Everyone was surprised when the Chicago Cubs dealt Mark DeRosa to the Cleveland Indians for prospects two months ago – well, except those of us who (erroneously) assumed the deal was merely a precursor to a trade for Jake Peavy.
Two months later, Mark DeRosa is still surprised. And it sounds like he kinda thinks Lou Piniella hates him.
DeRosa never seemed to hit it off with manager Lou Piniella, who arrived before the 2007 season along with DeRosa. During the 2008 playoffs, Piniella bristled when DeRosa said the Cubs were in a do-or-die situation after a Game 1 loss to the Dodgers.
Did DeRosa feel Piniella was pushing for his exit?
”I don’t know. I really don’t,” DeRosa said. ”I didn’t ask questions once they told me. It was done, it was New Year’s, the ball dropped and I had a new mind-set.
”They could say they are too right-hand dominant, they don’t have to justify to me why they did it. I use it as motivation.”
Not sure what was going on behind the scenes the last two years, as DeRosa was roundly thought to be a positive presence in the clubhouse. But at the same time, after the NLDiSaster, Lou Piniella was very vocal that right-handedness of the lineup was the bane of his existence. So does Lou actually hate DeRosa?
Well, despite DeRosa’s ambiguous quote on his opinion of Lou Piniella, sweet Lou says he never had a problem with DeRosa.
“[DeRosa] played exceedingly well. I used him all over,” Piniella said. “I think he had his best success playing for me. I don’t call players after they’re traded. I don’t make it a habit. I talk to them when I see them the following spring or the following summer. Whenever I leave, nobody calls and says I feel bad you’re not managing the team or whatever.
“This is a situation where the move had to be made. I saw it on the ticker tape in Colorado, where I was skiing. There’s only so much payroll that you can have on a major league team, and the decision was made.”
A decision made by the front office, not the manager, Piniella stressed.
“I didn’t have a problem with him,” Piniella said. “I liked the guy. So did Jim. So did everybody. Sometimes you have to do things you really don’t want to do, but you do them.”
Kind of threw Cubs General Manager Jim Hendry under the bus there, didn’t you, Lou?
Interesting that he framed the trade as a payroll issue – which it obviously was, in part – yet Hendry has often said that the trade was simply to help make the lineup more left-handed. And that, again, was Piniella’s major gripe.
I’m sure it’s never pleasant when a guy as popular as DeRosa is traded; not to mention the fact that DeRosa clearly loved playing in Chicago. But as we’ve explored here before, the trade was not the end of the world. It may not have been the right move, but it was not the end of the world.
My guess is that Piniella put pressure on Hendry to get more left-handed, knowing full well that the only place that was going to happen was at second base. So does that mean Piniella was pushing DeRosa out the door? Kind of. But really, he was simply pushing a right-handed second baseman in the last year of his contract out the door.
And that second baseman just happened to be Mark DeRosa.