As manager search continues, Wells impresses

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As manager search continues, Wells impresses

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

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

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Cubs will have Ian Happ one phone call away at Triple-A Iowa

Cubs will have Ian Happ one phone call away at Triple-A Iowa

MESA, Ariz. – After an impressive camp where he looked like the next homegrown Cubs hitter to roll off the assembly line, Ian Happ will go to Triple-A Iowa and get ready to make his big-league debut, or perhaps build his value for a trade-deadline deal.

Along with Happ, the Cubs assigned outfielder John Andreoli and catcher Taylor Davis to minor-league camp on Monday while optioning pitchers Eddie Butler and Rob Zastryzny to Iowa, cutting their roster to 31 as the Opening Night picture comes into focus.

Happ – the ninth overall pick in the 2015 draft out of the University of Cincinnati – batted .417 with five homers, four doubles and 17 RBI in 24 Cactus League games.

"Offensively, what was there not to like?" general manager Jed Hoyer said. "I feel like he hit the ball hard every at-bat for six weeks. It's always fun to see a young guy like that come in and open a lot of eyes."

Happ, 22, is a switch-hitter who can play second base and the outfield, skills that could help him escape from Des Moines once the need arises on the major-league level.

[MORE CUBS: How Cubs came to fully believe in the legend of Kyle Schwarber]

Though there are questions about Happ's defense, Theo Epstein's front office and Joe Maddon's coaching staff clearly value versatility and trust young talent, moving Addison Russell to shortstop in 2015 and elevating rookie catcher Willson Contreras last season.

Stay tuned to see when/if the Cubs will have a spot at Wrigley Field, but Happ looks like he will be on a fast track.

"Whenever you're in Triple-A, you're always a call away," Hoyer said. "Sometimes it happens quicker than you think. We never expected Addie would be up in April of that year, and he was. I feel like with Willson last year, if you had asked me in spring training – would he be up in June? – I probably would have thought it would be more like a September call-up or something like that.

"You never know. Things happen. When you have good players in the minor leagues, sometimes it speeds up on you a little bit."