Monday, June 29, 2009

Lou Not The Problem, But He Needs To Make A Solution

Lot's of people are on Lou Piniella’s back. People are saying he’s quit on the team. That's he become passive and doesn’t care. Even this page has noted that he’s likely a short timer and will probably not return to the Cubs for the 2010 season.

Most of the people making these comments are looking for a single source to blame for the team's reversion from 97 win regular season juggernaut to Dusty Baker era Keystone Copishness. Most of this criticism is underserved. It's stupid to blame Lou for Aramis Ramirez’s bad shoulder. Or Alfonso Soriano's Korey-esque last two months. Or Milton Bradley's predictable demeanor and unexpected loss of a hitting stroke. Or Mike Fontenot's disappearance. Or Carlos Marmol's evolution into Rick Ankiel.

These are good players who, for a combination of reasons, are not playing as well this year as last year. It’s impossible to blame Lou for all of that.

But where Lou made his mistakes was in his handling, or, more accurately, the lack of handling of his corner outfielders.

Soriano should not be leading off. Period. Yes, he hits worse when you bet him elsewhere. At this point, so what? How much worse could he be? Giving Soriano more at bats hurts the team. He needs to hit fewer times, not more. And he needs to be replaced in the outfield late and often.

The Bradley incident from Friday seemed to be handled correctly. After Milton had another tantrum, Lou told him to go home. Smart.

But to start him the next day? Bad move. Maybe Lou felt guilty for calling Bradley what a lot of people seem to have called him. Another so what? After Soriano, of all people, went off on Bradley saying Milton needed to be here 100%, Bradley needed a day to think about it. Lou starting him on Saturday was enabling, not corrective.

There's plenty of time to fix this season. Lou can start with Soriano and Bradley.

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