As manager search continues, Wells impresses


As manager search continues, Wells impresses

Tuesday, Sept. 14, 2010
11:26 PM
By Patrick Mooney

ST. LOUIS Mike Quade took over a team adrift, and he was assured that he would be judged beyond wins and losses. No matter what criteria general manager Jim Hendry laid out that night, it was an offer Quade couldnt refuse.

Quade understands the process, that Hendrys due diligence will lead him to other candidates. He could be developing players for the next Cubs manager, and he already inherited several from Ryne Sandbergs Triple-A Iowa team.

Fredi Gonzalez declined a chance to interview for the job, according to Tuesdays AOL FanHouse report. Gonzalez has a history with Hendry, as they have ties in Miami and worked together in the Florida Marlins organization.

The Marlins fired Gonzalez in June, but hes viewed as the leading candidate to replace Bobby Cox. Gonzalez used to be the Braves third-base coach and has a home in the Atlanta area and was reportedly high on Hendrys short list.

Bob Melvin who managed the Seattle Mariners and Arizona Diamondbacks and now scouts for the New York Mets is expected to speak with the Cubs.

Sandberg was publicly identified as a candidate nearly two months ago. Hendry has already met with Eric Wedge, who was one game away from leading the Cleveland Indians to the 2007 World Series before being fired last year.

With the way things are moving, Quade might want to be evaluated by the scoreboard and not teaching moments. After Randy Wells dominated the St. Louis Cardinals in a 7-2 victory on Tuesday night, the Cubs improved to 13-7 since Quades promotion.

Im too honest to say Im not looking at our record, Quade said. Im proud of the progress that we see. Can you make progress and lose? Yeah, but right now its (working out) and theres still plenty of work to do.

But to me (its) so far, so good. Im happy with the way theyre going about their business.

This is a diminished Cubs-Cardinals series, and not just because Lou Piniella isnt staring out across the field at Tony La Russa, his childhood friend from Tampa, Fla.

The day after the Cubs (64-81) were officially eliminated from playoff contention, a Baseball Prospectus simulation that plays the rest of the season a million times gave the Cardinals (74-69) a 1.5 percent chance of winning the National League Central.

And Albert Pujols wasnt in Tuesdays lineup, resting his left elbow after getting a cortisone shot. It didnt matter to Wells, who grew up in downstate Belleville and made his first career start at Busch Stadium in front of 40,509 fans.

This is my team its no secret. This is a great baseball town, Wells said. The people are passionate about their team just like Chicago and until youre drafted or signed by a team its tough to let go of something like that. But it was nice to see family and friends (dressed) in blue and cheering me on.

My grandma told me to take it easy on the Cardinals. I was like, What is that all about?

Wells limited St. Louis to one run on five hits across eight innings, striking out five and walking none. He is now 7-13 with 4.46 ERA in what he admits has been a disappointing second season on the major-league level.

Once viewed as a No. 3 starter at the beginning of the season while Ted Lilly recovered from offseason shoulder surgery, Wells has slid to the back of a rotation that has incorporated Casey Coleman and Jeff Samardzija.

Wells will be pushed, but so will everyone else without a no-trade clause in his contract. Like Quade, he hopes he does his job well enough that the Cubs dont need to look at other options.

There are guys coming up here that can throw just as good as I can or better, Wells said. The key to this whole thing is keeping those guys off your tail and not giving the team a reason or a chance to fill your spot.

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

Cubs hoping Kyle Schwarber can make World Series comeback

Cubs hoping Kyle Schwarber can make World Series comeback

As if the possibility of clinching their first National League pennant in 71 years didn’t create enough drama and excitement in Wrigleyville, the Cubs have sent Kyle Schwarber to the Arizona Fall League, hoping he can add another chapter to his October legend.
Schwarber earned this chance after beating every expectation in his recovery from major surgery on his left knee in April. The Cubs haven’t ruled anything in or out – and still need to beat the Los Angeles Dodgers one more time this weekend – but they want to see how he responds on Saturday with the Mesa Solar Sox and ultimately decide if he would be a viable designated-hitter option for the World Series.
Schwarber gained clearance on Monday from Dr. Daniel Cooper, the head team physician for the Dallas Cowboys who reconstructed his ACL and repaired his LCL after a devastating outfield collision during the first week of the regular season. Schwarber immediately phoned president of baseball operations Theo Epstein after the six-month checkup.   
“I wasn’t expecting the call,” Epstein said. “We got news that was beyond better than we could have expected by any reasonable standard. 
“He asked for a chance to do this. And with as hard as Kyle has worked and as much as this means to him – and potentially to us – we wanted to give him that opportunity.”

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Schwarber flew from Dallas to Los Angeles, where he hit in the cage at Dodger Stadium that night. As the Cubs continued with what has been a classic NL Championship Series, Schwarber hit again on Tuesday and then left for Arizona on Wednesday to ramp up his baseball activities and prove whether or not he could again be a difference-maker in October.
Schwarber, the No. 4 overall pick in the 2014 draft out of Indiana University, generated 16 home runs in 69 games last season and then set a franchise record with five homers in the playoffs. 

The Cubs still have to deal with Clayton Kershaw on Saturday night in Game 6, and judge whether or not this layoff is too long, even for one of their best young hitters, especially against what would be a dynamic Cleveland Indians pitching staff.
But the Cubs would also never bet against Schwarber.

“We’ll see where this goes,” Epstein said. “We’re not getting ahead of ourselves. We have a lot of work to do here before this becomes pertinent. But it’s a testament to how hard Kyle has worked to even be in this position where it’s a possibility.”  

On the doorstep of history, Cubs set lineup for NLCS Game 6

On the doorstep of history, Cubs set lineup for NLCS Game 6

One win away from the World Series, the Cubs set their lineup for Game 6 of the National League Championship Series.

The big surprise is Albert Almora Jr. in right field with Jason Heyward and Jorge Soler on the bench against Clayton Kershaw, the best pitcher on the planet.

Soler is 0-for-8 during the postseason with a pair of walks and three strikeouts while appearing in six games.

Heyward is only 2-for-28 (.071 AVG) and has only reached base once (on a hit by pitch) in the last four NLCS games while going 0-for-13 in that span.

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Almora is also hitless this postseason - in six at-bats - but is an excellent fielder and laid down a perfect sacrifice bunt in the Cubs' Game 5 victory.

Here is the rest of the Cubs' lineup behind Kyle Hendricks:

1. Dexter Fowler - CF
2. Kris Bryant - 3B
3. Anthony Rizzo - 1B
4. Ben Zobrist - LF
5. Javy Baez - 2B
6. Willson Contreras - C
7. Addison Russell - SS
8. Albert Almora Jr. - RF
9. Kyle Hendricks - P

The Cubs notched just two hits and did not score in seven innings against Kershaw in Game 2 at Wrigley Field. Baez and Contreras collected the only two singles in that game.

The Cubs offense has scored 18 runs the last two games after being shut out for both Games 2 and 3.

With a win, the Cubs would punch their ticket to the World Series for the first time in 71 years.

The Dodgers are shaking things up a bit in the lineup against Hendricks:

1. Andrew Toles - LF
2. Corey Seager - SS
3. Justin Turner - 3B
4. Adrian Gonzalez - 1B
5. Josh Reddick - RF
6. Joc Pederson - CF
7. Yasmani Grandal - C
8. Chase Utley - 2B
9. Clayton Kershaw - P

Toles is only 48 regular-season games into his big-league career, but he is hitting .368 this postseason with a .908 OPS. 

Utley has been leading off against right-handers, but he's hitting only .115 this postseason and doesn't have a hit in this NLCS (0-for-10).