Mooney: The fundamental nature of Mike Quade

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Mooney: The fundamental nature of Mike Quade

Sunday, Feb. 13, 2011
Posted 9:12 p.m.

By Patrick Mooney
CSNChicago.com

MESA, Ariz. There will be times where Alfonso Soriano stands at home plate and admires the flight of his double off the wall, or a ball skips past Aramis Ramirez at third base. And you will want to see the manager flip out.

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As a younger man, in places like Rockford and Scranton, Pa., Mike Quade might have given you the satisfaction. But after managing 2,378 games in the minors and seven more seasons as a major-league coach he has a sense of perspective.

Of course Quade wont treat Soriano the same as Blake DeWitt. They are different people. Its not like hes managing 25 robots.

And just because Quade doesnt jam his finger in a players chest while the dugout camera is rolling doesnt mean the issue wont be addressed behind closed doors.

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The moments that will test Quade are coming, but there was a relaxed vibe around Fitch Park on Sunday as pitchers and catchers reported. Quade learned so much from Dusty Baker and Lou Piniella, but knows that he will have to shape the Cubs in his own image.

Anybody that thinks Mike Quade can go about managing a ballclub like Dusty or Lou is missing the whole point, he said. From a personality standpoint, from a respect standpoint, all the things that I think I need to do those guys had built in with all the success they had.

Everybody wants to go hit in the cage. Quade will stress the details: bunt defense, relay throws, going first to third, what he calls the jobs that nobody else wants. As assistant general manager Randy Bush said: Hes going to drive home fundamental play.

Quade, who will turn 54 next month, will be involved, but most of the Cubs already knew that. A team that looked dead in August won 24 of its final 37 games and Quades life would never be the same.

Hes the man in charge now, pitcher Ryan Dempster said. But his personality (or) his relationship with us as players didnt change. What you see is what you get. And what he says is what you get.

A few weeks ago, Dempster and about 25 teammates woke up before dawn and piled into a few vans, like they were high-school kids. They went out in sub-freezing temperatures and climbed Camelback Mountain in Phoenix.

It was a team-building exercise for a group that isnt generating much hype. There was no national media present at the Cubs complex on Sunday, and only a small group of Chicago reporters.

What people write or what people perceive thats their own opinion, Dempster said. Having no expectations is a good thing. I think we put enough pressure on ourselves as it is.

This may or may not work 37 games only gets you to the second week of May but its doubtful that Quade will find the pressure suffocating. He is passionate about but not consumed by the game.

Quade has outside interests, from cooking to fishing to politics. Once the cameras were turned off and the news conference ended, the Prospect High School graduate asked beat writers about Jay Cutler and Derrick Rose. He even answered a question about Carlos Zambrano by quoting a Rush song: Freeze that moment.
Mike Quade is a far different manager than Dusty Baker and Lou Piniella, but that could be good. One thing is for certain, he already has the respect of his players and even the most basic fundamentals won't be overlooked on his watch. (AP)
Hes easy to talk to, outfielder Marlon Byrd said. You can walk into his office anytime.

More and more people want a piece of Quade. When he returned home to Florida at the end of last season, a neighbor brought over some chicken soup and a dozen baseballs to be signed.

For someone who occasionally slips into the third person, Quade is remarkably grounded. It will be fascinating to see if he remains that way, and how he gives in to the demands of fans, media and players in this very public job.

I understand the magnitude, believe me, but it doesnt do Mike Quade any good to get wrapped up in (it), he said. Im more of a grinding, day-in, day-out guy. If were going to be successful here with me in charge, I have to stay in charge of myself and do what I need to do.

PatrickMooney is CSNChicago.com's Cubs beat writer. FollowPatrick on Twitter @CSNMooneyfor up-to-the-minute Cubs news and views.

Report: Aroldis Chapman returns to Yankees on five-year deal

Report: Aroldis Chapman returns to Yankees on five-year deal

After helping bring a World Series title back to the North Side, Aroldis Chapman is headed back to New York.

The former Cubs closer signed a five-year, $86 million deal with the Yankees, according to FOX's Ken Rosenthal.

He was acquired by the Cubs in July in exchange for pitcher Adam Warren and prospects Rashad Crawford, Billy McKinney and Gleyber Torres.

Chapman notched 36 saves and owned a 1.01 ERA, 0.86 WHIP and recorded 90 strikeouts across 26 2/3 innings with the Cubs during the regular season.

He appeared in 13 postseason contests, where he registered a 3.45 ERA,1.09 WHIP and 21 strikeouts in 15 2/3 innings. 

Why Cubs felt like they had to trade Jorge Soler now

Why Cubs felt like they had to trade Jorge Soler now

NATIONAL HARBOR, Md. – Before making the blockbuster Aroldis Chapman trade with the New York Yankees, the Cubs checked in with the Kansas City Royals about Wade Davis and found the asking price to be Kyle Schwarber. 

The psychology and the supply-and-demand dynamics are different in July. Schwarber had been damaged goods, still recovering from major knee surgery and months away from his dramatic return in the World Series. Davis also could have impacted two pennants races for his new team instead of one.
 
By the time a $10 billion industry reconvened this week outside Washington, D.C., for the winter meetings, the small-market Royals could compromise with Jorge Soler, betting on his long-term upside and facing the reality that their World Series closer could have been part of a mass exodus of free agents after the 2017 season.

The Cubs also checked into the Gaylord National Resort & Convention Center knowing that Soler is a diminishing asset for a loaded team at a time when his best attribute – right-handed power – could be found on the free-agent market in sluggers like Edwin Encarnacion and Mark Trumbo.  
     
“I think there’s some great baseball ahead for him,” team president Theo Epstein said Wednesday night after the Cubs finalized the Soler-for-Davis trade. “I think it’s more likely that he reaches his ceiling now than it was 24 hours ago, because he’s got a chance to play every day.” 

Soler became a top priority within the first weeks of the Epstein administration as Cubs officials scouted the Cuban defector in the Dominican Republic before Thanksgiving 2011, picturing him as a building block for future playoff teams at a renovated Wrigley Field. 

Even chairman Tom Ricketts met with Soler’s camp during a trip to the Dominican Republic before the Cubs won the bidding war and the prospect signed a nine-year, $30 million major-league contract in the summer of 2012. 

Years later, manager Joe Maddon would describe Soler as Vladimir Guerrero with plate discipline, the kind of talent who would be drafted No. 1 overall if he had been born in South Florida. 

Soler showed flashes of superstar potential. He absolutely crushed the St. Louis Cardinals during the 2015 playoffs (2.341 OPS) and will get a well-deserved World Series ring. But he didn’t look like a complete player or an athlete the Cubs could count on to stay healthy, profiling more like a designated hitter in the American League.

“When George was playing sporadically, he became a little bit more of an all-or-nothing power threat,” Epstein said, “because it’s hard to get into a good rhythm and you’re not seeing pitches as much. You’re not recognizing spin the same way. 

“When he’s locked in, he can work really good at-bats. And he’s a hitter – not just a power hitter. So I think it’s more likely now that his potential gets unleashed at some point. We’re rooting for him.”

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Maybe Soler – who still hasn’t turned 25 yet – can avoid some of the leg injuries as a part-time DH and put it all together in Kansas City as the Royals try to balance the present, the future and their financial realities. But the Cubs are a win-now team that believes Davis could get them the final out of the 2017 World Series. 

An October legend (Schwarber) and a $184 million Gold Glove defender (Jason Heyward) would keep blocking Soler at the corner spots in Wrigley Field, where a National League MVP (Kris Bryant) and a World Series MVP (Ben Zobrist) can move away from the infield. Javier Baez is another versatile, well-rounded player who would continue to marginalize Soler. 

“It became tough for us,” Epstein said, “with Schwarber looking like he’s destined to play quite a bit of left field. Not ruling catching out as an option to some extent, but he’s going to play a lot of left field. 

“And with Javy’s emergence – and what that means for Zobrist’s possible role in the outfield as well at times – it just became tougher and tougher to see George getting regular at-bats with us. 

“We felt like he needed to play – and it would have been a tough fit.”

It would have been even tougher to trade a spare outfielder during his fourth season in the big leagues. Stashing Soler – who has 27 career homers in less than 700 big-league at-bats – at Triple-A Iowa wouldn’t have been the answer. 

The Cubs saw this day coming. Schwarber wrecked his knee in early April and Soler injured his hamstring two months later and wound up missing two months.

“He just couldn’t quite stay healthy enough,” Epstein said, “and kind of slumped at the wrong time and started to get hot right before he got hurt.

“That was kind of how we envisioned it: ‘Hey, if there’s an opportunity, this guy can take the job and run with it – and then we have an even more valuable trade chip – or we’ve got an everyday leftfielder/middle-of the-order bat.’ It just didn’t quite come together. 

“But I think this trade – despite that – recouped a lot of his value. It made sense for him, for us and for the Royals.”