Chicago Cubs: Mike Quade
2. Santo inducted into Hall: Almost one year to the day after his death, Ron Santo was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame with 94 percent of the vote from the veterans committee. The former third baseman and broadcaster had been passed over by the Baseball Writers' Association of America for 15 years and the veteran's committee another 10. He became the 47th player to wear a Cubs uniform enshrined into Cooperstown. Santo hit .277 with 342 home runs and 1,333 RBIs in a 15-year career. He called Cubs games as the radio analyst for 21 seasons until his death in 2010.
4. Castro's emergence: With 207 hits, Starlin Castro became the youngest player to not only lead the NL in hits but also the youngest player in Cubs history to make a NL All-Star team. Castro became only the fifth player in All-Star history to steal two bases in an All-Star Game. He led the league in at-bats (674) and also led NL shortstops in errors with 29, playing 158 out of 162 games. Castro also had five hitting streaks of 10 games or more. He came under fire for having his back turned to home plate as a pitch was thrown during a nationally-televised game in August. The mistake was noted by an ESPN producer and relayed to Bobby Valentine, becoming national news.
5. Zambrano quits the team: The always unpredictable pitcher walked out of the clubhouse and announced to team personnel that he was quitting baseball after an embarrassing performance in Atlanta on Aug. 12. Zambrano gave up a Cubs-record five home runs in 4 1/3 innings before being ejected for throwing inside on Chipper Jones twice in the same at-bat. After storming out of the clubhouse, Zambrano was put on the disqualified list and never pitched again for the Cubs in 2011. Epstein met with Zambrano and agent Barry Praver on Nov. 15 and told him if he worked hard in winter ball he would have a chance to re-build his career and his relationship with his teammates in 2012. Zambrano received 19 stitches after taking a line drive off his mouth in his third start in Venezuela in November.
The newspaper reports that former Red Sox first base coach Ron Johnson, former Mets bench coach Ken Oberkfell, former Braves hitting coach Larry Parrish and former White Sox third base coach Jeff Cox are also in the running for the Rochester job.
The Twins are replacing Tom Nieto.
Quade has extensive experience in the minor leagues, having won over 1,000 games as a manager in a career that started in 1985.
The Cubs fired Quade after a 71-91 season.
After another conversation with Chicago Cubs president of baseball operations Theo Epstein on Tuesday, Mike Quade was hopeful his face-to-face meeting with Epstein in Tampa would have a happy ending.
“We had a really nice lunch at the Capitol Grill in Tampa,” Quade told ESPN Chicago on Wednesday. “Unfortunately, it didn’t quite end the way I was hoping it would.”
Quade was told by Epstein that the team was moving on without him as manager in 2012.
“Very disappointing,” Quade said. “But Theo and [GM] Jed [Hoyer] were first class all the way with me. I really enjoyed our conversations during our meetings. I truly wish them well.”
The promising managing career that began with a 24-13 finish in 2010, ended for Quade with a 71-91 record and fifth-place finish in 2011. His only full season with the Cubs featured more drama in the team's clubhouse than on the baseball field.
The 2011 season will be remembered for the Carlos Silva’s spring training fight, the hassle with Ryan Dempster in July and Zambrano’s August meltdown in Atlanta, all of which overshadowed anything that happened on the field last season.
“I know I can manage in the big leagues and win as a big league manager,” Quade said. “We got a taste of that winning in 2010, but everyone knows the game is about the players, and this year we weren’t deep enough as an organization to survive some of the injuries. I know we played better baseball the last couple of months of the season, but we all know that wasn’t good enough.”
Quade leaves Chicago with a 95-104 record and a lot of friendships that he believes will be lasting.
Truthfully, Quade was dealt an average hand with his 25-man roster in 2011, but he wasn’t really able to do much with it after losing a pair of starting pitchers in the season’s first week. To be blunt, Quade didn’t play the young players at his disposal as much as he should have. It appeared he tried to appease the veterans by giving bench players such as Reed Johnson and Jeff Baker at-bats, instead of some high-upside young talent. In Quade’s opinion some of those young players weren’t ready for the major leagues.
You might not have liked Quade as the Cubs’ manager, but his quality as a person and a baseball man cannot be questioned. He never ducked a hard question, and never once complained about having a bad team or player who couldn’t get it done. What the 53-year-old baseball lifer said about Epstein and Hoyer holds true about Quade as well. He’s first-class all the way.
Quade does leave Chicago with an generous parting gift: a million dollars for the 2012 season.
“I’d give back all that money for another shot at winning this year,” Quade said.
Chicago Cubs president of baseball operations Theo Epstein crossed Ryne Sandberg off the list of potential Cubs managers as soon as the search for Mike Quade's replacement began.
In his statement announcing that Quade wouldn't return next year, Epstein laid out criteria for the next manager. And one qualification excluded Sandberg, who was a Cubs Hall of Fame second baseman and highly successful manager in the minor leagues.
"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 in the release.
By all accounts, Sandberg possesses all of those qualities, except the last one.
ESPN The Magazine's Buster Olney reported that Epstein reached out to Sandberg to tell him he's not in their plans.
Epstein and general manager Jed Hoyer met Quade for a lengthy meeting in Chicago last week.
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Theo and Co., roll up your sleeves and make the same magic happen as in Boston. If you can pull it off, Mayor Emanuel will be naming the streets after you.
Owner Tom Ricketts said from the start that his search for a new general manager would be kept under wraps. As the Chicago Cubs come close to finalizing a deal for Boston Red Sox general manager Theo Epstein, that low-key approach apparently extended to the team's manager Mike Quade.
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The Chicago Cubs’ seemingly imminent hiring of former Boston Red Sox general manager Theo Epstein should be met with approval by the vast majority of the fan base. After all, in Tom Ricketts’ pursuit of his front office chief of the future, he was looking for a man like Epstein.
Up until 10 days ago, the Ricketts family never imagined Epstein would be the man to fulfill the void created by the Jim Hendry’s late-season firing. From the very beginning, Epstein was at the top of the Cubs’ wish list, Major League sources said. Tampa’s Andrew Friedman, Oakland’s Billy Beane and New York’s Brian Cashman were perceived by the Cubs as the other front-line candidates. Those three never interviewed with the Cubs, sources indicated.
It took a perfect storm of circumstance to bring the Cubs and Epstein together.
Boston’s colossal collapse – the Red Sox squandered a nine-game September lead to lose the AL Wild Card – led to a mutual parting of the ways between the organization and manager Terry Francona. That September swoon, which caused the Red Sox to miss the playoffs for the second consecutive season, also put Epstein in a difficult situation. He had one year left on his contract and his power within the organization was eroding.
The first inkling that the Red Sox would part with Epstein was on Friday, Oct. 7, when owner John Henry stated on WEEI radio that regardless of how the situation worked out, “Theo is not going to be general manager forever.”
The best leverage the savvy exec had was 1,000 miles away, where a new ownership group was looking for a young, exciting baseball man capable of combing the worlds of sabermetrics and conventional scouting in his player evaluation.
Epstein will have a honeymoon period with ownership, fans and the media during his first year on the job. He’ll need it; the Cubs’ farm system – although improved and somewhat productive over the past three years – still has a ways to go in producing enough talent to allow the team to bypass the free-agent market for pitching and hitting help.
In spite of Epstein’s addition, the Cubs’ payroll likely will be in the neighborhood of $130 million – the same figure Jim Hendry had to work with in 2010. Epstein will inherit the locked-in contracts of Alfonso Soriano, Carlos Zambrano and Ryan Dempster. The Cubs owe Soriano $54 million, Zambrano $18 million and Dempster $14 million – assuming he elects to pick up a player option for the 2011 season.
The biggest challenge for Epstein will be remaining patient. An initial trade or two should help invigorate a team that has finished in fifth place the past two seasons. The learning curve for Epstein in Chicago will include spending free agent money wisely. With a lesser budget than he had to work with the past few years, Epstein must avoid cumbersome contracts. His bad signings include Julio Lugo, JD Drew, Mike Cameron, Daisuke Matsuzaka, John Lackey and Carl Crawford. In fairness to Epstein, his commitment to the Red Sox’s farm system and his overall approach to scouting in Latin America and the Pacific Rim, have given the Red Sox a steady flow of good talent to augment his free agent signings and trades.
Among Epstein’s first moves will be to address the Cubs’ manager post. Incumbent Mike Quade and his coaching staff will have to be informed in a timely fashion what their future holds. Of the Cubs' staff, only Quade and hitting coach Rudy Jaramillo are under contract in 2012. At the end of the 2011 season, Quade told his staff they were free to seek out new employment after he was told by Ricketts that hiring a new GM would take upwards of a month.
Rumors have had former Red Sox manager Francona and Hall of Famer Ryne Sandberg as possible candidates. Epstein tried to hire Sandberg as a Triple-A manager in Boston’s farm system prior to the 2011 season. A Major League Baseball source with knowledge of the Epstein interview process said that Sandberg’s name wasn’t mentioned when Epstein was asked about future managerial candidates if Quade was replaced.
It’s being presumed Epstein will have total baseball authority, which may have been a factor in his decision to take the job. In Boston, Epstein was engaged in a power struggle with team president Larry Lucchino. Keep in mind that Epstein was brought through the ranks in both San Diego and Boston by the aggressive and sometimes acerbic Lucchino. This move will allow Epstein to be his own man at the very top rung of the Cubs’ organization. With Luchino in place, that was unlikely to happen in Boston.
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