Cubs showed today why this talented but dysfunctional team needs new leadership and why the timing for Sandberg couldn't be better. Piniella is now a lame duck as is this team's nucleus. Piniella did the right thing by giving the Cubs the excuse to honor him and then let him retire early. It also gives the Cubs the opportunity to see how Sandberg would do for the 60 plus days. More----
There in turn will mean that the Cubs will have to bring up minor league prospects to fill roles, again something a lame duck retiring manager will grow further disinterested in working with. This disinterest has become self-evident over the season besides today's inability to drive in a run from 3rd base with one out there have been many small signs of Piniella missing tactical plays be they keeping a spent starter in one batter too long or not being one step ahead in substituting. Meaning this does not bode well for next year in taking the opportunity to see and even develop a player for next year.
Therefore when the Cubs trade Lilly, Theriot, Fukudome, Nady, and possibly Fontenot (all rumored deals either desired or sought) the real short term value will be to open up playing time for minor league prospects ready to be tested. Lilly's trade could allow Jackson or Coleman valuable start, (and I suspect that Silva is headed for the DL opening another spot as well). Theriot's move could allow the Cubs to bring up Barney who appears to have earned a spot on the 25 man will his almost daily production. Unloading Fukudome would allow the Cubs to bring up either Fuld or Aducci, while letting go Nady could let us look a La Hair or Chirinos (who will be taken next year in a Rule V Draft for sure unless he is on the 40-man. These moves also do not include moves in the bullpen as well.
These are all short term benefits, more importantly is the important component of establishing Sandberg as the new man in control. This control will be more about the veterans who will remain, starting with Ramirez (if he stays), Soriano and Soto. As important will be Sandberg re-uniting with Castro and Colvin and demanding to "play the game the right way". The one player I am not concerned about is Byrd.
This kind of timing does not come often. Piniella gave the Cubs the opportunity. They could honor him, come to terms with an orderly transition by August 1st and even have a Lou Day. The thing is Sandberg could be tested and firmly establish himself as the man.