Lou Piniella: Mike Quade deserved Cubs job

1 Comment

During an appearance with Steve Cochran on ESPN1000 in Chicago yesterday, Lou Piniella said he believes Mike Quade deserved the opportunity to return as Cubs manager.

“Mike’s a good baseball man. He’s been in baseball for a long, long time,” Piniella said. “He got that opportunity when I left there and I tell you what, the club responded to him and they played exceedingly well. And I know it was a very tough decision for everybody in the organization choosing between Mike and other viable candidates, but you know, he deserved it.”

Quade led the Cubs to a 24-13 record (.649) after Piniella stepped down in late-August in order to tend to his ailing mother. Ryne Sandberg was the fan favorite for the job and certainly deserved consideration after being named the Pacific Coast League manager of the year in his first season with Triple-A Iowa, but Quade earned the vocal support of many of his players.

As for Piniella, he told Cochran that his mother is still fighting.

“She’s having her good days and her bad days,” Piniella said of his mother’s health. “Sometimes I’m heartened a bit and sometimes it’s discouraging. She’s going to be 91 years old now, here in December, so she’s a scrappy old gal. I needed to come home, I did the right thing and she’s appreciated the fact that I’ve been home.”

Piniella, now 67, is almost certainly done in the dugout, but he’ll resurface in the game eventually. Yankees co-chairman Hank Steinbrenner recently told the Chicago Tribune that he hopes Piniella will consider re-joining the club in an advisory role.

Must-Click Link: Do the players even care about money anymore?

Getty Images
14 Comments

Yesterday I wrote about how the union has come to find itself in the extraordinarily weak position it’s in. The upshot: their leadership and their membership, happily wealthy by virtue of gains realized in the 1970s-1990s, has chosen to focus on small, day-to-day, quality of life issues rather than big-picture financial issues. As a result, ownership has cleaned their clock in the past few Collective Bargaining Agreements. If the union is to ever get back the considerable amount of ground it has lost over the past 15 years, it’ll require a ton of hard work and perhaps drastic measures.

A few hours later, Yahoo’s Jeff Passan dropped an absolute must-read that expands on that topic. Through weeks of interviews with league officials, agents and players, he explains why the free agent market is as bad as it is for players right now and why so many of them and so many fans seem not to understand just how bad a spot the players are in, business wise.

Passan keys on the media’s credulousness regarding teams’ stated rationales for not spending in free agency. About how, with even a little bit of scrutiny, the “[Team] wants to get below the luxury tax” argument makes no sense. About how the claim that this is a weak free agent class, however true that may be, does not explain why so few players are being signed.  About how so few teams seem interested in actually competing and how fans, somehow, seem totally OK with it.

Passan makes a compelling argument, backed by multiple sources, that, even if there is a lot of money flowing around, the fundamental financial model of the game is broken. The young players are the most valuable but are paid pennies while players with 6-10 years service time are the least valuable yet are the ones, theoretically anyway, positioned to make the most money. The owners have figured it out. The union has dropped the ball as it has worried about, well, whatever the heck it is worried about. The killer passage on all of this is damning in this regard:

During the negotiations leading to the 2016 basic agreement that governs baseball, officials at MLB left bargaining stupefied almost on a daily basis. Something had changed at the MLBPA, and the league couldn’t help but beam at its good fortune: The core principle that for decades guided the union no longer seemed a priority.

“It was like they didn’t care about money anymore,” one league official said.

Personally, I don’t believe that they don’t care about money anymore. I think the union has simply dropped the ball on educating its membership about the business structure of the game and the stakes involved with any given rule in the CBA. I think that they either so not understand the financial implications of that to which they have agreed or are indifferent to them because they do not understand their scope and long term impact.

It’s a union’s job to educate its membership about the big issues that may escape any one member’s notice — like the long term effects of a decision about the luxury tax or amateur and international salary caps — and convince them that it’s worth fighting for. Does the MLBPA do that? Does it even try? If it hasn’t tried for the past couple of cycles and it suddenly starts to now, will there be a player civil war, with some not caring to jeopardize their short term well-being for the long term gain of the players who follow them?

If you care at all about the business and financial aspects of the game, Passan’s article is essential.