Chicago Cubs: Should Lou Piniella Be On The Hot Seat?
FOXSports.com's Ken Rosenthal wrote an article Monday in which he explained why he thinks the Chicago Cubs should let manager Lou Piniella go.
Bruce Miles of the Chicago Daily Herald wrote a blog later that day that included the following quote from Cubs general manager Jim Hendry:
"I'm absolutely completely confident in Lou Piniella," he said. "I've never any thought about Lou not being the manager here this year. I have complete faith in the coaching staff, also. I have no intention of making any changes at all."
Unless the firing of Piniella follows the precedent Starlin Castro's call-up, where Hendry said the young shortstop wouldn't be called up anytime soon about a week before his stellar big league debut, then Pinella shouldn't have anything to worry about.
But considering the current troubles the team has had with finding the win column, should a change be made?
It worked for the Colorado Rockies.
The Rockies started 2009 off with an 18-28 record (a .391 winning percentage) under Clint Hurdle, and went 74-42 (.638) with Jim Tracy, who started the season as Hurdle's bench coach, at the helm for the rest of the season.
Of course, they Rockies lost to the Phillies in the NLDS, but many believe that the Rockies wouldn't have even been in that position if not for the managerial switch.
Would the Cubs receive similar benefits by showing the 66-year-old, 1,800-win skipper the door, and handing the keys over to, as Rosenthal suggested, bench coach Alan Trammell?
I'm not so sure.
The first year under Trammell's successor, Jim Leyland, saw that same Tigers team winning the AL pennant. Since then, the team has only finished below second in the division once.
Granted, players such as Todd Jones , Joel Zumaya , Justin Verlander , Magglio Ordonez , and Curtis Granderson either saw an increase in playing time, or had just joined the team with their new manager, but were they really the difference between 71 and 95 wins?
Using Wins Above Replacement (WAR), Jones was worth 1.1 wins, Ordonez 1.7, Zumaya 1.9, Verlander 3.1, and Granderson was 3.7 during the 2006 season.
When you subtract the WAR values that Verlander (0.1), Granderson (1.2), and Ordonez (1.4) contributed to the 2005 team, you end up with an 8.8-game improvement.
It's by no means a perfect way to analyze the situation, but it does give an idea of the difference between the two iterations of Tiger teams.
One of the main reason's that Trammell is under consideration, though, is that he's supposedly the polar opposite of Piniella in terms of personality. They say that Trammell's mild-mannered disposition provides the perfect contrast to Piniella's much more fiery one.
But I thought that one of the biggest knocks against Piniella both this year, and last, was that he'd lost his fire, and wasn't nearly the hot-head that he's known for being?
Yes, he's had his spats with members of the media recently, and had quite the run-in with Milton Bradley last year, but he just hasn't been the guy who argues with umpires every chance he gets, occasionally kicking dirt and throwing bases.
Beyond that, the Cubs don't think that Trammell is mild-mannered at all.
Even if you want to say that switching to Trammell would simply provide a new voice, I don't see where you're coming from.
He has been the Cubs' bench coach for the same amount of time that Piniella has been their manager. He's involved in practices and games from spring training through the playoffs.
Are we supposed to believe that he's been silent all this time? Or is he supposed to change what he's been saying to the players after he becomes the team's manager?
Extending that further, the players have expressed their confidence in Piniella, suggesting that they probably don't want a change to be made.
Other detractors say that Ryne Sandberg , the manager of the Cubs' Triple-A affiliate, and heir apparent to the major league position, should take the reins mid-season.
I see the sentimental value of naming the former Cubs second baseman and 2005 Hall of Fame inductee the manager, but I don't see the team making that move, either.
He's in his fourth season of managing at any level, and is likely coaching many members of future Cubs teams at this very moment.
Do you really want to take a fairly inexperienced manager that may be taking over as the major league manager in the next few years, away from a situation in which he's familiarizing himself with his potential future stars? This, and the fact he will have to take over a tumultuous situation with a big league team that he didn't even have a hand in starting.
I would personally prefer that he start with a clean slate, and (potentially) the players that he's already coached, such as Andrew Cashner, Jay Jackson, Casey Coleman, Starlin Castro, and Tyler Colvin.
With Piniella in the final year of his contract, I say that you stick with him for better or for worse.
Unless he commits some atrocious act, replacing him as manager is just being trigger happy.
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