Lou Piniella has always been a little quirky – at least in his time with the Chicago Cubs.
At first, it was endearing. Then, it was tolerable. Now, it’s really starting to piss me off.
I’m probably falling victim to the old “fire the coach (manager)” saw, but I can’t help it. This team is pathetic, and although Lou Piniella alone could not drag them out of the doldrums, he certainly isn’t helping things. And two moves have convinced me that he’s simply lost it as a manager.
(1) Carlos Marmol to Closer
The worst thing a closer can do – outside of giving up moon shots, a la Kevin Gregg – is fail to throw strikes. Hitters must hit if they want to win a game off my closer. But Carlos Marmol is one of the most prodigious ball-throwers out of the bullpen in all of the National League this year. In fact, he leads the league in hits batsman, and he’s walked nearly as many men as he’s thrown innings.
Taking it together, Marmol gives up MORE than one free runner every time he takes the mound.
Is that really the guy you want trying to protect your narrowest of leads? Look, I get that he was dominant last year and was the runner-up in the closer competition this spring. But that was eons ago in baseball terms.
Did Lou even consider the best reliever in the Cubs’ pen, Angel Guzman? Guzman has a miniscule 2.42 ERA (a full run better than Marmol), a miniscule .594 OPS against (20 points better than Marmol), and most importantly – Guzman gives up a HALF A RUNNER less per inning than does Marmol.
If the Cubs are ever in a position to close a game out again this year, this decision could really cost the team.
(2) Anyone But Kosuke Fukudome in the Leadoff Spot
I’ll give Lou a pass for not putting Kosuke there sooner. Although he was a natural choice, the Titanic force (and I do mean Titanic) that is Alfonso Soriano in the one-hole was too powerful to resist.
But once Lou put Kosuke Fukudome in the top spot, there is literally no excuse for ever pulling him from the spot.
Fukudome does nothing but hit when he hits first: .321 / .437 / .548. And his line when he’s the first batter of the game? It’s an insane: .412 / .545 / .824.
Those are, by far, his best numbers anywhere in the lineup – and more importantly, the best numbers any Cub has put up in the leadoff spot since Kenny Lofton.
Yet, inexplicably, Lou continues to tinker at the top of the order. Ryan Theriot was out for several days with the flu, and when he comes back, where does Lou put him? At the freaking top of the lineup. Are you kidding me, old Lou?
Predictably, Theriot responded with a goose egg, and Fukudome didn’t fare much better down in the order.
Lou Piniella, to be certain, is not to be blamed for the Cubs’ failures this season. They are a $150 million monstrosity – a collective of “star” individuals that have failed to perform, and aren’t earning their salaries.
But Lou ain’t earning his $4 million, either.