The buzz is continuing to grow around Quade

272251.jpg

The buzz is continuing to grow around Quade

Thursday, Sept. 30, 2010
1:25 AM

By Patrick Mooney
CSNChicago.com

SAN DIEGO Arms folded across his chest and a smile on his face, Mike Quade sat behind his desk late Tuesday night, enjoying the 21st victory of his major-league managing career.

Quades teams won 1,213 games across his 17 years as a manager in the minors, but his bullpen decisions were never scrutinized like this in Rockford or Des Moines, Iowa, or at any of his eight other stops.

Near the end of his postgame media session in his office, Quade was asked about Carlos Marmols availability for Wednesday. The Cubs closer had been used on back-to-back nights, and in three of the past four games.

You will not see him, Quade said. You have a better chance of me waking up with hair.

Marmol wasnt needed during Wednesdays 3-0 loss to a San Diego Padres team that desperately needed a win at PETCO Park to stay in the playoff hunt. But it would be interesting to see if Quade could maintain his sense of humor like that over the course of a 162-game season, if a multi-year deal to take on one of the toughest jobs in sports would change him.

The chances of that happening seem to increase with each endorsement from a key player in the clubhouse, though ultimately it will come down to general manager Jim Hendry bringing his short list of candidates to ownership.

Whats most striking is the language. Ryan Dempster said great job three times during a 27-second response to a question about Quade. Geovany Soto indicated that Quade would be welcomed with open arms if he returns.

Ask Marlon Byrd or Aramis Ramirez if they want Quade back, and youll get an answer like Who wouldnt? or Of course.

I dont know if anybody else could have done any better than what hes doing right now, Ramirez said. After we traded some good pieces away, he came in and (did) a great job with the players. He knows what hes doing. You can tell.

Hes been doing it for awhile. He just hadnt got the opportunity to manage up here.

Lou Piniellas resignation on Aug. 22 didnt come as a total shock, given the state of the team and his mothers declining health. You could even argue the bigger surprise was that the job didnt go to bench coach Alan Trammell, who had previously filled in for Piniella and managed the Detroit Tigers for three seasons.

Quade didnt have the name recognition of Trammell, much less Ryne Sandberg or Joe Girardi, two perceived favorites.

I always like the underdog, Quade said. People that are making decisions will make decisions. So you guys can put the lines and the odds on (it). When it comes to being underdogs and handicapping, Ill stick to horses.

The Cubs (72-86) are 21-12 under Quade after being shut out for the 14th time this season. The Padres are built upon pitching and defense and they showed that when center fielder Will Venable robbed Alfonso Soriano and Ramirez of potential home runs with two great catches.

In the third inning Venable leaped, extended his arm into the stands and crashed his body into the wall, right in between the Budweiser and Subway advertisements. Ramirez couldnt remember hitting a ball that hard without it going over the fence.

The Padres (88-70) are two games behind the San Francisco Giants in the National League West and trail the Atlanta Braves by 1 12 games in the wild-card race. Randy Wells had no margin for error and gave up three runs across seven innings, ending his second year in the majors at 8-14 with a 4.26 ERA.

Continually making mistakes (is) not the way to make a long career in this game, Wells said. You just got to reflect on the season and come back fresh next year and roll the dice, see what happens.

Maybe thats what the Cubs ultimately do with Quade. The players would approve that decision, but also understand their limits. Byrd, one of the clubhouse leaders, wouldnt go to management with a request.

That's not my job at all, Byrd said. Hendry has a better feel than I do. He knows what he wants to do. Everyone in this organization trusts him, and that's why he's been given the job to name the next manager. Whoever he's going to bring in is going to do an excellent job, and we're going to play for him hard.

Patrick Mooney is CSNChicago.com's Cubs beat writer. Follow Patrick on Twitter @CSNMooney for up-to-the-minute Cubs news and views.

Cubs: The next steps for Kyle Schwarber

Cubs: The next steps for Kyle Schwarber

NATIONAL HARBOR, Md. – Kyle Schwarber might have been the most dangerous hitter in a World Series lineup that featured the National League MVP plus four more All-Stars. After spending more than six months recovering from major knee surgery. Against Cy Young Award winner Corey Kluber and a dominant Cleveland Indians bullpen.

“He’s not going to play winter ball,” Cubs general manager Jed Hoyer said with a perfect deadpan delivery. “We felt like he proved he can hit major-league pitching.”

The Cubs spent Monday at the winter meetings inside the Gaylord National Resort & Convention Center, continuing their search for pitching on the outskirts of Washington, D.C. The Cubs are so stacked with hitters that manager Joe Maddon could write out a 2017 Opening Day lineup tomorrow and Theo Epstein’s front office would still have Jorge Soler left over as trade bait.

Schwarber could hit second for the defending World Series champs, and his presence would mean more than any player the Cubs could sign as a free agent. The Cubs expect him to be at full strength by spring training, though it’s unclear how much work, if any, he’ll get as a catcher.

[SHOP CUBS: Get your World Series champions gear right here]

“That’s the hurdle we haven’t really gone over yet,” Hoyer said. “Can he do it? There’s no question he’s going to want to do it. I think he can do it. I think that we have to have discussions about how heavy a workload we put on him in that regard.

“One of the things we talked about even last year before he got hurt was (how) he’s doing full catching drills, running around the outfield, doing stuff hitting. That’s a lot to put on a guy, sort of like playing two ways in football.”

Schwarber, an all-Ohio linebacker in high school, has a run-through-a-brick-wall mentality and doesn’t like to hear about what he can’t do. He wrecked his left knee in an outfield collision in early April and needed a procedure that reconstructed his ACL and repaired his LCL.

It took only two warm-up games in the Arizona Fall League before Schwarber made his dramatic return as the designated hitter at Progressive Field, batting .412 (7-for-17) with a .971 OPS during the World Series. 

The Cubs appear to be set with Willson Contreras and Miguel Montero behind the plate, but Schwarber is the type of baseball gym rat who enjoys breaking down video, giving input for scouting reports and being involved in every pitch.  

“We have to talk through all that stuff,” Hoyer said. “We know what his position’s going to be, so we have to figure out what our position’s going to be. I know he’s going to want to catch.

“But he knows he’s coming in as a left fielder next year. And we have to decide how much of the catching drills (he does).”

Kenley Jansen? Wade Davis? Cubs keeping an open mind for the ninth inning

Kenley Jansen? Wade Davis? Cubs keeping an open mind for the ninth inning

NATIONAL HARBOR, Md. – The San Francisco Giants had been three outs away from forcing an elimination game that Johnny Cueto would have started at Wrigley Field – and five different relievers couldn’t protect a three-run lead against a Cubs team that made a stunning comeback.

That October crash reverberated throughout the winter meetings as a $10 billion industry gathered outside Washington, D.C. The Giants bought peace of mind for the ninth inning on Monday and finalized a four-year, $62 million deal with Mark Melancon. For the moment, that will be the biggest contract ever for a closer, at least until Kenley Jansen and Aroldis Chapman shatter that record.

The Cubs have been in contact with Jansen’s camp, sources said, monitoring his market to see if there might be a match as the World Series champs try to upgrade the bullpen this week at the Gaylord National Resort & Convention Center.

Theo Epstein’s front office doesn’t necessarily have a singular focus – believe the reports linking the Cubs to Kansas City Royals closer Wade Davis – or the appetite to win a Jansen bidding war that will include the Los Angeles Dodgers and Miami Marlins and perhaps the New York Yankees and Washington Nationals.

But after telling everyone that they did two offseasons in one last winter – and spending almost $290 million on free agents – this is where the Cubs could make a splash.

“It’s safe to say we’re kicking the tires on any pitching that’s available,” general manager Jed Hoyer said during his briefing with the Chicago media. “We’re not spending a lot of time on bats. We’re spending a lot of times on arms. Anyone that’s available, we’re going to sort of be in on and talking about.”

Cubs manager Joe Maddon watched Jansen’s cutter up close and gave this endorsement during the National League Championship Series: “He’s like a 100-pound heavier version of Mariano Rivera.”

Jansen, a homegrown Dodger, converted from catcher and developed into an elite closer, saving 189 games while putting up a 2.20 career ERA and 13.9 strikeouts per nine innings.

Jansen just turned 29 and already showed a willingness to pitch outside the ninth inning and go for more than three outs, something that didn’t come easily for Chapman in an October where former Yankee teammate Andrew Miller became an American League Championship Series MVP for the Cleveland Indians.

[SHOP CUBS: Get your World Series champions gear right here]

“The postseason was reliever-centric,” Hoyer said. “Bullpens have always been really valuable, but I think the way they were used and talked about – really, not even this postseason, but the last two or three postseasons – people are definitely putting a lot of financial importance on having a good bullpen.”

Kansas City’s blueprint for winning back-to-back pennants and the 2015 World Series featured Davis, who posted a 0.94 ERA during that championship season. But Davis dealt with a strained right forearm this year and will make $10 million in his final season before free agency, at a time when the Royals can begin to see their window to contend closing.

The Cubs haven’t made Chapman a priority – and Epstein’s group has been philosophically opposed to the idea of investing big money in a closer – but they also know they probably don’t get that parade down Lake Shore Drive and Michigan Avenue without that blockbuster deal with the Yankees.

“We see the value of it,” Hoyer said. “Look, we traded a great young prospect in Gleyber Torres to get Chapman, because we felt like that was an area that we were a little bit short. We felt like in order to win the World Series, we had to have that kind of guy at the end of the game. It proved to be right.

“In order to get those really difficult final outs in the postseason, having an elite guy is certainly a huge advantage.”

So if the White Sox become the Chicago team that makes most of the headlines here – and in-house options like Hector Rondon, Carl Edwards Jr. and Pedro Strop disappoint – the Cubs can always reassess at the trade deadline.

“We’ll bolster our bullpen,” Hoyer said. “Whether you do that by adding just a number of good relievers – or whether we do it by adding a guy that’s sort of a known closer – I’m not sure. But we’ll definitely add to our bullpen.”