How fans will miss this. Lou Piniella has said he will retire at the end of the season
This Chicago Cubs have announced that Lou Piniella will retire following the completion of the 2010 baseball season. Piniella's retirement is the first official change in what will likely be a flurry of moves that will remake the Cubs franchise. New owner Tom Ricketts allowed GM Jim Hendry and Piniella to go into this season without significant changes. But another lackluster season at Clark and Addison heralds major upheaval.
Speculation wasn't exactly swirling, but neither did the news come out of nowhere. Jon Heyman of Sports Illustrated first reported the anticipation that Piniella would retire at year end. Bill Madden's definitive report quelled any speculation and prompted the club's release.
"I couldn't be more appreciative of the Cubs organization for providing me the opportunity to manage this ballclub," said Piniella. "I've had four wonderful years here that I wouldn't trade for anything in the world. I've grown to love the city and the fans but at my age (67 at the end of the season) it will be time to enter a new phase in my life."
Piniella managed five clubs during his second career in baseball. The most recent stop has been Chicago where Piniella twice helmed NL Central winning clubs. But as the club aged, their play trailed off and today the team sits ten games under five hundred in fourth place, effectively out of the playoff picture.
He twice took over for Billy Martin in New York, first to begin the 1986 season. He lasted two seasons before being promoted to GM of the club, only to return to the field manager job when Billy Martin was fired on June 23rd, 1988. Piniella departed New York after the 1988 season and then took the managerial job in Cincinnati.
His first season at the helm of the Reds held fortuitous timing. The Reds won the NL West and took the NLCS from the Pittsburgh Pirates in six games before sweeping the Athletics in the World Series.
In 1993 the Mariners hired him to run the team and he spent ten successful seasons in Seattle, winning the AL West three times and AL Manager of the year twice. But his Mariner teams never advanced to the World Series despite their record-tying 116 wins in 2001.
Piniella's next skippered the Tampa Bay Devil Rays from 2003 until 2005. To compensate the Mariners, Devil Rays sent outfielder Randy Winn to Seattle for Piniella, one of the only times a player has been traded for a manager in modern baseball.
In 18 major league seasons as a player, Piniella hit for a combined .291/.333/.409 while playing for the Orioles, Indians, Royals and Yankees. His brief callups with the Orioles and Indians left him with rookie eligibility when he played his first full big league season as a Royal and won the Rookie of the Year award. In addition to his World Series title as manager of the Reds, he was a member of the 1977 and 1978 Yankee teams that won back to back World Series.
Joe Tetreault is Managing Editor of the Business of Sports Network, which includes The Biz of Baseball, The Biz of Football, The Biz of Basketball and The Biz of Hockey. He can be contacted here through The Biz of Baseball
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