Chicago Cubs

Green light? Quade sends Cubs strong signals

Green light? Quade sends Cubs strong signals

Monday, April 11, 2011Posted: 9:45 PM Updated: 11:20 PM
By Patrick Mooney
CSNChicago.com

HOUSTON The day after, here was the image flashing on the television in one corner of the clubhouse: Marlon Byrd arguing with reporters before telling them to beat it.

The MLB Network ran the clip and while it may have caught the attention of a few players reclining in lounge chairs, the Cubs want the matter closed.

WATCH: Byrd snaps at reporters

Byrd led off the ninth inning of Sundays 6-5 loss to the Milwaukee Brewers with a line-drive single that raised his average to .342. Aramis Ramirez had already tied his career-high with three doubles when he stepped to the plate.

Moments later, Byrd was caught stealing second, a mistake manager Mike Quade called a miscommunication. Byrd couldnt believe that was the first thing the media asked him about. Byrd said he looks at third-base coach Ivan DeJesus.

I dont think he has the green light. Zeus didnt think (so), Quade said Monday. (Byrd) thought he did. (So) three of us screwed the thing up and then we move on and we try not to do that again.

That play didnt decide the game, but Byrds reaction generated all the headlines, and made it difficult to not blow out of proportion.

Quade estimated that he gives 60 or 70 signs each game offensive, defensive and catching. By the managers count, his players have only missed one or two through the seasons first nine games.

I wish (we) had a microphone to put in a guys helmet like they do in the NFL and say, Hey, look, youre gonna hit and run, Quade joked.

WATCH: Quade weighs in on the issue

Quade will not be standing on the top step of the dugout with headphones on and a play sheet covering his mouth. But he has tried to simplify the signs and still wants to pick his spots.

Starlin Castro got the green light and was the offensive spark in Mondays 5-4 win over the Houston Astros. He stole the teams first base of the season and combined with Darwin Barney at the top of the order to score all five runs and go 5-for-8 with two walks.

Kosuke Fukudome sat out with a hamstring strain he felt the day before. Though the Japanese outfielder said through an interpreter that he does not expect to go on the disabled list, the Cubs will monitor the situation day-to-day.

Castro also worked a 13-pitch at-bat before striking out in the sixth inning, showcasing his instincts and discipline at the plate, skills that could make him a leadoff hitter in Fukudomes absence. Castros goal is to steal 25 to 30 bases this season.

I feel comfortable, Castro said. First, second I dont care.

Quade once worked for an Oakland As organization that devalued stolen bases as part of their Moneyball philosophy. But for Quade, its mostly about the personnel. The Cubs finished tied for last in the majors in stolen bases last season.

Beyond the runner, the Cubs will take into account the pitchers time to the plate, what hes about to throw and whether hell use a slide step or a high leg kick.

We want to run intelligently, Quade said. I dont think people understand sometimes all the different factors that go into whether youre taking a shot to run or not.

Just because you dont have speed doesnt mean you dont take advantage of situations.

So given all the information thats synthesized into a split-second play, its probably not as simple as red light or green light, or safe or out.

Quade said the Cubs will turn the page, which is really just a nice way of saying the exact same thing as Byrd: Next question.
Patrick Mooney is CSNChicago.com's Cubs beat writer. Follow Patrick on Twitter @CSNMooney for up-to-the-minute Cubs news and views.

Jose Quintana’s ‘career-altering’ game has Cubs planning clinch party in St. Louis

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USA TODAY

Jose Quintana’s ‘career-altering’ game has Cubs planning clinch party in St. Louis

MILWAUKEE – The Cubs are going to destroy Busch Stadium’s visiting clubhouse. The rivalry has fundamentally shifted to the point where the St. Louis Cardinals are hanging around the National League’s wild-card race in a transition year and it would have been a massive failure if the defending World Series champs didn’t win this division. But there will be some symbolism to popping champagne bottles and spraying beer all over that room.

“We intend to clinch there,” Ben Zobrist said after Jose Quintana’s complete-game masterpiece in Sunday’s 5-0 win over the Milwaukee Brewers at Miller Park. “And I think for a lot of the guys that have been around here for a long time, it’s going to be very satisfying.”

Quintana has only been a Cub since the Brewers failed to close a deal with the White Sox and team president Theo Epstein swooped in to make a signature trade during the All-Star break. Quintana hasn’t yet pitched in the playoffs, but this is close enough, the Cubs winning back-to-back 10-inning games against the Brewers and shaking off a walk-off loss before the lefty faced off against Chase Anderson in front of a sellout crowd of 42,212.

Quintana gave the Cubs more data points to consider as they prepare for a probable first-round series against the Washington Nationals. The magic number to eliminate both the Brewers and Cardinals is two, with Milwaukee off on Monday and the Cubs playing a rivalry game in St. Louis that night, meaning the party goggles won’t come out until Tuesday at the earliest.

“It’s the playoffs already for this team,” said Zobrist, who again looked like a World Series MVP in the seventh inning of a 1-0 game when he launched Anderson’s first-pitch fastball into the second deck in right field for a two-run, breathing-room homer. “We’re already thinking that way.

“We’re in postseason mode right now. And we intend to continue that for the next month.”

While there are valid concerns about Jon Lester’s nosedive in performance since coming off the disabled list and the state of Jake Arrieta’s right hamstring, the focus should also be on how Quintana (7-3, 3.50 ERA in 13 starts as a Cub) could be an October game-changer for this rotation.

“Once he got over here, he was really jacked up about having a chance to play in the playoffs,” manager Joe Maddon said. “He’s showing you that right now. Games like that, to me, could be kind of career-altering for a pitcher.

“When you pitch a complete-game shutout on the road under these circumstances, that definitely does something for your interior. It definitely fluffs it up a little bit.”

“It’s exciting to be here,” said Quintana, who allowed only three singles, piled up 10 strikeouts against one walk and hit 93 mph on his 116th and final pitch in the ninth inning. “I just try to help my team and it’s really special when you get that opportunity. It’s about winning and I have a huge opportunity here.”

In all phases of the game – dominant starting pitching, an offense that created different ways to score runs, multiple bullpen contributors and an airtight defense that committed zero errors in 39 innings – Maddon saw what he was looking for: “We reacted in a playoff manner for these four games. Our mental intensity could not be beat.”

That drifting, in-and-out focus had been part of the background when the Cubs shocked the baseball world with the Quintana trade in the middle of July. Concentration won’t be an issue at Busch Stadium. And this hangover will be real.

“It will be nice to do it there, I’ll just say that,” said Zobrist, who understands the Cubs-Cardinals dynamic as someone who grew up in downstate Illinois. “But we got to win the games.

“As John Lackey said it before (this) series: ‘This is not a small series, boys.’ We knew it was a big one here in Milwaukee. And it will be another big one in St. Louis.”

Joe Maddon gives Cubs space during national anthem: ‘Everybody’s got the right to express themselves’

Joe Maddon gives Cubs space during national anthem: ‘Everybody’s got the right to express themselves’

MILWAUKEE – As protests formed at NFL stadiums across the country, sending an anti-Trump message after the president’s inflammatory rhetoric, a group of about 11 Cubs players and coaches stood off the third-base line while a men’s a cappella group sung the national anthem before Sunday’s 5-0 win over the Milwaukee Brewers at Miller Park.

The night before, Oakland A’s catcher Bruce Maxwell became the first Major League Baseball player to follow in Colin Kaepernick’s footsteps and kneel during the national anthem at the Oakland Coliseum, sending a jolt through a conservative industry.  

“Like I’ve always talked about, everybody’s got the right to express themselves in the manner in which they feel,” Cubs manager Joe Maddon said. “I’ve always felt that way.”

That’s easer said than done in a team sport that doesn’t have the same outspoken culture as NBA or NFL locker rooms. It will be fascinating to see if this starts a similar movement across baseball. The Cubs are a marquee team that has already visited the White House twice since January and will likely return to Washington in October for a must-watch playoff series against the Nationals.

“I have no idea,” Maddon said. “We’re going to wait and see. And, again, if it does, that’s fine. I have no issues. I’m all into self-expression. And if a player feels that he needs to express himself in that manner, then so be it.”

[RELATED — Joe Maddon feels the heat from White House comments and rethinks Trump vs. sports world]

Maxwell, the son of a U.S. Army veteran who made his big-league debut last year, told Bay Area reporters this decision had been building and rooted in his own childhood in Alabama, where Trump appeared on Friday at a rally for Republican Senate candidate Luther Strange and told the crowd that NFL owners should fire any “son of a b----” kneeling during the national anthem.      

“The point of my kneeling was not to disrespect our military or our constitution or our country,” Maxwell said. “My hand was over my heart because I love this country and I have family members, including my father, who bled for this country, and who continue to serve.

“At the end of the day, this is the best country on the planet. I am and forever will be an American citizen and grateful to be here. But my kneeling is what’s getting the attention, and I’m kneeling for the people who don’t have a voice.

“This goes beyond the black and Hispanic communities because right now we have a racial divide that’s being practiced from the highest power we have in this country saying it’s basically OK to treat people differently. I’m kneeling for a cause, but I’m in no way disrespecting my country or my flag.”

Maddon’s anti-rules philosophy gives the Cubs the space to do whatever they think’s necessary to get ready for the next game. It’s freedom from: dress codes on road trips, guidelines on facial hair and overloaded mandatory batting-practice sessions.

That hands-off approach has worked to the point where the defending World Series champs could clinch a second straight National League Central title as soon as Tuesday at Busch Stadium and celebrate in front of the St. Louis Cardinals. It’s not unusual to see only a small group of players, coaches and staffers standing on the field during the national anthem.

“That’s up to them,” Maddon said. “I’ve never really had a policy regarding being out for the anthem or not. A lot of times guys like to do different things right before the game begins. Sometimes, you’re on the road, you hit later and you get in later and then your time is at a premium. So I’ve never really had a specific theory about coming out for your anthem at all.”