Tom Ricketts thanks Cubs for big finish

HOUSTON -- Chicago Cubs chairman of the board Tom Ricketts flew to Houston on Sunday before their season finale to thank the team for its effort this season, particularly over the last 35 games under interim manager Mike Quade.

The Cubs have posted the second-best record in the National League (24-12) since Aug. 23, when Quade took over for retired manager Lou Piniella.

One player, who asked for anonymity, said the meeting with the entire team and coaching staff was "a good one, short and sweet, thanking us for our contributions at the end of this season and a message to go get 'em for next year."

The process for hiring a new manager will end sometime in the middle of October, according to Cubs general manager Jim Hendry. There are currently three strong candidates for the job, and at this point, Quade may be considered the front-runner.

"It's been an extremely well-run club the last 36 games," Hendry said on Sunday. "We won a lot of games, which I said from day one wasn't going to be a requirement for Mike to be a contender in the end, but it sure has been nice. He's mixed and matched the veterans and young players as well. Yeah, he's done a fine job, he really has."

Iowa Cubs manager Ryne Sandberg and former Indians manager Eric Wedge appear to be the other finalists for the job. Wedge has had a second and a third interview with the Cubs, according to major league sources.

Quade said on Sunday that he'll go home in the next four or five days and wait to hear from Cub management as to what their next plan is.

Hendry is on record as saying that Quade will be interviewed sometime after the season ends.

Bruce Levine covers the Cubs for ESPNChicago.com and ESPN 1000.