Cubs

Uncertain of future, Piniella says he'll stay retired

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Uncertain of future, Piniella says he'll stay retired

Tuesday, Dec. 7, 2010
4:18 PM
By Patrick MooneyCSNChicago.comLAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. Lou Piniella has lost weight by going on 25-mile bicycle trips with his buddies. He looks tanned, relaxed and at peace with his decisions.

Last we saw Piniella, tears were streaming down his face. He swore hed never again put on a uniform, one that will be framed and hung up in his office at his new home in Tampa, Fla.

Almost four months after Piniella walked out of the dreary interview room cramped inside Wrigley Field, he insists that hes not going to manage again. You may not believe that because we are conditioned to think that sports figures are addicted to the action and will eventually change their minds.

But Piniella an emotional man known for his honesty didnt leave much open to interpretation on Tuesday at the winter meetings.

Im retired as a manager, Piniella said. I really am. Ive said that when I went to Chicago that it would be my last job and it will be. Thats it. I did it long enough and its time to do other things.

Commissioner Bud Selig invited Piniella, Joe Torre, Cito Gaston and Bobby Cox who left because of a family medical situation to the Swan and Dolphin resort for a news conference to honor an elite class of outgoing managers. Together they won more than 7,500 games and eight World Series titles.

While theres been much speculation about Piniella eventually taking a consultant role with the New York Yankees, there is nothing imminent.

Well see what the future brings, Piniella said. Theres no need to make any decision. I havent really given it any thought. Right now Im just enjoying what Im doing, which is nothing.

The 67-year-old is trying to decompress after a difficult year both personally and professionally. He said he traveled to Mesa, Ariz., for spring training knowing that it would be his final season.

This summer, Piniella was impacted deeply by the deaths of his uncle and Yankees owner George Steinbrenner, a man he considered a father figure.

Piniella left the Cubs on Aug. 22 to take care of his ailing mother, and he felt another loss when Ron Santo died last week. Selig, Cubs chairman Tom Ricketts and WGN Radios Pat Hughes will give eulogies on Friday at Santos funeral. After the service, a procession will lead to Wrigley Field.

We've lost a true friend, and Chicago has lost an icon, Piniella said. I was a manager getting beat this past summer and I had to get him up when we would talk. My life was enriched from knowing Ron Santo for the past four years.

For Piniella, this was a chance to again enjoy the national spotlight, and be remembered for more than his final weeks managing a Cubs team that at the time looked headed toward 100 losses.

Everybody in this room loves talking to Lou. I know I do, Gaston said. Heres a man (who) gave his heart and soul to this game.

Piniella has spent almost his entire adult life packing up for spring training and leaving home just after the Super Bowl. It may feel weird when he doesnt have to. But hes not second-guessing himself.

Im going to have to go somewhere Feb. 14, Piniella said. Im not exactly sure (where) but Im going to have to pack up a suitcase and go somewhere. Yeah, Ill miss it. You always miss it (the competition), the people in the game. But, look, its time. There comes a time in everybodys life when you need to do other things and thats where Im at.

Patrick Mooney is CSNChicago.com's Cubs beat writer. Follow Patrick on Twitter @CSNMooney for up-to-the-minute Cubs news and views.

Why did Kris Bryant get a first-place vote in this year's National League MVP balloting?

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USA TODAY

Why did Kris Bryant get a first-place vote in this year's National League MVP balloting?

Kris Bryant was the 2016 National League MVP. And despite having what could be considered an even better campaign this past season, he finished seventh in voting for the 2017 edition of the award.

The NL MVP was awarded to Miami Marlins outfielder Giancarlo Stanton on Thursday night, a fine choice, though it was nearly impossible to make a poor choice, that's how many fantastic players there were hitting the baseball in the NL this season.

After Stanton, Cinicinnati Reds first baseman Joey Votto finished second, earning the same amount of first-place votes and losing out to Stanton by just one point. Then came Arizona Diamondbacks first baseman Paul Goldschmidt, Colorado Rockies third baseman Nolan Arenado, Rockies outfielder Charlie Blackmon and Washington Nationals third baseman Anthony Rendon ahead of Bryant.

But there was someone who thought Bryant deserved to repeat as the NL MVP. Yes, Bryant earned a first-place vote — as did everyone else mentioned besides Rendon, for that matter — causing a bit of a social-media stir considering the Cubs third baseman, despite his great season, perhaps wasn't as standout a candidate as some of the other guys who finished higher in the voting.

So the person who cast that first-place vote for Bryant, MLB.com's Mark Bowman, wrote up why he felt Bryant deserved to hoist the Kenesaw Mountain Landis Memorial Baseball Award for the second straight year.

"In the end, I chose Bryant because I believe he made the greatest impact, as his second-half production fueled the successful turnaround the Cubs experienced after the All-Star break," Bowman wrote.

"Though I don't believe the MVP must come from a playoff contender, in an attempt to differentiate the value provided by each of these three players (Bryant, Votto and Stanton), I chose to reward the impact made by Bryant, who produced the NL's fourth-best OPS (.968) after the All-Star break, when the Cubs distanced themselves from a sub-.500 record and produced an NL-best 49 wins."

It's easy for Cubs fans and observers to follow that logic, as the Cubs took off after the All-Star break following a disappointing first half. As good as Bryant was all season long, his second-half numbers, as Bowman pointed out, were especially great. He hit .325 with a .421 on-base percentage and a .548 slugging percentage over his final 69 games of the regular season, hitting 11 home runs, knocking out 21 doubles and driving in 35 runs during that span.

Perhaps the craziest thing about this year's MVP race and Bryant's place in it is that Bryant was just as good if not better than he was in 2016, when he was almost unanimously named the NL MVP. After slashing .292/.385/.554 with 39 homers, 102 RBIs, 35 doubles, 75 walks and 154 strikeouts in 2016, Bryant slashed .295/.409/.537 with 29 homers, 73 RBIs, 38 doubles, 95 walks and 128 strikeouts in 2017.

Of course, the competition was much steeper this time around. But Bryant was given the MVP award in 2016 playing for a 103-win Cubs team that was bursting with offensive firepower, getting great seasons from Anthony Rizzo (who finished third in 2016 NL MVP voting), as well as Dexter Fowler and Ben Zobrist. While the Cubs actually scored more runs this season and undoubtedly turned it on after the All-Star break on a team-wide basis, Bryant was far and away the best hitter on the team in 2017, with many other guys throughout the lineup having notably down years and/or experiencing down stretches throughout the season. Hence, making Bryant more, say it with me, valuable.

So Bowman's argument about Bryant's impact on the Cubs — a team that still scored 822 runs, won 92 games and advanced to the National League Championship Series — is a decently convincing one.

Check out Bowman's full explanation, which dives into some of Bryant's advanced stats.

Game on as Jake Arrieta, Wade Davis and Alex Cobb turn down qualifying offers

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AP

Game on as Jake Arrieta, Wade Davis and Alex Cobb turn down qualifying offers

During the middle of Jake Arrieta’s 2015 Cy Young Award campaign, super-agent Scott Boras compared the emerging Cubs pitcher to another client – Max Scherzer – in the first season of a seven-year, $210 million megadeal with the Washington Nationals.

Now don’t focus as much on the money – though that obviously matters – as when Scherzer arrived for that Washington press conference to put on his new Nationals jersey: Jan. 21, 2015.

It might take Boras a while to find a new home for his “big squirrel with a lot of nuts in his trees.” Teams have been gearing up for next winter’s monster Bryce Harper/Manny Machado free-agent class for years. Mystery surrounds Shohei Ohtani, Japan’s Babe Ruth, and the posting system with Nippon Professional Baseball. Major League Baseball’s competitive balance tax may also have a chilling effect this offseason.

As expected, Arrieta, All-Star closer Wade Davis and pitcher Alex Cobb were among the group of free agents who went 9-for-9 in declining the one-year, $17.4 million qualifying offer before Thursday’s deadline.

With that formality out of the way, if Arrieta and Davis sign elsewhere, the Cubs will receive two third-round picks in the 2018 draft.

By staying under the $195 million luxury-tax threshold this year, the Cubs would have to give up a second-round draft pick and $500,000 from their international bonus pool to sign Cobb, an obvious target given their connections to the Tampa Bay Rays, or Lance Lynn, another starter on their radar who turned down a qualifying offer from the St. Louis Cardinals.

That collectively bargained luxury-tax system became a central part of the Boras media show on Wednesday outside the Waldorf Astoria Orlando, where he introduced “Playoffville” as his new go-to analogy at the end of the general manager meetings.

“The team cutting payroll is treating their family where they’re staying in a neighborhood that has less protection for winning,” Boras said. “They’re not living in the gated community of Playoffville. Certainly, they’re saving a de minimis property tax, but the reality of it is there’s less firemen in the bullpen. There’s less financial analysts sitting in the press boxes.

“The rooms in the house are less, so obviously you’re going to have less franchise players. When you move to that 12-room home in Playoffville, they generally are filled with the people that allow you to really achieve what your family – your regional family – wants to achieve. And that is winning.”

Boras also represents four other players who rejected qualifying offers – J.D Martinez, Eric Hosmer, Mike Moustakas and Greg Holland – another reason why this could be a long winter of Arrieta rumors, slow-playing negotiations and LOL metaphors.