Managing the Cubs was a dream job for Mike Quade, who grew up in the Chicago area and became a fan of the team as a child. Losing that job on Wednesday was tough to take.
Theo Epstein met with Quade in Tampa, Fla., to tell him that he was being dismissed after one full season as manager. The Cubs finished 71-91, 25 games back in the National League Central.
“You’re disappointed, you’re bitter, you’re mad — a million things,” Quade said Wednesday by phone from his Bradenton, Fla., home. “I woke up this morning, grabbed a fishing rod, had a cup of coffee, and was managing the Cubs. Now you’re not. It’s a tough game. I’m not Lou Piniella or Tony La Russa or Tommy Lasorda or Bobby Cox. Time will tell.”
Quade, 54, met with Epstein and new Cubs general manager Jed Hoyer for nearly seven hours to discuss philosophy. It gave Quade a chance to answer questions Epstein and Hoyer had regarding the 2011 season.
“I enjoyed the exchange and felt good about the philosophical end of things, for sure,” Quade said. “They handled things well. They treated me right.
“People being up front and having character means more to me than anything and that was the case,” he said. “I’ve got nothing but good things to say [about the Cubs].”
He had several text messages and phone calls to return on Wednesday, including those from his coaches, who may or may not be retained. Hitting coach Rudy Jaramillo, bench coach Pat Listach and bullpen coach Lester Strode have contracts for 2012. The new Cubs manager will have a say in his staff.
Quade was not offered another job in the Cubs organization.
“I think that would be an awkward situation,” he said.
But he does still wants to manage, and is hopeful he can join another team. Then he laughed, saying he was going to do whatever he could to beat the Cubs.
The team, which he followed as a kid in Prospect Heights, Ill., will always have a spot in his heart.
“There are so many good people in the organization, and not just my staff members, but the front office people and marketing people,” he said. “Those are the people you end up missing. You understand the game and that things happen.”
As for Epstein and Hoyer, Quade said he was impressed by the pair.
“They’re two bright young guys getting their group together,” he said. “They’re going to oversee things and do things their way.”
— Carrie Muskat
Mike Quade will not be back as Cubs manager. Theo Epstein, Cubs president of baseball operations, made the announcement Wednesday after traveling to Florida to inform Quade face to face. Epstein and new GM Jed Hoyer met with Quade last Thursday for about seven hours to discuss the 2011 season, which was Quade’s first as manager. The Cubs finished in fifth place at 71-91.
The search for a new manager will begin immediately, Epstein said. Among the people the Cubs were expected to talk to include Dale Sveum and Quade’s bench coach Pat Listach.
“We are looking for someone with whom and around whom we can build a foundation for sustained success,” Epstein said. “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 said Quade had a reputation as an outstanding baseball guy and tireless worker.
“His passion, knowledge of the game, commitment, and integrity stood out immediately,” Epstein said. “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.”
Quade was the 51st manager in Cubs history. He replaced Lou Piniella on Aug. 23, 2010, and the Cubs went 24-13 for the final six weeks.
— Carrie Muskat
With Ozzie Guillen leaving the White Sox to manage the Marlins, there has been speculation that Carlos Zambrano will join him in Florida. The two Venezuelans are close and have helped each other’s charities. It’s no secret the Cubs want to find Zambrano a new home after his early exit from the Aug. 12 game against the Braves when he told teammates he was “retiring.” According to a report in Venezuela’s El Nacional by reporter Ignacio Serrano, Guillen has reached out to Zambrano and wants to bring him to Miami. Zambrano is owed $18 million next season on his contract, and the report says the Marlins would pay that money in deferred payments. Whether the Cubs can make that move before they name a new GM remains to be seen, but such a deal would benefit both sides. During the team’s final road trip, Mike Quade was asked if Big Z could return. “I don’t know,” Quade said. “That’s a tough question for me to answer. I’d like his arm back if he fit into the mix. It would be tough for him to come back, for me. If he did, then you deal with it. It would be tough.”
— Carrie Muskat
Albert Pujols is usually the one in Cardinals’ red launching balls out of the ballpark, but he went 0-for-4 in what could be his last home game for the team. The crowd of 41,469 saluted the free agent to be in each at-bat with a standing ovation. Cubs starter Randy Wells stepped off the mound in the first to let the fans acknowledge Pujols, then got him to line out to second base, igniting a double play.
“I respect Albert, I think everybody respects Albert,” Wells said. “It’s a nice moment for him. To be honest, I thought he was getting his regular cheers [in the first]. When I saw he was tipping his hat, I’m not going to say, ‘Let’s go.’ This is his town and he definitely deserves it.”
“It’s a tribute to a great player,” Mike Quade said. “No matter what city you’re in, people appreciate quality. I’m just glad he didn’t do damage today. Wells handled him well.”
Carlos Pena said he got goosebumps when the crowd rose to salute Pujols.
“That was a special moment for baseball,” Pena said. “You’re talking about arguably the best hitter who has ever existed. Not only has he done that on the field but he has also been an unbelievable citizen here in the city of St. Louis. He’s been a great guy in the community. You can’t ask anything more from him.”
Pena drew two walks and had a chance to chat with Pujols at first. Did he ask the Cardinals slugger what’s next?
“No,” Pena said. “That’s the question of the ages. I wish him the best. He deserves the best. The fans don’t want him to leave. It is truly a pleasure to watch him play, hit and try to beat him. Every chance you get, you try to neutralize him. What a fierce competitor, but most importantly a well-respected professional and hands down, one of the best guys in baseball.”
The multi-million dollar question now is whether Pujols will stay in St. Louis or leave. There have been rumors circulating about him possibly switching sides and going to the Cubs.
Said Pena: “I see him in a St. Louis uniform.”
— Carrie Muskat
Carlos Marmol will not be asked to close Sunday’s series finale against the Cardinals. The Cubs right-hander, who threw 30 pitches Saturday, needs a day to regroup. Marmol blew his Major League-leading 10th save on Saturday in the Cubs’ 2-1 loss to the Cardinals. He now has a 5.79 ERA against St. Louis this season, and a 5.72 ERA against National League Central teams.
“Injuries happen and the struggles we had in the four, five spot I understand,” Cubs manager Mike Quade said. “‘Marm’s’ struggles have been more than I thought they would be. The main thing is to find a way to get him back on track. Here we are at the end of the season and have a long winter to find that out.”
Marmol walked three batters in the ninth on Saturday, the third time this season he’s done that.
“It’s all about command and yesterday he didn’t have command of either pitch,” Quade said. “I find it amazing he was one pitch away from getting out of it.”
Jeff Samardzija could be called on to close Sunday.
— Carrie Muskat
Mike Quade was Oakland’s first base coach from 2000-02, and the Cubs manager admits he’s interested in seeing the new movie “Moneyball,” based on the book by Michael Lewis, who followed the Athletics in 2001.
“I’d be less than honest if I didn’t say I was a little curious,” Quade said. “I know enough people who are planning to see it and see it soon and people I respect. I’ll get a feel from them.
“I’m a rental guy — I’ll wait until the DVD comes out,” he said. “That way, if I don’t care for it, I can just turn it off.”
Since Quade was there, he’s eager to see what liberties were taken.
“Curiousity will get the best of me, so I’ll probably see it,” he said.
— Carrie Muskat
One of the things on the new Cubs’ GM’s to do list will be to figure out what to do with Carlos Zambrano. He was placed on the disqualified list after his abrupt departure from the ballpark Aug. 12 in Atlanta.
“‘Z’ was a good pitcher in this mix and you miss that,” Mike Quade said Wednesday. “Again, the situation dictated how we handled it as far as I’m concerned and you move on past that. You can argue all day long on principle, or, ‘What are we going to do?’ I think what took place needed to be addressed and was, and whatever holes are left because of that, so be it.”
Zambrano does have another year remaining on his contract. Could he come back to the Cubs?
“I’m not calling the shots,” Quade said. “I never say never to anything and I think [Cubs chairman Tom Ricketts] is on record with what he said. That’s out of my hands and the least of my worries. We need to finish strong and see what happens this winter.”
Maybe the question is whether Quade thinks Zambrano could come back.
“I don’t know,” Quade said. “That’s a tough question for me to answer. I’d like his arm back if he fit into the mix. It would be tough for him to come back, for me. If he did, then you deal with it. It would be tough.”
— Carrie Muskat
Could Wednesday be Mike Quade’s last home game as the Cubs manager? It could depend on what the new general manager wants to do. Quade said he hasn’t thought about it.
“Why would I? We’re going to play today and I’m going to be back,” he said. “That’s the way I look at things. There’s no other way to look at it. Why would I look at it any other way?”
So the change in GM doesn’t affect him?
“There’s nothing I can do about that,” he said. “That’s the way i look at things. I’m not going to wax nostalgic thinking, ‘Oh, my God, what now?’ I plan to be back and I plan to do a good job next year.”
He has not talked to Cubs chairman Tom Ricketts about the future. The Cubs still have six games to play in St. Louis and San Diego, and Quade is focused on that.
“If they make a decision in a different direction, so be it,” Quade said. “The question is what do I think? That’s what I think.”
Asked how he would grade himself as manager, Quade said he was “disappointed in the record.”
“I’m not disappointed in myself at all,” he said. “We didn’t pitch as well as I’d hoped. I think our offense ends up being about what we thought. As I said numerous times, the game boils down to pitching and when we struggle with starters, it’s tough to overcome.”
Quade does have a contract for 2012 but said he doesn’t feel at ease because of that.
“I like doing this and I think I’m good at doing it and that’s the way I look at things,” he said. “Whether I had a one-year deal or a two-year deal or a five-year deal, that’s the way I feel.”
He’s hoping he’ll get a chance to convince the new GM that he deserves to stay.
“There’s so much speculation and nothing I can control,” Quade said. “There’s absolutely no reason for me to concern myself with anything but finishing as best we can and waiting to see what takes place.”
It isn’t just Quade who is on the hot seat. The Cubs coaches also don’t know what’s ahead.
“I look at this as a variety of things and no one escapes blame and you understand that going in,” Quade said, “but I also look at it as a realist and try to think about the things I could or couldn’t control, whether it’s the clubhouse or running the game. I evaluate it all.
“You sit here and take the blame, that’s what you do.”
The Cubs will finish last in the National League in defense.
“One disappointment, if I had one, that would be it,” Quade said about the play on the field. “It wasn’t for lack of work on it or concentration or emphasis, from the beginning of Spring Training.”
Is the job tougher than he expected?
“This year was, just because we had so much to deal with,” Quade said. “The job with you guys, with running the club, no. Big market city, Major League baseball, it’s fine. We had a ton of stuff to deal with and then not having success. Not tougher, but it was a tough year. That’s the way I am. I think all of us will be better for it. I’m happy with the way we’re finishing.”
— Carrie Muskat
Monday marks the start of the Cubs’ final homestand of 2011. How does Mike Quade feel about the season as it winds down?
“It’s not the season I had envisioned and there are a gazillion reasons for that,” Quade said Monday. “In the end, we had our share of adversity and especially these guys in the clubhouse handled it pretty well. It was tough for us just from the get go, from the first week of the season losing [Andrew Cashner and Randy Wells]. We didn’t have enough depth and enough ways to rebound, particularly in the area of starting pitching.”
Those were two weren’t the only injuries the Cubs had to overcome. They had six players go on the DL in a 20-day stretch.
“Nothing caught me by surprise as far as managing — not [the media], not managing in Wrigley, nothing,” Quade said. “It was just frustrating to not be able to piece things together when the injuries started.”
— Carrie Muskat
* Mike Quade wants to see how Ryan Dempster fares Sunday and also how Casey Coleman pitches Monday before deciding the rotation for the upcoming road trip to St. Louis. The Cubs want to give Dempster enough starts in the final games so he can get to 200 innings.
* It’s been a long time since the Cubs have had any speed in the lineup and they are taking advantage of Tony Campana’s quickness. Campana has 22 steals, the most by a Cubs player since Ryan Theriot swiped 22 in 2008. He’s been thrown out once this season, and his 95.7 percent success rate is tops in the Major Leagues. Texas’ Ian Kinsler is second, having gone 25-for-27 in stolen bases.
As much as the Cubs like to see Campana run, Quade was happy that the outfielder has been more patient. He has a walk and a stolen base in each of the last two games. Obviously, being more patient at the plate will help the speedy outfielder get on base more.
“People are finding out and trying to make adjustments to him very quickly,” Quade said. “Every time we show up in a new city and he’s in the game or comes in late, I see shallower defenses or shallower outfielders.
“He’s not going to surprise anybody, that’s for sure,” Quade said. “You have to make a decision when he does get on or you use him late in the game how much you’re going to allow his speed to affect the quality of stuff you’re bringing to the plate. If you’re somebody like Enerio Del Rosario, who is normally that quick to the plate, OK, take your shot.”
* Aramis Ramirez was batting .308, which is 67 points higher than his .241 average last year. According to Elias Sports Bureau, the 67-point improvement is second-best for any player with 500 or more plate appearances each of the last two seasons. The Dodgers’ Matt Kemp beat Ramirez for the top spot by one point. He’s batting .317 this season after hitting .249 last year.
* Here are the pitching matchups for the upcoming series vs. the Brewers:
Monday: Chris Narveson (10-7, 4.40) vs. Casey Coleman (2-8, 7.06)
Tuesday: Shaun Marcum (12-7, 3.40) vs. Randy Wells (7-4, 4.93)
Wednesday: Randy Wolf (13-9, 3.45) vs. Matt Garza (8-10, 3.51)
— Carrie Muskat