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.

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Soriano angry will Piniella

Cubs left fielder (if you can even call him that with the nightly circus routine he usually puts on out there) Alfonso Soriano is hopping mad with manager Lou Piniella after the skipper sat him for the third time in eight in eight games Wednesday night.

“That’s why I’m mad,” Soriano said. “If he had told me yesterday, then I wouldn’t come today ready to play.”

Piniella typically gives Soriano a heads-up when he will get a day off but declined to do so this time.

“That’s a surprise to me today,” Soriano said. “I think he could have said to me last night, ‘OK, take a day off,’ especially because [Thursday] is an off day. I’d be like, ‘OK, I’ll take the two [days].’ But I like to know before I come here.”

Soriano, hitting .182 over his last 40 games, said his knee pain isn’t enough to prevent him from playing.

“I can play,” he said. “If I can play, it’s not bothering me. It bothers me if I’m not playing though.”

Asked if he would talk to Piniella about his complaint, Soriano simply replied: “No.”

Considering he’s hitting a buck eighty two over his last 40 games and is a liability defensively, Soriano doesn’t have much of a compliant here. And I found it laughable when he suggested that he wouldn’t come ready to play if he knew he was going to sit.

Hey Alfonso, the Cubs (over)pay you millions of dollars every year. How about showing up ready to play everyday, regardless of whether or not you’re in the starting lineup? Is that too much to ask?

Piniella is really working with a couple of clowns on this team. He must go home every night and punch a fresh hole through the wall of his garage.

Time for the Cubs to stop playing Board Games

It’s safe to say that this past offseason has been one of the worst for Jim Hendry during his tenure as General Manager of the Chicago Cubs. The Los Angeles Dodgers made a mockery of the Cubs’ right-handed lineup in the playoffs by not throwing a single left-handed pitcher at them, and the Cubs responded to this glaring weakness by trading Mark DeRosa, the most versatile and well-liked player on the team – not to mention cheap, since he was in line to make an affordable $5.5 million in the final year of his contract – in order to free up some cash to sign a left-handed power hitter. For God knows what reason, Hendry doesn’t even make an attempt to sign Raul Ibanez, a clubhouse prince who is good for 25 home runs and 100 RBIs year in and year out. Nope, Hendry set his sights on Milton Bradley, a talented but mercurial journeyman (the Cubs are the eighth team he’s played for since his Major League debut in 2000) who just happened to put up career numbers in a contract year. The words “career numbers” sound good, but they come with one big-ass asterisk. Take a look at Bradley’s career year numbers versus the 2008 stat lines of DeRosa and Ibanez:

Raul Ibanez: .292-85-23-110-2
Mark DeRosa: .285-104-21-87-6
Milton Bradley .321-78-22-77-5

It’s a pretty average stat line as career numbers go, and don’t forget that he put up those numbers primarily as a DH, and he still only played 126 games due to nagging injuries. Yep, this is the man that the Cubs hoped would save them, to the tune of three years and $30 million. To add insult to injury, DeRosa now plays for the rival Cardinals.

“Let’s see, if I strike out like that 100 more times this year…I still make $7 million! Ahhhh hahahahahahaha!”

And would you look at that; now that Bradley has his money, he can’t hit water if he fell out of a boat. Well, let’s qualify that — he’s actually hitting .333…from the right side of the plate. He’s hitting .194 as a lefty, has been suspended for bumping an umpire, sent home by his manager after trashing yet another water cooler, and poisoned yet another clubhouse with his unpredictable temper. Bradley said before the season started that he had changed, that those days of flying off the handle (remember when he tore his ACL yelling at an umpire?) were long gone. How on earth did the Cubs believe him? Didn’t they see the “South Park” movie? Bad people always say they’ll change, but they never do.

So what do the Cubs do with Bradley now? He’s expected to take the next two days off to work on his approach from the left side of the plate with new hitting coach Von Joshua. A good start, but we have some other, admittedly extreme suggestions to the Bradley problem that we think the Cubs brass should consider.

Read the rest after the jump...

Piniella apologizes to Bradley for sending him home in middle of game

Cubs’ manager Lou Piniella officially apologized to tantrum-throwing Milton Bradley, who decided to take out his frustration on a water cooler during a game on Friday night and was absolutely reamed out by his manager.

“I apologized for the last comment I made, told him he knows in the context I meant it,” Piniella said. “But I also told him that just can’t continue, to have shenanigans that we’ve put up with. I told him he’s going to hurt somebody, he’s going to hurt himself.”

Piniella ordered the mercurial slugger to go home Friday afternoon after Bradley threw his helmet and went after a water cooler following a fly out in the top of the sixth inning of the Cubs game against the crosstown rival White Sox.

“He didn’t really talk to me about it, he just kind of yelled at me in the dugout and told me to get out of there,” Bradley said Saturday before he talked with Piniella. “So I left. Then he continued to yell at me some more. I’ve got to take that.”

Bradley confirmed a report in the Chicago Sun-Times describing the expletive Piniella used.

“Yeah, that’s exactly what he said,” Bradley said. “But I’m not going to get into it.”

After going 1 for 5 as the Cubs lost to the White Sox, 8-7, Bradley said he had no problems or issues with Piniella, especially after their meeting before Saturday’s game.

“I got a ton of respect for Lou,” Bradley said. “When he says something, I really take heed and listen to it, not just the tone or the exact words but the sentiment behind it. I really think he had a heartfelt talk with me in his office, and I think we are both better for it.”

While we’re handing out apologizes, maybe Bradley should apologize to Lou, his teammates, and Cubs fans for not knowing how many outs there are in an inning and for barely being able to keep his batting average above .235 this season. And maybe Jim Hendry should apologize to the fans for trading Mark DeRosa away in the offseason for a couple of expired White Castle coupons and a $5 gift certificate to Best Buy. (And then promptly signing Bradley to fill the void left by DeRosa.)

The Cubs are a mess right now.

Piniella sends Bradley home in middle of game

Lou Piniella has had about all he can take of outfielder Milton Bradley.

Piniella told the mercurial slugger to go home Friday afternoon after Bradley threw his helmet and went after a water cooler following a fly out in the top of the sixth inning of the Cubs game against the crosstown rival White Sox. Piniella told him to take his uniform off, and the two exchanged words in the tunnel leading up to the Cubs clubhouse.

“I don’t like those things to happen, but I’m just tired of watching it,” an agitated Piniella said after the Cubs’ 5-4 victory. “This has been a common occurrence, and I’ve looked the other way a lot and I’m tired. I’m not into discipline, I’m really not. I’m going to put his name in the lineup tomorrow and that’s it.”

Piniella didn’t get specific about whether he was tired of Bradley’s antics in particular or those of his entire team. Pitchers Carlos Zambrano and Ryan Dempster both went after the drink dispenser in the Cubs dugout at Wrigley Field earlier this season.

But Bradley, playing for his seventh team in nine-plus seasons, does have a long history of being volatile.

“It’s something I promise you won’t be happening again,” Cubs general manager Jim Hendry said.

Bradley has already been suspended for one game this season after arguing with umpire Larry Vanover when he was called out on strikes with the bases loaded April 16. It was his very first at-bat at Wrigley Field after signing a $30 million contract during the offseason. The umpire crew contended Bradley’s hat made slight contact with Vanover.

It would be one thing if Bradley were hitting and he was being a nuisance, but he’s batting just .237 this season with five dingers, 16 RBI and 24 runs. He was supposed to be one of the missing pieces to a Cubs’ lineup that should be thriving right now, but instead has been DOA.

It’ll be interesting to see if the Cubs just don’t cut bait and move on. Bradley hardly seems worth the trouble at this point. Then again, maybe Lou just needed to make an example of somebody and Bradley offered the perfect opportunity. This could be a situation that just blows over in a couple of days.

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