Don't worry Steve Stone, ex-managers are now criticizing Lou Piniella too

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Lou Piniella reacted harshly (and then some) to Steve Stone last week in large part because he didn’t feel Stone was qualified to criticize him given that he’d never managed in the majors himself.

Piniella’s exact words were:

We’ve got a lot of people here that haven’t managed and won any games in the big leagues, but they know everything. You know? They really do. I think they should try to put the uniform on and try this job and see how they like it when they get criticized unjustly.

And Steve Stone? He’s got enough problems doing what he does with the White Sox. What job has he had in baseball besides talking on television or radio? What has he done? Why isn’t he a farm director and bring some kids around? Why isn’t he a general manager, and put the uniform on and been a pitching coach? Why hasn’t he been a field manager.

Bob Brenly is presumably a different story, because prior to becoming the Cubs’ television analyst he managed four seasons in the majors, with a winning record in three of those years, and won the World Series in 2001. Brenly, like Stone, has some criticism and words of advice for Piniella:

The lack of timely hitting affects every team in the major leagues at one point or another, but it’s the lack of solid fundamentals on a daily basis that really gets to me, and I think gets to a lot of fans. It’s not playing the game the way it needs to be played to give yourself a chance to win.

Asked specifically about Piniella’s decision to let Carlos Zambrano hit for himself in a key spot and then remove him from the game before the next half-inning, Brenly said:

I wasn’t particularly enamored with that move. I said it on the air, Zambrano is a good hitting pitcher, there’s no question about that. But let’s don’t get carried away. I would much rather have the worst pinch-hitter I have available off the bench up at the plate rather than any pitcher.

Brenly stopped short of calling out Piniella, instead talking about organization-wide issues, but he wouldn’t be the first color commentator to potentially line himself up to replace the manager of a struggling team he’s covering. Piniella wants to be criticized only by people who’ve done his job and now he’s getting exactly that.

Royals fire manager Mike Matheny after 65-97 end to season

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. – Manager Mike Matheny and pitching coach Cal Eldred were fired by the Kansas Cty Royals on Wednesday night, shortly after the struggling franchise finished the season 65-97 with a listless 9-2 loss to the Cleveland Guardians.

The Royals had exercised their option on Matheny’s contract for 2023 during spring training, when the club hoped it was turning the corner from also-ran to contender again. But plagued by poor pitching, struggles from young position players and failed experiments with veterans, the Royals were largely out of playoff contention by the middle of summer.

The disappointing product led owner John Sherman last month to fire longtime front office executive Dayton Moore, the architect of back-to-back American League champions and the 2015 World Series title team. Moore was replaced by one of his longtime understudies, J.J. Picollo, who made the decision to fire Matheny hours after the season ended.

Matheny became the fifth big league manager to be fired this year.

Philadelphia’s Joe Girardi was replaced on June 3 by Rob Thomson, who engineered a miraculous turnaround to get the Phillies into the playoffs as a wild-card team. The Angels replaced Joe Maddon with Phil Nevin four days later, Toronto’s Charlie Montoyo was succeeded by John Schneider on July 13 and the Rangers’ Chris Woodward by Tony Beasley on Aug. 15.

In addition, Miami’s Don Mattingly said late last month that he will not return next season.