Piniella on his way out? Not according to GM Hendry.

For those Cubs fans that have been clamoring for Ryne Sandberg to replace Lou Piniella as the club’s skipper, you’re going to have to wait much longer, I’m afraid.

General manager Jim Hendry told the media on Monday that Piniella isn’t to blame for the team’s lackluster start (17-22 heading into Tuesday’s action, good for third place in the NL Central) and that the manager’s job is safe for the 2010 season.

“We’re certainly not here to play the blame game,” Hendry said Monday. “We’re not here to put all the blame on the players that haven’t done as well as we’d like either. It’s been a good, collective rough start, but there has not been one thought in my mind of Lou Piniella not managing the team this year.”

While many of the adjustments he has made with personnel certainly haven’t panned out this season, it’s hardly fair to blame all of the Cubs’ failures this season on Piniella. Two of his best hitters (Derrek Lee and Aramis Ramirez) have crapped the bed all season in RBI situations (and all situations for that matter) and he can’t find a reliable setup man to get to Carlos Marmol in the ninth. (He tried Carlos Zambrano there but much like his effort in 2010, Big Z was brutal in the role.) The bottom line is that the Cubs haven’t produced and a change in manager won’t magically remedy the situation.

The good news is that Lee has started showing signs that he’s ready to break out of his funk, Alfonso Soriano has actually thrived batting sixth in the lineup and young phenom Starlin Castro (who struggled defensively when he was first called up last week but appears to be settling down) is spanking the ball. If A-Ram (who hit a walk off homer to beat the Rockies Monday night) can shake out of his slump and start producing, then the Cubs can easily turn things around.

Things haven’t been pretty for the Cubs so far, but it’s early yet and the club’s issues aren’t un-fixable. Making a switch in managers would be premature and Hendry knows that. He just has to trust that Piniella can right the ship, just as Lou has to trust his players will snap out of it and start producing.

Photo from fOTOGLIF

Follow the Scores Report editors on Twitter @clevelandteams and @bullzeyedotcom.

Has Lou Piniella lost his fire?

…that’s what some Cubs fans believe, although Sweet Lou says he’s just more in control now.

“I still have fire,” he said Thursday morning in an interview with the Tribune, hours before the Cubs’ 6-5 loss to the Detroit Tigers. “It’s more under control. The amazing thing is when I was younger and I showed it more, then I’d be criticized at times, ‘This guy is showing too much [fire].’

“I understand this business. I’ve been in it a long time, and the bottom line is you have to win. It doesn’t matter if you have fire, no fire, passion, no passion, stupidity, smartness … all of these things don’t even come into the equation. What comes into the equation — for the fans, for the organization, for the people watching — is you either win or you lose. It’s a simple thing.

“I’m doing the best I can. That’s all I can do. Last year we won 97 games and I was the manager of the year in the National League. And all of a sudden this year, I don’t have any fire? That’s why we’re not winning?

“I don’t buy that at all.”

Everyone do themselves a favor and re-read that second quote by Piniella – the one about winning and losing, because he hits the nail on the head. Fans want to see their teams win – period. If the team is losing, then the manager, general manager and hot dog vendors aren’t doing enough. If the team is winning, then the manager, general manager and hot dog vendors are the best manager, general manager and hot dog vendors this world has ever seen.

Fans who watch their teams on a nightly basis aren’t stupid – they know what’s going on and they have a good grasp of the strengths and weaknesses of their team. But in general, most fans are irrational and they lose site of the bigger picture when their team starts to lose.

Piniella hasn’t lost his fire – the Cubs simply can’t hit right now. Lou kicking dirt on an umpire isn’t going to make Aramis Ramirez healthy again and it’s not going to help Alfonso Soriano cut down on the strikeouts or Derrek Lee not hit into any double plays. If a team needs a fire lit under their ass, then Piniella is the one manager you’d pick to do that. But there’s not much he can do right now with the suckhole that the Cubs’ offense is currently in.

Related Posts