As Chicago Cubs fans, it seemed clear to us all that former manager Lou Piniella had lost his fire – indeed, he’d lost it as many as two years ago.

But of course, how much do we really know about that kind of stuff? Sure, we see Lou during the games and in post-game press conferences, but maybe behind closed doors he was as spitfire as ever?

Small news, maybe, but nah.

Even veteran Carlos Zambrano, tonight’s starting pitcher, is embracing Quade and the idea of a fresh start.

”It is,” Zambrano said. ”I think Q is more hyper than Lou. He has more energy. But we need to do our job anyway, whether with Lou or Q or [Alan] Trammell. We need to play for our team, we need to play for us and whatever we need to do we have to do it.” CHICAGO SUN-TIMES.

Does a manager’s energy translate to player performance on the field? Ask 10 people and you’ll get 10 answers. But the fact that a player is noting Quade’s energy specifically as higher than Piniella’s suggests that Lou was checked out and the players knew it.

EDIT: To clarify – I read Z’s quote as saying Piniella was not particularly fiery or enthusiastic in recent weeks/months, because, to suggest that the new guy has more energy than Piniella is to say that Piniella is no longer the top dog when it comes to his hallmark. Combined with what we all saw in Piniella’s press conferences, it sounds to me like managing the Cubs simply didn’t hold the same excitement for Lou as it once did – that’s what I mean by checked out, and I don’t think it’s a particularly shocking conclusion.

  • BT

    It sounds to me like he is saying Quade is innately more energetic than Lou. It’s possible he means that Lou didn’t have the energy at the end, but it’s also possible he is saying Quade is just a more energetic guy than Lou.

    Again, I’ll just say that a guy who has checked out simply doesn’t put himself through the Zambrano experiment. He would have saved himself the hassle, and taken out Gorz if he really didn’t care.

  • jstraw

    That’s a pretty weak “confirmation,” Ace. Crazy Z says “I think Q is more hyper than Lou. He has more energy” and you’re hanging your hat on that? Less hyper than Quade = “checked out?”

  • Kenny L.

    Given that Lou’s calling card was being all feisty and angry, I read it the same way ace did. How could anyone be more energetic than Lou unless Lou was done being himself?

  • Ace

    I think Kenny pretty much identified what I was trying to get at, but I’ve edited to more clearly reflect my point.

  • Bric

    Big shocker… Z admits that Lou’s been checked out for a while. And Z would know. I think Lou’s been checked out since that opening day disaster that made him think “Good God, I’ve got six more months of this?” If that was the first red light that started blinking it quickly went to blood red by the end of April. How many times did the Cubs get to within one of .500 only to drop three or four in a row? Lou’s been checked out since mid May. The real question is how Hendry still clings to this “Next year” BS because he’s looking at the lack of young pitching talent and all those big contracts. And all the empty seats. Yet he’s in charge of finding Lou’s replacement and allowed this train wreck to continue until August.

  • CRM

    Well with all of the family health problems Lou has been dealing with this year, I wouldn’t be suprprised if he was a little checked out midway through this year……I don’t know that he was before that though, I think Lou took his job pretty seriously.

  • http://BleacherReport Becky Flavin

    I thought it was a bad call for Lou to announce his retirement before the season ended.
    I feel it derailed the spirit of the Cubs as a team.
    The team was having a rough time as it was and then for the manager to say, in essence, ‘well, I’m leaving anyway’ made it even tougher.
    I will always believe in the Cubs and it will happen. It’s just that the leadership needs to believe, too, and show it in their actions.

  • http://yahoo Dennis DeMoss

    Whats done is done, the cubs have more to worry about than our next manager and staff. The new owner better be ready to open their wallet. The youth movement is one thing, but as a life long cub fan, i’m tired of waiting, We’re not a Pittsburgh or Kansas City yet. OH WAIT THEY HAVE WON WORLD CHAMPIONSHIPS SINCE WE HAVE. I guess, we did in history, I can only read about it.. As a fan we were close now I see it fading away.

    Dennis D

  • Luckyd

    IF anyone was watching Lou’s postgame interviews, YOU would have noticed that he checked out after the 1st month of the season. People just burn out after a while and I’m sure he’d say it just about that way. He never really got excited and just kept asking “what else can I do?”. When the skipper of the ship, doesn’t know what to do to get off the crash course, you’re in deep trouble. Now the fog has lifted, and the results are dramatic. Hopefully next year!!

    • Bric

      I agree. Lou’s postgame conferences were like a staff meeting in a company that’s ready to downsize. Even after a win he looked tired and out of answers, as if the only thing he felt was relief. The reporters were on edge, he was on edge, the players were on edge. Not once did any of these people look like they were having fun. And they get payed to play or watch a game. That’s when it’s not work, it’s just a job.
      I have alot of respect for Lou’s career, but he really hasn’t been a good coach since the late ’90s. “We gotta save Zambrano for game four…Soriano is our leadoff man…Colvin will get playing time”etc…Oh yeah, and let’s trade DeRosa, the only guy who gave us a lead in the entire Dodgers playoff series. Oh, wait, that was Hendry. Why does he still have a job again?…

  • Bill Rubel

    If Lou actually didn’t have his heart in it from the get go, why didn’t he come to the Ricketts family and negotiate a deal to get our of his contract? Did he just decide to take everything that comes his way with a grain of salt and stay in it for the money? When a major league coach checks out on a team, is it not the job of management and the owners to solve the problem? Doesn’t ownership have the responsibility to the team and the fans who buy the tickets to provide the best calibur of players and performance on the field? If the players felt Lou checked out that may be part of the reason for the play on the field. When this season is all said and done can Hendry look back and say he’d still start the season with the same group of guys if it was the 2010 opening day all over again? I know the pitchers started out caring. How many times did the Cubs lose games from April until early June that had really good starting pitching. The Cubs wasted so many well pitched games because of poor hitting and defense. I think the pitchers had every reason to lose interest, especially when their best on the mound wasn’t matched with quality defense and hitting from the other 8 guys on the field that day or days. I want to see how Fukidome does without a coach playing games with him by moving him all over the lineup. Why did Derek Lee claim that his back was feeling better and all of a sudden has found his stroke in Atlanta. You move Ted Lilly for 3 minor league probainble someday major league players. Just to make the deal worthwhile to the Dodgers you give up Ryan Theriot? Theriot’s production with the bat has always been consistent, as he always seems to hover around 290-300. He’s had an off year I know but the Cubs gave up a lot to get back hardly anything. I would’ve worked to keep Lilly as an anchor of the Cubs staff. Maybe they can get him back in free agency if the Dodgers don’t sign him, or a team like the Yankees doesn’t sign him first. Some players have to go if it can be done. They need to find a way to move Aramis because lately he plays 3rd base like a bullfighter. His glove is the cape and the ball is the bull. Soriano because his homerun/rbi potential this year didn’t over ride the hack job he’s done this year in left. Maybe Soriano would be a candidate to play 1st base. Then again why play him at all if his batting average is going to be below 280. Fukidome if he’s not planned to play his position for 140 plus games. He makes too much money to be a platoon to protect him at the plate. Koy Hill should go unless you’re getting big time production from your 1st & 3rd basemen, and your corner outfielders. If you get good rbi production from the corner infielders and outfielders then his defense and handling of pitchers is servicable. Giovanni Soto, Colvin, Castro, and Hoffpauer should be sent to the Arizona instructional league and on to winter ball. Soto and Hoffpauer need to show dramatic improvement or they should find a taker for a trade. Soto needs to get back to form from 2 years ago, and Hoffpauer needs to prove that he can get better and consistent at the plate. My mind is confused about what to do with Zambrano. We’ve seen he can be the guy to win 16 games, but then again he isn’t the same pitcher he was before Lou pulled him in the 6th inning so he’d be fresh for game 4 of the playoffs, that they never made it to. Is he a grenade whose lost velocity on his pitches and his ready to blow, or can he get back to being a reliable ace on the Cubs staff? My heart says yes and my brain says no. So I’m thinking they need to try and move him. I’ve been contemplating whether I think the Cubs should try and be a small ball team or not. Do I want thumpers that can take advantage of the wind blowing out, but still has the power to hit homeruns when the wind is blowing in? Or do I want a team that has a solid starting 5 in the rotation with a good closer to lock down wins at the end of the game which has solid defensive players who play small ball? I do know this much, I really hope we don’t have the kind of team we’ve had for the last 2 seasons. Since the last sweep out of the playoffs by the Dodgers, this team tightens up and seems to have a defeatest attitude when they’re down. They seem to be unable to fight through adversity on the playing field way too often these last 2 seasons. I truly hope Rickets used this year to observe and take notes, and at the end of the season he cleans out the coaching staff Rothchilds and all. It’s just my take on the Cubs.

  • Roger

    Burnt out? … maybe.

    The kicker was the core human emotion of love for his dying mother.

    The older the manager the higher the probability these type of events may occur.

    Just another independent variable to toss into the fruit salad of causation.

    Thanks Lou … you gave us all you humanly could.