Archive | October, 2010

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Marlon Byrd Rooting for Former Texas Rangers Teammates in World Series 2010

Posted on 30 October 2010 by Lou

Marlon Byrd isn’t hiding who he is rooting for – he wants his former Texas Rangers teammates to get that World Series win.

He doesn’t feel bad about helping the National League get the home field advantage during the 2010 Summer Classic All-Star Game.  But now he wants them to in — “It’s tough watching them lose.  It’s a lot easier watching them win, like they’ve been doing.”

We’ll keep you posted as the World Series continues.

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Ryne Sandberg Will Not Be on Mike Quade’s Coaching Staff – Wrigley Field 10/29/10

Posted on 29 October 2010 by Lou

It’s official – or at least as official as we can make it – Ryne Sandberg will not be a part of new Cubs Manager Mike Quade’s coaching staff.  While neither Quade nor Sandberg have come out and said it, sources close to the situation have indicated that Sandberg will not be a coach on Quade’s staff.

This “official rumor” comes as no surprise at all. Sandberg was devastated that Tom Ricketts and Jim Hendry did not name him the new Cubs manager.  To be subjected to the inferior bench coach job underneath Quade would be way too much to swallow for the Cubs legend and Hall of Famer.  Further, if the team did get off to a rough start for the 1st half of the season, there would be way too much chatter about Sandberg taking over the reigns as the manager.  Throw in the fact that you’d hate to have factions with some guys supporting Quade and some guys supporting Sandberg, this makes all the sense in the world.

We’ll support Quade while he is in charge for 2 years.  If he doesn’t get the job done, Quade and most likely, Hendry will both be gone after the 2012 MLB season.  And then maybe the Cubs can revisit bringing Sandberg back as the manager.

I wish 2011 would get here soon – can’t wait to see if things get worse on the north side or if they just stay the same under Quade.

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Kerry Wood — Back in Cubs Bullpen in 2011? Wrigley Field 10/18/10

Posted on 28 October 2010 by Lou

Could Kerry Wood be back with the Chicago Cubs in 2011 and beyond?  It’s unclear, but that option became available when the New York Yankees officially declined the club’s $11 million option to sign Wood for the 2011 MLB schedule.  No big surprise there, and while Wood could potentially re-sign with the Yankees at a lower dollar amount, this does open the door for a potential return to Chicago after spending seasons with the Cleveland Indians and Yankees.

Wood was lights-out for the Yankees during the 2nd half of the 2010 baseball season and it appears that he can pitch on a consistent basis despite the tear in his right shoulder.  In 24 games with the evil Yankees, Wood posted a 0.69 ERA and became one of Manager Joe Girardi’s most trusted relievers down the stretch.  Wood still has residences in both Chicago and Arizona and he has already confirmed that his primary residence is Chicago.  With his oldest child starting school in the Chicago area, could we see Wood being willing to come back to the north side of Chicago as the veteran presence the bullpen so desperately needs.  With the plethora of young arms in the bullpen, Wood would be a perfect role model for a lot of these players.  I’m getting a little giddy about having Wood back on the Cubs.  Assuming that they don’t have to spend more than a few million dollars on the 34-year old reliever, this seems like a no-brainer to me.  Let’s just hope the Ricketts Family and GM Jim Hendry see it that way too…

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Mike Quade Looking for Bench Coach After Alan Trammell Departure – Wrigley Field 10/27/10

Posted on 27 October 2010 by Lou

Mike Quade is officially looking for a bench coach to work with him during the next 2 seasons on the North Side of Chicago at the Friendly Confines of Wrigley Field.

Alan Trammell – Lou Pinella’s bench coach for the last 4 seasons – has joined Kirk Gibson’s staff as the bench coach for the Arizaona Diamondbacks.  Two former Cubs – Don Baylor (hitting coach) and Eric Young (1st base coach) are also on that staff.

The Cubs and Quade do not expect Triple-A Manager Ryne Sandberg to want to take the Cubs bench coaching job for the 2011 season given his managerial aspirations.  Although Sandberg is still the Triple-A Iowa manager, everyone expects Sandberg to leave the organization to take a major league coaching position elsewhere.

Larry Rothschild will be back as the Cubs pitching coach.  Rudy Jaramillo will be back as the Cubs hitting coach.  Bullpen coach Lester Strode, 1st base coach Ivan DeJesus and 3rd base coach Bob Dernier are all expected back as well.

We’ll keep you posted as soon as we hear who might be the front runner for Quade’s bench coach job in 2011 and beyond…

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Barry Zito for Alfonso Soriano – Good Idea that Likely Won’t Happen

Posted on 26 October 2010 by Lou

Start the rumor mill – Alfonso Soriano traded to the San Francisco Giants is the latest rumor to hit the blocks despite the fact that the Giants are in the World Series.  Sure Zito was left off the Giants’ playoff roster and is still owed $64 under his contract (which includes a buyout of $7 million for the 2014 MLB season), but that doesn’t mean that the Giants want to get rid of him.  Overall, Zito went 9-14 with a 4.15 ERA and 1.34 WHIP in 33 starts. But after a win on July 16th, Zito lost 10 of his last 11 decisions in 15 starts.  Not a good trend at the end of the season as the innings piled up for Zito.

While health has always been an issue for Zito, as of late, the 32-year old has been relatively healthy with 180 innings pitched in 2008; 192 innings pitched in 2009 and 199 1/3 innings pitched in 2010.  Not bad at all.  He has only won 29 games during that span, but a change of scenery could help the lefty.  He has started twice at Wrigley Field, going 1-1 with a 3.75 ERA.  He has a 5.22 ERA in 40 starts against NL Central teams during his career.

Money-wise, it comes out fairly even — Soriano is owed $72 million over the next 4 years.  But the key hold up could be the fact that each player holds a full no-trade clause.  So it would take both players’ consent before any deal could get done.

I’m ready for Soriano to be gone.  It would put to bed the idea of Tyler Colvin moving to 1st base and it would also encourage GM Jim Hendry to make a move to sign Adam Dunn this winter or start working on Tom Ricketts to get ready to open up his checkbook to sign either Adrian Gonzalez or Prince Fielder next off-season.  But this just doesn’t seem like the right fit.  I’m still convinced that Hendry should try his hardest to work the Yankees to take Soriano off the Cubs hands.  The Yankees missed out on the World Series and they could use a designated hitter like Soriano who still has some pop left in his bat.  Throw in $5 million a year for the Yankees to take Soriano without asking for too much back from the Yankees, and the Yankees would likely think a $12 million DH is a bargain.  Soriano used to play for the Yankees too, so it’s clear he can  handle the bright lights of the Big Apple…

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World Series – Texas Rangers v. San Francisco Giants – AT&T Park – Game 1 Wednesday 10/27/10

Posted on 25 October 2010 by Lou

The Cubs aren’t in it, but that doesn’t mean the World Series isn’t happening.  I always love the World Series no matter who is in it.

The 2010 World Series kicks off at AT&T Park  in San Francisco on Wednesday, October 27th.  Cliff Lee of the Texas Rangers will square off against Tim Lincecum of the San Francisco Giants.  First pitch is scheduled for 6:57PM Chicago time on Fox.

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Kerry Wood Getting Job Done for Yankees in 2010

Posted on 23 October 2010 by Lou

Former Cubs pitcher Kerry Wood is making the most of his chance with the New York Yankees in 2010.  After a so-so 1st season with the Cleveland Indians in 2009 (3-3, 20 saves, 6 blown saves, 4.25 ERA and 1.38 WHIP), Wood’s performance with the Indians in 2010 was downright awful.  Wood appeared in just 23 games for the Tribe, going 1-4 with 8 saves but 3 blown saves.  He walked 11 hitters and struck out 18 in 20 innings pitched, paving the way for his hefty 6.30 ERA and 1.60 WHIP.

Because of their own bullpen issues, the New York Yankees made the surprise move to take a shot on Wood at the July 31st trading deadline.  And boy has it paid off.  Wood made 24 appearances for the Yankees from August 1st on, tossing 26 innings with a 0.69 ERA and 1.23 WHIP.  He struck out 31 batters while walking only 18.  After his 2nd Yankees appearance in which he gave up 1 earned run, he made 21 straight appearances without allowing a single run (earned or unearned) before he finally gave up a run on the final game of the season against the Red Sox at Fenway Park.  He has been just as good in the post-season.  He has pitched 6 innings in 6 appearances, giving up just 1 earned run on 5 hits and 3 walks with 7 K’s.  In the ALCS against the Rangers, Wood has pitched 4 scoreless innings.

Manager Joe Girardi – who played 2 seasons with Wood with the Chicago Cubs – has been thrilled with having the veteran on his club – “I had caught him so I remember when he had outstanding stuff. But I don’t think anyone ever thinks you’re going to get a reliever that for two months has an ERA under 1.00.  Some of the best relievers of all time don’t do that.  I mean, I thought he would help us, but I never would have thought he could help us this much.”

Wood has cherished his opportunity, and even with his team down 3-1 in the ALCS against the Rangers, Wood knows better than anyone that anything can happen in a 7-game series (as we all painfully remember when the Cubs blew that 3-1 NLCS lead to the Florida Marlins back in 2004) – “There weren’t any expectations when I came over here.  I just came with the attitude that if I was ready and put up enough zeroes, maybe something would happen for me here… You just keep grinding, keep grinding, in the hopes that eventually, something good happens…  I was on a team that was up 3-1 and we didn’t get it done, so I know it can happen.  And we had a much better team.  Obviously, the deeper a series goes, anything can happen.”

Congrats Kerry – we wish you the best of luck and hope you get that World Series Ring — even if it’s with the New York Yankees.

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Mike Quade Jim Hendry’s Guy All Along – No Need to Wait for Joe Girardi

Posted on 22 October 2010 by Lou

ESPN Radio 1000’s Waddle & Silvy show has had some great guests this week.  Mike Quade – the new Cubs Manager; Ryne Sandberg – the Hall of Famer Cubs legend who Quade beat out; and on Thursday, Cubs GM Jim Hendry.  When asked the most exciting question about why Hendry didn’t go after another big name manager or wait for Joe Girardi to finish up his managerial duties with the New York Yankees who are still battling te Texas Rangers in the ALCS, Hendry had a simple and boring answer.  Hendry simply said — “At the end of the day, it wouldn’t have mattered.  Mike Quade was our guy.  Mike Quade was the guy we felt deserved the job… The respect he’s earned over the years, even though he wasn’t a household name, and the things he did in that clubhouse behind the scenes that translated into a great effort on the field and the respect our players have given him, I thought was quite admirable.”

WOW – you would rather have Quade than a major league manager that has been successful with 2 different organizations and is coming off of a World Series Championship on the game’s biggest stage with the Yankees in New York?

Unbelievable.  That answer just confirms my belief that Hendry has done his time here in Chicago and should be let go as soon as possible so that this organization can get back to its winning ways.

Now I know that Hendry couldn’t say that “we didn’t think we had a shot in hell of landing Girardi” or “the Ricketts Family was too cheap to go after a big name manager when they still owe me, Alfonso Soriano, Carlos Zambrano, Kosuke Fukudome a boat load of money to be sub-par employees of the Cubs organization”, but I would have liked something more than he gave us.  Oh well.  It’s clear Hendry knows he is on his way out.  He has 2 years left on his deal and Quade’s deal was a 2-year gig.  My bet is still on Hendry and Quade both being replaced by the end of the 2012 MLB season.  Then maybe we’ll see Ryne Sandberg or Girardi managing the Cubs with a clean slate and plenty of payroll to bring in some quality players with fair and realistic contracts – something we haven’t seen in 4 years under the Hendry regime…

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Quade Quotes & His Thoughts on Ryne Sandberg – Mike Quade Wrigley Field 10/21/10

Posted on 21 October 2010 by Lou

Just a few days after the Cubs hiring of Mike Quade as their new manager, I’m learning more and more about the guy that I like.  I like that he’s down to earth.  I like that he expects accountability, from himself AND his players.  I like that the players respect him and have come out to support the hire.  I like that he will rely upon the numbers and statistics, but will also manage with his gut and instincts.  An example – he told a story of how they were looking at Sean Marshall’s numbers against a particular batter late in the season.  The overall numbers were bad, but Quade decided to look deeper into the numbers and he found that Marshall had retired the batter each of the last 9 times he faced him and that most of the bad numbers occurred years ago when Marshall was used as a starting pitcher every so often.  So Quade went with his gut, used Marshall in the situation and he got the guy out again.  It’s stories like that that make you think he’s going to lead the 2011 Cubs team in a way that we haven’t seen a manager do since Lou Pinella did back during the 2nd half of 2007 and in all of 2008.  Pinella essentially gave up after that – during the Milton Bradley fiasco of a year in 2009 and when he decided to leave the team in August 2010 after an atrocious 2010 MLB season.  Something tells me that this Mike Quade guy won’t quit on the job like that – he can’t afford to if he expects to make the most of this golden opportunity.

Here are a few other quotes from Quade — “I’d loved the game and wanted to manage at this level, yeah. But when you get done playing and you’re young and you’re fired up and you’re going, ‘OK, three years, four years. I’ll start moving up the ladder and I’ll be there.’ And then, five years go by. You’re still staying after it. You love what you do. You’re teaching, working and then 10 years go by. You change your goals. All of a sudden, you’re going, ‘Wow, this is a tough gig,’ but all the while getting to do what I love to do… I talk so much about the process with the ballclub and it’s probably the same for me. If it ever get to a point where I said, ‘Gosh, am I going to get it?’ I probably would have walked away.”

Asked how he felt about the negative Cubs history — “But I’ve lived here and I was raised here. I get it. You’re totally aware of it. But it’s not going to do us any good at all as a ballclub or me as a manager or me as a person, to have that anywhere near my thoughts on a daily basis.”  That is the perfect response – let’s just hope he means it and can implement it.

As for his feelings about Ryne Sandberg potentially joining his staff at the major league level – “Having Sandberg join the staff is not impossible, that’s for sure… That would be a unique circumstance, but I’m telling you, everybody is on the table.  I would never say anybody is not available…  That would be a unique situation that Ryne and I would have to talk about. And look, by the way, he’s got other opportunities from what I understand. It’s not only what I want, necessarily, he’s got a lot of things to deal with as well. But we’ll have to see.”  That was a polite and professional way of saying, “not a chance in hell and I hope he goes elsewhere”, but what else was he supposed to say given how badly Sandberg campaigned for the job the last 4 season as he toiled and earned his stripes in the minor leagues.

However, you cut it, Quade has his work cut out for him.  The team really isn’t all that good and with payroll concerns in mind, it will be hard for GM Jim Hendry to add more valuable pieces to the puzzle from the outside.  The Cubs should still be able to draw a free agent or too into the mix (Adam Dunn at 1st base, maybe a starting pitcher or maybe a seasoned veteran reliever), but they will primarily place high expectations on some of the young players that will get considerable playing time in 2011 – Starlin Castro, Tyler Colvin, Andrew Cashner, James Russell, Jeff Samardzija, Blake DeWitt and a few others.  If they put the pieces together, and the players continue to buy into the Quade magic, who knows, maybe we’ll see a team still in contention at the end of the summer.  It’s unlikely, but stranger things have happened…

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Cubs Players Continue to Back Quade Hire – Mike Quade Wrigley Field 10/20/10

Posted on 20 October 2010 by Lou

One thing we know for sure at this point – new Cubs Manager Mike Quade has the respect and backing of all of his players.  Just a day after Ryan Dempster spoke about about what a great manager Quade is, Dempster added a few more praises and Koyie Hill echoed Dempster’s sentiments.

Dempster pointed out that Quade has what it takes to win despite the pressures of managing the Cubs on the North Side of Chicago at the Friendly Confines of Wrigley Field where expectations are always sky high: “Winning cures everything.  It makes you feel better — it’s more fun to go to the ballpark.  I think he just brought that out in us before we started winning.  He made it fun when his record was 0-0.  There are a lot of pressures that come with playing here and managing here and coaching here, and I know he’s as good as anybody to handle that.”

Catcher Koyie Hill endorsed the Quade hire even though his childhood hero growing up was Ryne Sandberg, who lost out on the manager’s job to Quade – “Let’s get one thing straight — Sandberg was my favorite player growing up.  That’s why I wanted to be a Cub.  We have the same agent.  We’ve gone to dinner together over the last 12 years.  I love the guy.  He’s helped me a great deal, talking to him and being around him in Spring Training.  I’ve never played for Sandberg.  I was a big supporter of Quade.  The players, to a man, were big supporters of Quade.  There were a lot of great candidates, but we were all pulling for ‘Q’… I know Sandberg is an iconic figure in the Cubs organization, and we all understand that.  It’s nothing against him at all.  What you saw the last six weeks was as much a part of Q being in charge as it was us playing together.  I think it goes hand in hand and we’re all real happy for Q.”

While Quade is an unknown, it seems like he has the backing of management and his players heading into the 2011 season.  I know he built some good capital by winning 24 of 37 games down the stretch, but that was a different beast than during the 1st 4 months of the season.  The team had nothing to lose – they were out of playoff contention and they knew there was no chance of making the playoffs.  Without that pressure, sometimes it’s easier to take it one day at a time and put a good streak or 2 together.  I’m holding off judgment until we hit at least the All-Star Break in 2011.  Don’t get me wrong, I hope Quade succeeds.  But with that roster and the inability of the Cubs to do too much to tweak that roster because of so many bad contracts, I have my doubts.

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