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Sweet Lou: Too Sweet?

By Jay Garneau

When the Chicago Cubs parted ways with Dusty Baker, it was for several reasons. First and foremost, Cubs players were not being held accountable for their failures, and Dusty would run them out there day after day. Piniella was brought in to change this. No longer would Cubs players be able to have a lackadaisical focus as they did in the Dusty regime. In fact, Lou still had this no-nonsense attitude in his early Cub days. Remember Cesar Izturis? The one time starting shortstop lost his job early in the ’07 season, giving way to the out-of-nowhere Ryan Theriot, who made the most of his opportunity.

Gone are these days. Izturis hit a whopping .242 in the first half of the 2007 season, and lost his job very quickly. Today, Izturis would be just about an average Cubs player. The Cubs are 13th in the NL with a .246 team average. Why is this? Because the leadoff man is hitting .229 (not to mention his .296 OBP), the reigning rookie of the year is hitting .223, and our star free agent signing is hitting .227. And who is hitting over .300? Aramis Ramirez, who is of course on the DL with a dislocated shoulder, and Jake Fox, hitting .417 in the 12 ABs “Sweet Lou” has given him.

In the past, these players would be held accountable. Now, accountable is Koyie Hill starting three straight games so Soto can get his act together. These guys need to sit. Five days, a week, whatever it takes for them to realize that little effort and zero production will keep you on the bench.

While the Cubs have undoubtedly experienced the calmer Lou Piniella, he has shown the ability to at least defend his team. It is widely believed that his ejection in early June of 2007 sparked the Cubs turnaround. They were 22-31 up to that point, and finished the rest of the year 63-46, including a 16-8 run in the games following the ejection. So we should be seeing another Piniella tirade, right? Apparently not. “What do I need to show fire for? I’m not a dragon.” Well Lou, you better do something, because the rest of the NL Central will only be faltering so much longer…

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