Mooney: Who is Mike Quade?

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Mooney: Who is Mike Quade?

Wednesday, Oct. 20, 2010
7:06 PM

By Patrick Mooney
CSNChicago.com

Jim Hendry recruited the Chicago area and the Creighton University head coach had a deal with Wilson Sporting Goods. One baseball clinic took him to Prospect High School and there he noticed a photo in the trophy case.

Hendry asked himself the same question Cubs fans would pose decades later: Whos the bald dude?

That teenager frozen in the picture was a natural leader, the three-sport athlete who played quarterback, point guard and shortstop.

This was the 1980s and Hendry didnt immediately realize that he had already watched Mike Quade at the University of New Orleans. Quade was teammates with two men Hendry got to know years earlier through the Cape Cod League, and remains close to even to this day.

Paul Mainieri would encourage Jeff Samardzija to play baseball in college and help convince the Cubs to draft the football All-American before leaving Notre Dame to become the head coach at Louisiana State University.

Randy Bush would win two World Series rings with the Minnesota Twins before joining the Cubs front office and rising to assistant general manager. Bush would be influential in reaching the agreement finalized this week and hiring the 51st manager in Cubs history.

Quade isnt a legacy or a superstar, but hes well-connected and you can be certain that others were rooting hard for him to get this job, to give credibility to the work they do in the minor leagues and maybe, slightly increase the odds that someone else might get a shot like this.

Mikes a terrific baseball guy and the reason people didnt put him on a higher level publicly is because he doesnt promote himself, Hendry said. Over time, the way the games changed (with) the Internet, the blogs, word of mouth and people doing favors Mike Quade did it the old-fashioned way.

Quade will look you in the eye and tell you what he thinks and for that Miguel Tejada is grateful. When Tejada lacked concentration in 1997, Quade benched him for a few games at Double-A Huntsville, the same tactic the manager used with Starlin Castro.

This young shortstop from the Dominican Republic would grow into a six-time All-Star and the American Leagues Most Valuable Player in 2002.

Hes a gentleman, Tejada said last month. Sometimes you dont have to play in the big leagues to be a good manager (if) youre a smart person and you respect the game.

Quade embraced the challenge of taking over a Cubs team that had lost 20 of its previous 25 games and a clubhouse that one player described as dead. From Aug. 23 on, that group won 24 of the final 37.

As manager, Quade was upgraded to a hotel suite on the road, but still threw batting practice, something hed like to continue doing next season, as long as his arm holds up. That is what chairman Tom Ricketts wanted the hands-on coaching Quade once did in Scranton, Pa., and West Michigan.

Its hard enough when you got a wife and two kids in your household, Cubs pitcher Ryan Dempster said. Hes got 25 kids that hes got to take care of. Especially in a city where we havent won in so long, thats a lot to take on, but when it comes down to being prepared to be on the field, hes as good as anybody.

Quade gets that we have to sell newspapers and drive ratings and isnt afraid to say what everyone else already knows. Castro drifts in and out of focus. Aramis Ramirez and Alfonso Soriano are getting older in a game thats not getting any easier. You cant explain Carlos Zambrano and his moods or his performance.

Heading into Year 103, Quade is aware of the pressures and how the game has evolved since 1908. Even millionaires want to know what theyre supposed to do when they show up to the office.

Im honest, straightforward, Quade said. (You) rarely dont know what I mean. It doesnt mean you like it. It doesnt mean things always work. But at least you know where Im coming from. You can respect that.

Quade is a fisherman who thinks you should eat what you catch out of the Gulf of Mexico. Otherwise, it seems like a waste. Hes earned a good paycheck in Chicago, but still hadnt made that one huge financial score.

Moneyball was being reported while Quade was with the Oakland As. He couldnt believe it when he heard that the film adaptation of the best-selling book cast an actor with hair as the first-base coach. Alopecia areata caused this look. At the age of 53, he knows who he is.

Four years ago, the Triple-A Iowa manager interviewed for the job that went to Lou Piniella. The Cubs and Piniella were a foregone conclusion within the industry, but Hendry got the potential Hall of Fame manager to accept a new third-base coach. The reaction to the promotion was unforgettable.

God bless Mike Quade, Hendry said. I told him he was going to be on the big-league staff. He wanted to know why he wasnt considered stronger for the managers position.

Patrick Mooney is CSNChicago.com's Cubs beat writer. Follow Patrick on Twitter @CSNMooney for 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."