Former Chicago Cubs manager Mike Quade said Wednesday he doesn't believe his fate was sealed by the lack of a quality roster for the 2011 season.
Quade was fired by new president of baseball operations Theo Epstein and general manager Jed Hoyer after his first full season as a major league manager ended with a 71-91 record.
"I don't think we were dealt a losing hand at all, and it's too easy to go back and say that, especially now if you're me," Quade said on "The Waddle & Silvy Show" on ESPN 1000. "Happy with way guys competed."
The Cubs lost two starting pitchers to injuries in the first week of the season, and they also endured several incidents on and off the field. Perhaps the most controversial was when Carlos Zambrano left Atlanta's Turner Field during a game in August and said he was retiring, although he quickly recanted.
The Cubs put Zambrano on the disqualified list, and when he was activated after a grievance was filed, he was not invited back to the team. His future with the Cubs is uncertain.
"The thing with Z, I got the biggest kick out of people talking about him being disrespectful in that situation," Quade said. "Z's blown [his stack] with a number of guys, Lou [Piniella], Dusty [Baker], Derrek [Lee], pick your guy. That's just his nature. When things go they go.
"I didn't take that personally. I felt terrible about it. Obviously wish it wouldn't have happened, and heck the son of a gun pitched really good for us. You make decisions and you're not going to please everybody all the time, but I think in general having those guys back and trying to win games no matter what the situation is what he stayed focused on."
Quade said what hurt more was a dugout confrontation with Ryan Dempster after Quade pulled Dempster from a game in Pittsburgh. The argument was caught on camera.
"I think our relationship maybe made it hurt more than most situations," Quade said. "Still in all, whether it was Z, whether it was Demps, any confrontation or anything that happens you always feel unfortunate about.
"You're always making decisions that are right for the club and right for the individual and guys don't agree sometimes. It's not unique to Mike Quade and not unique to baseball. It hurt, but those things happen. I didn't take it personally and I don't think Demps did either."
Quade said physical and mental maturity will help 21-year-old All-Star shortstop Starlin Castro, whose concentration and focus were called into question at times this year.
One criticism Quade did take exception to was that he erred in not playing his younger players after the Cubs were effectively eliminated from contention with over a month remaining in the season. Even though he had a year left on his contract, many thought Quade was trying to save his job by playing veterans he thought gave him a better chance to win. And since general manager Jim Hendry was fired in July and a new regime likely would consider bringing in a new manager, Quade's concern seemed legitimate.
But playing veterans who helped forge such a disappointing season didn't sit well with many, who felt they would rather see what the Cubs have in their younger players.
"I think [the criticism is] wrong, and what young kids are we talking about?" Quade said. "If somebody said, 'We're going to re-sign you for three years, play them all, and if you lose every game we don't care.' Well, then maybe it's a different deal. But no one came across with that proposition."
In the end, it didn't matter. Quade was fired and the search for his replacement is under way.
Quade flew to Chicago to talk to Epstein and Hoyer before the Cubs brass announced his fate. It was a seven-hour meeting, and Quade said he felt the new Cubs executives came in with open minds.
"I think they were open in a big way," Quade said. "It was about as constructive a seven-hour meeting -- I don't know if I've had any seven-hour meetings -- as constructive a time as I've spent talking to a GM or baseball people in general. There was very little that was left unsaid or talked about as far as everything from the roster to philosophy, strategy and everything else. I enjoyed it very much and felt pretty good."
Epstein flew to Florida to meet face to face with Quade to tell him of his decision.
Quade said he wasn't offered a different position with the team and wouldn't have accepted it anyway.
"It doesn't seem appropriate to me," Quade said. "If you're a longtime manager stepping away and somebody is taking over, then absolutely. Or if you're another position as a coach, then why not.
"But if you're running the club, when you're managing the club, it would just be an awkward situation. I think Theo and Jed are looking to shake things up and wanted to change things and I got caught in the switch."