Having already wrestled one universally despised baseball commentator (Rob Dibble), Cubs manager Lou Piniella (above) sounds itching to take a crack at former Mets GM Steve Phillips.

Phillips questioned Piniella’s handling of Kosuske Fukodome last season, telling suspender-maven Chet Coppock of WMVP, “Lou doesn’t have a great deal of patience for assimilation into culture, assimilation into the team…he is just not the most patient guy around, and he tends to verbalize his frustrations in an angry way.”  With the following riposte, as quoted by the Sun-Times’ Paul Sullivan, Sweet Lou, uh, verbalized his frustations in an angry way.

“I don’t have much respect for Steve Phillips,” Piniella said after hearing the comment Monday. “Let him be around a little more and see what transpires before he makes assumptions. I’ve lost total respect for this guy. If he had something to say, let him say it to me.”

“Let him be around a little more”?  Precisely what is Piniella proposing?  Sullivan rightly points out that Fukodome was given 501 at bats last season, but Phillips is hardly the observer who thought the manager’s burial of the Japanese outfielder after the NLDS was less than constructive.  I’m hardly the sort who enjoys defending Phillips but if all ESPN analysts are obliged to critique managers face-to-face before speaking publicly, that doesn’t quite lend itself to interesting debate. As painful as it may be to admit, Phillips is paid handsomely to provide his opinions. That he’s often full of shit for living isn’t really the point.