Lou Piniella has announced his retirement as Chicago Cubs manager, effective at the end of the 2010 season, which has been a disappointment for him and the entire franchise. No successor has yet been announced, although the name of Cubs Hall of Famer Ryne Sandberg, currently managing the Cubs' Triple-A franchise at Iowa, has been mentioned as a strong possibility.
Piniella, who will be 67 next month, took over as Cubs manger following a season away from the game and promptly led them to NL Central division titles in both 2007 and 2008, the latter of which earned him NL Manager of the Year honors. However, both years ended with disappointing sweeps in the Division Series. In 2009, the Cubs finished 83-78, good for second in the Central, and are currently 42-52, fourth in the division.
Via press release from the Cubs, here is Lou's complete statement:
"I couldn’t be more appreciative of the Cubs organization for providing me the opportunity to manage this ballclub," said Piniella. "I’ve had four wonderful years here that I wouldn’t trade for anything in the world. I’ve grown to love the city and the fans but at my age (67 at the end of the season) it will be time to enter a new phase in my life. It will enable me to spend more valuable time with my family – my wife, my kids and my grandchildren. God has blessed me to have been able to work this many years in the game that I love.
"Why make this announcement now? Jim Hendry asked me in recent weeks regarding my future with the team and I told him I had made the decision to retire at the end of the season. Since my decision has now been made, I don’t want to mislead anyone about my intentions when asked in the future.
"But more importantly, announcing my decision now is what’s best for this organization in the long run. It gives Jim Hendry ample time to find the next manager and he doesn’t need to do so in secrecy. The Cubs are one of the greatest organizations in baseball. I care very deeply for this organization and want nothing more than for it to experience present and long-term success. I’m proud of our accomplishments during my time here and this will be a perfect way for me to end my career.
"But let me make one thing perfectly clear: our work is far from over. I want to keep the momentum going more than anything else and win as many games as we can to get back in this pennant race. I’m going to give every effort I have to help this team win and that will remain my sole focus through the rest of the season."