Scenes from Wrigley Field: Astros shut out Cubs

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Scenes from Wrigley Field: Astros shut out Cubs

Wednesday, Sept. 8, 2010
11:58 PM

By Patrick Mooney
CSNChicago.com

Mike Quade has been recognized waiting for the L, and people wonder what the Cubs manager is doing taking public transportation. From the night of Aug. 21, when he found out that he would be taking over for Lou Piniella, he vowed to do it his way.

Quade grew up in Mount Prospect, so it figured that he wouldnt be blindsided by all the attention his new job would generate. He knows the city, follows its politics and planned to spend part of Thursdays off day catching up on the coverage of Mayor Richard M. Daleys decision not to run again.

The Cubs (60-80) realize how valuable it can be to get away from the distractions of Wrigley Field. This season Carlos Zambrano made his first bullpen appearance in almost eight years in Milwaukee, returned to the rotation in Houston and apologized to his teammates in Colorado.

Starlin Castro had his big-league debut in Cincinnati. And when Piniella talked about starting Tyler Colvin at first base an idea abandoned for now he promised it would be down the road.

So it was for Quade, who managed his first game in the majors 15 days ago in Washington before 17,921 fans at Nationals Park.

Quades first homestand ended with Wednesdays 4-0 loss to the Houston Astros. The Cubs went 5-4 and won two of three series during that time. The 51st manager in franchise history has been calling it a process and said, So far, so good.

Here are a few snapshots of what goes on around the man standing on the top step of the dugout:

Now that Triple-A Iowas season is over, Ryne Sandberg is free to have his formal interview with general manager Jim Hendry. Sandberg has earned the respect of his players, but theyre simply answering questions from reporters, not lobbying for him to get the job. This weeks September call-ups brought another wave.

Rynos awesome, plain and simple, Brad Snyder said. Every day hes the exact same and you know what youre going to get from him. (He) doesnt say a whole lot, but he gets his point across and we know what he expects out of us and we get the job done for him.

There will be inconsistency. One night the Cubs won a game 14-2 with Zambrano, the player they suspended two months earlier in part because of his perceived selfishness. The next they lost 14-7 behind starter Ryan Dempster, who deferred part of his 2010 salary so the front office could have payroll flexibility and add a piece to the roster. Both games came against the Pittsburgh Pirates, the worst team in baseball.

Wrigley Field isnt just an office, and its not only about baseball. During this homestand alone: its smallest crowd in nearly four years came out for Andre Dawson night; Harry Carays statue was rededicated; Billy Williams statue was unveiled; and board member Todd Ricketts filmed an episode of Undercover Boss, a CBS reality show.

The 33,623 fans said to be there on a 61-degree Wednesday night saw Brett Myers retire the first 14 Cubs and give up only three hits across seven scoreless innings. Myers has accounted for at least six innings in 29 consecutive starts, the longest streak to start a season in the majors since 2002, when Curt Schilling did it through 35 for the Arizona Diamondbacks.

Randy Wells gave himself mixed reviews after allowing four runs in six innings. Quade indicated that there are no immediate plans to move Wells to the bullpen so the organization can take a look at some other potential starters.

If anything, Quade said, We might end up with a six- or seven-man rotation.

If given the choice of ending the season now and starting over again with 2011 spring training, Wells (6-13, 4.61) wouldnt take it.

You got to try to finish on some kind of positive note, he said. The four days between starts are the worst for me right now. No matter what happens out on the mound or the outcome of the game by far the worst part about it is sitting there waiting. So Im anxious to get the ball again.

Some of the same people that are evaluating Wells are studying Quade, who survived his first homestand as manager surrounded by family, and almost everyone speculating about his future.

(Im) more relaxed, Quade said. Im more comfortable in my surroundings here at home, thats for sure.

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

Cubs down to only one All-Star starter in voting update

Cubs down to only one All-Star starter in voting update

The Cubs are down to only one starter in next month's All-Star Game in Miami: reigning MVP Kris Bryant.

Jason Heyward lost his grip on the final starting outfielder spot to Marlins star Marcell Ozuna in the latest All-Star balloting update released by the MLB:

That may be for the best, as the Cubs are currently banged up (Heyward. Ben Zobrist and Kyle Hendricks are on the disabled list) and slogging through a season where they've hovered around .500. So maybe four days off in a row would be beneficial for the defending champs.

Heyward is 29,270 votes behind Ozuna and Zobrist is 118,248 votes behind Heyward. It appears as if Washington's Bryce Harper and Colorado's Charlie Blackmon are sure things for the top two outfielder spots in the NL.

Bryant is only 58,082 votes ahead of Nolan Arenado at third base. Anthony Rizzo trails Ryan Zimmerman at first base, Javy Baez comes in well behind Daniel Murphy at second base and Buster Posey has more than twice as many votes as runner-up Willson Contreras at catcher.

Addison Russell is third among shortstops. Kyle Schwarber — despite being demoted to the minors last week — is eighth among NL outfielders.

It's a far cry from 2016, when the Cubs made up all four infield spots in the NL starting lineup.

Voting ends in four days. Fans can head to MLB.com to vote.

If Nationals are playoff preview, what should Cubs do at trade deadline?

If Nationals are playoff preview, what should Cubs do at trade deadline?

WASHINGTON – Cubs pitching coach Chris Bosio has perspective after sitting through the darkest days of the rebuild, the sign-and-flip cycles and moments like “Men Playing Against Boys,” the way ex-manager Dale Sveum once sized up the team during a 2012 series against the Washington Nationals.

Bosio trusted future “World’s Greatest Leader” Theo Epstein, general manager Jed Hoyer and the rest of a growing front office would deliver talent during the 101-loss season that led to the Kris Bryant No. 2 overall draft pick and the Ryan Dempster/Kyle Hendricks buzzer-beater deal at the trade deadline.   

So while Bosio is a hardened realist who understands the banged-up Cubs haven’t played up to their potential, he also knows these are first-division problems. 

“If Theo and Jed can find a way to make our team better, you can bet they’re going to do it,” Bosio said. “But at the same time, they’re not going to sacrifice our future. They know that the team (here has) a lot of holdovers from the World Series club. There’s a lot of holdovers from the team that went to the National League (Championship Series in 2015). We’ve been through that. And when it comes crunch time, we produce.”

With that in mind, a look at where things stand five weeks out from the July 31 trade deadline as the defending champs begin a potential playoff preview on Monday at Nationals Park:

• If Max Scherzer flirts with another no-hitter or a 20-strikeout game on Tuesday, the questions will start all over again about adding a hitter. Javier Baez even let this slip over the weekend after a win over the Miami Marlins: “Pretty much not having a leadoff guy right now is kind of tough.” But shipping Kyle Schwarber to Triple-A Iowa is not necessarily the start of an offensive overhaul.

“Our focus is going to be on pitching,” Hoyer said. “I would never say never to something like that, because I don’t know what’s going to present itself as we get closer to the deadline. I will say this: When it comes to our offense, I really do see it as these are our guys. We’re as deep with position players as any team in baseball. These guys have performed exceptionally well. Most of these guys have won 200 games over the last two years.

“We believe in them for a reason. We don’t have rings on our fingers without all these guys.”

• With Jake Arrieta and John Lackey on the verge of becoming free agents, the Cubs feel like they should start working on their winter plans this summer and begin remodeling the rotation. The 38-37 record makes you wonder how ultra-aggressive the front office will be to win a bidding war for a frontline starter, but the Cubs are only 1.5 games behind the Milwaukee Brewers, a first-place team for now that was supposed to be rebuilding this year.   

But the Cleveland Indians got to the 10th inning of a World Series Game 7 with Trevor Bauer, Josh Tomlin and Ryan Merritt making nine playoff starts combined, because they had Corey Kluber and a dynamic bullpen.

The primary focus will have to be on the rotation, but adding another high-leverage reliever to work in front of lights-out closer Wade Davis would shorten games and help preserve Carl Edwards Jr. (170 pounds) and Koji Uehara (42 years old).   

“At some point, you’re going to assess your own team,” Hoyer said. “Sometimes strengthening a strength can work. You see teams that sometimes have a good offense – and add another good hitter – and all of a sudden we’re going to beat you in a different way.”

• Without making this summer’s blockbuster deal for a closer – the way the Cubs landed Aroldis Chapman – Washington risks wasting Bryce Harper’s second-to-last season before free agency and another year of Scherzer’s $210 million megadeal.

Six different Nationals have saved games for a 45-30 team and the bullpen ranks near the bottom of the majors with a 4.88 ERA. Can’t blame that on Dusty Baker, who has notched more than 1,800 wins as a manager and guided four different franchises to the playoffs.

But it won’t be easy to find a quick fix for the Washington bullpen or Cubs rotation. The American League opened for business on Monday with only three of its 15 teams more than three games under .500, and one being the White Sox, who are (obviously) not seen as a realistic trade partner for the Cubs.

“The American League is incredibly jumbled up,” Hoyer said. “That’s why a lot of deals don’t happen this time of year, because people are still sorting it out. The next five weeks of baseball will determine a lot of that. Some of those teams that are in the race now will fall back.

“There’s a lack of teams right now that have a true sense of sellers. I think there are a lot of teams right now that are close enough that they’re not going to admit it that they’re going to be sellers. That five weeks will determine a lot about who ends up on which side of the fence.”