So Lou Piniella is now officially managing the Cubs. I think he’s got some good qualities as a manager, but I’m not a big fan of Sweet Lou, ever since watching a clip of his ugly locker room fight with Rob Dibble back when he was manager of the Reds. Sadly, the YouTube overlords seem to have removed it, but Piniella really goes after the guy, screaming “you don’t want to be treated like a man!” Unfortunately for everyone involved here, I think the Cubs may have more serious problems than a lack of machismo.
Naturally, this has set off rumors that A-Rod will therefore be traded to the Cubs, where he could be reunited with his old Mariners manager and, apparently, surrogate father-figure (was Lou Piniella really the best father figure he could find? What, Randy Johnson wasn’t volatile and crazy enough?). I don't think this is going to happen (SI's John Heyman explains why), and from a baseball perspective it would be a big mistake. It’s hard to say at this point how much of the Rodriguez-doesn’t-fit-in stuff is a blown out of proportion media creation and how much is true, but he’s still one of the best players in the game. That gets said all the time, but I’m not sure people really hear it. Look at the guy's numbers again -- I still do a double-take. He did flop in the playoffs, no doubt, but so did most of his teammates; so did the As. The common factor there, of course, is the Tigers’ pitching. So unless the Yankees can get a truly top-of-the-line young starting pitcher in exchange – and I’m not at all convinced that Carlos Zambrano would be enough – they’re not going to come out on top here. Not having to deal with the endless soap opera that A-Rod's stay in New York has devolved into might make it almost worth a bad trade… but not quite, I think.
The Mets, meanwhile, are in some trouble – facing elimination tonight with John Maine going against Chris Carpenter. (Glavine wasn’t bad yesterday but Jeff Weaver, of all people, outpitched him. What the hell? The last few postseasons have seen a who’s-who of mediocre Yankee castoffs suddenly turn in ace performances; at this rate I expect to see Carl Pavano throw a no-hitter to outduel a stellar Ted Lilly in the 2009 Series). And if the Mets manage to win tonight, they’ll have another elimination game tomorrow in which TBD will face Jeff Suppan: Steve Trachsel’s Game 3 start was so appalling it was blocked by my V-Chip, Darren Oliver is a long reliever for a reason (last start: 2004), and Oliver Perez is enough of a gamble on full rest. I think the Mets are unquestionably a better team than the Cardinals when at full strength, and not by a small margin -- but when a team loses two of its starting pitchers less than a week before the playoffs, well, suddenly you need a lot of luck. I’m off to Shea now, rabbit’s foot in tow.