Sweet Lou and Fiery Managers
After the 2002 season, the Mariners and Lou Piniella parted ways in a strange fashion – the M’s traded him to the Rays (with Antonio Perez) for Randy Winn. You don’t see managers get traded very often, but he had market value even though he didn’t want to manage this franchise anymore. Since Piniella left, the team has run through a handful of replacements, none of whom have had much success, and all of whom fell short when measured up against Piniella’s charisma and goodwill with the fans. Because he yelled a lot and the team won while he was here, fans grew quite attached to Lou, and it is still quite common to hear people talk about how Wak needs to be more like Piniella and “show some fire” or some such thing.
I wonder if any of the people who think Piniella is a managerial genius are aware that he’s 496 and 542 since leaving Seattle, good for a .478 winning percentage? He’s now in his 7th season since taking off for greener pastures, and he’s finished last as often as he’s finished first. He wasn’t able to turn the Rays into anything while he was there, and he’s now in charge of yet another massively disappointing Cubs team.
The fact of the matter is that Piniella, like pretty much every other manager on earth, wins with teams that have talent and loses with teams that don’t. He doesn’t get more out of his players than anyone else. He doesn’t inspire his men to greatness. He doesn’t make brilliant tactical decisions or teach bad players how to become good ones. Right now, in fact, he’s making a debacle of the Cubs catching situation by benching Geovany Soto (who is really good) in favor of Koyie Hill (who is really bad).
I get that people love to watch Lou Piniella because he’s entertaining. I get that the media loves him because he’s a fantastic post-game quote. He’s an affable, charismatic guy, but that doesn’t make him a great leader. Between the two guys running the clubs at Safeco over the next three days, I would much rather have the guy in our dugout than in theirs. Wak doesn’t need to be like Lou, because he’s not that kind of guy, and because Lou Piniella just isn’t that good of a manager to begin with.