End of the Road for Uncle Lou

By Chris Rewers on Sunday, August 22, 2010

The Cubs announced that Lou Piniella will step down following Sunday's game against the Atlanta Braves because of family reasons.

Family reasons aside, it's been obvious for some time that Piniella has lacked the fire in the belly and it's likely been particularly disheartening for Uncle Lou that his team was just 9-21 since his impending retirement was announced on July 20. During that time, Piniella left the team twice, missing seven games, to visit his ailing mother in Florida.

Piniella made it clear during his previous managerial tenure in Tampa Bay that he lacked the patience to manage a team going through a rebuilding process. That frustration led to his resignation as manager of the Devil Rays following the 2005 season.

Piniella led the Cubs to National League Central championships in 2007 and '08 - the team's first back-to-back postseason appearances since 1907-08. He also coined the phrase, as Len Kasper pointed out on Sunday, "Cubbie occurence."

"We knew what it was," Bob Brenly said. "We just didn't know what to call it."

A more interesting development was Jim Hendry's announcement that third base coach Mike Quade would be the interim manager for the remainder of the season beginning Monday in Washington and would be a candidate for the 2011 managerial job.

"We felt, that with six weeks to go, (Quade) deserved an opportunity," Hendry said during WGN's telecast of Sunday's Cubs-Braves game. "We're not looking at this as just playing it out. (Assistant general manager) Randy Bush and I have a lot to learn about this ballclub the next six weeks, moving into the offseason. We felt that with Lou's departure that it was a good opportunity for Mike and a good thing for us."

Surprisingly, Hendry also announced that bench coach Alan Trammell would not be a candidate.

"A lot of people expected that it was going to be Alan Trammell to finish out the string," Hendry said. "Alan and I had a very good conversation this morning. I think the world of him, but I did tell Alan that once we decided he was not going to be the manager next year - I had come to that decision lately - that we were better served by him finishing and not making him feel like he had a chance when he didn't."

I suspect that the snubbing of Trammell is an indication that Hendry is hedging toward going with Ryne Sandberg as his 2011 skipper. Trammell, who served as acting manager in the games that Piniella missed, posted a 1-6 record.

The coaching staff will be reconfigured but will stay intact for the remainder of the season with Trammell apparently staying on as the bench coach. It should make for some awkward moments in the dugout over the next few weeks.

Piniella was obviously uncomfortable managing this shambles of a team, so it's a good thing for the team that he has decided to step aside with six weeks left in the season. It's something that should have happened weeks ago.

"Allowing (Piniella) to finish the season was a curious decision; the Cubs had sleepwalked through the first three-and-a-half months, and it's not like they were going to rally behind a lame-duck manager who had clearly lost interest," Dan McGrath wrote in the New York Times on Saturday.

It's time to turn the page.

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