Dempster endorses Quade for next season

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Dempster endorses Quade for next season

Wednesday, Sept. 29, 2010
2:14 AM

By Patrick MooneyCSNChicago.com

SAN DIEGO Ryan Dempster is nearing the end of his seventh season with the Cubs, so he fully understands what it takes to play every day in the Wrigley Field fishbowl.

His voice carries weight with the young pitchers in the clubhouse and he is well-liked within the organization. He can be insightful and good for a one-liner or two, but overall he measures his words carefully in public.

All that made Dempsters endorsement of Mike Quade resonate. He gave it late Tuesday night after a 5-2 victory at PETCO Park. This late surge might keep the San Diego Padres out of the playoffs and cement Quades candidacy.

Hes been very upfront and very honest with all of us, Dempster said. Hes been tremendously supportive. Hes given us a lot of confidence to go out there. What hes done for the bullpen those guys have really stepped up with his belief in them.

Hes done a great job and I hope that hes here longer than just this year (and) managing for us next year because he deserves it. Hes done everything theyve asked.

While the 87-70 Padres fell two games back in the National League West and 1.5 behind in the wild-card race the Cubs were in a very good mood.

Dempster lobbied for Marlon Byrd to win a Gold Glove after the center fielder made another great diving catch. They were buzzing about the 100 mph fastball Andrew Cashner blew by Adrian Gonzalez to end the eighth inning.

They yelled out High definition! to make fun of Welington Castillos bright orange polo shirt. One staffer put on his sunglasses and walked up to the rookie catcher to get a better look and draw laughter from around the room.

It wasnt quiet because Dempster (15-11) allowed two runs across seven innings, finishing strong by getting three consecutive strikeouts with two runners on in the seventh. And because Alfonso Soriano hit his 23rd and 24th home runs of the season.

The 72-85 Cubs are now 21-11 since Quade took over and beating teams that are fighting to get into the playoffs.

Unbelievable, Byrd said of the job Quades done. The record speaks for itself the way were playing, the way were executing (and) the moves hes making. Hes showing us (that) he has the qualifications (and) can get a team to play for him.

So far, that includes everyone from the rookies out of the bullpen to Carlos Zambrano. Everyone tries to read Zambranos moods and interpret his postgame quotes for a deeper meaning. He stared down a reporter Monday night for describing him in print as a former ace.

Those kind of descriptions I have no time for whatsoever, Quade said. Does an ace mean this moment? Does it mean the entire year (or) body of work? I dont know. You guys sell papers and do what you do names like that mean nothing to me.

Quade isnt into labels though the Cubs purposely didnt name him their interim manager for the final 37 games of the season. He went from the third-base coach who always seemed to be walking quickly through the clubhouse with his head down to meeting with the media before and after every game.

Everybodys different, Quade said. Some people read a lot of stuff, some people dont. I happen to be a guy that pays attention, but doesnt get locked in to 58 articles a day. Other guys are more sensitive to that stuff (but) this is a grow-ups game.

Yes, its a business and Quade understands that. Other candidates will be interviewed. There are only five more games remaining. But hes already won over several key players.

If hes not here (next season), hes had an unbelievable audition, Byrd said. We feel like we owe it to him to play hard. I think everyone (respects) him.

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

Cubs: Ben Zobrist's path back to October and a possible three-peat

Cubs: Ben Zobrist's path back to October and a possible three-peat

MESA, Ariz. – Ben Zobrist is focused on a personal three-peat, not worrying about a changing of the guard or any awkward moments with Javier Baez. Cubs manager Joe Maddon has repeatedly said that Zobrist will be the primary second baseman and another "Javy Being Javy" highlight reel from the World Baseball Classic won't change that thinking right now.

Zobrist sees the big picture better than almost anyone else in the clubhouse after going undrafted out of Eureka High School in downstate Illinois, perfecting the super-utility role Maddon envisioned with the Tampa Bay Rays and helping transform the 2015 Kansas City Royals into World Series champions.

While Baez started all 17 playoff games at second base last year, bursting onto the scene as the National League Championship co-MVP, Zobrist became the World Series MVP with his clutch hitting and still has three seasons left on his $56 million contract.

Maddon didn't spare anyone's feelings during the playoffs, turning $184 million outfielder Jason Heyward into a part-time player, giving a quick hook to major-league ERA leader Kyle Hendricks and shunning relievers not named Aroldis Chapman.

"We haven't had an extended conversation about it," Zobrist said. "But at the beginning of spring, we talked about it. I think his words were: ‘I really think rest is the next improvement in player performance.' Learning what rest means, what good rest is for players and what kind of rest certain players need versus others.

"That doesn't necessarily mean just because you're 35. It could mean you're 25 and you still got to take care of yourself and make sure you're getting the proper rest. Because we have such a deep team, he's able to do that at any given point in time and still feel confident about the team we have on the field.

"It's a good problem to have when you have really good players not playing and sitting on the bench. We had that all last year and we had guys accept their role and just buy into the team concept.

"The makeup of this team is the same, basically. We've got a few new guys and they've got the same mindset, so I anticipate more of the same."

Injuries are one variable that prevents Maddon from getting too stressed out about dividing the playing time over 162 games while the NCAA tournament is still going. Zobrist's stiff neck felt good enough to hit leadoff and play right field in Tuesday afternoon's 10-7 loss to the San Francisco Giants, seeing his first Cactus League action since March 19.

Zobrist plans to play again on Wednesday in Mesa and catch up with more at-bats on the minor-league side of the complex. Assuming Zobrist and All-Star shortstop Addison Russell (stiff back) are ready for Opening Night, Baez will be an NLCS MVP, all-WBC talent waiting for the right matchup or break in the schedule or to sub in as a defensive replacement.

"It's pretty impressive, looking around at the young talent in this clubhouse," Zobrist said. "All throughout spring training, we've seen there's definitely other talent coming, so this team is poised to have a good, long run of success. If everybody stays healthy and we stay together, this is a very good team.

"The biggest thing that I go into the season with this year is we have to be healthy and we have to make sure that we don't relax too much. That's the temptation for teams that just won, to go: OK, well, we're tired, because we had a long season last year and you kind of just assume things are going to go as well as they did.

"You can't assume anything. No matter how good this team is, we have to still go out and execute and perform – and that's going to determine where we are in the standings."

In real time, as the Cubs experienced their lowest moments during last year's regular season, Zobrist correctly pointed out the exhaustion factor while the team played 24 days in a row, losing 15 of their last 21 games before the All-Star break.

What looks like overwhelming depth on paper should help the 2017 Cubs survive and advance into October.

"It's huge," Zobrist said. "It's up and down the lineup on offense. It's all throughout the pitching staff and on the defensive side. It's so deep that you can absorb a little bit of injury here and there.

"With that being said, there are certain guys that you just don't want to lose. So we got to protect everybody. We got to protect our horses – both on the mound and in the lineup – and just make sure that we have our key cogs in there. And if we do, we're as good, if not better, than anybody out there."

Cubs return Rule 5 lefty Caleb Smith to Yankees as roster comes into focus

Cubs return Rule 5 lefty Caleb Smith to Yankees as roster comes into focus

MESA, Ariz. - Matt Szczur vs. Tommy La Stella - and a combination of right/left, outfield/infield and contractual considerations - appears to be the final decision as the Cubs shape their Opening Night roster.

The Cubs returned Rule 5 lefty Caleb Smith to the New York Yankees on Tuesday and assigned injured non-roster players Jemile Weeks and Chris Dominguez to minor-league camp. That left 27 players still technically in the mix, though depth catcher Carlos Corporan isn't really part of that conversation.

The projected eight-man bullpen would look like this: Wade Davis; Koji Uehara; Pedro Strop; Hector Rondon; Carl Edwards Jr.; Justin Grimm; and lefties Mike Montgomery and Brian Duensing.

Szczur, who is out of minor-league options, could be a good fourth outfielder on a team that didn't have so much depth and World Series expectations, making him a potential trade chip for pitching. La Stella offers infield insurance and a left-handed bat off the bench.