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It's not Piniella's fault

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George Ofman

I know my stuff. 36 years in broadcasting. Sox Cubs Bears Bulls Hawks. You ask, I'll answer

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You're blaming the wrong guy. While doing a series of "Cub's 10th inning post game shows" on WGN Radio, passionate if not misguided callers have riddled Lou Piniella with criticism.  I understand the considerable angst north side loyalists are going through just as I do the good folks who support the hitless wonders on the south side. And they're blasting Ozzie Guillen. 

But when it comes to grandfatherly Lou, you're making a mistake.

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Yes, you can question some of his moves as do all of us during a 162 game soap opera also known as a major league schedule. But is it Lou's fault Aramis Ramirez isn't hitting?  Is it Lou's fault Ryan Theriot has been streaky at the plate? Is it Lou's fault Carlos Zambrano continues to be the old Big Z and not the new one? ( Please, do not suggest he banish Zambrano to the bullpen) And is it Lou's fault the bullpen has been nothing short of brutal?


Come on!

When teams start stinking up the joint, the manager usually hears it. But far more often than not, it's the players fault.

Lay the blame where it really belongs. The players play and the manager, manages. And right now, the players aren't playing very well. Some callers are nitpicking but that's nothing new. They seemingly want every starter to go nine innings and throw 150 pitches. Some irate callers blistered Piniella for removing Ryan Dempster in favor of Carlos Marmol with 2 out in the 8th inning of a game in which Dempster already had allowed two base runners and had thrown 120 pitches.  Piniella had warned he might want use his closer to get four outs, not three. So what happened? Marmol failed and blew the save and the Cubs lost. Whose fault was it?  Marmol's, not Piniella's. One caller claimed Marmol was out of rhythm because he's only supposed to pitch the 9th.  Please!  Every time Lou walks to the mound, he's seemingly skewered by fans wondering what the hell he's doing there.  Boys and girls, he has to go to the pen, as bad as it is. He didn't put it together. The general manager did. These guys are paid to do a job. If they can't do it then the GM has to find someone else. Everyone knows this bullpen was shaky, at best. What's Lou to do? He goes to set-up man John Grabow and the lefty fails . He goes to inexperienced kids such as Esmailin Caridad, Justin Berg, James Russell and the results probably leave him wondering why he made the call in the first place.  I think I speak for most in saying it's time to send Jeff Samardzija back to the minors and let him progress as a starter.

When the lineup can't produce, Lou shakes it up. Granted, I'm not sure I'd have Marlon Byrd in the leadoff spot because he's a run producer but I give him credit for at least trying something different.

And it was the manager who decided to start removing the 18 million dollar stiff in the late

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 innings for defense. Alfonso Soriano represents Piniella's biggest challenge if not sizable migraine. There's no question when it comes to the left fielder who can't field, doesn't run well any more, flails away at pitches and fosters such ill will from the fans, Piniella does deserve some blame. It took him more than 2 seasons to figure out Soriano is not a leadoff man.  And didn't Soriano claim he would stop the stupid hop before attempting to catch fly balls? Why just last night, he did again. Why doesn't Piniella simply threaten to remove him from the lineup if he does it again? And when Soriano blasted what he thought was a home run against the Mets, the ball didn't quite make it over the wall. Soriano jogged to second. He should have been on third and I whole-heartedly agree with my WGN Radio colleague David Kaplan who suggested Piniella immediately take him out of the game. Let's also remember, Soriano is due some 96 million over the 5 years and the GM claims he's not going to release him. Guess that means he has to play.

The fact is Piniella is doing what he can with what he has. Is he the game's best manager? No. Has he been the source of fair criticism in the past? Yes.

But I'm giving him a pass for now. The players are under performing, not the manager.

You can hear me periodically on Cubs post game shows on WGN Radio 720.  You can also follow me on twitter @ georgeofman and on Facebook.

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7 Comments

taranaki said:

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I don't blame the players. They are not under performing - they simply are not very good. Is any Cub position player among the top 3 (or even top 5) at their position in the National League? This team reminds me of the Cubs in the 1970s. Who will be the token Cub All Star - like Steve Swisher was in 1976. I look for this team to finish 72-90.

George Ofman said:

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The players aren't bad. I disagree. This team should win at least 85. I blame them.

Thanks for your comment

taranaki said:

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Which, if any, Cubs are in the top 3 at their position in the NL?

taranaki said:

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To answer my own question, I don't think any Cubs are in the top 3 at their position. If you look at the top 5, you can make an argument for Soto and Ramirez. That is it. This team is lacking in talent. I don't know if it will be bad or mediocre. I am leaning to bad. And we will have to suffer with this talent dearth until all the stupid contracts like Sorianos have run their course. The Ricketts have $700MM of debt to service. There is no extra cash. The Toyota sign will yield enough money for a utility infielder.

George Ofman said:

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Only Carlos Silva who is second in ERA. Now, How many position players were in the top three during the 2008 season when the Cubs won 97 games? Your point is weak. And we're not even out of the month of April!

Fandemonium said:

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I agree with George about the players. D Lee and Ramirez are both proven hitters. D Lee has been a near MVP, and he's coming off a solid season. It's early, don't panic. And while a manager doesn't have a direct impact on his players AB's, he most certainly does have an impact on the team's demeanor and attitude. Let's see where the Cubs and Sox are in a month. Hopefully they can both turn it around!

George Ofman said:

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I'm not sure I agree with the demeanor point. How come the Sox haven't won every year?

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