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.

Cubs vs. Nationals makes it obvious: Jake Arrieta is no Max Scherzer

Cubs vs. Nationals makes it obvious: Jake Arrieta is no Max Scherzer

WASHINGTON — Super-agent Scott Boras drove the Max Scherzer comparisons through the media, trying to frame Jake Arrieta’s Cy Young Award pedigree and pitching odometer against that seven-year, $210 million megadeal with the Washington Nationals.

Every inning in each Arrieta start shouldn’t be viewed like a stock ticker, but it became the impossible-to-miss backdrop on Tuesday night at Nationals Park, where Scherzer stared down the Cubs through his blue and brown eyes and dominated in a 6-1 game that didn’t have that same October energy.

Where Scherzer is headed toward his fifth straight All-Star selection, the Cubs can only guess what they will get out of Arrieta from one start to the next, which makes you wonder: How many teams would commit five or six years to an over-30 pitcher like that?

Coming off probably the team’s best win of the season the night before — and a strong last start at Marlins Park where he felt “really close” to where he wanted to be — Arrieta walked off the mound with no outs and two runners on in the fifth inning.

The Nationals ran wild, putting pressure on the Cubs and stealing seven bases off Arrieta and catcher Miguel Montero. Arrieta’s control vanished, walking six batters and throwing a wild pitch. The defense collapsed, with second baseman Tommy La Stella leading Anthony Rizzo off first base with one throw and Montero chucking another ball into left field.

Halfway through his platform season, Arrieta is 7-6 with a 4.67 ERA after giving up six runs (five earned) and losing this marquee matchup against Scherzer and the first-place Nationals (46-31).

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The Cubs (39-38) felt the whiplash effect from Scherzer’s violent delivery, the perfect game gone when he drilled leadoff guy Rizzo with a 95-mph fastball and the no-hitter over in the first inning when Kris Bryant knocked an RBI triple off the out-of-town scoreboard in right-center field.

None of it rattled Scherzer (9-5, 2.06 ERA), who gave up one more hit and zero walks across six innings. This is the third-fastest pitcher in major-league history to reach 2,000 strikeouts, a favorite to win his third Cy Young Award this year and the Game 1 starter the Cubs would face if they make it back to Washington for a first-round playoff series.

“It starts with his delivery and deception,” manager Joe Maddon said. “I think there’s a lot of intimidation, based on how he just delivers the baseball and the angle that he throws from, the ability to ride a fastball. I think the big thing, too, is the changeup has gotten devastatingly good.

“He’s an uncomfortable at-bat, just based on the way he winds up and throws the baseball. And then the stuff just moves so darn much. It’s a unique combination of factors that he has. He’s so strong and he pitches so deeply into games — and he does it consistently well for years. He’s just a different animal.”

That makes the Max comparison so untenable for Arrieta, who lost to Scherzer and the Detroit Tigers during his final start for the Baltimore Orioles on June 17, 2013. Arrieta immediately got shipped down to Triple-A Norfolk and traded to the Cubs 15 days later in a deal that would change baseball history forever.

Boras is right when he calls that the defining struggle of Arrieta’s career and says it took “World Series cojones” to handle that pressure. But just like Arrieta’s contract year, the Cubs are now in the great unknown.

Cubs will make statement with trip to Donald Trump's White House

Cubs will make statement with trip to Donald Trump's White House

WASHINGTON — Within a matter of days last November, the Cubs won a staggering World Series for the first time in 108 years and Donald Trump won a scathing election to become the 45th president.

Those two surreal worlds will collide again on Wednesday when a group of Cubs get a private White House tour that can be interpreted as a political statement, something larger than this four-game series against the Washington Nationals.

This comes less than six months after the Cubs enjoyed an East Room ceremony that became the final official event at Barack Obama’s White House, at a polarizing time when speculation centered on whether or not the Golden State Warriors would skip the traditional photo op with Trump, not wanting to make an implicit endorsement after winning another NBA title.

“You’d have to talk to the Warriors,” manager Joe Maddon said Tuesday. “To go tomorrow is out of respect to the Ricketts family and to the office and the building itself. Listen, I like the United States a lot. I like living here a lot. And I like everything that it represents a lot.

“So when you get a chance as a citizen to get to go to the White House, you go. I think you go. Whether you like the person that’s running the country or not — out of respect to the office itself — you go.

“I don’t agree with all the other banter that’s going on right now, because I have a different perspective.”

Chairman Tom Ricketts and his brother, Todd, a board member who withdrew his nomination to become Trump’s deputy commerce secretary, brought the World Series trophy to Capitol Hill on Tuesday and did a meet and greet with Illinois Congressional staffers at the Russell Senate Office Building.

Within the Ricketts family/Cubs board of directors, Pete is Nebraska’s Republican governor and Laura was a superdelegate and a major fundraiser for Hillary Clinton. President of baseball operations Theo Epstein is also active in Democratic circles.

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Maddon also plans to attend a luncheon on Wednesday with young Republicans organized by Congressman Lou Barletta, an old buddy from growing up in Hazleton, Penn., and an early Trump endorser.

“It’s not as ceremonial as the last one was, going there as the World Series champions,” Maddon said. “It’s more based on the Ricketts family relationship and the crowd that’s going to the White House.

“The Ricketts family’s been tied in there really well ... so wherever Mr. Ricketts would like me to go, I’m going to do (it). Mr. Ricketts and the Ricketts family has been good to all of us, so part of that is that.

“The other part is whenever you have a chance to go to the White House, I think it’s easy to say yes out of respect to the office and the building itself.”

Maddon didn’t know if meeting Trump would be on the itinerary and said he understood if some players passed on the invite.

“I don’t have any rules to begin with,” Maddon said. “I just want you to run hard to first base. As long as you run hard to first base, they can make up their own mind whether they want to go to the White House or not.

“Furthermore, not having to wear a suit, I think, is the best part of this whole trip, because, to me, to have to dress a certain way to impress somebody, my God, nobody would ever fail. So I’m all about all of the circumstances right now.”

Maddon didn’t sound at all concerned about the optics of visiting the White House at a time of travel bans, sub-40 percent approval ratings and investigations into the Trump campaign’s connections to Russia, or meeting with a president who compared Chicago to Afghanistan.

“I like living here a lot,” Maddon said. “I like this country a lot. And I would much prefer living here than some of the other places that adopt different methods of government.

“I think sometimes that gets confused when people want to take a stand and not really realizing actually what we have, which is a lot better than most every place else.”