Probably because we've now been exposed to a nice stretch of winning here, but I can't help but think that Piniella seems to embody most of the traits that I value in a manager.
One, he doesn't seem to tolerate stupid baseball. I think more than anything else, he's stressed to this team that if you want to play, play the game the right way. You hit cutoff men, you have consistently good ab's, you don't throw away outs on the basepaths. I think the team's baseball IQ has improved dramatically under Piniella.
Two, stats matter. It took him awhile to figure it out, but I would think the days of seeing Jones against LHP are pretty much over. He understands matchups, and seems to put players in position to succeed. Again, maybe it just appears that way now that they're winning.
Third, he's doing an excellent job of managing the pitching staff. I'd like to credit Rothschild, but I'm not sure that it's his doing. I loved Piniella's quote after yesterdays game, explaining why he brought Marmol in so early, saying that sometimes you have to save the game in the sixth, or else you won't have a game to save later.
Finally, accountability. During the Dusty era, many of us complained about Baker making excuses for his players poor play. I don't think we've seen much of that this year, aside from some early remarks about the weather. While I don't feel that he's been unduly critical, he's not afraid to say that a player or the team just plain played poorly. Apparently that ruffled a few feathers early on, but it looks like they've adjusted.
IMO, Piniella brings the best of old-school philosophy regarding accountability and how the game must be played, while still respecting the use of statistics and being willing to adopt new ways of thinking.