Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Jim Williams: Nats could be right fit for Piniella, Girardi

Jim Williams, The Examiner
Oct 10, 2006 5:00 AM (1 hr 24 mins ago)
Current rank: # 35 of 4,787 articles

WASHINGTON - The two names at the top of the Nationals wish list to replace Frank Robinson as manager are making headlines in other cities.

The New York media has Lou Piniella replacing Joe Torre after the Yankees’ first-round playoff exit by the Yankees even though Torre hasn’t been fired ... yet.

Meanwhile, in Chicago they were talking about how nice it would be to have former Marlins skipper Joe Girardi in the Cubs dugout.

So what are the Nationals, chopped liver?

FOX’s public relations team was quick to get out a statement for Piniella: “There are reports from the New York Daily News that Joe Torre may be replaced as Yankee manager by Lou Piniella. We spoke today to Lou in San Francisco where he is getting ready to call the ALCS on FOX. Lou said he hasn’t spoken to the Yankees and is ‘stunned’ at the report.”

Piniella to the Yankees is a logical choice but far from a done deal. His agent, Alan Nero, insists his client isn’t thinking about replacing Torre. A number of baseball and media sources say Piniella is “very interested in the vacant Nationals’ job.”

There would be tremendous pressure on Piniella to win a World Series right away should he return to the Bronx. At age 63, working in Washington might seem a bit more calming to “Sweet Lou.” But if Torre does get bounced, it will be interesting to see if Lou can say no to the Yankees.

In Chicago, Girardi is the home town boy the Cubs want to replaced Dusty Baker. But the Tribune Company, which owns the Cubs, is in deep financial trouble. Improving the Cubs is not a top priority. In fact, rumors began last season that the Tribune Company might sell the Cubs to offset some of their losses in the newspaper and broadcasting business.

As unlikely as it may sound, the Nationals might be a more solid and stable choice than either the Yankees or Cubs.

So don’t yet write off Piniella or Girardi as possible Nationals managers.

Meanwhile, Dusty Baker, Atlanta Braves hitting coach Terry Pendleton and a number of others are on deck should the favorites drop out.

Jim Williams is a seven-time Emmy Award-winning TV producer, director and writer.

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