Posted on 02 November 2011 by Lou
Let the Theo reign begin – Epstein and the Cubs let Manager Mike Quade go after one full MLB season at the helm. The Cubs finished 71-91 under Quade during the 2011 MLB campaign and his overall record in 199 games was a less-than-desirable 95-104. Quade had 1-year left on the 2-year deal that he signed during winter 2010 and he is still owed $1 million from the Cubs.
Epstein had this to say about Quade and where the Cubs go from here:
“When I joined the Cubs last week, I knew that Mike had a reputation as an outstanding baseball guy, as a tireless worker, and as a first-rate human being… After spending some time with him this past week, it became apparent to me that Mike’s reputation is well deserved. His passion, knowledge of the game, commitment, and integrity stood out immediately. While Mike is clearly an asset to any organization and any major league staff, Jed and I believe that the Cubs would benefit long term from bringing in a manager for 2012 who can come in with a clean slate and offer new direction… “The managerial search process begins immediately. We are looking for someone with whom and around whom we can build a foundation for sustained success. The next manager must have leadership and communication skills; he must place an emphasis on preparation and accountability; he must establish high standards and a winning culture; he must have integrity and an open mind; and he must have managerial or coaching experience at the major league level.”
Epstein and GM Jed Hoyer flew to Florida late last week to speak with Mike Quade in person. Although it sounds like the discussions went well, it is pretty clear that Theo & Co. simply wanted to start from scratch. It was great that they took the time to meet with Quade in person and even better that Epstein flew down there again on Tuesday to give Mike the news in person. I’m sure they are probably just covering their bases, but it’s still the right thing to do in this game.
Immediately, names like Ryne Sandberg and Terry Francona pop up as possible replacements for Quade. Although Epstein’s statements about the next manager having major league experience (as either a coach or manager) seem to eliminate Sandberg from the mix. It’s also interesting that the Philadelphia Phillies have already granted the St. Louis Cardinals permission to speak with Sandberg about their managerial vacancy after Tony LaRussa’s retirement annoucnement earlier this week. With the Red Sox sure to be in the mix for Sandberg too, if Sandberg is on the short list of managers for Theo & Jed, they better act quickly before another team swoops in and makes him an offer he can’t refuse.
We’ll keep you posted as soon as we hear anything else on the Cubs managerial front…
Posted on 26 October 2011 by Lou
Will new President Theo Epstein keep Manager Mike Quade in the mix in 2012? It is a great question and Epstein didn’t show his hand during several radio station interviews this morning, including an interview with Waddle and Silvy on ESPN Radio 1000 Chicago. Epstein had this to say about the Cubs current manager who still has 1 year left on his contract through the 2012 MLB season: “I’ve already had a couple of nice phone conversations with Mike Quade. We have plans to meet in person sometime over the next week… Mike seems like a great guy and he has developed a great reputation over many decades in the game. I look forward to sitting down with him in person as a first step, sharing with him my vision for the organization. I’d like to hear his vision for the organization.”
It’s kind of a difficult situation for both Epstein and Quade. Let’s face it, the Cubs are not going to be good in 2012, even with Theo at the helm. So if Epstein fires Quade and brings in a new manager (say Ryne Sandberg), when the Cubs have another awful start to the season (which they likely will), you’d hate to have the fan base start questioning Epstein and the new manager right off the bat. By leaving Quade in place, when the Cubs start bad, you can always blame Quade and make a move to switch managers mid-season. That new manager can either be an interim manager to finish the season or the guy you want to go to to lead the team in the future. The one “X” factor is what if the Cubs actually have a decent season – then what do you do with Quade. But I guess I’d rather have it that way. It doesn’t mean you have to stick with Quade after the 2012 MLB season. It just means you bring in someone else who will raise the bar even higher for years to come (similar to what the Blackhawks did when they fired Dennis Savard after a few games at the start of the 2009-2010 NHL season and brought in Joel Quinneville who eventually led the Hawks to the Stanley Cup Trophy later that season).
In any event, we should know pretty soon whether or not Quade will be back – we’ll keep you posted…
Posted on 30 September 2011 by Lou
The Cubs have a LOT of work to do this off-season. They finished a whopping 25 games behind the 1st place Milwaukee Brewers in the NL Central. A 71-91 record just doesn’t cut it. Especially after finishing the 2010 MLB season with a 75-87 record – 16 games back of the 1st place Cincinnati Reds.
The lone positive – the NL Central is a very winnable division – each of the last 4 years has brought a new division winner. So who knows – if a few things go their way in 2012, maybe the Cubs can make it a 5th straight different division winner.
The Cubs first need to hire a new GM to replace Jim Hendry. Then the new GM with his staff will have to figure out a way to plug up a TON of holes without a lot of money with which to work. Owner Tom Ricketts has already said that the payroll will not increase much from what it was in 2011. Sure there is a lot of money coming off the books this off-season – no Kosuke Fukudome; no Milton Bradley/Carlos Silva salary; no full Carlos Zambrano salary (assuming they can shovel him off to another team); and maybe no Carlos Pena or Aramis Ramirez salary. Will Ricketts be able to stomach making a run at the Scott Boras-led Prince Fielder? How will the Cubs plug the gaping holes in their starting rotation? Who will play right field on a regular basis? Will Manager Mike Quade keep his job under the new GM?
There are no easy answers, so it will be an interesting off-season to watch and we’ll keep you posted every step of the way here at MyCubsToday.com.
Posted on 22 August 2011 by Lou
The Braves shut out the Cubs 3-0 on Monday night at Wrigley Field. The Cubs are now 56-72 and they trail the Brewers by 20 games in the NL Central race.
The Cubs offensive woes hurt tough-luck loser Ryan Dempster. The Cubs stranded 15 runners in the game, including 11 in the 1st 6 innings alone. Despite 9 hits and 7 walks, the Cubs could not push even 1 run across the board. Aramis Ramirez had 3 hits and Carlos Pena had 2 hits in the loss.
Dempster worked 6 solid innings, notching his 16th quality start of the season. He gave up just 3 ER on 6 hits and 3 walks, while striking out 8.
The bullpen continued its solid work – James Russell, Jeff Samardzija and Kerry Wood combined for 3 scoreless innings and 5 K’s to keep the Cubs in the game.
Mike Quade benched Starlin Castro for his lack of effort in Sunday night’s loss to the Cards. Check out more here —
Posted on 15 July 2011 by Lou
What a joke – Carlos Marmol blew Matt Garza’s gem by allowing 5 runs in the 9th as the Cubs fell to the Marlins 6-3 to start the 2nd half on a down note.
Maybe the Cubs should consider dealing Marmol for some young talent in return…
Posted on 13 July 2011 by Lou
It was an interesting 1st All-Star Game for Starlin Castro. Caastro entered the game as a pinch runner for Troy Tulowitzki in the 5th runner. Castro promptly stole 2nd and 3rd base to get into scoring position with less than 2 outs – a great feat for a “green” 21-year old. But then Castro tried to score on a weak groundball hit slowly towards the pitcher’s mound and he was gunned out at the plate. And as we discussed yesterday, Castro’s one knock has been his propensity to commit errors in the field. So we weren’t at all surprised when he cleanly fielded Carlos Quentin’s 1-out grounder in the 9th inning, but then threw the ball in the dirt allowing the A.L. to get a mini-rally going. The A.L. never plated a run in the inning to close the 5-1 lead, but it could have turned into a disaster for Castro if his gaffe allowed the A.L. to get the win. And so it goes for the young Castro. He became only the 5th player to have 2 stolen bases in the same all-star game, putting his name in the company with legends like Willie Mays and Kenny Lofton.
Castro has been the Cubs best and most consistent since he came up to the big league club last May. He has also shown some brilliant fielding prowess. But he still makes that annoying error on routine plays and he still makes mental mistakes. But he has clearly emerged as the Cubs best player and hopefully the Cubs will be able to surround him with a better core over the next few seasons as big contracts come off of the books at the end of the 2011 campaign. Castro has also learned a lot from his short time in the big leagues, especially when Manager Mike Quade sat Castro for a few games last September when the superstar forget how many outs there were in the inning and didn’t run hard enough down the 1st base line as he grounded out into an inning-ending double play. Despite that play, Castro has earned the honor and respect of Quade today — “Every experience is exactly what you make of it. I watched him the entire time we were here, watched him interact with the greatest players on the planet, and I thought he handled himself really well. It’s one thing to have the kind of talent he does, but when you go about your business the way he’s going about it, there’s a chance he’s really going to be something special.”
Gotta love it – now let’s hope he continues to improve on the field and that the Cubs make some smart decisions this off-season so that Castro has some help behind him…
Posted on 12 July 2011 by Lou
Starlin Castro is the Cubs lone representative in tonight’s All-Star Game at Chase Field in Phoenix, Arizona. Now I know, Manager Quade was asked to be part of Bruce Bochy’s NL coaching staff, but gimme a break. Quade has really under-achieved as a manager this season and it is clear that he will be back as an “assistant coach” somewhere else following the 2012 MLB season when his contract expires.
Castro has lived up to the hype once again with a solid sophomore season. Castro is hitting .307 with an .335 on-base percentage. He has 117 hits, 49 runs scored and 39 RBI’s. He has walked 17 times while striking out 47 times. He has 10 stolen bases and has only been caught stealing once. The only negative is his fielding – he has committed a team high 18 errors on a team that has committed a whopping 77 errors. That’s a lot of errors for a team that has played 92 games.
Good luck Starlin!
Posted on 30 June 2011 by Lou
Ryan Dempster shocked me as he matched 2-time Cy Young Award winner Tim Lincecum pitch-for-pitch in a remarkable pitching duel. Dempster worked 8 scoreless innings and had a 1-run lead as he stepped onto the bump in the top of the 9th at 78 pitches. But when he allowed a lead-off double to Pat Burrell, Manager Mike Quade made the shocking move to “pull” Dempster from the 1-0 game after he had just pitched one of the best games of his career. Come on, Quade – you are 11.5 games out of 1st place. It’s not like this win is that important in the grand scheme of things. Dempster earned the right to pitch out the game and try to get out of the 1-on, nobody out jam in the 9th. But Quade made the move to go with closer Carlos Marmol to “save” the all-important game for the Cubs. And the move totally back-fired. After a strikeout, Marmol allowed an RBI single that tied the game at 1. He then gave up a walk and a hit to put the go-ahead run in scoring position with only 1 out and luckily got Cody Ross to hit into an inning-ending double play to preserve the 1-1 tie. But by then, the excitement over a big 1-0 win over Lincecum was long gone.
That being said, the Cubs showed some grit when Tony Campana singled to lead off the 9th inning and and Reed Johnson sacrificed him over to 2nd base to put the speedster in scoring position with only 1 out. Geovany Soto grounded out, but pinch-hitter Aramis Ramirez came through with the clutch game-winning hit to drive in Campana with the winning run.
After 6+ scoreless innings, the Cubs finally broke through off of Lincecum in the 7th inning. Blake DeWitt’s single drove in Carlos Pena who had doubled to lead off the inning. It was nice to see some clutch hitting there.
The Cubs are 33-48 and they trail the Brewers by 10.5 games in the NL Central race.
Posted on 24 June 2011 by Lou
The Cubs used the scheduled Thursday off-day to plan for the weekend series against the Royals as well as for the future…
Manager Mike Quade opted to re-jigger the Cubs rotation after consulting with pitching coach Mark Riggins. Ryan Dempster will start tonight, while the Cubs will go with Carlos Zambrano on his regular 5 days rest on Saturday. That move pushes Randy Wells’ start back an extra day to Sunday. Matt Garza will make his next start on schedule on Monday against the Colorado Rockies at Wrigley Field.
Off the field, GM Jim Hendry met with his scouts and executives to figure out the direction of the team as the July 31 trading deadline approaches. Hendry and the Cubs could entertain offers for Carlos Zambrano and Alfonso Soriano who have both said that they would like to continue to play in Chicago but that they would waive their no-trade clause if a suitable trade offer comes along. Aramis Ramirez, on the other hand, has already told the Cubs that he will not waive his no trade clause. Guess we’ll see how it all shakes out…
Posted on 11 June 2011 by Lou
The Cubs 2-game winning streak ended with a frustrating 7-5 loss to the Phillies on Friday night. Carlos Zambrano did his best to keep his team in the game against the dominant Roy Halladay, but he ran out of steam in the 7th inning after throwing 128 pitches. But was Manager Mike Quade to blame for the loss. Why was Big Z still in there after throwing over 100 pitches in only 6 innings. The game was still close at 3-0, but when Zambrano served up Placido Polanco’s grand slam, the 3-run deficit quickly became a 7-run deficit. But the big question is why was Zambrano even still in the game? Big Z walked lead off hitter Jimmy Rollins. After a sacrifice bunt moved Rollins to 2nd base, the Cubs opted to walk Chase Utley intentionally to bring up slugger Ryan Howard. The move backfired as Zambrano walked Howard to load the bases. At this point, Big Z was over 120 pitches. Where is the bullpen help? Sure they used guys in the extra innings game the night before, but it was clear that Big Z had nothing left. That became obvious when Polanco crushed the grand slam to deep left.
Now I know there are a lot of factors to go into Quade’s decision. Sure Big Z had had success against Howard. And let’s say Big Z or a reliever gets the Cubs out of trouble and the lead is still 3-0, the Phillies probably bring Halladay back out for the 8th inning, instead of pulling him after 107 pitches in 7 innings. If they do that, then maybe the Cubs don’t rally for 5 runs off Halladay and the bullpen in the 8th inning. But you have to put your team in the best position to win. And leaving Big Z in the game and intentionally walking Utley to get to Howard when Big Z was clearly struggling just didn’t make sense to me.
In any event, Kosuke Fukudome and Starlin Castro each had 2 hits in the loss. Darwin Barney went 0 for 4 and hasn’t gotten a hit in 14 at-bats. When Reed Johnson and Jeff Baker come back off the DL next week, look for Barney to get more days off with Blake DeWitt and Baker getting more time at 2nd base.
Matt Garza goes against Cliff Lee in what should be a good pitching match-up this afternoon. Let’s hope the Cubs can steal today’s game or tomorrow’s game against Roy Oswalt before they return home for a nice 7-game homestand against the Brewers and Yankees.