While the Chicago Tribune’s Dave Van Dyck reports the Cubs have requested permission to speak with Padres skipper Bruce Bochy, Van Dyck’s colleague Ed Sherman brings news of the scariest letter of reference since Stephon Marbury spoke on behalf of Alex Rodriguez.

“We would have the two best managers in the same city,” Ken Harrelson said. “If Lou comes, the Cubs’ upside could be huge.”

“He’s not going to do it unless he thinks he can turn it around,” Harrelson said. “The money is secondary. He wants the challenge of getting the World Series ring.”

If Piniella does succeed Dusty Baker, Harrelson predicts he will “change the whole culture of the organization.”

Piniella is a proven winner, Harrelson said. Much like Guillen with the White Sox, Piniella manages without fear.

“Lou doesn’t manage to cover his rear,” Harrelson said. “Managing is tougher than it ever has been. You’re dealing with high-priced millionaires who don’t care what the manager says. Most of the managers today either are afraid of the press or afraid of the players, or both. Lou’s not afraid of either. He’s going to run the show.”

Harrelson called Piniella the best in baseball at working matchups and he lauded him for being able to assemble a bullpen.

“Baseball is drowning in statistics and starving for knowledge,” Harrelson said. “Lou has the knowledge.”

Here’s a fun statistic for the Hawk : Lou’s record with Tampa Bay was 200-285. Shame he didn’t take that job for the challenge of winning a World Series.