Lou Piniella not a big fan of his 'little buddy' Ken Rosenthal

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Last month Ken Rosenthal of FOXSports.com wrote a column suggesting the Cubs should fire Lou Piniella if they didn’t turn things around. This afternoon Rosenthal visited the Cubs’ clubhouse before their game against the Cardinals and … well, Piniella wasn’t exactly thrilled to see him.
Paul Sullivan of the Chicago Tribune notes that “Piniella told Rosenthal they did not need to talk, and that was the end of it.” Here’s what Piniella had to say about the situation:

No, I haven’t seen my little buddy. Look, when a person doesn’t see your team play … I think he should at least see the team play before you start making comments. Outside of that, I really don’t care. He has no bearing at all on whether I have a job here or not.



Are we friends? I mean, am I looking forward to having dinner with him tonight? Absolutely not. Outside of that, are we friends? We both do things that are in the public eye. The amazing part about it is when you manage a baseball team, you taketh more than you giveth. That’s the way it is, and that’s the way it’s always been. And when the team is not playing well, for whatever reason, it’s the manager that takes the brunt of it, whether it’s justified or unjustifiied.

Rosenthal and Piniella worked together for FOX in 2006, which is where the whole “are we friends?” angle comes from.
I’m a Rosenthal fan because there’s no harder working, better connected reporter in baseball and I certainly have no problem with him opining about a team he isn’t around regularly–it is, after all, what I do here on a daily basis–but Piniella does deserve some credit for handling the situation reasonably well.

The Cubs are in desperate need of relief

Associated Press
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Tonight in Chicago Yu Darvish of the Dodgers will face off against Kyle Hendricks of the Cubs. If this were Game 1, we’d have a lot to say about the Dodgers’ trade deadline pickup and the Cubs’ budding ace. If this series continues on the way it’s been going, however, each of them will be footnotes because it has been all about the bullpens.

The Cubs, you may have heard, are having tremendous problems with relief pitching. Both their own and with the opposition’s. Cubs relievers have a 7.03 ERA this postseason, and have allowed six runs on eight hits and have walked six batters in seven innings of work. And no, the relief struggles aren’t just a matter of Joe Maddon pushing the wrong buttons (even though, yeah, he has pushed the wrong buttons).

Maddon pushed Wade Davis for 44 pitches in Game 5 of the NLDS, limiting his availability in Games 1 and 2. That pushing is a result of a lack of relief depth on the Cubs. Brian Duensing, Pedro Strop and Carl Edwards Jr. all have talent and all have had their moments, but none of them are the sort of relievers we have come to see in the past few postseasons. The guys who, when your starter tosses 80 pitches in four innings like Jon Lester did the other night, can be relied upon to shut down the opposition for three and a half more until your lights-out closer can get the four-out save.

In contrast, the Dodgers bullpen has been dominant, tossing eight scoreless innings. Indeed, Dodgers relievers have tossed eight almost perfect innings, allowing zero hits and zero walks while striking out nine Cubs batters. The only imperfection came when Kenley Jansen hit Anthony Rizzo in Game 2. That’s it. Compare this to the past couple of postseasons where the only truly reliable arm down there was Jansen, and in which Dodgers managers have had to rely on Clayton Kershaw to come on in relief. That has not been a temptation at all as the revamped L.A. pen, featuring newcomers Brandon Morrow and Tony Watson. Suffice it to say, Joe Blanton is not missed.

Which brings us back to Kyle Hendricks. He has pitched twice this postseason, pitching seven shutout innings in Game 1 of the NLDS but getting touched for four runs on nine hits while allowing a couple of dingers in Game 5. If the good Hendricks shows up, Maddon will be able to ride him until late in the game in which a now-rested Davis and maybe either Strop or Edwards can close things out in conventional fashion, returning this series to competitiveness. If the bad Hendricks does, he’ll have to do what he did in that NLDS Game 5, using multiple relievers and, perhaps, a repurposed starter in relief while grinding Davis into dust again. That was lucky to work there and doing it without Davis didn’t work in Game 2 on Sunday night.

So it all falls to Hendricks. The Dodgers have shown how soft the underbelly of the Cubs pen truly is. If they get to Hendricks early and get into that pen, you have to like L.A’s chances, not just in this game, but for the rest of the series, as bullpen wear-and-tear builds up quickly. It’s pretty simple: Hendricks has to give the Cubs some innings tonight. There is no other option available.

Just ask Joe Maddon. He’s tried.