Report: Cubs’ Lou Piniella to retire at the end of season

June 21, 2007 - Arlington, Texas.Chicago Cubs manager Lou Piniella watches the action in the game against the Rangers at the Rangers Ballpark in Arlington, Arlington, Texas on June 21, 2007. .The Rangers defeated the Cubs 6-5 ..Photo  Jeff Etessam / Cal Sport Media Photo via Newscom

The New York Daily News is reporting that Cubs’ skipper Lou Piniella will retire at the end of the 2010 season.

The 67-year-old Piniella, who led the Cubs to NL Central division titles in 2007 and 2008, is in the last year of his contract and has endured a particularly stressful last two seasons in which so many of his high-paid players, including outfielder Alfonso Soriano, third baseman Aramis Ramirez and pitcher Carlos Zambrano have underperformed to their salaries. This year, the Cubs are mired in fourth place, 10 1/2 games back and Piniella, who is in the last year of his contract, wanted to end to the speculation about his future for the good of the organization.

Earlier this season, he had to suspend Zambrano after the volatile pitcher got into a dugout fight with teammate Derrek Lee in the middle of a game. Last year, Piniella had numerous similar confrontations with temperamental outfielder Milton Bradley, who was traded to the Seattle Mariners last winter.

While Piniella has been one of the most successful managers in baseball history, there’s no doubt that the Cubs need to go in another direction at the end of the year. Their struggles this season can hardly be pinned on Piniella and Piniella alone, but it’s clear that his style has run its course on the North side of Chicago.

Speculation continues to grow that former Cub Ryne Sandberg will take over as the club’s next manager. He has stated that managing the Cubs is his ideal job and after moving through the minor league ranks over the past four seasons, it appears that he’s suited for the position as well. We’ll see what management decides after the season.

Getting back to “Sweet Lou,” this wasn’t the way he wanted to go out (i.e. marred in fourth place in a weak NL Central) but the timing is right. The Cubs will be undergoing a lot of changes this offseason and Piniella isn’t the right fit for a (potentially) young club that needs a lot of massaging.

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