Skip to content

Comment of the Day: what's so special about Lou Piniella?

May 17, 2010, 11:14 AM EDT

Lou Piniella rages.jpgReader

Look at his managerial career and it’s hard to avoid: has any manager ever done less with more than Lou Pineilla? The Mariners especially, a team that had two of the best players of all-time at their positions, in their prime, plus Randy Johnson, plus Edgar Martinez, plus several other good players . . . Can’t blame Lou for the bullpen? Yes you can because he hasn’t had a good bullpen since 1990.

I’m not sure that comment about the bullpens is fair, as Lou has not been the general manager and hasn’t been responsible for a lot of the bad pens he’s had in Seattle, Tampa Bay and Chicago. But the general point — Piniella hasn’t had the kind of success a guy usually needs to get the kind of reputation he gets — may be right.  He’s often mentioned in the same breath as Torre, La Russa and Cox, but I think that has a lot more to do with tenure than merit.

Don’t get me wrong: I don’t think Piniella is a bad manager. He won a ring with a team that, on paper anyway, didn’t seem like it had what it takes to win the World Series.  But I can’t help but think that he’s always been a bit overrated. Partially because of the lack of success with those extremely talented Mariners teams, but partially because people place too much value on the fact that he’s colorful and combative and all that jazz.

But really, outside of Cincy, his successors have always had greater success than he has.

UPDATE:  Check out Joey B’s comment below, which shows me that I’m pretty much dead wrong with that assessment.  This lesson has been brought to you by “checking the data rather than merely asserting things that feel right.”  Happens to the best of us from time to time.

  1. Jonny5 - May 17, 2010 at 11:24 AM

    Could you have found a more disturbing picture of Lou? I need to go wash out my eyes now. I mean Lou’s face looks like it’s Zed from Pulp fiction behind him in some mystery basement. “Bring out the Gimp”.

  2. Joey B - May 17, 2010 at 11:43 AM

    “But really, outside of Cincy, his successors have always had greater success than he has.”
    I agree 100%, except for the fact that none of his succesors have had more success than he had.
    He left NY with a record of 45-48, and they had a record the following year of 74-87.
    He left Cincy with a 90-72, and they had a record the following year of 73-89.
    He left Seattle with a 93-69, and they had a record the following year of 93-69.
    He left TB with a 67-95, and they had a record the following year of 61-101.
    I think that managers get too much credit when they win and too much blame when they lose. But Lou played 44 points than his successor. Even if you threw out Cincy, he still played 21 points better.

  3. Bill@TDS - May 17, 2010 at 11:56 AM

    Don’t get me wrong: I think Piniella is a bad manager.
    That sentence is missing a key word.
    I don’t think the comment is very fair to Piniella. There was really only one year in which A-Rod was ALEX RODRIGUEZ and Griffey was KEN GRIFFEY JR., and that was 1996–a year in which the offense was great, but Randy Johnson was hurt, only two pitchers (the immortal Sterling Hitchcock and Bob Wolcott) started more than 20 games, and the staff put up a 5.21 ERA.
    Then A-Rod had a sophomore slump in ’97 and still wasn’t quite back to form in ’98, the year they traded Johnson. In ’99, Griffey was slipping a little, and the pitching was terrible again. Then By 2000, Junior was gone. “They had two of the best players of all-time at their positions, in their prime, plus Randy Johnson, plus Edgar Martinez” strikes me as inaccurate and pretty unfair.
    The only things I think Piniella should have done but didn’t as Mariner manager is beat the Yankees in the ALCS in both 2000 and (especially, dammit) 2001, and perhaps win the World Series. But that’s two seven-game playoff series. No better example than 2001 of that “playoffs are a crapshoot” thing.

  4. adam - May 17, 2010 at 12:06 PM

    it’s the in game decisions… leaving dempster in to face votto, a LH hitter when we had the lead late in the game and Marshal warmed up and ready to go, not bunting the potential tying run from 2nd over to 3rd with no outs, staying the course last season with the veterans and not giving young guys with hot bats a chance (Soriano vs Fox, Hoffpaur vs Koske etc). he isn’t a good in game manager. when a team struggles to score runs, the manager needs to manage to score runs… ie, small ball. a

  5. Detroit Michael - May 17, 2010 at 1:42 PM

    Supplementing the data provided by Joey B, it’s worth noting that Piniella also improved his team’s records. The season before hiring Piniella, his 5 teams averaged a .441 winning percentage and in Lou’s first year they averaged a .507 winning percentage, an improvement of 10.7 games per 162 game season on average. Also, this despite the fact that Tampa Bay gave away Randy Winn in order to hire Sweet Lou.
    A more sophisticated approach to assessing whether managers’ teams have exceeded expectations is in Chris Jaffe’s recent book on Evaluating Baseball Managers, which I heartily recommend.

  6. GimmeSomeSteel - May 17, 2010 at 2:11 PM

    Lou has won as many World Series titles as the great Bobby Cox, and only one less than the great LaRussa.
    Overrated? Yes. Entertaining? Yes.

  7. Joey B - May 17, 2010 at 2:42 PM

    It would be interesting to see Lou take over the Mets. In addition to being a better manager than Manuel, he is also a big enough personality to be able to deal with the NY press, and his work with the NYY still makes him a semi-NY icon, though obviously less so with the NYM’s.

  8. Joey B - May 17, 2010 at 2:50 PM

    “Check out comment below, which shows me that I’m pretty much dead wrong with that assessment. This lesson has been brought to you by “checking the data rather than merely asserting things that feel right.” Happens to the best of us from time to time.”
    I spend more time on RS boards, and it’s amazing how often posters make assertions that are flatout wrong. That got me in the habit of checking out my own assertions prior to posting. And it amazed me how often I’d have been wrong. That memory thingy is really tricky sometimes.

Leave Comment

You must be logged in to leave a comment. Not a member? Register now!

Featured video

Patience finally paying off for Royals fans
Top 10 MLB Player Searches
  1. R. Castillo (3083)
  2. G. Stanton (2257)
  3. N. Arenado (2125)
  4. J. Hamilton (2113)
  5. A. Rizzo (2106)
  1. C. Kershaw (2067)
  2. M. Trout (1998)
  3. D. Ortiz (1969)
  4. A. Pujols (1790)
  5. H. Ryu (1743)