in his first three years as the Cubs skipper.”

Just wondering: Is that one of the columnists who covers this team from the safety of the remote control? Or one of the rare columnists who actually knows what he/she is talking about? If Paul Sullivan and/or Carrie Muskat says Piniella is disinterested, well, maybe I’ll believe that. Otherwise…

It is not Lou’s fault for the mistakes of the general manager this season. I didn’t expect to be in the playoffs this year, I am actually amazed the team is going to have a winning season. Lou is a intense competitor he wants to win, I think that has come across where ever he has been. I am too young to remember him as a player, but watching old games you know he was never disinterested. The same goes for him as a manager, for an article to describe as much would be an opinion not based on much fact. This season is disappointing, but it in know way means Lou doesn’t want to win or is not dedicated.

@ georgealtmanfan: It was the same columnist that came out against the Bears getting Greg Olsen for a dirty rap song he did when he was a kid and then a couple years later was pining for the NFL to give Michael Vick a 2nd chance (I’m not debating either, I’m just demonstrating this columnist’s inconsistency), so consider the source as one that is just looking to get a reaction from people and really has no place whatsoever writing a sports column.

You commenters cannot be serious! When you are asked a question as a manager about how your team is performing and you say repeatedly over 162 games “I dunno,” what do you call that! Come on just because he is upset you get his back! This guy gave up on the DEVIL RAYS and made them fire him and he has shown the last few teams he’s been with that on the third season he doesn’t care! He is here for a paycheck! When your rookies aren’t even getting bunts down who do you blame for not practicing the basics? Um the MANAGER! What do you morons thing Tony LaRussa would have done when Fontenot missed a bunt down the middle of the plate that would have won the game! YOu guys are morons!

Talk is cheap! It seems everybody forgets how far this team came in two years. The focus was on post season preparation before this season began! Sure, this year wasn’t stellar and I kind of saw it coming when they tried two hard to rebuild. A worthwhile deal for that left handed bat just wasn’t to be had and that’s where I saw a mistake coming and it sure enough did. We gave away $30 Million and got nothing in return and they gave away DeRosa, and Marquis to do it. After pulling off some super deals in the past they got took. It happens when you try too hard. It was all in a desperate effort to win it all. So, you learn from it. Look how far our home grown have come along. I’ve never seen a crop of players like we have coming along! Give the coach’s and manager some credit.

Lou isn’t the problem, to the contrary, with all that went wrong we will end up less then ten games of where we were last year. A couple of things go right this off season and everybody sings a different song!

@cubswin2009: When a rookie with X-years in the minor leagues gets to the majors and can’t get a bunt down, it’s an organizational failure, not the manager’s. That rarely happens with kids who come up through the Cardinals’ system, or the Twins’ system. The Cubs, top to bottom throughout the organization, have been fundamentally shaky for as long as I can remember, and by the time a players reaches the bigs, he’s almost impossible to fix. (See both Pattersons, Pie, more.) What you CAN blame a manager for is, say, asking a player to bunt who can’t — and I haven’t seen that pattern with Piniella at all. (As for Fontenot’s flop: I don’t know his skill level on bunts — for a guess, see “organizational” comment, above — but no one is 100% on anything in baseball. Ryne Sandberg muffed ground balls.)

i love how so many folks want to jump on a bandwagon shouting, “it was the manager’s fault!” or, “it was the GM’s fault!” i think if we had had aramis ramirez healthy all year, we would be in the thick of things. people forget how potent he is and somehow people have forgotten we lost him for the bulk of the season. the same goes for soriano. when he’s hot, no one’s complaining but when he’s not, everyone howls about how much money he makes and how much he stinks. the man carried the club through september last year. it’s a shame two of our three biggest bats were on the fritz for most of the season. but that’s not sweet lou’s fault. not by a long shot. he does what he can with the pieces he’s got which is a darn sight better than what our previous managers were doing. that sun times columnist is looking for someone to blame and as always, the manager is in the line of fire. but i for one would like to see lou come back after his contract is up for more years in chicago.

i also just want to point out that i guess our GM was a little bit at fault for going so nuts over left handed hitting and making the rather bone headed move to pick up bradley. i just look at how well the team has played over the last week and i can’t help but wish that this change had happened earlier in the season. they just look like a better oiled ballclub. i don’t want to overemphasize clubhouse dynamics but my goodness something has changed…

Lou was infamous for his tirades and looking like he cared. He doesn’t look like that anymore. The increase of salary to get the guys he wanted has not helped his cause. You can blame Hendry all you want, but it’s Lou’s wish list he’s trying to fulfill. I blame Hendry more for terms of deals and the depletion and futility of the farm system, which he was head of player development. Bottom line, the players did not perform up to expectations. Injuries are no excuse. There should be guys to step up and fill in. Wait til next year.

I love all these experts that can criticize!! Id love to seem them take the field and win baseball games. You know the old saying, “those that do,do! and those that can’t teach”. Lou is one of the best managers in baseball but has had to work with alot of turmoil on and off the field with some of the players. Plus having to put up with his stars missing so many games due to injuries and other problems. Yet, here he is on the verge of doing something that hasnt been done in soooo many years. Ill bet Lou and the cubs will make some changes for next year and again win the division and go into the playoffs’ again.

What’s with all the mystery here? Carrie, why don’t you (or at least one of your commenters) name the columnist and column in question? It appears you’re referring to this column (dated 9/30, not Tuesday) by Chris DeLuca:


I feel I should point out, for accuracy’s sake, that nowhere in the article does the specific phrase “tired, cranky and disinterested” appear, though that is the gist of what DeLuca is saying.

I don’t necessarily disagree with the column’s characterization of Lou. He’s seemed much more weary and, worst of all, slow to act (both in the game and in the larger sense). But I seriously doubt Hendry would pull the plug early unless the Cubs got off to another hellish 0-14 start or something.

I also believe Ryne Sandberg needs to spend some time as a coach at the major league level before he takes over as manager.

We can distribute the blame all accross the organizaion untill the cows come home. I think Lou has done an admirable job with the players he was given which lessens his share of the blame. Sure he could have chosen to send out different players on different occasions which us fans may have thought would have increased our chances of winning that paticular game, but NONE of the players Hendry acquired were standing head and shoulders above the crowd. If there is one man to blame it must be Hendry, because even those who do blame Pinella (which I don’t agree with for the most part) must realize that Hendry hired him. I do agree however that Pinella makes a for a better manager with a team loaded with veterans, not rookies… To mcsoule: I agree with you, sure having a healthy Ramirez all year may have been enough to get us past the Cardinals or even prevent the Cardinals from acquiring Holiday, DeRosa & Lugo but they smelled blood in the water during the season and then went out and got the players they needed, that’s what Hendry SHOULD have done instead of unloading DeRosa to get “more left-handed”. And a healthy Soriano is still a bad outfielder, no way around it, Hendry failed miserably during his best chance of making it to the World Series. He came accross as one hell of a desperate GM, if not panick stricken. And if Pinella had anything to do with pushing Hendry into signing Bradley or getting “more left handed” THEN he could equally share the blame. All that said, who would argue with bringing in an entire new coaching staff, manager and GM? Dallas Green is looking pretty good right now.

Tired, justifiably. Cranky, that’s allowed. Disinterested, not Lou!
He’s obviously into this 100% and doing all he can to whip these guys into contenders. Glad you’ll be back next year Lou, and with fewer front office blown saves, we’re winners.

@dat cubfan: The column in question, the one Piniella reacted to, was by Carol Slezak, which ran in Tuesday’s Sun-Times. The DeLuca column, which ran Wednesday, was similar, a virtual echo — which in itself is curious on multiple levels. (Wasn’t there anything else to write about?)
And I agree re Sandberg: Have any commenters (or namedropping columnists, like DeLuca and Rogers, another genius who rarely leaves his house) watched him manage? Talked to his players? Talked to scouts? That’s a bandwagon, such as it is, based on fan-love and sportstalk-radio call-generators, not necessarily reality . . .

But I have blamed the Cubs ever since we signed Lou. We could have gotten Girardi ! Lou can’t be held responsible for making the wrong moves; he doesn’t make any ! Hit and run, sac. bunts, etc. etc..he has no idea how to manufacture runs. It is embarrassing to watch LaRussa out manage Lou. Win 97 games, and replace 10 roster spots ? Was that crazy or what. Lou has created a country club atmosphere at Wrigley. He is just happy to have this gig..and who wouldn’t be ? Now the team has aged. What are we going to do ?

Right on Smitty. I thought Girardi was a lock. Then out of nowhere there’s Piniella. Here’s why Piniella is not a great, or even a good manager. Take in account that he was fired from the Yankees before finishing his third season. He was handed an ’85 Yankee team that won 97 games, and that depleted each year. His lone WS victory came with his first year as the Red’s manager and the miracle Reds won the WS. He was able to land the Seattle job at just the right time. Seriously, some good players when he was there from ’93 – ’02. Personally, I would say way better players than the miracle Reds of ’90. No WS for the Mariners. Then the TB years. I read that Lou was promised a payroll increase if he signed on with them. That never happened. No winning seasons. Lou bailed. On to the Cubbies a year later and another year older. 2006 payroll 94,424,499. 2007 it jumps a modest 5 mil to 99,670,332. 2008 it’s 118,345,833 and now this year it’s third in MLB at 134,058,500. No playoff wins. No playoffs in ’09.

@smitty/jem: LaRussa outmanaged Piniella (true) because LaRussa and his general manager worked together to assemble a team that could tolerate LaRussa’s successful but maddening micromanaging style. If that meant dumping the pitching coach’s son, seeya Chris Duncan.

Would LaRussa have won more games with the personnel that wore Cub uniforms in 2009? I wouldn’t count on it.

But count on this: 1) Piniella would’ve won as many games with this year’s Yankee team as Girardi did. Vedie Himsl would’ve won with that team. 2) Girardi would have done no better with this Cub team than Piniella did. It was just a flawed mix from the moment (sorry to beat this old drum) DeRosa walked out and Bradley walked in.

Injuries only made it uglier.

That they won more games than they lost is something of a miracle, and to be fair, Piniella has to be given some credit for the whole thing not totally falling apart . . .

georgealtman fan, right on. I could have lived with either Girardi or Pinella as manager it’s the living with Hendry that’s taking it’s toll. Regarding Hendry signing Pinella over Girardi, although I’m o.k. with Pinella it does go right along with Hendry’s style of going for the “big splashy name” rather than taking a gamble with a lesser known commodity. He did the same thing in the free agent market first with Soriano, then Fukodome and this year was Bradley. Until Hendry figures out how to return to being a good, responsable GM like when he acquired Ramirez and Lofton from Pittsburgh in a trade NOT via free agency this team will continue to flounder. Hendry lost whatever little edge he ever had and I think the damage he has done is darn near irrepariable and he should be let go.

@joeydafish: Given the ownership situation and that Hendry’s teams did go to the postseason in ’07 and ’08, I’d bring him back for one more year. He’s earned that level of respect — plus a new GM, given the contracts he (or she) would inherit, would be hamstrung for a year anyway.
But after 2010, if we have another season like this one, all bets — and obligations — are off.

I hope that the Cubs can resign Mark DeRosa this off season. I know they say he wants alot of money, but so did Milton Bradley and they gave it to him which turned into a big disaster! DeRosa loved Chicago and Chicago loved him. He played anywhere without complaining and was a Great clubhouse leader. I like Soriano but he played hurt and that had a big impact on his season. Don’t give up on him because he had good years before. Reed Johnson needs to be resigned, he plays hard something Milton Bradley forgot to do! The bullpen needs revamped. We need Kerry Wood back or someone with his bulldog mentality on the mound. We didn’t need to make so many changes during the off season last year. But we can correct all the bad signings by getting rid of the deadbeats. Lou is a very good manager, he didn’t become dumb all of a sudden. You’re at the mercy of your players and most of these guys need to look in a mirror at themselves and give a better effort next year. Congrats to Ted Lilly & Derrick Lee for a great season! With Milton Bradley gone the team has taken great strides to win. No wonder all the teams Bradley played on were losers. His poor attitude just drags a team down. Good riddance to bad rubbish. Give Jim Hendry another chance to regroup the team. Bradley fooled alot of people with his “changed attitude”. Now everyone knows, so let’s turn the page and look forward to a better 2010! and resign DeRosa, please!!

georgealtmanfan and ronjr, you two seem to be willing to give Hendry another chance based on 07 and 08, I guess I can see your reasoning and just chalk up 09 to a HUMONGOUS BRAIN CRAMP on Hendry’s part? O.K, one more year…BUT THAT’S IT, I mean it’s hard to justify even one more year based on just the two TOTALLY IRRESPONSABLE decisions of moving DeRosa and acquiring Bradley. Plus, once a GM has a payroll budget of what Hendry had, what’s the difference who the owner is or is going to be? It’s not like his budget dropped to 80 million. HIS HANDS WERE NEVER TIED, I believe that has been overused and overstated. Hendry is just an employee like the rest of us except he has the security of a “contract”, nonetheless if he were a bridge architect and he built two good bridges flollowed by a third bridge that collapsed I wonder if his employer would allow him to build a fourth or if the collapsed bridge would negate the previous two good bridges. One more year? I don’t know, it’s kind of like believing a politician.

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