Following the Chicago Cubs’ crushing and embarrassing sweep in the playoffs last year at the hands of the Los Angeles Dodgers, manager Lou Piniella was ardent in his support for the addition of a left-handed bat or two to the lineup. Some reports had him forcing Mark DeRosa out of town for just that reason.
General Manager Jim Hendry obliged, moving DeRosa (making lefty Mike Fontenot the starter at 2nd), and signing switch hitter Milton Bradley to play right field. But both have been busts – Fontenot is clearly not cut out to be an every day starter, and Milton Bradley can hit a lick from the left side of the plate.
And Lou Piniella is pissed about it.
“The only thing I talked about last season,” Piniella said Tuesday, “was a need for a left-hand bat in a predominantly right-handed lineup who could hit the ball for power and drive in some runs. Look at our production last year, and it was mainly from the right side. We didn’t bring [Jim] Edmonds back and he hit quite a few home runs.
“We needed a left-hand bat, that’s it,” Piniella said. “That was what I mentioned, that we could use a nice productive left-hand bat in the middle of our right-hand hitting.”
. . .
“Look,” he said, “we still need a left-hand bat who could hit in our lineup and drive in some runs.” cubs.com.
Others are taking this statement to mean Piniella wants Hendry to go out and get a left-handed bat now. But I think Piniella realizes there’s simply nowhere to put that bat short of moving someone else out. And that isn’t going to happen at this point.
I think Lou is just angry and blowing off steam.
He’s angry that Milton Bradley has been a run-producing bust from the left side, and he’s angry that Jim Hendry didn’t sign Raul Ibanez, Bobby Abreu, or Adam Dunn. Hell, Jim Hendry didn’t even consider any of those three. Milton Bradley was his man from the word go.
Now, those three are instrumental parts of their respective team offenses, and meanwhile, there are calls for Milton Bradley to hit from the right side only. I supposed I’d be pretty angry, too, if I were Lou.
But he’s got to get over it. Although Jim Hendry has pulled off some doozies in his day, there will be no miracle mid-season trade this year. Some tinkering, maybe. Piniella knows this, and expects nothing more. He is simply going to have to use Bradley in the manner to which he would best serve the team: getting on base and scoring runs, instead of driving them in.