Baseball Toaster Cub Town
Here He Comes To Save The Daaaaaaay!
2006-10-16 12:52
by Derek Smart

In case you eschew any Cub news source beyond this page, wrapping yourself in the cold comfort of repeated bouts of silence, able to know in your heart of hearts that were anything of real import to occur, like the Channel 4 News Team on a birthing panda, we would be there, bringing you the news that someone else reported first, do I have a flash for you: Uncle Lou is coming to town.

In fact, not only is this morning's word from the big three poisson envelopper that Jim Hendry's choice is made, - via ESPN Radio 1000 - is now reporting that Piniella has signed a three-year deal worth about $3M per year, and that the official announcement will come tomorrow.

I feel neither elation nor deflation at the prospect of seeing Piniella's peculiar brand of firestorm rage daily across the Wrigley Field landscape. To be honest, I know very little about his strategic tendencies, and the most I can glean from his previous work is that if you give him a good team he's unlikely to screw them up, which is about as much as one can ask.

In the end, this isn't so much about bringing in the best man for the job - although time may prove him to be just that. Rather, it's about gaining instant credibility with the fanbase. Now, when the front office says they intend to be competitive next year, most folks will take them seriously, even if use of logic belies the idea. While Dusty Baker deserved to be sent on his way, this year's specific instance of failure should only serve as one of many data points in favor of that conclusion. Make no mistake about it: had Piniella been at the helm this year, the team would have been just as bad.

This means there is a new reality to this situation - namely, that by hiring Piniella, whether intentionally or not, Hendry has put all the pressure to field a winner on himself. Lose 90 games again, and you have clearly removed the manager from fault, particularly when he comes with Piniella's perceived pedigree. Lose 90 games again, and someone else gets to fill the roster. That's the new reality, one I'm not so sure exists if Joe Girardi is the choice, and one I know remains unformed if Bruce Bochy were the choice.

Which is why, the more I think about it, the happier I am to see Lou on board, for his arrival would seem to me to signal one of two things: a team that will win in 2007, or a team with a new general manager in 2008. I like a) the best, but I'll settle for b) in a pinch.

2006-10-16 13:05:07
1.   underdog
Whither Joe Girardi?
2006-10-16 13:06:46
2.   Xeifrank
Ok, this comment is probably more appropriate for the Cub Town forum...
It would be interesting to see a study from each year of the new managers selected. How many were recycled managers (previous big league managerial experience) and how many were first time managers, or managers hired from the minor leagues. It just seems like there are alot of recycled managers. Pinella to the Cubs. I mean, how many times has this guy been recycled now? What are the benefits or reasoning behind hiring so many recycled managers? I mean, weren't these guys fired for a reason in the first place? If I had a few gajillion dollars and had my own team, I'd hire the best manager I could, whether they were from the minors, college, or the recycle bin. vr, Xei
2006-10-16 13:11:26
3.   Xeifrank
During the Tigers/A's game 3 broadcast, Pinella was doing some of the color commentary. The A's were down 5-0 in I believe the bottom of the 8th inning. Milton Bradley was on 2nd base with Frank Thomas batting and nobody out. Milton Bradley broke for 3rd base and Frank Thomas grounded out, with Bradley arriving safely at 3rd base. Steve Lyons commented that Bradley's steal attempt was reckless, since the A's were down 5 runs late in the game. Pinella said it was "great baseball ... baseball the way he liked it to be played." So, that should give you enough of a glimpse into Pinella's strategy style. It's amazing that one team could possibly have such a stranglehold, or monopoly on the game's worst managers. vr, Xei
2006-10-16 13:30:04
4.   Cliff Corcoran
One could argue that this is the first time Piniella's been recycled, though the Cubs will be the fourth team he's managed. He broke in with the Yankees, won the World Series with the Reds, then skippered the only successful run in Mariners' history, including a 116-win team. At the end of that run he was traded to the Devil Rays, who were going to lose with or without him, and he did manage to produce the franchise's best single-season record there as well, paltry an accomplishment as that may have been.

As for style, Lou's a hitter's manager. He hates pitchers and can't stomach walks, which actually leads to a quick hook (a nice change for the Cubs). Meanwhile, he essentially serves as a second hitting coach and loves the power game, even though his two most successfull teams (1990 Reds and 2001 M's) had more balanced offensive attacks. That's all very subjective, of course, the observations of a AL fan for the life of Lou's managerial career. I'm sure the guys at USS Mariner could provide much more.

2006-10-16 13:35:24
5.   Shaun P
The first Yankees manager I remember 'watching' as a kid was Sweet Lou. He knows his strategy, and I always thought he was a great tactician.

The problem is his track record with young pitching, which honestly isn't very good. Now I don't know, maybe it really isn't Lou's fault - maybe it was the FO/pitching coach/minor league folks. But the record is nonetheless pretty damning.

Unless I missed something, the key to the Cubs success next year is their young pitching. Unless Sweet Lou had a Leyland-like revelation about young pitchers, it might be a long year in Chicago.

Ultimately I can't stop thinking that the Cubs' braintrust thinks they just hired the next Jim Leyland, and that the '07 Cubs will follow in the footsteps of the '06 Tigers. Color me skeptical. At least he can't take Joe Torre's job now.

2006-10-16 13:44:10
6.   Cliff Corcoran
5 Except the Tigers were a far better team in '05 than the Cubs were in '06.
2006-10-16 13:54:30
7.   Derek Smart
5 and 6
This is also a trend of late, where the Cubs look at what the successful team of the moment has done and try to produce a replica themselves. They did it this last offseason in trying to emulate the White Sox by improving their "speed" and "defense".

Leaving alone the question of whether the appropriate factors were even identified, the big problem is, they see what they think the solution is, then wind up going after that solution by perfoming the baseball equivalent of a match manufacturer outsourcing their production to Atlantis ("Well, someone should have TOLD me it was underwater!").

2006-10-16 15:45:07
8.   operablogger
If, as Cliff says, Pinella has a "quick hook," then the Cubs better carry about 12 relievers on their ML roster. Whatever they've learned from Rothschild over the past few years, it ain't had anything to do with finding the strike zone.

And Derek -- LOVED the esoteric "fish-wrap" reference. And here I thought those two years of high school French would never come in handy!

2006-10-16 17:39:21
9.   Bob Timmermann
The '06 Cubs went 116-36!

But they still lost the World Series....

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