Lou Piniella

Happy Groundhog day (again and again). From the heart of Snowmageddon this surgeon gets his first "Snow Day" since the big snow of 1967. So here comes an impromptu odds & ends post.

The first order of business is to remind those digging out from the Thunder-Blizzard (and to warm them up) that the CUBS PITCHERS and CATCHERS report to Mesa in 11 DAYS, officially on February 13th (per Carrie Muskat at mlb.com). Position Players report on Feb 18th and the FIRST SPRING TRAINING GAME is in 25 DAYS as the Cubs play Oakland on Feb 27th at Mesa.

Snow Angels and more, after the jump...

Yeah, we're all pretty sick of the 2010 Cubs. But just for a moment, imagine being Lou Piniella.

Close your eyes and just... imagine having to walk into the little "how come" room and explain this team to the media.

It has to be the absolute worst kind of hell.

Seriously, if you made a movie and had to depict hell, what better place than that little room? Day after day after day...

Now, I don't know exactly what he's thinking, but I would imagine it would be something close to this.

I'd give a million bucks to have a beer with the man, hear it for real...

 


You can view Tim Souers work on a daily basis at Cubby Blue.

After all these years, I should know better than to underestimate the Cubs' ability to screw things up, but each time they do, I am somehow sickened anew. This 10-week, all-expenses-paid farewell tour of the National League granted to Lou Piniella is just the latest example.

After 23 years as a manager and many, many victories, though not a single one of them in the post-season as the manager of the Chicago Cubs, Lou Piniella is retiring at season's end.

Piniella, Jim Hendry, and Tom Ricketts are scheduled to meet with the press at about 4:15.

More to come later on.

Back on June 13th, after Ted Lilly nearly no-hit the White Sox at Wrigley Field, the Sox' record was 28-34, and the Cubs stood at 28-35. The White Sox haven't lost since, and the Cubs have continued to stumble. They're now eight games under .500 and the same number of games behind the division-leading Cardinals.

On this, his 32nd birthday, Aramis Ramirez returns to the lineup after a stint on the DL with that nagging thumb problem, and Chad Tracy has been DFA'd. Tracy hit .250 (11-for-44) in 28 games for the Cubs.

In the big news of the day...

In preparation for the Cubs' three-game series beginning tonight in Seattle, Larry Stone of the Seattle Times interviewed former M's manager Lou Piniella over the weekend. The use of the word "weary" in the headline gives you a pretty good idea of the portrait which Stone paints. I thought this passage stood out.

I reminded Piniella of a quote he gave me back in 2007, when the Mariners played at Wrigley during his first season. Noting the difficulty of the Cubs' challenge, he said, "It ain't going to drive me crazy. I want to get it done, but it's not going to drive me crazy." That's still his story, and he's sticking to it. "Our organization hasn't won in a long time," Piniella said. "Because of that, there's a lot more scrutiny here. And because of it, it makes managing probably tougher than it should be."

(Apologies in advance if the readings from my crystal ball prove faulty. It's something about the neighborhood. Even the cable reception is erratic around here.)

 

by Paul Sullivan, Tribune Reporter
2:17 p.m., CDT, May 6, 2010

PITTSBURGH – If you thought that watching his team lose to the perennial doormat Pirates, 9-3, on Wednesday night and plummet into the NL Central basement was the toughest thing Jim Hendry has ever had to do as a baseball man, an hour after the game you were proven wrong.

Hendry informed the assembled media and all of Cub Nation that he was firing his good friend and Cub manager for the past 4+ years and 526 games, Lou Piniella.

"There's no two ways about it. This stinks," said an emotional Hendry, "but after a very disappointing season last year and the awful start we've had this year, we're going to have to take the team in a different direction. Alan Trammell will be taking over the ballclub for the rest of the year, and I know that he and the other coaches are going to do everything humanly possible to turn this thing around.

"There's still time to make this a special season, but the ballplayers have to start doing the things they're capable of. I know that, Alan knows that, and the ballplayers know that."

I stumbled across this video from July 23, 1991 where the Cubs beat the Reds 8-5. Not only do you get some classic WGN with Dan Roan  - who I believe is still there - but also appearances by Doug Dascenzo, Rob Dibble, Jim Essian and Lou Piniella in his Reds days.

As you'll see, it's also the game where Dibble throws at Dascenzo's legs out of frustration(1:48 mark); a moment Dibble admitted was on purpose since(at least I heard him say it on XM radio). I'm sure MLB will be forcing it off youtube at any moment, so be sure to check it out quickly. There's a variety of ways of downloading youtube videos to your computer if you want it for your archives, something I wish I did with the Soriano incident at WWE last year.

Spring training is nothing if not repetitive story lines, but Cubs manager Lou Piniella is once again hinting that he'd like to carry 14 position players and 11 pitchers.

Piniella admitted he doesn't have a set number of days off for
players. That won't be an issue until the regular season starts. Right
now, the Cubs have other matters to resolve. While thinking out loud,
Piniella said he'd like to carry 14 position players and 11 pitchers if
possible. The team isn't sure how to slot some players -- newcomer
Aaron Miles, for example. Piniella wants to see them on the field, and
the Cubs will have 39 spring games to evaluate the team.

It's not going to happen, it never does...but that won't stop me from taking a look at what the team might look like. And it's exponentially more interesting than where Alfonso Soriano might bat this year (hint: leadoff).

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...

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.

2) Lou prefers Jason Marquis to Jake Peavy or Rich Harden because the latter two makes it tougher to pitch Ted Lilly in the playoffs.

3) You should have seen Z's reaction when (Lou) told him Dempster was pitching game one and Ted Lilly was pitching game two vs LA.

 

And Lou's comment #2: "And, two, we've just got to figure out a way to score more runs in the postseason."

...then Lou says: Raul Ibanez is the type of professional hitter "that we are alluding to".

Translation:

1) I'm batting Raul 4th.

2) Defense? We don't need no stinkin' defense.

3) Is there a Raul Ibanez Fan Club Computer I can check with?

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.

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.''

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....

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