Could the Chicago Cubs disappointing performance lead to Lou Piniella being fired after the season? Apparently there are whispers starting to float around Chicago that Piniella could be on his way out.
Paul Sullivan of the Chicago Tribune actually says that Lou’s record as a successful manager will keep him from being the main target of criticism for the team’s poor play. The Cubs have lost seven of eight games entering the weekend.
Sullivan doesn’t really mention Piniella’s job status but does say that he could face the type of scrutiny that former manager Dusty Baker confronted before his departure from the North Side.
In Piniella’s three seasons in Chicago, the Cubs are 240-196, which is a .550 winning percentage. That’s not bad at all. Despite all the outrage from fans over the team’s performance this season, they enter today with a 58-55 record and sit just 4.5 games behind the St. Louis Cardinals with 49 to play.
In each of his first two seasons, Piniella guided the Cubs to N.L. Central titles and they’re not even close to out of it for a third straight. The team was 85-77 in 2007 and 97-64 in 2008. The issue has been playoff success, or a complete lack thereof. The Cubs were swept in the first round of each of the past two seasons, making Lou 0-6 in the postseason in Chicago. Last season was particularly embarrassing, as the Los Angeles Dodgers outscored the Cubs 20-6 during a three-game drubbing.
Frankly, given how little a difference managers can make on baseball teams, a guy like Lou should feel completely safe in his situation. The Cubs aren’t going to find a huge upgrade over Lou out there, so there’s really no reason to get rid of him.
It would be a horrible move by Cubs’ management to get rid of him. But, given their recent track record that’s not out of the realm of possibilities.