Lou Piniella

I'm a relatively patient person - a dog, twin 3-year old daughters, the Angel-fan wife and being a Cubs fan do that to a person. But the antics of Bob Howry have grown tiresome. And yeah, I'm probably the last on that bandwagon (see above about being patient).I mean, he was good for us in 2006 and 2007. Not great, but good; as he posted ERA's of 3.17 and 3.32, along with respectable win probabilty added scores of 0.93 and 1.73. So I think some of that patience was warranted - unfortunately so does manager Lou Piniella.

Lou's consistent reliance on Howry out there in crucial situations, even with a depleted bullpen of late, is near Dusty-level stupid. The decision to let Bob Howry pitch to notorious Cub-killer Carlos Lee with first base open yesterday, is Andy McPhail-stupid.

Let's take a look at what could be troubling Howry...


Above all, there was the bullpen. If you didn't outscore the Reds in the first six innings, forget about winning. Rob Dibble, Norm Charlton and Randy Myers constituted the deadliest combination of 95-mph (or better) fastballs, swaggering attitude and occasional mullets in the game. So much so that the trio earned a nickname derived from a pre-wardrobe malfunction Janet Jackson: the Nasty Boys.

— Jonah Keri, espn.com

When Lou Piniella's Reds swept the heavily favored Oakland Athletics right out of the 1990 World Series, his trio of fireballing young relievers led the charge. After combining for 44 saves and a 2.14 ERA over a total 235.1 relief IP during the regular season, the threesome made an indelible mark in Fall Classic history by throwing 8 2/3 innings and allowing the mighty A's no earned runs on just six hits. Dibble won Game 2; Myers earned a save in the clinching Game 4.

(The Boys were no slouches in the NLCS either. Myers, the series MVP, saved three of the four Cincy victories over the Pirates, Charlton had a win, and the Nasty Boys struck out 20 and allowed just six hits and one earned run in 15 2/3 IP.)

Watching Piniella's current club at work and appreciating how his bullpen, particularly young set-up man Carlos Marmol, has contributed to the team's early season success, I thought it would be interesting to see how the three stalwarts in Piniella's Cub bullpen compare to the Nasty Boys of 18 summers ago.

Both Gordon Wittenmyer and Paul Sullivan are reporting that Alfonso Soriano will return to the Cub lineup without an intervening rehab assignment and that, according to the manager, Soriano will also step right back into the leadoff role upon his return, on or around May 1st.

From Wittenmyer in the Sun-Times:

Alfonso Soriano won't be hopping down the rehab-assignment trail, but
he will jump right back into the Cubs' leadoff spot when he returns
from the disabled list in another week, manager Lou Piniella said
Wednesday...

''We want to make sure that he can do all the things that a leadoff
hitter needs to do,'' Piniella said. ''We don't want to take any
chances here early in the year, bringing him back too soon, and all of
a sudden we've got another problem on our hands.

''But, yeah, when he comes back, he'll go to left field and lead off.''

Do you remember that supercharged night back in 1999 when former Cub manager Jim Lefebvre, then manager of the Brewers, returned to Wrigley Field for the first time as skipper of another club, in a much anticipated showdown with Jim Riggleman?

I don't either.

But Johnnie B. Baker, Jr., is no Jim Lefebvre, and Lou Piniella is no Jim Riggleman. These guys are managerial heavyweights, and as much as Baker and Piniella claim there is nothing special about Baker's return to Wrigley beside the fact that both the Reds and Cubs will be trying to get a leg up on an NL Central rival, we all know much, much better.

Here, then, is a comparison to help you distinguish the combatants:

Absolutely, if you accept the premise behind an analysis in Friday's Wall Street Journal, which ranked 20 big league managers on:

    • Their teams' performance in close games, i.e., games tied through six innings
    • Their teams' won-loss record relative to its projected record based on runs scored and allowed (the "Pythagorean" projection)
    • How players' individual performances improved or declined under various managers, with allowances made for the players' ages

The managers were ranked in each of the three categories, and the ranks were averaged, giving each manager a composite score.

The Rockies visit HoHoKam this afternoon at 3:05 Chicago time. It's Rich "89.4 MPH" Hill vs. Franklin Morales.

And Lou Piniella confirms: when he said he'd have a rotation announcement by Friday, he meant it, dammit.


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