Tag Archive | "Mike Quade"

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Larry Rothschild Exercises Option to be Pitching Coach in 2011; Let’s Hope New Manager Let’s Him Down Gently…

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.

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Cubs Managerial Search Update – Eric Wedge, Ryne Sandberg, Mike Quade, Bob Melvin

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.

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Starlin Castro – Cubs Shortstop Star of the Future

Posted on 07 October 2010 by Lou

Starlin Castro’s performance during the 2010 MLB season certainly lived up to the hype.  In the 2nd to last game of the season, Starlin Castro went 2 for 3 to raise his batting average from .298 to .300 in the Cubs 8-3 win over the Houston Astros.  Manager Mike Quade opted to sit Castro in the Cubs final game of the season that Sunday so that Castro could finish the season with a .300 batting average.  Quade had this to say about his move — “I loved watching it and loved watching him perform.  I’d made up my mind that if he does it and gets to .300, and I don’t care if we play 15 innings, and he comes out of it at .300, I’ll stick to my original lineup and let Darwin Barney play shortstop today.  Castro earned his yesterday.”

Castro’s .300 batting average was good for 10th in the NL in hitting.  Castro also became the 1st Cubs rookie to hit at least .300 for the season since Bill Matlock hit .313 way back in 1974.  Castro had 139 hits in only 463 at-bats.  He also had a .347 on-base percentage.  He had 31 doubles and scored 53 runs while driving in 41.  He’ll have to work on his patience at the plate a little – he walked only 29 times while striking out 71 times, but other than that, you can’t really complain too much about how the 20-year old played during the course of the long, frustrating season on the north side…

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Does Anyone Really Want to Manage the 2011 Cubs?

Posted on 05 October 2010 by Lou

Does anyone really want to manage the 2011 version of the Cubs?  Most of the players that put together a 75-87 record in 2010 will be back on the squad for the 2011 MLB season.  That really doesn’t bode well for the next manager of the Chicago Cubs.  Tom Ricketts has already indicated that the 2011 payroll will be less than the $140+ million payroll that the Cubs had in 2010 (the highest in the National League).  With $103 million already on the books for 2011 and with arbitration-eligible players like Carlos Marmol, Sean Marshall, Geovany Soto and Koyie Hill who are likely to earn raises this off-season, there clearly isn’t a lot of room for GM Jim Hendry to add from outside of the organization.  Maybe a new skipper could help the team manage a handful more wins, but that really doesn’t equate to being in contention in the National League – 80 wins just doesn’t cut it these days…

So who will the Cubs try to hire this off-season?  The last 3 Cubs managerial hires have been high profile managers — Don Baylor, Dusty Baker and Lou Pinella.  Does that mean a relatively unknown like Mike Quade has a leg up on the competition?

The Cubs could also pull from within.  Ryne Sandberg – while clearly not an unknown – has never managed at the Major League level.  Would he be the right fit for the Cubs?

Or will the Cubs go with a man with major league experience but who has not reached the level of the previous 3 managers – an Eric Wedge-type manager?

Lastly, could the Cubs go with another high profile guy – Joe Torre, Tony LaRussa, Bobby Cox and Joe Girardi – are all free agent managers potentially looking for work in 2011.  If the Cubs want to try to land Girardi, they will have to wait until the Yankees are eliminated from the playoffs this October.  Odds are that he stays in the Big Apple.  But you never know and a call has to be made to cover all bases.

All this being sad, Mike Quade has indicated that he would love to continue to be the Cubs manager for the foreseeable future.  “I’m an optimist.  You see this club play well the at the end, and if they continue to play well and they play this thing out in the nest two weeks in good fashion, I’d go home, and whoever gets the job next year should be excited about this job.  That’s the way I feel.  It has no bearing on what happens this winter with Jim and what moves he makes.  A lot of guys have finished up well…  I’ve always believed in myself.  You can believe all you want, but you have to get here and do it and then self-evaluate the whole thing.  Things went well.  I’m proud of all the work I did in 30 years to have me ready to do something like this.  I don’t like to talk about it much, but yeah, it’s been fun and I’m proud of all the work we’ve done.”

Kudos to Quade.  He managed to get control of the team after Lou departed mid-season and he showed that he does have the ability to manage well at the major league level.  More importantly, the players responded well to Quade and he seemed to earn their respect.  While I don’t see the Ricketts Family and Hendry sticking with Quade as the manager long-term, I really hope they find a way to keep Quade within the Cubs organization.  He is that good at what he does…

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Zambrano Looking to Continue Solid Finish to Tumultuous 2010 MLB Schedule – Cubs v. Brewers 9/10/10 Miller Park

Posted on 10 September 2010 by Lou

Carlos Zambrano looks to continue his solid end to the 2010 MLB schedule.  In his last 6 starts, Zambrano has won 4 games without a loss and he has dazzled teams to the tune of a 1.98 ERA.  Zambrano has good karma in Miller Park too where the Cubs will battle the Brewers tonight.  Big Z threw a no-hitter there (against the Houston Astros) back in September 2008 at Miller Park and he has not lost there since August 2006 (he has a 2.38 ERA and 5 wins in his last 6 starts there).  In his last 8 starts against the Brewers, Zambrano is 2-0 with a 2.94 ERA (he has not lost to the Brewers since August 2007).  Throw in the fact that the Brewers will have Dave Bush on the bump, there is a good chance that Zambrano will come out victorious again in Miller Park tonight.  In Bush’s last 8 home starts against the Cubs, he has gone 0-5 with a horrendous 7.63 ERA.

Zambrano keeps making it tough on the Cubs brass with his recent resurgence.  Heading into the final 2 months of the season, it was all but certain that GM Jim Hendry would try to move Zambrano in the off-season because of his poor performance and because of his tendency to act out in an unprofessional manner both on the field and in the locker room.  As we have discussed before, we’re not sure if Zambrano has really changed into a new man since taking anger management classes during the season.  He seems to be a different guy out there, but he has gone through these “good” stretches before only to regress with another childish tirade when something doesn’t go his way.  I definitely don’t envy the Cubs decision this off-season, but I’m pretty certain that if a team willing to take Zambrano wants me to eat a good chunk of his what’s owed to him over the next 2 seasons, I’d probably tell them to take a hike and take my chances that Big Z has really turned his life and career around.

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Quade Makes Statement with Castro Benching; Can Cubs Avoid 90-loss Season? – Cubs 5, Astros 4 – 9/6/10 Wrigley Field

Posted on 07 September 2010 by Lou

Mike Quade certainly has control of his ball club even though he is just the Cubs “interim manager”.  Quade made a major statement when he posted the Cubs lineup for Monday afternoon’s game against the Houston Astros.  Starlin Castro’s name was no where to be found in the lineup as he was serving a “1-game penalty” for making a mental mistake in the Cubs 18-5 loss to the Mets on Sunday.  With his team getting hammered in the bottom of the 8th inning, Castro thought there were 2 outs in the inning rather than just 1.  When Castro did not fully run out a groundball, it turned into an inning-ending double play.  Quade wanted to make a statement that everyone needs to stay in the game – regardless of the score and regardless of whether you are a star player or a bench player.  Everyone is accountable for their actions and everyone will take responsibility for their actions.  Castro understand what he did and we expect Castro to be back in Quade’s lineup tonight.  This was a great statement by Quade and it’s great to see how the players have responded to Quade and the respect that they have for Quade.  Quade certainly won’t be the Cubs manager in 2011, but the new manager should certainly keep Quade on his staff because of his experience and knowledge of the game.

As for the game action, it was a satisfying win despite some flaws.

Casey Coleman labored through 6 innings without his best stuff, but he gutted it for 6 innings to give his bullpen a little much-needed rest after Sunday’s debacle.  Coleman needed 118 pitches to do it, but he overcame a 4-run 2nd inning in which the Astros batted around.  He gave up just the 4 runs on the day – 8 hits, 5 walks and 2 K’s – and he was delighted that the Cubs were able to come back and win so he took a no decision.

Marcos Mateo, Andrew Cashner and Carlos Marmol tossed scoreless frames in the final 3 innings of the game to give the Cubs a chance to win.  Cashner got his 1st win since July 20th, while Marmol notched his 28th save.  On one of the worst teams in baseball, it is pretty impressive that Marmol is on the verge of hitting 30 saves for the 1st time in his career.

Marlon Byrd came through with a big 2-run homer in the 3rd inning that cut the Astros lead to 4-3.  Blake DeWitt had 2 hits and an RBI and scored a run on Byrd’s homer.  Jeff Baker had 2 hits and his RBI double in the 5th inning tied the game at 4.  That set up Geovany Soto’s 8th inning heroics with his 17th home run of the season.  After a disappointing 2009, Soto has quietly put together a nice 2010 MLB season — .284 batting average; .399 on-base percentage (58 walks versus just 72 K’s; 17 HR’s; 51 RBI’s; and 45 runs in 97 games.

The Cubs are 60-78 and have 24 games left to play during the 2010 MLB schedule.  They have to go 13-11 during this last stretch to avoid a 90-loss season.  Can they do it? The Cubs have responded to Quade, so it would not surprise me to see them finish over .500 for these final 24 games.  They are currently 9-4 under Quade, so they would end up finishing 22-15 under Quade if they are to avoid the 90-loss season.

Carlos Silva makes his 1st start tonight at the Friendly Confines since undergoing a heart procedure to help his irregular heartbeat.

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Cubs Trying to Upset Reds while Managerial Search Heats Up – Cubs, Reds – 8/27/10 Great American Ballpark

Posted on 27 August 2010 by Lou

While the Cubs are riding high after a 3-game sweep of the Nationals, the Cubs managerial search has heated up for a number of reasons. The Cubs invade Cincinnati this weekend to take on the Reds who are led by former Cubs Manager Dusty Baker.  Baker has a bright, young pitching staff and a high octane offensive unit that have the Reds leading the NL Central.  After an up-and-down tenure with the Cubs – he had 1 NL Central division crown and playoff appearance that ended with the disastrous collapse against the Florida Marlins in Game 7 of the NLCS – a series that the Cubs led 3 games to 1 – the Cubs replaced Baker with another older, experienced manager – Lou Pinella.  Pinella was more fiery than Baker ever was, and he was definitely NOT a “player’s manager – but he was an old school guy like Baker.  Although Pinella led the team to 2 straight NL Central Division titles and 2 playoff appearances, but when the Cubs exited each October with a 3-game sweep at the hands of an NL-West ballclub, those losses really seemed to take a toll on Pinella.  He never achieved that success in his final 2 seasons and he finally retired this past Sunday to take care of personal matters.

Now the question looming is – what kind of manager do the Cubs and the Ricketts Family want to lead the Cubs into the future?  Do they want an older manager in the mold of Baker or Pinella or do they want to find that young diamond in the rough who will be innovative and creative in leading the Cubs back from the disastrous 2010 MLB schedule?  There are choices on either side of the fence.

Tony LaRussa, Bobby Cox and Joe Torre are all at the end of their contracts with their respective teams.  The Cubs just interviewed former Indians Manager Eric Wedge and have indicated that Bob Brenly (currently in the Cubs broadcast booth) will also be a candidate at some point down the line.  These former managers all have experience and they have all experiences success with World Series titles (save for Wedge), but is this what the Cubs really need to invigorate the system and a frustrated fan base.

On the other side of the fence, you have Cubs great – Hall of Famer Ryne Sandberg.  Sandberg has done everything that the Cubs have asked him to do and is in his 4th year managing in the Cubs minor league system.  Sandberg wet his feet in his 1st 2 seasons managing, but really blossomed the last 2 seasons, leading the Double-A Tennessee team to the playoffs in 2009 and currently managing the Triple-A Iowa team to the best record in their league.  He knows the Cubs minor league talent better than anyone, so does it make the most sense to move Sandberg up to the major league level even though he had never managed at that level?  And then you also have a former Cubs catcher – Joe Girardi – who has managed 2 different teams at the major league level with great success.  He even won a World Series with the Yankees just a year ago.  The focus on Girardi has grown even bigger because the Yankees are in town to take on the White Sox on the south side this weekend. He has said all the right things:  “My focus is here…  I have a responsibility to the organization and to the guys in that clubhouse and that’s where my focus is. I’m very happy here. This organization has been great to me.”  But what else can he say.  He never specifically said that he would definitely be back in NY in 2010 and he has always indicated that the Cubs managerial job would be a dream job for him.  So who knows.  It seems unlikely that the Yankees would let him go or that the Cubs would be willing to pay him enough money, but if the stars align, we could see Girardi in charge of the Cubs in 2010.

My gut tells me that Girardi will turn down the Cubs and then it will be Sandberg’s job to lose.  Bringing in an older, “set-in-his-ways” Manager like a Cox, Torre or LaRussa doesn’t seem like the best long-term move to make because the Cubs have so much rebuilding to do (even though they won’t come out and say it).  Plus, unless the Ricketts Family is really willing to jack up the 2011 payroll, the Cubs are not in a position to be a player in free agency for at least another 2 seasons because of the exorbitant contracts still on the books for Alfonso Soriano, Carlos Zambrano, Kosukue Fukudome, Carlos Silva (via Milton Bradley) and Aramis Ramirez.  That leaves little ability for the Cubs GM to add veteran free-agent talent to complement the growth movement that the Cubs are trying to do with Starlin Castro, Tyler Colvin, Geovany Soto and some of their young pitchers.

As for the weekend series against the Reds, Tom Gorzelanny will make the start tonight against Johnny Cueto.  He has 7 wins on the season with a nice 3.70 ERA.  He is still out to show Cubs brass that he can be a durable starter in the Cubs rotation in 2010, so Gorzelanny has a lot to prove over the final month.  Starlin Castro has continued his hot hitting, taking a modest 5-game hitting streak into the Reds series.  He is hitting .315 on the season, and once he gets the requisite number of at-bats, he should find himself in the top 5 for National League hitters in batting average.  Tyler Colvin started 2 of the 3 games against the Nationals under Mike Quade, so look for Colvin to see more action the rest of the way.  After the weekend series in Cincinnati, the Cubs will return home for a nice 9-game homestand at the Friendly Confines of Wrigley Field from August 30th through September 8th.

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Coleman Helps Quade Earn 1st Win as Cubs Manager; More Lou Memories – Cubs 9, Nationals 1 – 8/23/10 Nationals Park

Posted on 24 August 2010 by Lou

Casey Coleman looked sharp in his 2nd major league start and the Cubs gave Mike Quade his 1st win as the Cubs skipper with an easy 9-1 win over the Nationals in Washington, DC.

Coleman worked into the 7th inning giving up just 1ER on 3 hits and 2 walks.  Coleman wanted to make it through the full 7 innings, but he gave up a single and a double to start the inning and then an RBI ground out to Ivan Rodriguez which plated the Nationals only run.  After Coleman walked Willie Harris to put 2 men on and only 1 out, Quade opted to go with Andrew Cashner to get him out of the jam.  Cashner came through with a double play groundout to end the threat and then pitched a perfect 8th inning as well to give him his most efficient outing in a while.  Hopefully both Coleman and Cashner take the positives from last night’s game and build some confidence before the end of the season.  Guys like Coleman, Cashner, Diamond, Berg are the future of the Cubs pitching staff, so it would be great to see them finish strong after such a long and brutal 2010 campaign.

The bats also came to life for Quade. Quade didn’t waste any time making some immediate changes to Lou Pinella’s lineup.  He moved Blake DeWitt into the leadoff spot (he has had a .392 on-base percentage since he joined the Cubs); he inserted Tyler Colvin back into the lineup in the 6-hole (Pinella inexplicably kept Colvin out of the lineup for most of the last homestand because he was in a hitting slump – gimme a break Lou – what Cubs hitter wasn’t in a hitting daze all season long?); and he dropped Alfonso Soriano into the 7-hole.  Each move paid off.

DeWitt went 3 for 5 with 2 RBI’s and a home run.  He is now hitting .284 on the season and looks to be a fixture opposite Starlin Castro in the middle of the infield.

Colvin had a 2-run single in the 3rd inning which increased the Cubs lead at the time to 3-0.  He did end up striking out 3 times, however.

And Soriano went 2 for 5 with 2 RBI’s and a run scored.  His 2-run triple in the 5th inning helped open up the game to 5-0.

Castro had 2 hits, Xavier Nady had 3 hits and 2 runs scored and Kosuke Fukudome had 2 more hits and an RBI after coming into the game for Marlon Byrd who was hit by a pitch on the hand.  X-rays were negative, but he will likely miss a game or 2 to make sure he is fully healthy.

As for the end of the Lou Pinella era, it was a mixed back for the 67-year old manager.  In his 1st season as Managers, he lead the team to an 85-77 record in 2007 and an NL Central Division crown.  His club faced the #1 seed Arizona Diamondbacks in the 1st round of the playoffs, however, and his questionable early removal of Carlos Zambrano in the 7th inning of Game 1 of the series paved the way for the series sweep.  The Cubs finished 97-64 in 2008.  The Cubs had the best record in the National League during the regular season and another NL Central Division Crown.  Hopes were high for a trip to the World Series and the unthinkable World Series, but the Cubs pitching and hitting deserted them as they were swept out of the playoffs by the Dodgers in 3 games.  The Cubs finished 83-78 in 2009.  When Lou announced his departure after the game on Sunday, the team’s record was 51-74 through the first 125 games of the 2010 MLB schedule.  Not the best way to leave his legacy, but it is what it is.

His best years were probably 2007 when he turned the team around after a horrendous start to the season.  After a slow start, Pinella jump-started his team by getting tossed from a game by the 3rd base umpire in a May game.  He also helped orchestrate the departure of disgruntled catcher Michael Barrett who got into an altercation with Carlos Zambrano.  Barrett was clearly a disruption to the rest of the clubhouse and Lou didn’t want him around anymore.  GM JIm Hendry worked a deal to move Barrett to the San Diego Padres, and after that the Cubs were one of the best teams in baseball through the final 2/3 of the season.  Pinella helped lead them all the way to the division crown that season.  In 2008, everything went right for the Cubs – great hitting, great pitching; lots of come-from-behind wins; lots of close wins, so to say that was his best year is probably an overstatement.  When things go that right, there are usually other things going on other than the Manager.  In 2009, even though the Cubs trailed the Cards by 7.5 games in the NL Central and the Rockies 8.5 for the wild card spot at the end of the season, Lou did an amazing job with his rag-tag bunch of players.  Lou had no Aramis Ramirez for over a third of the season and he had to deal with the Milton Bradley and Carlos Zambrano nightmares for good chunks of the season as well.  It was team that was falling apart at the seams and Lou did his best to keep it together, leading the c lub to a 3rd straight winning season – the 1st time that had been done since the organization had 6 straight winning seasons from 1967 through 1972.  Lou kept the Cubs in contention until the end, even though the team had big problems getting clutch hits and winning close games – they were 16-22 in 1-run games in 2009.  The year took a toll on him and that clearly carried over into the 2010 season.  In 2010, the Cubs were just 28-38 at home and 24-35 on the road under Pinella.  Even worse, the Cubs were a miserable 15-30 in 1 run games.  Take a look at teams who have played around 44 1-run games in 2010 — and you can see how much better they fared than the Cubs – the lowly Royals are 23-24 in their 47 1-run games; the Rays are 22-22 in their 44 1-run games; even the 2 worst teams in baseball play better than the Cubs in 1-run games – the Pirates are 41-84 overall but 17-19 in 1-run games and the Orioles are 44-81 overall but 22-18 in 1-run games.  When you can’t win close games and when you can’t come through with clutch hits on a regular basis, you are not going to win a lot of games.  And that’s just what happened in 2010.

Well enough of my blabbering and statistics.  I was planning on throwing in some Lou quotes, but maybe I will save that for tomorrow.  Stay tuned…

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