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.