Lou Piniella needs a reality check

It’s hard to blame Lou Piniella for being frustrated these days. His Cubs are currently 7.5 games back in the NL Central behind the Reds (the Reds!), his No. 3 and No. 4 hitters couldn’t hit a beach ball if one were lobbed in their direction and he probably gets the sense that his time is almost up in Chicago.

But if you’re Lou, why pick on little ol’ Steve Stone?

For those of you who aren’t familiar with Stone’s work, he’s a former broadcaster for the Cubs and now a current broadcaster for the White Sox. Earlier this week, he criticized Piniella on Comcast SportsNet for not playing rookie outfielder Tyler Colvin more.

This is exactly what Stone said (via ESPN Chicago):

“I think that means that Lou doesn’t have a great grasp on what to do with young players,” Stone said in the interview. “Because with Tyler Colvin, if you take a look at what he has accomplished in a short period of time, with limited play, you realize that he very well could be the one thing the Cubs have been looking for for six years. That’s a left-handed run producer. Colvin could be that one guy. But he can’t do it on the bench, so you make a decision that you play the guy.”

What Stone said was hardly venomous and the guy does have a right to share his opinion. (He is a broadcaster after all.) But apparently Piniella took exception to the criticism and before the Cubs got their ass kicked by the Sox yesterday, Lou went off.

 

You can read the rest of the story here, including Stone’s response to Lou’s comments (which are basically Stone telling Piniella that he’s been around baseball long enough to have an opinion).

First and foremost, Stone is right about Colvin. He’s a young player that hasn’t been given much of an opportunity to play because Lou (like many former players turned managers) favors veteran hitters. Granted, Marlon Byrd, Alfonso Soriano and Kosuke Fukudome are the least of the Cubs’ worries right now, but Colvin is the future and Lou is holding him back. He’s delaying the future and for what? The Cubs are a .500 team at best, so why not play more of the youngsters?

I find it humorous that Piniella mocks Stone in a, “I’ve done things in baseball and you haven’t” kind of way. Keep in mind that Stone is being criticized by a manager that hasn’t won anything in Chicago, who didn’t win anything in Tampa, who didn’t win anything with a star-studded team in Seattle and who had the fortune of riding “The Nasty Boys” to a World Series title with the Reds in 1990. He hasn’t won anything in 20 years, yet he’s going to mock Steve Stone for a comment he made about Tyler Colvin? Come on, Lou.

This of course isn’t to suggest that Piniella is a bad manager. He’s won three Manager of the Year awards and is a three-time World Series champion (two as a player, one as a manager). But for him to pick on Steve Stone because he’s frustrated is absurd – especially given the current state of the Cubs.

This appears to be one of those times where someone takes his frustrations out on the wrong person. Stone was only voicing his opinion, which is something he’s paid to do. Piniella could have shown a little more grace in the wake of Stone’s criticism, especially considering he’s on the hot seat in Chicago.

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