In what was an expected move as we wrote about the other day, the Cubs hired Mike Quade to manage the Cubs for the next 2 seasons. The Cubs made it official this morning and will have a press conference at 3PM today at the Friendly Confines to introduce their new skipper. Quade managed the Cubs to a 24-13 record during the Cubs final 37 games after taking over for Lou Pinella who abruptly left the team to tend to pressing family matters on the home front. The 24-13 mark was the 2nd best of any major league team during that time frame at the end of the 2010 MLB season. Quade had been the Cubs 3rd base coach under Pinella since 2007 when Pinella was first hired. Quade has spent 9 seasons with the Cubs organization and he managed the Cubs Triple-A Iowa franchise from 2003 through 2006. Quade signed a 2-year deal with the Cubs and the Cubs have a club option for the 2013 MLB season as well. I’m sure we’ll get some sound bites from Quade as the day progresses, but this what he said back in August after he had managed 7 games as the Cubs “interim” skipper — ”
Quade beat out Ryne Sandberg – the fan favorite Hall of Famer – who has been managing at the Cubs minor league level for the past 4 seasons. Sandberg was named Pacific Coast League Manager of the Year after guiding Triple-A Iowa to an 82-62 record this past season. He also led the Double-A Tennessee Cubs team to the Southern League championship series a year ago in 2009. His first 2 years as a minor league manager were spent with the Class A Peoria Cubs. Sandberg envisioned managing in the Cubs farm system for a few years before taking over the reins of the Cubs major league team, but it doesn’t look like it is going to work out exactly that way. Sandberg had this to say about the Cubs decision to hire Quade on the Waddle & Silvy ESPN Radio 1000 show this morning: “From my standpoint, I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t disappointed. It’s a disappointing day for sure… I think now it’s digesting everything and kind of change the wheels and turn in a different direction. I was focused on something, and it’s just taking it all in… I spent the four years in the minor leagues to manage at the major league level, and that’s where my heart is and that’s what my next step is. That’s where I look next. So I’ll take it a step at a time and see if there’s another opportunity out there and go from there. I wish Mike Quade the best; I wish the Cubs the best and the Ricketts family.” Without saying it, it’s clear that Sandberg will not be back with the Cubs next season. Look for him to land a job at the major league level as a bench coach with a high profile manager to get some “major league” experience so he can take the next step forward in his managerial career.
Back to Quade, he clearly earned the respect of his players – both young and old. He even benched up and coming star Starlin Castro for 2 games when he forget how many outs there were when he failed to run out a groundball and grounded into an inning-ending double play. So he expects 100% from his players all the time – whether you are a super star or the 25th man on the roster. He expects accountability as well, which could be a good thing for this Cubs team. Cubs starter Ryan Dempster – whom I respect a ton – had nothing but the highest praise for Quade -“It’s awesome, they couldn’t have made a better hire. He’s a great pick to manage this team… He did a great job when he was given the opportunity. It’s a great move for the organization and for us as a team. I’m extremely thrilled that he got the opportunity here, because if it was going to be here, it was going to be somewhere else… I know that Ryno has done a really good job in the minor leagues so far. He’s only got a few years managing down there, and he’s done really well. I’m sure the more experience he gets, the better he’s going to be. He was a tremendous player and is a tremendous person, and that experience is only going to make him better. I know people would love to see Sandberg back in a Cubs uniform and at Wrigley Field every day, and maybe that’s as much the infatuation as it is with who’s going to make the best manager. And I’m not saying Ryno won’t be a great manager, I just know Mike is a tremendous one and we’re lucky to have him.” WOW – a ringing endorsement for Quade from one of the most respected starting pitcher on the staff.
I’m still not entirely convinced he is the right man for the job long-term. I keep going back to the fact that this guy might not even been considered a candidate if Pinella didn’t abruptly step down as the Cubs skipper on August 22nd. Cubs GM Jim Hendry opted to go with Quade instead of bench coach Alan Trammell to run the team through the final 37 games of the season, so because he did a good job, he became the front runner for the job. Does that mean that if Hendry had given the job to Trammell and the Cubs went 24-13, then he would have been the best man for the job? It all seems a little odd to me, but this is just another example of why I think Hendry needs to go. I cannot wait until his contract comes up after the 2012 MLB season. Think that has anything to do with Quade’s contract being a 2-year deal. It’s pretty clear that unless something dramatic happens over the next 2 seasons in a positive direction, both Hendry and Quadew ill be looking for work outside of the Cubs organization.