Posted on 19 October 2010 by Lou
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.
Posted on 18 October 2010 by Lou
Tyler Colvin’s stellar 2010 campaign abruptly ended when he suffered a chest laceration and collapsed lung courtesy of a splintered bat at the end of September. Colvin’s recovery has been smooth and he is getting ready for his wedding and honeymoon in November. He does not expect any setbacks when he begins “Colvin Camp” after his return from his honeymoon – strength and conditioning coach Tim Buss will lead the camp in Mesa, Arizona once again. The Cubs have no plans to make Colvin play winter ball given his productive season and the need for him to continue building strength after his freak injury.
When Manager Lou Pinella finally gave Tyler Colvin the opportunity to play just about every day, he truly blossomed as a player. A late season slump hurt his overall numbers, but you can’t complain with the rookie’s final 2010 numbers — 135 games, 358 at-bats, .254 batting average, .316 on-base percentage, 20 HR’s, 5 triples, 56 RBI’s and 60 runs scored. He’ll have to work on his eye during the winter and in Spring Training 2011 so that he can improve that on-base percentage which is a little low – 3.16 because of 30 walks and a hefty 100 K’s. Colvin just turned 25 in September, however, so he still has plenty of time to continue to mature and grow and get more and more comfortable at the plate each and every season. You also have to love the 6 steals in 7 attempts – it gives a glimpse of what is possible once he irons out the art of hitting.
Let’s hope GM Jim Hendry can find a way to move either Kosuke Fukudome or Alfonso Soriano at some point during the off-season. Fukudome will be the easier one to move because he only has 1 year left on his contract, but the Cubs will likely have to eat a good chunk of either player’s salary in any trade. The Cubs will need Colvin to get at least 500 at-bats playing the outfield everyday if they expect for him to continue his development at the major league level at the Friendly Confines of Wrigley Field.
Posted on 16 October 2010 by Lou
Is Mike Quade the front runner for the Cubs managerial job – all signs point towards a Quade hire in the upcoming weeks.
One candidate – Eric Wedge – was hired by the Seattle Mariners on Friday.
In a recent statement sent to Cubs season ticket holders about the 2010 MLB season and what lies ahead for the Cubs organization, the Ricketts Family singled out Mike Quade for the incredible work he did as Cubs interim manager during the final 37 games of the 2010 MLB season. Quade guided the Cubs to a 24-13 mark during that stretch, which was the 2nd best record of any team in baseball during that period. In the same letter to season ticket holders, Ricketts complemented 2 scouting employees for their solid work in the minor leagues, but he never mentioned the fact that Ryne Sandberg guided his club to within 1 game of the Pacific Coast League playoffs or the fact that he was named PCL Manager of the Year. Are these telling signs that the Ricketts and GM Jim Hendry have already decided to go with Quade? Or are we reading way too much into this.
Things are all quiet on the North Side front these days. Guess we’ll have to wait and see what happens. I like the fact that Quade earned the respect of his players and that the organization likes Quade, who has a ton of major league coaching experience. But the franchise is in a major state of transition right now – the next few years are make or break for the team – and they have young stars like Starlin Castro, Tyler Colvin, Andrew Cashner and James Russell that are on the brink of doing something great. I would hate to put it all in the hands of a coach who has never managed in the major leagues before. Come on, isn’t that the knock on Sandberg? If Pinella hadn’t decided to leave in the middle of August, Quade would never have even gotten a chance to be the Cubs “interim manager”. Would we even be talking about him as a candidate given the fact that he would have had no major league managerial experience either? This has the bad taste of a Cubs debacle written all over it. I hope Quade, Sandberg or the new Cubs manager proves me wrong, but I have a feeling that we are in for another long ride on the north side for the next few years…
Posted on 15 October 2010 by Lou
We wrote about Adam Dunn coming to the north side this off-season more because of the quotes from Carlos Zambrano indicating that he would love to have Dunn on the Cubs because of his big left-handed bat. While it made a lot of sense from several perspectives, I wasn’t sure how likely it would be given the tenuous financial position that the Cubs are in – they had the highest payroll of any National League team in 2010, but only finished with 75 wins.
Now it looks like Dunn has the Cubs on his radar screen and the Cubs have Dunn high on their wish list. But will it happen. Dunn has averaged 40 HR’s and 100 RBI’s a season for each of the last 7 seasons with the Cincinnati Reds and Washington Nationals. At 31 years of age (by the start of the 2011 MLB season), those numbers will likely dip a little bit, but Dunn should still be a nice fit for the Cubs after the departure of Derrek Lee. The Cubs need a left-handed bat to take some of the pressure off of Aramis Ramirez, Marlon Byrd, Geovany Soto and Alfonso Soriano in the middle of the lineup. Dunn is also durable – having missed just a total of 26 games during those 7 years. Dunn also has good numbers at Wrigley Field – 25 HR’s in 66 games – tied for the most with Albert Pujols by any active player for the most home runs by an opponent at the Friendly Confines. He has 41 career home runs against the Cubs, 2nd only to Pujols’ 47 for active players. Sure he strikes out a lot – his 199 strikeouts in 2010 was the 2nd most in the major leagues – and his batting average is never great – .267 in 2009was his career-best – but he would be a major upgrade from Lee at 1st base. His .358 career on-base percentage would fit nicely in the Cubs lineup as well. How you would like to a see a projected lineup of – Starlin Castro, Tyler Colvin, Aramis Ramirez, Adam Dunn, Marlon Byrd, Alfonso Soriano, Geovany Soto, Blake DeWitt? If the Cubs can somehow move Soriano, you c ould see another average-type player in his place on a daily base which would be an upgrade as well.
GM Jim Hendry and Dunn do have some sort of personal relationship from over the years. The Cubs couldn’t sign Dunn back in 2009 (when he signed a 2-year deal with the Nationals), because Derrek Lee was under contract until the end of the 2010 MLB season. Makes sense that Dunn only signed a 2-year stint with the Nats, making look ahead to 2011 when the Cubs would be in the market for a 1st baseman. The Nats never pulled the trigger on a trade to move Dunn this past July before the trading deadline, and their attempts to lure Dunn back at the end of the season went nowhere. Dunn clearly won’t be back in DC – the question is will he end up playing for the Cubs and if so, how long of a deal will he get?
Posted on 14 October 2010 by Lou
Tom Ricketts is doing whatever it takes to make sure that the Cubs continue to call Mesa, Arizona “home” for the foreseeable future. Proposition 420 will be on the general election ballot in November and Ricketts is already in the Mesa area trying to drum up support for the bill. The proposition will allow the city to spend up to $84 million on a new spring training complex for the Cubs. City officials do not want to spend more than $15 million on the project, so the rest of the money will have to be approved by the voters. Any costs over the estimated $84 million will be covered by the Chicago Cubs.
The complex would include a stadium, practice fields and a training facility for the Cubs organization. The Cubs also want to build a retail and entertainment complex to create additional revenue streams near the Cubs site. Part of that entertainment complex could include a brand-new Cactus League museum. The Cubs have provided several pieces of Cubs memorabilia in a temporary exhibit at the Arizona Museum for Youth in order to raise awareness and excitement for the proposed complex. The Cubs are an important piece to the economy of the greater Phoenix area. Current records estimate that the team brings in about $138 million in revenue each year to the area. A new state-of-the-art complex would mean more jobs and even greater annual revenues for the area. But passing Proposition 420 is a big step toward that goal.
Ricketts had this to say about the Cubs staying in Mesa and the potential for a memorabilia museum — “Seeing this collection re-enforces the whole vision. You think about what you have here, what we could probably come up with from our own archives and maybe by asking other teams, it could be something very special and something people would want to see not just during Spring Training but year-round when they visit the area.” Looks like the Cubs are not set in stone in Mesa just yet. If Prop 420 passes, the Cubs could get to use their new digs as early as Spring 2013…
Posted on 13 October 2010 by Lou
In an expected move, Larry Rothschild officially told the Cubs that he would like to continue to be the Cubs pitching coach during the 2011 MLB season. Rothschild has been with the Cubs for 9 seasons. Although the Cubs ranked only 13th in the NL with a 4.18 team ERA, Cubs starters did lead the major leagues with 96 quality starts. Given that the Cubs won only 75 games, that is a pretty incredible statistic. Cubs starters sported solid ERA’s for the most part — Ryan Dempster – 3.85; Ted Lilly – 3.69 (in 18 Cubs starts); Randy Wells – 4.26; Carlos Silva – 4.22; and Carlos Zambrano – 3.33. And with the excellent pitching of closer Carlos Marmol, the Cubs were tied for 7th in the NL with 40 saves – Marmol racked up 37 of them. Sean Marshall also helped improve the Cubs overall team pitching stats with his best year as a major leaguer – 7-5 record plus 22 holds, 2.65 ERA, 1.11 WHIP, 90 K’s and 25 walks in a career-high 80 appearances.
Rothschild is a serviceable pitching coach, but he has been here for 9 years now, and we have not grown an elite pitcher from within during his tenure. There are worse options out there, but Rothschild is still missing something that enables pitchers to really flourish under him. With plenty of young, talented pitchers getting their chance to pitch at the major league level this year and for the foreseeable future, the time is ripe for the new Cubs manager to go in a different direction with a new pitching coach. That might not happen if Mike Quade gets the nod, so let’s hope that Ryne Sandberg gets the job instead. You would have to think that Sandberg would want to bring in some of his own guys to “start from scratch” with a new regime in 2011.
Posted on 12 October 2010 by Lou
The latest Cubs managerial search update revolves around Tom Ricketts’ meeting with Eric Wedge – the former Cleveland Indians manager. The Wedge meeting was scheduled to take place sometime today. Wedge managed the Indians from 2003-2009 and had an overall losing record. He was named Manager of the Year, however, back in 2007.
Now it looks like GM Jim Hendry has narrowed down the managerial search to 4 candidates — Wedge, Ryne Sandberg, Mike Quade and Bob Melvin.
It is believed that Ricketts has already interviewed Sandberg. Sandberg has managed in the Cubs organization for the past 4 years. He was named Pacific Coast League Manager of the Year this year for his work with Triple-A Iowa, but his team missed out on the playoffs when they lost their final game of the season.
Quade also met with Ricketts before he went back to his Florida home after the end of the Cubs season on October 3rd. Quade surprised people with his ability to guide the Cubs to a 24-13 record after taking over for Lou Pinella on August 23rd. That was the 2nd best record of any MLB team during that stretch of 37 games to end the season.
Melvin managed both the Seattle Mariners and the Arizona Diamondbacks, but we have not been able to confirm whether he has met with Ricketts, or if he will.
This probably means that the Cubs have opted to go in a different direction than they have in each of the last 3 hires – Don Baylor, Dusty Baker and Lou Pinella – all old school guys that have been around the block once or twice. That also means that Joe Torre, Tony LaRussa and Bobby Cox were never even contemplated by Hendry or the Ricketts Family. Pretty interesting stuff, but it looks like we could have an announcement sooner rather than later on the managerial decision.
Posted on 11 October 2010 by Lou
The Cubs traded Derrek Lee to the Atlanta Braves in mid-August and Lee is still fortunate enough to be playing baseball in October, something he never got to do during his last 2 seasons with the Cubs on the North Side.
Lee finished the 2010 season with a .260 batting average, 19 HR’s, 80 RBI’s and 80 runs scored. In 39 games with the Braves, Lee hit .287 with 3 HR’s and 24 RBI’s. His .384 on-base percentage with the Braves was well above his career .367 average.
The post-season, however, is not going so well for Lee or his new club. Lee went 0 for 4 in Game 1 with 3 K’s and o for 3 in Game 3 with 1 K and 1 walk, both Braves losses. He did have 2 hits and 2 runs scored in the Braves 5-4 win in Game 2. But the major focus of the series has been on Brooks Conrad’s disastrous 9th inning of Game 3. Conrad – filling in at 3rd base because of injuries to Chipper Jones and Martin Prado – committed 3 errors allowing the Giants to score 2 runs to win the game 3-2.
Lee looks to get the offense on track in Game 4 tonight in Atlanta. Come on, Derrek, we’d love to see you in the NLCS!
Posted on 09 October 2010 by Lou
Larry Rothschild has only a few days left to decide whether he wants to exercise his option to remain the Cubs pitching coach in 2011. He must inform the Cubs by Monday if he wants to stay on as Cubs pitching coach for the 2011 MLB season. The odd thing is, even if he exercises the option, once the Cubs hire a new manager this winter, that new skipper could decided he doesn’t want Rothschild on his staff.
Rothschild’s Cubs pitching staff finished the season with a 4.18 team ERA – good for 13th in the National League. That was the worst that his team has performed in years given the fact that there were so many rookies making their major league debuts in 2010. The team had finished in the top 5 in ERA each of the last 3 seasons. Despite the high ERA, Cubs starting pitchers had the most quality starts in the NL in 2010 with 96. That is a prett high number for a club that won only 75 games.
Despite the good numbers produced over the years by Rothschild, something is wrong there and I think the club would be wise to try to get a new guy in there. He’s had so many talented pitchers of late — Mark Prior, Kerry Wood, Carlos Zambrano — but he never seems to be able to get a consistent 100% out of any of them. The Cubs have some talented young pitcher coming up through the ranks – Andrew Cashner, James Russell, Casey Coleman, Jeff Samardzija just to name a few. It is the perfect time for the “right” pitching coach to take these guys to the next level (just like Leo Mazzoni did with young pitchers like Greg Maddux, John Smoltz, Tom Glavine and Steve Avery back with the Braves in the 1990’s). If Rothschild doesn’t have what it takes to mold these players into the superstars of the future, then the time to part ways with the guy is now.
Keep your head up high, Larry, because I think you have a friend on your side. With the way the Ricketts continue to endorse GM Jim Hendry and the “great” job he has done, it doesn’t seem like the new owners are to anxious to make any rash moves right now. I guess we’ll have to wait 3-5 years and suffer through a few more awful seasons, before they realize they need to make change if they expect to end the longest World Series drought in major league history…
Posted on 08 October 2010 by Lou
Could Adam Dunn end up on the north side playing 1st base for the Cubs at Wrigley Field? One Cubs player – starter Carlos Zambrano – clearly thinks that it could happen. Zambrano had this to say about the Cubs going after Dunn this off-season: “I want that guy. He wants to play for us, not only this year but two years ago. He told me he wants to play at Wrigley Field badly.”
Dunn had another good year for the lowly Nationals in 2010. Dunn hit 38 home runs with 103 RBI’s, while racking up 145 hits in 558 at-bats. He had an outstanding .356 on-base percentage despite striking out 199 times and walking only 77 times. To put it in perspective, in 2010, Aramis Ramirez led the Cubs with 25 HR’s and 83 RBI’s on one of the worst offense in baseball.
Dunn had 2 productive seasons with the Nationals (in 2009, he had a .367 batting average with a .398 on-base percentage; 38 HR’s, 105 RBI’s, 116 walks and 177 strikeouts), but will once again be a free agent this off-season. He turns 31 in November, so you worry about age a little bit, but his drop off from 2009 to 2010 was more in the number of walks/strikeouts and not his offensive output. With the departure of Derrek Lee, Dunn would be a solid addition to the Cubs both defensively and offensively. When Dunn was a free agent back at the start of 2009, the Cubs had long-term deals with Lee at 1st base and Alfonso Soriano in left field and Kosuke Fukudome in right field, so there really wasn’t a position for Dunn with the Cubs. Things have changed since then. Lee is no longer with the ball club. And while there has been some discussion that the Cubs could move Tyler Colvin to 1st base to play everyday, Dunn would make a much better defensive option than Colvin. If the Cubs did bring in Dunn, then they would have to find a position for Tyler Colvin to play everyday. That means finding a team to take on the final year of Fukudome’s contract worth about $12 million. The Cubs would certainly be willing to eat a portion of that in order to make a deal happen. If they could somehow move Fukudome in the off-season and make a play for Dunn, that would be a significant lineup upgrade for the Cubs. You would have 2 lefties in there on a daily basis (Dunn and Colvin) and that would provide great protection for the likes of Aramis Ramirez, Marlon Byrd and Alfonso Soriano in the middle of the lineup. I guess it is a bit of a pipe dream, but you have to consider these types of moves if you want to make a bigger splash during the regular season in the National League in 2011.