The shape of the Cubs managerial search

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The shape of the Cubs managerial search

Friday, Oct. 8, 2010
9:45 PM

By Patrick Mooney
CSNChicago.com

Mike Quade dismissed the idea when reporters suggested that this 37-game audition could raise his profile enough to at least become a manager somewhere else.

Where others saw the opportunities ahead an offseason in which roughly one-third of all teams could be looking for a manager Quade thought about his friends potentially losing their jobs. The speculation wasnt abstract. He knew those guys.

Sure enough, the Milwaukee Brewers decided not to exercise their 2011 option on Ken Macha, who remains close with Quade after working together on the Oakland As coaching staff. After essentially living on 30 one-year contracts throughout his career, Quade is used to the uncertainty.

Quade doesnt require a formal interview with Cubs general manager Jim Hendry. Quade wont have to show up in Hendrys office in a suit-and-tie with a resume in hand because the two had meaningful discussions throughout the final six weeks of the season.

Hendry has met with Quade, Eric Wedge, Bob Melvin and Ryne Sandberg. As of Friday afternoon, no candidate had been told that he was eliminated from consideration yet.

As part of his due diligence to find the Cubs manager for 2011, Hendry has spoken with seven or eight other men. Broadcaster Bob Brenly is rumored to be in the mix for the Milwaukee job, while the Atlanta Braves are expected to name Fredi Gonzalez their replacement for Bobby Cox once their postseason run ends.

The New York Yankees are still very much alive in the playoffs, and its unclear just how much mutual interest there would be between Joe Girardi and the Cubs, whether family concerns are strong enough to pull him home. Perhaps Girardis just looking to increase leverage while negotiating his next contract.

Hitting coach Rudy Jaramillo, who is signed through 2012, expects to work for whoever manages the Cubs next season. Larry Rothschild has until Monday to pick up his option for 2011, which would be his 10th season as Cubs pitching coach.

Rothschild wont be locked into his contract if he doesnt connect with the new manager. Other staffers have been told that there could be opportunities to return, depending on whos sitting in the managers office.

That image should become clearer within the next week or two, when chairman Tom Ricketts is expected to meet with the short list of candidates.

Hendry would prefer to have the manager in place by the first week of November for the organizational meetings in Arizona, but isnt committed to any timeframe.

That man will lead what Forbes described as the least-efficient team in baseball with 75 wins 1.96 million per in 2010. Ricketts has indicated that payroll will probably decrease from approximately 145 million, but assured season-ticket holders that baseball operations will maintain the same budget levels overall next year.

My family is committed to winning a World Series and though it may not be entirely evident from this years performance, there are encouraging signs, Ricketts wrote in a letter released Friday, referencing the development of rookies Starlin Castro, Tyler Colvin and Andrew Cashner. It is my strong belief that, in the end, it is organizations with strong farm systems that win championships and I am convinced that (we are) making progress.

The rebuilding process will require someone with a strong teaching background and the ability to reach younger players.

Ricketts mentioned Quades 24-13 finish the superb job done by another one of our own. For now, its open to interpretation whether those were the words of a baseball lifers future boss or just a reference for another job outside the organization.

Morning Update: Cubs pick up win No. 101, Sale leads White Sox past Rays

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Morning Update: Cubs pick up win No. 101, Sale leads White Sox past Rays

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John Lackey sees Cubs lining up for World Series run: ‘It’s all here’

John Lackey sees Cubs lining up for World Series run: ‘It’s all here’

PITTSBURGH — The Cubs have so much going for them, all this blue-chip talent, a clubhouse mix of young players and grizzled veterans, arguably the best manager in the game, an impactful coaching staff and a front office that blends scouting and analytics as well as anyone.

So, no, John Lackey is not at all surprised by the way this clicked into place, 101 wins and counting for the machine built with October in mind.

“Not really,” Lackey said after Tuesday night’s 6-4 victory over the Pittsburgh Pirates. “I had some pretty good offers from other people, and I chose this one for a reason. It’s all here.”

But to win the World Series — and get the jewelry Lackey talks about — you still need some luck, good health and the guts to perform in those Big Boy Games. That reality of randomness and matchups made a pregame announcement some 250 miles away from PNC Park so telling.

Washington Nationals catcher Wilson Ramos tore the ACL in his right knee, ending his MVP-caliber season. The National League East champions will lose a .307 hitter with 22-homer power from the middle of their lineup and a veteran presence for a playoff rotation that will likely be without injured ace Stephen Strasburg (right elbow) in the first round.

“That’s a tough one when you lose your catcher, a guy who’s that significant for the pitching staff,” Cubs manager Joe Maddon said. “Think about the pitching staff — it’s so different when you know the guy back there is your guy and he knows what’s going on. The communication’s different. The trust factor, all that stuff is different.”

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Within that big-picture context, the Cubs survived as Lackey limited the checked-out Pirates (77-80) to one run across five innings in his fifth start since recovering from a strained right shoulder and coming off the disabled list. Maddon then used six different relievers — staying away from Pedro Strop, Hector Rondon and Aroldis Chapman — during a three-hour, 49-minute game that felt more like the Cactus League.

After defecting from the 100-win St. Louis Cardinals team the Cubs bounced out of last year’s playoffs, Lackey finished the regular season at 11-8 with a 3.35 ERA and 188 1/3 innings.

“I’m going to get to 200,” Lackey said.

Beyond wins and losses, Lackey called this season his career best in terms of “those numbers that they’ve made up in the last few years” like WHIP (1.04) and opponents’ OPS (.646) and whatever. And, no, he doesn’t know his WAR, either: “Not even close.”

Yes, the Cubs got the old-school attitude they wanted when they signed Lackey to a two-year, $32 million deal before the winter meetings. For all the talk about the pitching deficit and the New York Mets after their young guns swept the Cubs out of last year’s NL Championship Series, the Cubs are getting their money’s worth with a guy who will turn 38 in October.

The amazing Mets have lost three of those frontline starters — Matt Harvey (thoracic outlet syndrome), Jacob deGrom (nerve damage in his right elbow) and Steven Matz (bone spur in his left elbow) — and are still holding onto the first wild-card spot, which says something about this playoff field.

This doesn’t guarantee anything in October, but the Cubs are just about as close to full strength as they could reasonably hope now. Instead of the silence that would have come with losing an irreplaceable player like Ramos, the sound system in the postgame clubhouse blasted Snoop Dogg, Dr. Dre and Notorious B.I.G. after their 101st win.

“Yeah, we lost Dexter (Fowler) for a bit,” Maddon said. “We lost (Kyle) Schwarber all year. Otherwise, when a couple pitchers got banged up, whether you’re talking about Rondon or Strop, I don’t think that our injuries have been as magnified because we’ve covered them pretty well.

“We still had our moments, like everybody else has. But when you get to right now, we’re getting well, and hopefully that trend continues. But to lose somebody of that magnitude for them, that’s got to be difficult.”