"There’s nothing to concern anybody with," Piniella said Thursday from his home in Tampa, Fla. "There’s nothing to it. The Cubs are my last job, and I’ll finish there. I’m very happy with the Cubs and we had a nice first year. And now, we have to get better. I’m looking forward to finishing my career with the Chicago Cubs organization. I worked with some nice people, I love the players, I love the city."
Lou had a pretty good first season,
In Lou Piniella’s first season in Chicago, with his Cubbies finishing 85-77, winning their first Central Division crown since 2003, a 19-game turnaround from the 2006 season, when the team was 66-96. Even though the Cubs went from worst to first, some Cubs fans thought Lou made some questionable moves during the playoffs. People also felt that the Cubs underperformed, considering the amount of money that was spent in the offseason.
Today, the St Louis Cardinals resigned Tony LaRussa for two more years. There were questions about whether Tony would come back without GM Walt Jocketty, who had been the Cardinals GM for all 12 years that LaRussa has been with the Cardinals. The Red Birds and Tony both had a bad year last year, and they would love to be back on top of the NL Central. The Cardinals finished with a 78-84 record in 2007, its worst mark since 1999.
Ned Youst looked like he had everything going his way in 2007. The Brewers came storming out of the gate, with a core of young talented players leading the charge. But the Brewers struggled to keep it together and allowed the Cubs and St Louis to get back into the race. The Brewers were finally eliminated on September 28th, after spending 133 days in first place. It was a bitter pill for Youst to swallow. Youst seemed like the pressure was getting to him at the end of the season. At the end of the season, with the Cubs only a few games ahead, Youst got ejected from 3 out of 4 games with only a week ago. Youst and the Brewers fans would like nothing more than to see the Brewers comeout of the gates quick again, but this time finish strong.
Finally, there is the return of old Dusty Baker. Dusty and Tony did not like each other at all, and the Cubs-Cardinals rivalry was extremly intense while Dusty was managing the Cubs. Lou and Dusty don’t seem to have anything personal against each other, but Dusty has a very big chip on his shoulder about the way the Cubs, the press, and the city treated him. When he was asked about his time away, Dusty said,
"It was necessary. It was necessary because I had to let some wounds heal from Chicago. I was beat up pretty good when I was there."
He also got mad when someone asked him if he took the job to get back at the Cubs
"I know I can manage. I don’t have to prove that. I don’t have to prove anything. I just have to win for my own sake. I never felt like a loser. I don’t have to repair nothing. That never even came in my [thinking].
The Pirates are without a manager after firing Grady Little. One of the top choices for the Pirates would be ex-Cub Joe Girardi. It looks unlikely, since Joe is probably going for that Yankees job, but if he doesn’t get it, maybe he would take the Pirates job. How interesting would that be? Of course, when the Cubs were chosing their new manager after Dusty was not asked back at the end of 2006, the choice was between Girardi and Pinella.
Look at the turnaround the NL West has made in a few short years. In 2006, they were the laughing stock of the league. This year, the NL Central was the weak division, and the west had the team with the best record in the NL (Arizona), two teams battling for the wild card spot (Colorado and San Diego), will represent the NL in the World Series (Colorado). Hopefully the NL Central can make that type of turnaround, with the Cubs represeting the NL in the World Series. And no, I didn’t forget about the Houston Astros and Cecil Cooper. I just think he is a crummy manager!