Posted on: August 23, 2010 8:15 pm
Edited on: October 19, 2010 11:54 am

Girardi talks Cubs

Joe Girardi As soon as Lou Piniella announced his retirement earlier this year, Yankees manager Joe Girardi's name was brought up. And it will continue to be bandied about until the Cubs hire a new manager.

Girardi is in the final year of his contract with the Yankees and a Chicago native. He was a finalist for the job when Piniella was first hired four years ago. Today he talked about it with reporters, including George A. King III of the New York Post . Here's what he said:

“My focus is here, I have a responsibility to the organization and the guys in the clubhouse,’’ Girardi said. "As a player, when I was a free agent, I never worried about where I would be. As a manager I am never worried about where I am going to be. The one thing I can control is getting the players to play the best they can every day. I am very happy here, a great working relationship with everybody.’’

Girardi's in an enviable situation, he has the best team in baseball, an expiring contract and a suitor with deep pockets and a need for a big hire. Will Girardi leave the Yankees? I don't know, but I do know he'll be an even richer man come 2011.

-- C. Trent Rosecrans

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Category: MLB
Posted on: August 23, 2010 6:25 pm
Edited on: August 23, 2010 6:58 pm

Soriano dropped to seventh in lineup

Alfonso Soriano Interim manager Mike Quade wasted no time in putting his stamp on the Cubs, dropping Alfonso Soriano to the No. 7 spot in the batting order, according to ChicagoBreakingSports.com.

Soriano has batted sixth 88 times on the year, hitting .272/.324/.522 in 350 plate appearances. He also has 12 games at fifth and three games at fourth. He batted in the pitcher's spot 11 times and made one appearance later in the game at the seven-slot as well.

In the season, Soriano is hitting .260/.319/.499 with 19 home runs and 31 doubles in 424 PA. It's not clear why Soriano was dropped, as he has the necessary power to produce out of the sixth and seventh slots. Sure, he doesn't have the on-base percentage, but neither does Tyler Colvin, the new occupant of the sixth spot and is at .251/.310/.505 in 324 PA.

Quade also has second baseman Blake DeWitt leading off and Geovany Soto in the eight spot.

Soto being so low is nonsensical. Yes, he is making his return from the disabled list (shoulder), but is one of the team's best hitters -- if not the best hitter -- at .288/.401/.519 in 317 PA. An injury doesn't automatically mean one should bat last (or in the NL, eighth).

The DeWitt add to the leadoff spot is intriguing. With a .360 OBP on the year, it's a solid move. DeWitt has the fourth-highest OBP on the team behind Soto, Kosuke Fukudome and Marlon Byrd. Fukudome does not play regularly and Byrd is batting third. In addition, DeWitt's OBP with Chicago is .392 over 74 plate appearances, which vaults him past Fukudome.

Here is the full lineup:

DeWitt 2B
Castro SS
Byrd CF
Ramirez 3B
Nady 1B
Colvin RF
Soriano LF
Soto C
Coleman P

UPDATE : Quade said he doesn't particularly care whether Soriano hits sixth or seventh, but Colvin was inserted to break up the run of righties that Starlin Castro kicked off and ran through Xavier Nady in this specific lineup. "I wanted to break all that mess up with Colvin in there and see if that doesn't help a little bit," he said .

-- Evan Brunell

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsmlb on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed .

Posted on: August 22, 2010 3:10 pm
Edited on: October 19, 2010 12:31 pm

Trammell not a candidate for Cubs gig

Alan Trammell Apparently Alan Trammell failed his audition with the Cubs.

With Lou Piniella retiring after today's game, the team has announced Mike Quade as the team's interim manager.

Quade is the team's third base coach, while Trammell serves as the bench coach. Trammell had served as the team's manager during several absences by Pinella this season. So why is Quade taking over full-time on Monday?

Because he's a candidate for the full-time gig and Trammell's not, general manager Jim Hendry told reporters (via the Chicago Sun-Times ).

"Alan's terrific and an outstanding coach," Hendry said. "The last few weeks I've made the decision Alan won't be a candidate for the managerial job. He understood. The decision I made is if he wasn't going to be the manager, we'd be better served not having him be managing the rest of the year."

Quade joined Piniella's staff in 2007 after serving as the manager at Triple-A Iowa from 2003-06.

Trammell managed the Tigers from 2003-05 and went 186-300, including an American League-record 119-loss season in his first year with Detroit.

Ryne Sandberg Trammell is similar to the person many think is the leader to take over the Cubs next season -- Ryne Sandberg.

Both were beloved players and arguably had Hall of Fame careers (Sandberg is in, Trammell is not, and there are good arguments on either side).

Sandberg is currently the manager in Iowa and leading the team to the playoffs. He's paid his dues managing, working his way up in the Cubs system from Class A Peoria in 2007, to Double-A Tennessee in 2009 and Iowa this season.

Trammell had served as a major league coach before taking over the Tigers, but hadn't managed before taking over the Tigers.

Would Cubs fans be quick to turn on one of their legends? Or would they give him the benefit of the doubt before turning on him? In the end, would it hurt his legacy as one of the team's all-time greats? If he doesn't get the job, Cubs fans may be equally upset.

-- C. Trent Rosecrans

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsmlb on Twitter.

Posted on: August 22, 2010 11:55 am
Edited on: August 22, 2010 12:18 pm

Piniella to retire after today's game

Lou Piniella Lou Piniella won't stick around to see the end of this season, the team announced Sunday morning. Third base coach Mike Quade will take over for the rest of the season.

Piniella told reporters (via the Chicago Sun-Times ' Gordon Wittenmyer's Twitter ) it was to be with his ailing mother.

"I didn't think my career would end this way, but my mom needs me home," Piniella said. "She hasn't gotten any better since I've been here. In fact, she's had a couple of other problems. To continue to go home and come back wasn't fair to the team, wasn't fair to the players. I'm going to miss it, no question about that. It was very difficult."

Here's the release from the Cubs:

Lou Piniella today announced he has elected to step down as manager of the Chicago Cubs following this afternoon’s game against the Atlanta Braves at Wrigley Field for family reasons.

“When I previously announced my intentions to retire at the end of the season, a primary reason for my decision was that it would allow me to spend more valuable time with my family,” said Piniella.  “That time has unfortunately gotten here sooner than I could have ever expected.  As many know, the several weeks since that announcement was made have been very difficult on a family level, requiring two leaves of absence from the club.  While I fully intended to manage this club the rest of the season, a family situation at home now requires my full attention. 

“As I said last month, I couldn’t be more appreciative of the Cubs organization for providing me the opportunity to be their manager.  I wouldn’t trade this experience for anything in the world and I consider this the ultimate way to end my managerial career. 

“I am thankful to the Ricketts family for their support – Cubs fans are fortunate to have an owner like the Ricketts family to lead this organization for the long-term.  I also couldn’t be more thankful to Jim Hendry for bringing me to Chicago.  We enjoyed a great deal of success together and I’ll always value the relationship we had during our time together.  Thank you to Crane Kenney and the Cubs front office for your support throughout the years.

“I couldn’t be more appreciative of my coaches and training staff.  They have been professional and supportive.  And thank you to my players for the successes we shared and their efforts.

“Finally, to the Cubs fans, thank you for four wonderful seasons.  You are the best, most deserving fans in all of baseball and it has been an honor to manage your ballclub.” 

Cubs Chairman Tom Ricketts and General Manager Jim Hendry released the following statements:

“The Chicago Cubs are honored to have had Lou Piniella as our manager for the last four years,” said Ricketts.  “My family and I respect Lou's decision to retire from the game he loves and thank him for his years of dedicated service.  He is an icon in the world of baseball and we are grateful for his time with this organization.”

“Lou helped raise the bar here for this entire organization and for that we’ll be forever thankful,” said Hendry.  “We understand he needs to be with his family and respect his decision to retire at this time.  We salute his tremendous career and wish him and his family long-term health and happiness.”

One of only five skippers to win at least three Manager of the Year Awards, including 2008 with the Cubs, Piniella retires the 14th winningest manager in major league history.  He enters this afternoon’s game with 1,835 wins in his near 23 big league seasons as a manager.  Piniella is the first Cubs manager in more than 70 years to post a record of .500 or better in each of his first three seasons leading the club.

Piniella enters his final game with the Cubs with a 316-292 record in his three-plus seasons in Chicago.  Only seven managers have won more games than Piniella in club history, while his .520 winning percentage is the best since Charlie Grimm’s .547 combined mark from 1932-38, 1944-49 and 1960 (minimum 500 games).  Piniella is the first Cubs manager in 100 years to lead the club to consecutive post-season appearances in 2007 and 2008.

-- C. Trent Rosecrans

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsmlb on Twitter.

Category: MLB
Posted on: August 19, 2010 7:48 pm

Lee will await Braves in Chicago

Friday figures to be an awkward day for a lot of people at Wrigley Field. The Braves, who acquired first baseman Derrek Lee from the Cubs on Wednesday, will welcome him into the fold at Wrigley, where they begin a series Friday. That's like picking a girl up for a date at her ex-boyfriend's house.

All parties decided it didn't make sense for Lee, who has been out with a sore back, to fly to Atlanta and then right back to Chicago. So he'll go to work as usual Friday, but head to the visitors' clubhouse.

“It’ll probably be weird for him,” Braves pitcher Derek Lowe told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “You think of all the scenarios that he could possibly have. Making your debut back in the city where you’ve played so long – I’d imagine he’ll have every emotion going through him.”

-- David Andriesen

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsmlb on Twitter.
Category: MLB
Posted on: August 19, 2010 6:02 pm

Ramirez unsure of return to Cubs

Aramis Ramirez Aramis Ramirez isn't sure if he will be a Cub next season as the 32-year-old is angling to be on a contender, reports MLB.com.

"I'm planning to honor my contract," Ramirez said. "I signed here, I took less money to stay here. I don't want to go anywhere. But at the same time, I want to win. I'm 32. I'm not like [Starlin] Castro -- he has a lot of time in front of him. We'll see. We'll see how it goes."

Ramirez might find the free-agent market a bit chilly if he wants to land on a contender, as he is suffering through his worst season since 2002 as a 24-year-old.

He's batting .227./283/.419 with 17 home runs in 378 plate appearances, a mark that is lifted up by his second-half resurgence. Prior to the All-Star Break, A-Ram was at a brutal .207/.268/.380. He's rediscovered his power with a post-break line of .271/.316/.505, but still won't come anywhere near an annual salary of $14.6 million.

Where is that figure coming from, one may ask.

It's the player option Ramirez holds to return to the Cubs next season as the third baseman finishes up a four-year guaranteed deal. If Ramirez exercises the option, the Cubs will gain a $16 million club option for 2012 that will unquestionably be declined regardless.

It will be very hard for Ramirez to turn down a $14.6 million financial outlay in a recession when he may not even come close to half that salary in a guaranteed deal for 2011. So as much as Ramirez may want to contend, he may stay in Cubbie pinstripes for one more year and then chase being on a contender.

Of course, Ramirez and the Cubs would both prefer Chicago contend in 2011, but it seems as if the lovable losers will have to go through a small retooling period.

-- Evan Brunell

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsmlb on Twitter.
Category: MLB
Posted on: August 19, 2010 2:27 pm

Colvin may become Cubs 1B

Tyler Colvin With Derrek Lee traded to the Braves, the long-term answer at first base is an open question mark.

Sure, Lee could return to town as a free agent, but the Cubs may not want to go back to the 34-year-old struggling through a down season and injuries. The problem is, there's no easy answer available.

Tyler Colvin may be the solution, even if the outfielder would have to transition to first, reports the Chicago Tribune . Any move wouldn't happen until next season, however, as the Cubs maintain the 24-year-old would need a full spring training to adjust to the new position, of which Colvin has not played since being a sophomore at Clemson University.

"I'm not sure how long I'd need," the former first-round pick said. "It's been a while since I've done it. Hopefully if they want me to do that, I'll do it. No one has ever said 'Hey, we want you to take ground balls there.' I've got to wait for that first and then we'll see what happens."

Colvin is enjoying a breakthrough rookie season, in which he is hitting .250/.310/.510 with 18 home runs in 317 plate appearances. Despite being a No. 13 overall pick in 2006, Colvin has never been highly regarded, a perception he is working to dispel as he accumulates more and more playing time. If he wants a starting job in 2011, however he will probably need to shift to first.

The Cubs currently have Alfonso Soriano, Marlon Byrd and Kosuke Fukudome tentatively penciled in as the starting outfielders for 2011, although Fukudome's gig is due to his salary and not production. If Colvin had his way, though, it's clear he'd prefer to stay in the outfield.

"I'm comfortable in the outfield, but if that's what they want me to do, I can't complain," the 6-foot-3 lefty said. "If it helps out the Chicago Cubs, that's what I'll do."

The Cubs may also elect to keep Colvin in the outfield depending how the offsesaon goes. Prince Fielder of the Brewers is thought to be available in trade talks, and there will be additional players who may be on the way out that can play first. Mike Napoli of the Angels springs to mind, as the Angels don't seem prepared to hand him a full-time job.

There's also free agency. Lance Berkman could be a fit, and Adam Dunn could find the Windy City very much to his liking in addition to other thumpers such as Carlos Pena and Paul Konerko.

-- Evan Brunell

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsmlb on Twitter.
Category: MLB
Posted on: August 18, 2010 6:18 pm

Sosa misguided in complaints

Sammy Sosa As a college student in 1997, I sat in the Wrigley Field bleachers with an Old Style or six -- and always made sure to sit in right field.


1. Left field sucks. (Or so we chanted.)

2. Sammy Sosa.

Sosa had a special relationship with the right field fans. He'd sprint out to right from the team's dugout on the third-base side and the fans would salute him with a raise of their beer as we ran by like a Dale Earnhardt victory lap. During the inning, someone would always yell, "How many outs, Sammy?" and he'd hold up two fingers to let the fans know he knew. No many how many times fans called, he'd do it. After hitting a home run, he'd come back out the next inning and salute the right-field fans.

One time I even watched as Sosa took a young fan from his parents, brought him out onto the field as the team stretched and allowed him to collect autographs from every player. After the kid finished and he was walking back toward his parents, I could see him say, "thank you Mr. Sosa" and Sosa told him to stop, he couldn't leave until he got a hug. It was a really cool scene.

Bottom line, Sosa got it.

Or seemed to. He doesn't get it anymore.

Chicago magazine has an "exclusive" interview with Sosa and is teasing it on their website. Here's the money quote:
“[The Cubs] threw me into the fire. They made [people] think I’m a monster." No, Sosa, with his temper, his clubhouse tyranny, his demands and his use of performance enhancing drugs did that all by himself.

There are plenty of opportunities to criticize the Cubs and their management over the last 100 years or so, but not on this topic. Sosa reaped what he sowed, plain and simple.

-- C. Trent Rosecrans

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsmlb on Twitter.
Category: MLB
Tags: Cubs, Sammy Sosa
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com