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.

READ: Will older core stay strong?

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.

WATCH: Can Cubs win NL Central in 2011?

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.

Brett Anderson’s personality mixing well with Cubs: ‘I don’t hate anybody yet’

Brett Anderson’s personality mixing well with Cubs: ‘I don’t hate anybody yet’

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. – Joe Maddon's T-shirt slogans can get a little old at times, but the Cubs manager found a new audience in Brett Anderson, who liked the idea of "Be Uncomfortable" after signing a one-year, prove-it deal with the defending champs.

"It's been awesome so far," Anderson said. "That's my running joke – we're a month into it now or whatever it is – and I don't hate anybody yet.

"That's a testament to the group as a whole – and maybe me evolving as a person."

Yes, Anderson's sarcasm, social-media presence and groundball style fits in with a team built around short-term pitching and Gold Glove defense. The if-healthy lefty finished his Cactus League tour on Saturday afternoon by throwing four innings (one unearned run) during a 7-4 loss to the Colorado Rockies in front of 13,565 at Salt River Fields at Talking Stick.

Anderson will open the season as the No. 4 starter after a camp that has been remarkably low-key and drama-free.

"I'm kind of cynical by nature, but it's a fun group to be a part of," Anderson said, "(with) young guys that are exciting and happy to be here. And then obviously the mix of veterans, too, that are here with intentions of winning another World Series."

To make that happen, the pitching staff will have to again stay unbelievably healthy. Anderson rolled with a general question about how he physically feels now compared to where he's usually at by this time of year.

"Obviously better than last year, because I was walking with a gimp and all that stuff," said Anderson, who underwent arthroscopic surgery to repair a bulging disk in his lower back last March. "No, my body feels good, my arm feels good and you're getting into the dog days of spring training where you're itching to get to the real thing."

Joe Maddon breaks down the Matt Szczur vs. Tommy La Stella decision for Cubs

Joe Maddon breaks down the Matt Szczur vs. Tommy La Stella decision for Cubs

MESA, Ariz. – Matt Szczur vs. Tommy La Stella appears to be the final decision as the Cubs shape their Opening Night roster.

That's assuming good health – manager Joe Maddon sounded unconcerned about Ben Zobrist (stiff neck), Addison Russell (stiff back) and Albert Almora Jr. (stiff neck) – and the Cubs carrying an eight-man bullpen.

Maddon appeared to eliminate one variable, confirming that La Stella has signaled a willingness to go to Triple-A Iowa if necessary, which would normally be an obvious statement, except for last summer's "Where's Tommy?" episode.

"I haven't even thought about it," Maddon said during Saturday's media session at the Sloan Park complex. "It's not an issue. I thought we handled it pretty openly last year and there's been no blowback whatsoever from the players."

Beyond this – La Stella initially refused to report to the minors last July, moved back home to New Jersey and talked briefly about retirement – an American League scout and a National League scout tracking the Cubs in Arizona both agreed that Szczur looks like the superior player.

Plus Szczur – and not La Stella – is out of minor-league options now.

"When you get this kind of a talent, depth-wise, it's a wonderful problem to have," Maddon said. "And then, of course, the rules start creeping in. The rules in this situation would benefit Matt, which is a good thing, because he's a big-league guy that's been riding the shuttle. He's done it in a very stoic manner, and he's been great for us."

La Stella has allies in the clubhouse – Jake Arrieta got a Coastal Carolina tattoo on his right butt cheek after losing a College World Series bet – and goes about his routine in a quiet, diligent manner.

La Stella is not a distraction at all and can hit left-handed and play the infield – two attributes that Szczur can't bring to Maddon's bench.

"Matt Szczur, to me, is a Major League Baseball player," Maddon said. "You're seeing what Tommy can do from the left side of the plate right now. And then it's just a matter of balancing things out. We've already mentioned that some guys on the infield can play the outfield within this group, thus it presents differently regarding what you need."

[MORE CUBS: Javier Baez won’t change his style around Cubs after World Baseball Classic: ‘We’re not showing anybody up’]

Szczur is hitting .361 with a .994 OPS through 14 Cactus League games and can play all over the outfield. But that skill is diminished when the Cubs already have four established outfielders plus Zobrist and Kris Bryant able to shift from the infield.

Then again, defensive wizard Javier Baez should have the Cubs covered all across the infield in case of an emergency. With the defending World Series champs a week out from facing the St. Louis Cardinals at Busch Stadium, we're about to find out if Maddon made his recommendation or had a possible trade scenario or disabled-list situation in mind.

"I love Matt Szczur," Maddon said. "This guy as a teammate – you're not going to get a better one. Nobody's going to get a better one on any team for any reason.

"We haven't decided everything or anything yet. Stuff happens in a very short period of time. He is a major-league baseball player. So we'll just wait a couple more days, see how it plays out. But he's a benefit to any group that has him."