Grading The Chicago Cubs, Part III

Manager Lou Piniella did not receive the highest grade among the Cubs' coaches.  Who did?

Yeah, Lou, this year stunk!

Lou Piniella, manager, C- -- The Cubs finished with a winning record for the third straight time for the first time in my lifetime.  It is the saving grace to what was otherwise disappointing season with Piniella at the helm.  He allowed Mike Fontenot and Kosuke Fukudome to face left-handed pitching.  Big mistake.  He allowed Kevin Gregg to close games for more than four months.  Unacceptable.  All of his best moves (moving Alfonso Soriano down in the order, playing Jake Fox everyday at third base when Aramis Ramirez went down, removing Gregg from the closer's role, moving Fukudome to the top of the order) came too little too late.  The Lou Piniella of 2007 or 2008 would have made those moves earlier in the season.

If that guy comes back in 2010, the Cubs will be a much better team.

Larry Rothschild, pitching coach, B+ -- Oh, snap.  Dave Duncan Rothschild oversaw a pitching staff that ranked in the top five in the following categories: strikeouts, strikeouts-per-nine innings (2nd), hits-per-nine innings and batting average against (3rd), earned run average, WHIP and ERA+ (5th).

The most astonishing stat might be the team's 94 quality starts, which ranked second in all of baseball.  And to think, the Cubs posted these numbers with only one player that pitched 200 innings, a rookie and without a starter to win at least 15 games.  All while Kevin Gregg and Aaron Heilman were "anchors" of the bullpen and Carlos Marmol and Carlos Zambrano each had off years.

Gerald Perry, Von Joshua; Incomplete -- Neither of these guys stepped to the plate and swung the bat.  But neither of them could solve whatever ailed Chicago's North Side hitters.  It's not their fault Jim Hendry relied on a pair of midgets to play second base and a mentally handicapped right fielder on an everyday basis.