Lou Piniella

January, Chicago's Hottest Month of the Year

I love baseball newsy days in January. I love roster moves. You can see that I don't even mind listening to a baseball guru or two.

Fox's Baseball analyst, Ken Rosenthal was on WGN Radio's "Sports Central" show hosted by David Kaplan tonight. For those not able to listen, here's a summary of his take on all things recently swirling in Cubsville. He takes on Milton Bradley vs Lou Piniella (a dangerous mix). Could these two ever be as lovable as Adam Sandler and Jack Nicholson in the 2003 film, Anger Management? Somehow, I just can't see LouPa getting Bradley to sing, "I Feel Pretty".

Plus a bit more on the shrinking odds to acquire some guy named Jake.

On to the details, after the jump...

Lou Piniella's Last Thoughts on the Playoffs

I read the Sun-Times writeup on an interview with Lou Piniella in yesterday's paper and thought it was worthy of TCR discussion.

''The two things that I take from the postseason are that I didn't get a chance to pitch [Ted] Lilly, and he was such an integral part of us getting there.."

Here's my translation of Lou's comment #1:

1) The Ted Lilly Fan Club Super Computer predicted this.

Sweet Lou is NL's Manager of the Year

Lou Piniella won he NL Manager of the Year award today. Always a curious award that seems to honor lowered expectations than actual managing skill. Nonetheless, Piniella takes the honor and will likely just dump it into the spare closet as I'm sure he couldn't care less after the playoff debacle.

He would have probably gotten my first place vote as I thought the Cubs were about an 88-win team to start the year, so the Cubs certainly exceeded my expactations. Tony LaRussa was the only other manager that probably deserved some first place votes, but he finished 5th in the voting.

It's Just a Jump to The Left

The Cubs finished up their organizational meetings in Arizona and as expected, they'll attempt to find some left-handed bats.

''We're going to try to add some different wrinkles, offensively
especially,'' Piniella told the Sun-Times. ''We are going to add
left-handed hitting to this mix. From an offensive standpoint, that is
definitely the No. 1 priority. And if we can get a little more athletic
in the process, we're going to do that, too.''

Strategy for Mets Series

It's going to be a pretty laid back way week for the Cubs as they ready themselves for the playoffs. The only kink in that plan is they're playing two of the teams fighting for a playoff spot. Lou has already indicated that you wont' be seeing anymore lineups like Sunday:

"I can't let these guys all sit," Piniella said. "We have to use them
to keep them as sharp as possible. We'll play our regular lineup in
these games [against New York]. The worst thing that can happen is
Major League Baseball calls us and tells us, 'Hey, you people have a
responsibility,' and we're going to honor that. 

I'm not exactly sure that's the worst thing that can happen, the worst thing that could happen is that Soriano gets nailed with a fastball or Ramirez shreds a hamstring, etc, etc. But Lou is right that you just can't sit them for a week.  As I discussed last week, I think Lou should be weary of using his starting pitchers versus the Mets. When it comes to the question of unfamiliarity between a pitcher and a hitter, I think the advantage goes to the pitcher. The less a team has seen a pitcher, the bigger the disadvantage. Now I don't worry much about Jason Marquis going tonight since he's been in the league long enough that many of the Mets hitters have seen enough of him already and he probably won't pitch against them if they are the Cubs first round opponent. But the rest of the week has Harden vs. Johan, Zambrano vs. Perez and Lilly vs Pedro. First, let's applaud the Mets for having two pitchers who are simply known by their first names.

Second, I understand that you don't want to completely sit your starting pitchers and risk getting them rusty, but I do hope Lou sticks with a plan to limit them to 5 innings and no more than two times through the lineup. If you look at some of the numbers, Harden has only faced one Mets hitter at least 10 times and that's Carlos Delgado. Lilly is in much of the same boat, with only Delgado and Luis Castillo getting more than 10 AB's. Zambrano being a native National Leaguer, has faced most of the Mets lineup quite a bit more, including a one-run effort earlier in the season. 

All in all, it's probably not a big deal, but what else are we going to worry about this week?

Some random notes after the jump....

Home Run Howry

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...

Wood, Marmol, Howry — The "Nasty Men"?

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.

Lou Answers The Leadoff Question, Again

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

''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.''

Bigger Than "The Thrilla In Manilla" or "The Rumble In The Jungle," It's "The Reunion At Wrigley!"

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:

Could Lou Piniella Be A Better Manager Than Mike Scioscia And Worse Than Ozzie Guillen?

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.


Recent comments

The first 600 characters of the last 16 comments, click "View" to see rest of comment.
  • KB 0-5 with 8 LOB. Really? He is torturing me with 99 RBI. He is also a very different hitter at home vs. road. I suspect most young hitters are.

  • Greinke still in for the 8th. 3 up, 3 down. After 8. 108 pitches, ERA still at 1.66 according to mlb boxscore and he's in line for a 19th win.

  • Greinke 95 pitches through 7. Gives up one run (solo HR to Hedges). ERA at 1.66. Doubt that they will let him give up 5 runs in the 8th.

    Dodgers ahead 2-1.

  • 96 wins with one game to go. Who woulda thunk it.

    Cubs 96 wins have clinched a better record than any AL team and the NL West/East division winners too.

  • cubs win, pirates lose...

  • the curse is now yours.

  • cog a HR away from the cycle after a single in the 6th.

  • Hendricks: 15 up, 15 down.

  • he strongly separates his post-playing career from his playing career, though he loves to visit the barrier of player and fan. many ex-players don't put up this barrier.

    he's not interested in going back to the clubhouse or pretty much anything field/game related, but he'll grab a ticket and observe with the fans and visit ex players on "neutral" ground. he's written 3 pieces for the new yorker and other pieces elsewhere. i remember one photo/bio piece he did, but don't remember where i read it (years ago).

  • ?
    I find your comments rather obtuse. He recognized he didn't want to pursue baseball anymore and went back to school to learn how to become a better writer - opening up a new chapter in his life.

    I don't know where you find a "sad disconnection" because he is writing about his experiences? He pursued a ball career for a long time so no doubt there is some meloncholy in his tone, but I just don't know what the fuck you are talking about.

  • he has an almost sad disconnection from the game based on his writings. even though he's "been there" (no matter how much of a minor role) he doesn't seem to feel like he belongs or deserves to belong in the boy's club.

    he seems to go to great lengths to enjoy the game from an arm's length while occasionally getting close enough for a high-5 from those who affirm him that he belongs.

  • I read that guy's article about why he quit baseball and it was really well done too. In terms of Rizzo, I have seen multiple references to how this is Rizzo's team just as much as Madden's and it makes that pick up that much better that we have someone that is not only a great player but a leader and all around great guy (been reading about all the charity work he does too). There is really nothing not to like about Rizzo.

  • Nice article on Rizzo

    Written by ex teammate


  • JD concurred with Ariettas second at bat

  • Hey AZ, Chesny Young made raised some eyebrows with his minor league season. What do you think of him?

  • AZ Phil, why are Beeler and Parker in Mesa? Are they still recovering from injury?