Chicago Cubs

No guarantee: Cubs, Coleman surviving auditions

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No guarantee: Cubs, Coleman surviving auditions

Saturday, Sept. 18, 2010
10:33 PM

By Patrick Mooney
CSNChicago.com

MIAMI Watching the Cubs each day is an exercise in trying to figure out what it all means for 2011 and beyond, the rookies absorbing the experience and the veterans playing for their next contract.

This week chairman Tom Ricketts outlined some of the qualities hes looking for in a manager during a panel discussion hosted by WSCR-AM 670. Its someone who will teach fundamentals and can handle whats expected to be a relatively younger roster.

And new ownership which is still trying to wrap its arms around what it purchased almost 11 months ago thinks that man should know the culture hes getting into.

Mike Quade grew up in Mount Prospect, which hasnt helped his ticket bills, and is nearing the end of his eighth season in the organization. But hes only guaranteed 14 more games.

You come into the situation believing that what you do and how you approach people is going to work, Quade said. You believe that until the day it doesnt. And if you let the 103 years get in the middle of that thought process, youre probably going to wind up not being around very long.

The Chicago Sun-Times reported that Cubs broadcaster Bob Brenly who managed the Arizona Diamondbacks to a World Series title in 2001 will get an interview, though the perception is that he isnt a leading candidate.

The Cubs (67-81) continued scouting their own personnel during Saturdays 5-3 victory over the Florida Marlins in front of 28,716 fans at Sun Life Stadium. They are now 16-7 since Quade took over and have won a season-high five consecutive games.

The crowd included approximately 75 friends and family members connected to Casey Coleman, who grew up in the Fort Myers-Cape Coral area along Floridas Gulf Coast. The 23-year-old rookie right-hander navigated his way through six-plus innings against the Marlins (73-74), allowing three runs on five hits.

Coleman, the games first third-generation big-league pitcher, said he wasnt sure if his father was in attendance on Saturday night. Joe, an instructor in the Detroit Tigers system, gets nervous whenever his son pitches. Coleman thought his father might have stayed home and watched on television.

Coleman has created some anxious moments he walked four Marlins but the Cubs like how hes able to minimize the damage. Hes also regarded as athletic player able to do the little things, like field his position, lay down a bunt and run the bases.

Hes made a wonderful impression on all of us, Quade said. Hes made the most out of his opportunity.

Coleman, however, isnt guaranteed another start, because the Cubs are bringing along Tom Gorzelanny and waiting to make a decision on Carlos Silva. Coleman has accounted for at least six innings in five straight starts. During that stretch, hes 2-2 with a 4.15 ERA, forcing the Cubs to at least think about where he fits into next years plan.

You just got to trust your stuff, Coleman said. The first impression is like: Oh my gosh these guys are awesome hitters. And I kind of shied away from throwing strikes, getting ahead of guys, just trusting it.

The lineup card from Quades first game as manager on Aug. 23 shows Coleman as the winning pitcher that night in Washington. It also marked Colemans first victory in the majors.

Maybe they will be tied together for years to come, or perhaps Quade will use this as a springboard for another job somewhere else, and Coleman will find himself back on the Triple-A level. It could mean everything or nothing, depending on which direction management turns next.

Ill think about that in a few weeks, Coleman said. Whatever happens in the offseason, you know theres going to be a lot of things going on. Itll be a busy offseason for the team. You just want to take it day-by-day and hopefully set yourself up for a job next season.

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

Fuming over ninth-inning call, Joe Maddon is done with playing nice in MLB sandbox: ‘That’s asinine’

Fuming over ninth-inning call, Joe Maddon is done with playing nice in MLB sandbox: ‘That’s asinine’

A walk-off win in the middle of a pennant race didn’t dull the edge in Joe Maddon’s voice, the Cubs manager blasting Major League Baseball and expecting to be fined for his rant in the Wrigley Field interview room.    

“That’s asinine,” Maddon said after Wednesday night’s 7-6 victory over the Cincinnati Reds, fuming over the ninth-inning at-bat where Ben Zobrist showed bunt and got drilled by Wandy Peralta’s 96-mph fastball. Home plate umpire Ryan Blakney signaled for Zobrist to jog to first base, only to have first base umpire Chris Conroy call strike two.

“Listen, I don’t even know what to say about that call,” said Maddon, who stormed onto the field and got ejected for the second time this season. “We’ve had different things happen, and I’ve been playing really good in the sandbox. Really good. And I’m not right now. That call cannot be made under those circumstances.

“I can understand if the guy’s actually swinging, and all of a sudden you get like a check swing. But he’s bunting – and then trying to get out of the way – and you’re going to call a bunt?

“There’s no way any hitter under those circumstances – with the ball coming at his thigh – is going to bunt through it and then get hit in the thigh.

“That really almost did cost us the game. Fortunately, we came back, they made their wild pitch. But I’ve been playing good in the sandbox. That was wrong.”

Zobrist – who called for an electronic strike zone after watching a controversial strike three end Saturday’s loss to the Arizona Diamondbacks at Chase Field – still managed to put the ball in play, move up Javier Baez and Jon Jay and keep the pressure on the last-place Reds.  

“I tried to pull the bat back, but there was nowhere for me to go,” Zobrist said. “It started right at me, and was going down towards my ankle, and I could not physically pull it back and still pull my ankle up at the same time. I tried to pull my ankle up and (Conroy) thought I was offering at it, apparently.”

Imagine the reaction if the Cubs hadn’t regrouped and maintained a 1.5-game lead on the Milwaukee Brewers in the National League Central.

“I know that instant replay is not perfect,” Maddon said. “But all this little minutia needs to be looked at as we move this along, because that impacted the game. That’s bases loaded, nobody out. It’s a different at-bat for (Albert) Almora. It’s a different thought for their pitcher. Everything’s different. The world rotates differently at that point.

“To influence a game like that is wrong. And, listen, the guy’s a good guy. I think he’s a good umpire. But I’m not going to concede consistently to these guys. You can’t make that mistake.”

The evolution of Kris Bryant and why Joey Votto became his favorite player

The evolution of Kris Bryant and why Joey Votto became his favorite player

Kris Bryant already has a bromance with Anthony Rizzo, their Bryzzo Souvenir Co. brand and a joint appearance at a downtown Chicago hotel this weekend where Cubs fans can pay $699 for their autographs.

Bryant also has a friendly rivalry with Bryce Harper, the Washington Nationals superstar who loves trolling on social media and teasing where he might land as a free agent after the 2018 season. Even their wives had fun with it on Instagram earlier this month when the Nationals came to Wrigley Field for a potential playoff preview.

But the player Bryant patterns himself after now – the one who lives up to “The Science of Hitting” and the principles his father absorbed from Ted Williams and passed down in the family’s batting cage in Las Vegas – is Joey Votto.

“He’s the best player ever,” Bryant said before Wednesday night’s 7-6 walk-off win over the Cincinnati Reds. “He’s my favorite player. I love watching him. I love talking to him, just picking his brain.

“He gets a lot of (heat) about his walks and working at-bats and some people want him to swing at more pitches. But, gosh, I mean, he does an unbelievable job. You know that he’s going to give you a great at-bat every time he goes up there. It’s definitely a guy that I look up to and I can learn from.”

Favorite player? Really?

“Besides, you know, people on my team,” Bryant said with a laugh.

The Cubs contained Votto on a night where their bullpen nearly imploded, holding him to a 1-for-4 that stopped him from tying the major-league record Williams set in 1948 by getting on base at least twice in 21 straight games with the Boston Red Sox.

Through Votto, Bryant sees where he can grow after becoming a National League Rookie of the Year and MVP and World Series champion before his 25th birthday.    

“He’s not just doing it this year – he’s doing it his whole career,” Bryant said. “He’s a future Hall of Famer, that’s for sure.”

Bryant – who has reached base safely in his last 13 games and put up a 1.035 OPS in August – is heating up at a time when the Cubs are trying to fend off the Milwaukee Brewers (1.5 games back) and St. Louis Cardinals (2.5 games back) in a tight division race.

Where Votto famously dismissed old questions about whether or not he was being too selective, Bryant blocks out any talk about an All-Star snub, his batting average with runners in scoring position (.227) or RBI total (54). Bryant is getting on base more than 40 percent of the time and also leads the team in doubles (25), runs scored (78) and OPS (.936).  

“Sometimes it’s almost like you can kind of go up there and force the pitcher to throw the pitch that you want, just by taking pitches,” Bryant said. “My first year, I was kind of just up there swinging at everything. I still felt the approach was good and it could work in the big leagues. And it did. But I think there’s ways to have a better approach up there.

“(Votto’s) a different guy with that. I feel like he’s aggressive, but he’s not going to swing at a pitch until he wants it. And he mentioned that to me, too, when I got to first (on Monday night). He said: ‘Your approach looks a lot better this year.’”

Bryant sincerely thanked Votto, but the reigning MVP isn’t trying to put together a package deal with Harper and turn the Cubs into Major League Baseball’s version of the Golden State Warriors.  

“I already told him before: ‘We already have a pretty good first baseman. He’s not going anywhere,’” Bryant said. “Joey can switch positions if he wants to play for the Cubs.”