9/27 Lou last manager to be traded
In 2002, Lou Piniella guided the Mariners to a 93-69 record. It was the team’s seventh winning season under Piniella since he took over in Seattle in 1993. But Seattle is 2,530 miles from Tampa Bay, which was home for Piniella. His father was ill, and he needed to be there.
“I’d been in Seattle 10 years,” Piniella said Tuesday from his Tampa, Fla., home. “I needed to get home.”
He had one year left on his contract with the Mariners, but the team made a deal with the fledgling Rays, and let Piniella go home in exchange for outfielder Randy Winn and infielder Antonio Perez.
“Seattle allowed me to come here,” Piniella said. “Tampa Bay is where I had to go. That was fine with me. In Seattle, I was too far from home.”
It wasn’t the first time Piniella had ever been dealt. On Aug. 4, 1964, he was the player to be named later, completing a transaction between the Senators and Orioles, in which he went to Baltimore for Buster Narum. On March 10, 1966, Piniella was traded by the Orioles to the Indians for Cam Carreon. That October, he was selected in the 1968 expansion draft by the Seattle Pilots, then traded the following April to the Royals for John Gelnar and Steve Whitaker.His life changed Dec. 7, 1973, when the Royals sent him to the Yankees for Lindy McDaniel.
“That’s the best thing that ever happened to me,” Piniella said. “It’s the biggest break I ever got in my career. I played in Kansas City five years and got traded to New York. When I first learned about the trade, I actualy cried. I was living in Kansas City and we had a young team and we were close knit.
“I spent the next 17 years of my life in the Yankee organization and was able to play with some really great players,” he said.
Piniella was not the first manager to be “traded.” In 1960, Cubs owner Phillip K. Wrigley switched his manager, Charlie Grimm, for announcer Lou Boudreau, who was with the team’s flagship station, WGN. At the end of the season, Wrigley traded Boudreau back to WGN for Grimm, who wasn’t reinstated but became part of the infamous “college of coaches.”
In November 1976, the Pirates dealt catcher Manny Sanguillen to the Athletics for $100,000 and their manager, Chuck Tanner.
This also wasn’t the first time Piniella put his family first. In 2010, he decided to retire from managing and leave the Cubs in August so he could return to Tampa to take care of his mother. She has good days and bad days, Piniella said Tuesday, but is doing well.
“I asked to come home,” Piniella said of the Mariners-Rays deal. “I asked to get closer to home and had a year left on my contract and Seattle wasn’t interested in letting me go and, at the same time, they understood my situation. They said, ‘All right, if you want to go home, then Tampa Bay is where you’re going.’ That was fine with me.”
With manager Ozzie Guillen’s abrupt exit from the White Sox Monday night and possible move to the Marlins, Piniella’s switch is talked about again.
“It’s a unique thing when you get traded,” Piniella said. “I spent three years in Tampa Bay and enjoyed it. I was told when I came here we would increase the payroll. I said, if they gave me a payroll of $45 to $50 million, we could win. Unfortunately, we never got over $24 million. I got sort of beat up a little bit. It was a learning experience.”
In three years with the Rays, Piniella compiled a .412 winning percentage (200-285).
He watched some of Guillen’s news conference on Monday.
“For Ozzie, it’s a new start if it happens,” Piniella said. “They have a new ballpark in Miami. Ozzie is very familiar with that organization because he was there as a coach. My understanding and talking to baseball people, the owner, Jeff Loria, likes him a lot.”
– Carrie Muskat