Piniella: 'Too much patience is stupidity'

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cubs-piniella-100601.jpgChicago Cubs manager Lou Piniella, exasperated with his team’s offense, did the ol’ lineup shakeup for Tuesday’s game against the Pirates, inserting Tyler Colvin, Xavier Nady, Jeff Baker and Koyie Hill into the lineup as Marlon Byrd, Derrek Lee and Aramis Ramirez and Geovany Soto grabbed some pine.

Benching all of those guys in the same game smacks of desperation, but when you’re 24-28 (make that 24-29, now) and your offense just spent the month of May hitting like this guy, well, these are desperate times.

Two months into the season, Piniella is telling the Chicago Tribune that he is finished being patient.

“I think we’ve shown remarkable patience here, not changing things, staying constant, assuming that our hitting is right around the corner,” manager Lou Piniella said before Tuesday’s game. “Unfortunately, that hasn’t been the case. So what do you do? Patience is a virtue, right? Too much patience is stupidity. I still cling to the fact that our guys are going to hit, but at the same time, it’s already June… a third into the season.”

Alas, Lou’s moves failed to produce a win, as the Cubs fell 3-2 to Pittsburgh on Neil Walker’s first career home run. Nady did his part, going 4-for-4 with a two-run home run, but the others were a combined 1-for-9 with three strikeouts. Lee and Byrd each had a shot at pinch-hitting duties, and each returned to the bench after whiffing.

While the face value interpretation of Piniella’s mini-rant on patience is that he’s tired of waiting for his stars to hit, it could also be viewed as a plea to GM Jim Hendry to do something – anything – to make this team better.

One thing for certain is that Piniella is baffled by how to fix things. ”I mean, the last three games we won, we shut out the opposition. I don’t know. I wish I knew, fellas. I wish I knew.”

Hendry, for his part, didn’t sound like he as in a hurry to do anything. (As told to the Chicago Sun-Times)

”This next couple of weeks is real important,” general manager Jim Hendry said. ”You could look up in two weeks and be two or three back maybe or if you had a bad two weeks, then you’ve got some concern.”

So maybe Hendry is still preaching patience, but Piniella has had all of that he can stomach.

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What happens with all the players the Braves lost yesterday?

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Yesterday’s unprecedented sanctions leveled on the Atlanta Braves hit them pretty hard, but it also turned a dozen players into free agents. What happens to them now? Who can sign them? When? And for how much?

First off, they get to keep their signing bonuses the Braves gave them. It wasn’t their fault the Braves messed up so it would make no sense for them to have to pay the money back. As for their next team: anyone can, theoretically, sign them. As far as team choice, they are free agents in the most narrow sense of the term.

There are limits, however, because as young, international players, their signings are subject to those caps on each team’s international bonus money which were imposed a few years back. Each team now has a “pool” of finite dollars they can spend on such players and, once that money is spent, teams are severely limited as to what they can offer an international free agent. Each summer the bonus pools are reset and it starts anew.

Which, on the surface, would seem to create a problem for the 12 new free agents, seeing as though a lot of teams have already spent much if not all of their July 2017-18 bonus pools. The good news on that, though, is that Major League Baseball has made a couple of exceptions for these guys:

  • First, the first $200,000 of any of the 12 former Braves players will not be subject to signing pools, so that’s a bit of a break; and
  • Second, even though these players will all likely be signed during the 2017-18 bonus pool period, teams have the option of counting the bonus toward the 2018-19 period. They can’t combine the money from the two periods, but they can, essentially, put off the cost into next year for accounting purposes.

Which certainly opens things up for clubs and gives the players more options as far as places to land go. A club can decide whether or not the guys on the market now look better than the guys they’ve been scouting with an eye toward signing after July 2018 and get a jump on things. Likewise, teams don’t have to decide whether or not to take a run at, say, Shohei Ohtani, burning bonus money now, or instead going after a former Braves player. Ohtani’s money will apply now, the Braves player can be accounted for next year.

The new free agents are eligible to sign during a window that begins on December 5 and ends on Jan. 15. If a player hasn’t signed by then, he can still sign with any club but cannot get a bonus. If a player hasn’t signed anywhere by May 1, 2018, he has the option of re-signing with the Braves, though they can’t pay the guy a bonus either.

Ben Badler of Baseball America has a rundown of the top guys who are now free agents thanks to the Braves’ malfeasance. Kevin Maitan is the big name. The 17-year-old shortstop was considered the top overall international free agent last year, though his first year in the Braves minor league system was less-than-impressive. There are a lot of other promising players too. All of whom now can find new employers.