Giants to hire Lou Piniella

Chicago Cubs manager Lou Piniella stands for the playing of the Star Spangled Banner before the game against the Atlanta Braves at Wrigley Field in Chicago on August 22, 2010. Piniella announced Sunday that the game would be his last game as manager. UPI/Brian Kersey

Even though Bruce Bochy just helped them win their first World Series title since the team moved to San Francisco in 1957, the Giants have decided to give him the boot and hire Lou Piniella instead.

Nah, I’m just kidding. Bochy and that giant-sized dome of his aren’t going anywhere. But the Giants did hire Piniella to act as some kind of baseball czar according to the San Francisco Chronicle.

He retired from managing in August, more eager to be with his family, citing his mother’s failing health, than playing out the string with the Cubs. The good news is that he’s not totally gone from the game, and that’s where the Giants enter the picture.

The team hasn’t made an announcement yet, but The Chronicle learned Piniella, 67, is joining the Giants’ front office to consult in a variety of ways, whether it’s evaluating or advising on player movement or scouting or . . . well, whatever a baseball lifer of 48 years can provide.

I’m not sure how much of an impact Piniella will have on the Giants’ week-to-week operations. The club hired Felipe Alou after the 2006 season and after that news made a small ripple in the San Francisco area, nobody has mentioned him since. I even forgot he was with the team until I read the Chronicle’s article about Piniella.

That said, adding a man with as much baseball experience as Piniella can’t be a bad thing. Nobody outside of GM Brian Sabean knows what Piniella will be doing, but I don’t see how this could blow up in the Giants’ faces. After all, the club already has a World Series-winning manager in Bochy, so if they start the season 10-20 it’s not like rumors will start to surface about Piniella taking over (uh, I think). After all, Piniella will set up shop in Florida, which Google maps tells me is cross-country from San Francisco.

I think it’s a good decision by the defending champs. Piniella was available and has connections with the Giants. Seems like a good fit.

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Lou Piniella did the right thing by stepping down now

Chicago Cubs manager Lou Piniella stands for the playing of the Star Spangled Banner before the game against the Atlanta Braves at Wrigley Field in Chicago on August 22, 2010. Piniella announced Sunday that the game would be his last game as manager.   UPI/Brian Kersey Photo via Newscom

I don’t blame Cubs fans if they feel cheated by the way Lou Piniella has decided to step down as manager with 37 games remaining in the season. After all, if they have to sit through the rest of this miserably year, why doesn’t he?

But the fact of the matter is that neither Piniella’s heart nor his mind is in it right now, so why drag the thing out any longer? And besides, does it really matter who’s managing the Cubs at this point?

Piniella has had to take two leave of absences to attend to personal matters this year, which mainly consists of him visiting his 90-year-old mother who has been ill for most of the season. There are more important things than baseball and seeing as how he was going to retire at the end of the year anyway, there’s no sense going through the motions for 37 more games.

Following another horrendous loss on Sunday, Piniella had this to say about starting his retirement early:

“Cried a little bit after the game,” he said, before choking up further in his postgame news conference. “This will be the last time I put on a uniform. This has been very special for me. I’ll go home, do what I have to do there…and enjoy my retirement.”

Obviously this wasn’t the way he or Cub fans envisioned things ending this season. While the club also struggled last year, many pundits thought they would bounce back and that just hasn’t been the case. The team’s roster is littered with overpaid, underachieving veterans and the youth movement has just begun. It’s a sad way for a World Series-winning manager to walk away from the game, but not everybody can go out on top.

Piniella wasn’t going to be part of the Cubs’ future and it was probably right that he has decided that they won’t be a part of his present.

When it’s time, it’s time.

Fredi Gonzalez a candidate to replace Piniella as Cubs’ next manager

CHICAGO - JANUARY 01:  Former Chicago Cubs second baseman and Hall of Famer Ryne Sandberg waves to the fans during pregame festivities prior to the Winter Classic between the Chicago Blackhawks and the Detroit Red Wings during the NHL Winter Classic at Wrigley Field on January 1, 2009 in Chicago, Illinois.  (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)

According to ESPN Chicago, former Marlins manager Fredi Gonzalez will be one of the candidates interviewed by the Cubs to replace Lou Piniella at the end of the season. Piniella announced his retirement yesterday, which will be effective immediately following the season.

Gonzalez, who was fired by the Marlins on June 24, has a long personal and professional relationship with Cubs general manager Jim Hendry stemming from the time they worked together with the Marlins.

Gonzalez, who has interviewed with the Cubs in the past, is the consensus top choice to replace Bobby Cox as manager of the Atlanta Braves, according to multiple baseball sources.

If I were to put on my prediction hat (which is essentially the sleeve off one of my old T-shirts that I fashioned into a hat), I’d say that Gonzalez winds up in Atlanta and Ryne Sandberg (photo) replaces Piniella in Chicago. Sandberg has been craving the Cubs’ job for a couple of years now. He wants it. He needs it. He wants to make sweet, sweet managerial love to it.

Of course, hiring Sandberg (who was a mega fan favorite in Chicago, which is about 10 notches above just a regular fan favorite in case you were wondering) makes too much sense. And nothing Cubs’ management does every makes sense.

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.

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.


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