Lou Piniella is not know for his patience.
Even as Piniella has faced constant questions about his lost "fire" -- as if such a thing is needed to be a good manager anyway -- he has maintained one of his oldest coaching traits: he wants production now.
So it's probably a minor miracle that Kevin Gregg, the Cubs' imported offseason closer, lasted this long. Finally, mercifully, Piniella has apparently decided to pull the plug.
"I think we're going to make some changes as far as what we're going to do in late innings," Piniella told the media Monday night. "We'll have some more tomorrow." On the subject of tough losses Piniella said, "I can name a few of them, believe me," Piniella said. "They all end the same way, with a home run ball."
We suppose that qualifies as "fiery," yes?
That Gregg is only now losing his job is a testament either to how little trust Piniella places in Angel Guzman and Carlos Marmol or to how much sway Jim Hendry -- whose decision to let Kerry Wood leave and acquire Kevin Gregg instead -- has over Piniella's decisions. We're betting it's the former. Either way, Gregg was doomed: His Aug. 3 back-to-back walk-off home runs would have seemed to send him back to middle relief, but he managed to survive, only to give up four two-out runs Monday night after Ted Lilly spent all game pitching a shutout.
You don't have to be impatient to want to try something else, and that's clearly Piniella's move here. It has to happen. The only problem is whether Marmol can pick up the slack. He's been the Cubs' closer-in-waiting for years now, but his stuff isn't nearly as sharp as it's been in the past. Piniella might find what he probably suspected all along: Kevin Gregg is the worst closer the Cubs have, except for all the others.
Eamonn Brennan is a Chicago-based writer, editor and blogger. You can also read him at Yahoo! Sports, Mouthpiece Sports Blog, and Inside The Hall, or at his personal site, eamonnbrennan.com. Follow him on Twitter.