Last week Jon Heyman reported that people with the Cubs anticipated that Lou Piniella was going to retire at the end of the season. Today Bill Madden reports it as not suspicion, but fact, and given that Madden and Piniella are said to be quite close, it presumably came straight from Piniella’s mouth (UPDATE: The Cubs have now issued a press release, making it official).
It’s been kind of sad to watch Piniella in Chicago these past two years, burdened with some truly wacko players and a roster laden with overpaid underachievers. I don’t know how long the managing fire would have continued to burn in his belly in more ideal circumstances, but I bet he would still be managing in 2011 if it hadn’t been for the headache after headache he’s had to endure with the Cubs.
We’ll have a lot of time for remembrances of Piniella’s career as the season goes on, as he talks about it some and when the curtain finally closes in October. But for now the craziest thing about all of this to me is that he has managed way longer than he ever played. Just seems odd somehow. Unlike a lot of his contemporaries, I still think of him as more of a player than a manager.
Tim Tebow isn’t letting go of his major league dreams just yet. The former NFL quarterback is slated to appear with the Mets during spring training this year, extending what initially looked like an ill-fated career choice for at least one more season. Per the club’s official announcement on Friday, he’ll join a group of spring training invitees that includes top-30 prospects like Peter Alonso, P.J. Conlon, Patrick Mazeika and David Thompson.
Tebow, 30, hasn’t taken to professional baseball as gracefully as expected. He batted a cumulative .226/.309/.347 with eight home runs and a .656 OPS in 486 plate appearances for Single-A Columbia and High-A St. Lucie in 2017. While that wasn’t enough to compel the Mets to give the aging outfielder a big league tryout, there’s no denying that Tebow brought substantial benefit to their minor league affiliates — in the form of increased attendance figures and ticket sales, that is.
Even after the Mets were booted from the NL East race last September, they resisted the idea of promoting Tebow for a late-season attendance boost of their own. That’s not to say they’re planning on taking the same approach in 2018; Tebow will undoubtedly get his cup of coffee in the majors at some point, but for now, a Grapefruit League tryout is likely as close as he’ll ever get to playing with the team’s big league roster on an everyday basis.