Steve Stone mailbag: Mike Quade's 2011 status

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Steve Stone mailbag: Mike Quade's 2011 status

Wednesday, Sep. 1, 2010
11:40 PM

Steve Stone dives into his mailbag to answer your questions about the White Sox's recent acquistion of Manny Ramirez, Mike Quade's 2011 staus and more!

Tony, Chicago -- What are your thoughts on the White Sox claiming Manny Ramirez off waivers? Don't you think they should be more focused on pitching than offense?

Steve Stone: You can't really choose who is going to go on waivers. If at the time, they knew Eric Threets was going to be lost to the club, there is a good chance or possible scenario, Brian Fuentes to be claimed before Minnesota. But that wasn't the case. Kenny didn't have the luxury to wait and because Threets was throwing very well and it's still believed Thornton is not injured badly, they went after a hitter.
Roman, Hobart, Ind. -- Now that Frank Thomas Day has come and gone, what are your favorite memories of the Big Hurt playing on the South Side?

Steve Stone: You have to understand I was not on the South Side for his career. I was doing some baseball on the other side of town and consequently because our games was, most of the time, completely different in time and time zones, I didn't get to see a great deal of his career. Safe to say, he was one of the great hitters of all time. When you ask me about the great recollections, that is Hawk's plate.

Kate, Chicago -- If Mike Quade ends the season on a winning note, what are his chances of returning next season to manage the Cubs?

Steve Stone: As far as his chances, I said I like him as a good solid baseball man. I believe he knows the game, he certainly pays his dues and understands the culture, but there isn't much I don't like. I think he could make a good manager; I don't think he should manage the Cubs next year but then again, I don't have the decision to make. I am thankful for that and wish him best of luck; he is a quality man. We will have to see what Hendry and Ricketts feel about Quade, but about the many worthy candidates for what I believe is the last and greatest sports challenge -- to win a world championship in the uniform of the Chicago Cubs. If you know someone 102 years old, they were just being born when the Cubs won their last one.
Tommy, Winfield -- What are your thoughts of Sammy Sosa's recent comments about the Cubs not caring about him?

Steve Stone: I think they are very accurate as far as Sammy is concerned. The sad part is, there are a lot of things said and done at the time that maybe, maybe some people felt later on that they shouldn't have said. I know that probably applies to Sammy. I would hope that applied to the Tribune Company. After the death of Harry Carry in February 1998, having been on that broadcast with Harry's grandson Chip, what we were selling was Sammy and the Ivy. The Cubs had a very good break in '98 and made it to the playoffs in the Wild Card, only to be knocked out by Atlanta. Up until 2003, they were not great years and Sammy was a big part of the show most of the time, and sometimes the whole show. He probably made them about 200 million. When a guy does that for you, he deserves a little more consideration as you shoved him out the door. With that being said, we can just go back and perhaps bring him back into the family. I know about his performance-enhancing, but many players with the same cloud over their head. I believe he was an intricate part of the past. I think he should be welcomed back into the family some where down the line. This opinion won't be shared by tons, but that's how i feel about the situation.

John, Chicago -- What has surprised you most this season in MLB?

Steve Stone: Its hard to pin down one thing, but if I were to delete everything as a whole, the most surprising team, the Padres. They have done a tremendous job with a low payroll team in a small amount of time in putting together a ball club that has all the marks of a team going to the playoffs. It's a magnificent story. The Rangers are a good story, but not quite as surprising being in a four-team division and as many stars on that team that they were able to put that race to bed in the West. Omar Vizquel having an opportunity to play a lot more than expected and play better than people thought he could play. If the Sox go on to win, he will be one impressive array of contributors and one of the most surprising. Starlin Castro is also a great story of the year as the Cubs are concerned. It appears he is going to be an excellent player. Don't worry about those errors, they happen. He is here to stay. In my estimation, he could become a truly great story on the north side of town.

Cubs conserving Jake Arrieta for October and see another Cy Young push coming

Cubs conserving Jake Arrieta for October and see another Cy Young push coming

SAN DIEGO – West Coast atmosphere, late August, almost no-hitter stuff for a Cubs team riding a wave of momentum. Jake Arrieta might be reentering the zone that made him the hottest pitcher on the planet last year. Get your onesies ready.

It felt that way on Tuesday night at Petco Park, where Arrieta shut down the San Diego Padres, allowing only two hits across eight scoreless innings in a 5-3 victory, making another statement in his Cy Young Award defense.

For all the questions about Arrieta’s fastball control and mechanical tweaks – and times where he’s admitted he’s felt a click off – this is still a top-of-the-rotation guy who leads the league with 16 wins and has a 2.62 ERA.

“He should be” in the Cy Young discussion, manager Joe Maddon said. “The only thing that’s been amiss is a little bit of command issues on occasion. Otherwise, stuff is the same. Numbers are fabulous. It’s hard to replicate what he had done last year, because he just nailed it.

“If he gets hot over these last couple weeks…”

It will be up to Arrieta to complete that thought in a World Series-or-bust season for baseball’s first team to 80 wins this year, one that’s now 35 games over .500.  

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This didn’t feel like a perfect game or create any no-hitter drama. The Padres are already 20 games under .500 and years away from being a serious contender. And Arrieta had to bounce back from last week’s ugly win over the Milwaukee Brewers – when he walked a career-high seven batters – and work around a first-inning walk to San Diego leadoff guy Travis Jankowski.

But the Cubs played spectacular defense behind Arrieta, with catcher Willson Contreras making a lightning-quick throw to pick off Jankowski at third base. The Cubs turned three double plays while a thunderous lineup led by Kris Bryant (33rd home run) and Addison Russell (fifth home run in his last five games) lowered the stress level. After Alex Dickerson’s single leading off the second inning, the Padres didn’t get another hit until Christian Bethancourt’s double with two outs in the eighth.

“I really wanted to let my defense work,” said Arrieta, who finished with six strikeouts against three walks. “When you have Addison and (Javier) Baez in the middle of the infield – two of the best athletes in all of baseball – you want the ball to go to those guys.”

At a time when Clayton Kershaw (back) and Stephen Strasburg (elbow) are on the disabled list, leaving potential playoff opponents like the Los Angeles Dodgers and Washington Nationals in scramble mode, the Cubs can see Arrieta building toward October.

The way Arrieta did with that Aug. 30 no-hitter last year at Dodger Stadium on national TV, walking into the press conference in a moustache-covered onesie, Maddon going with the pajama theme again for the flight home after this weekend’s series in Los Angeles.

But the Cubs ultimately paid the price for all that effort poured into the wild-card chase, which explains why Maddon pulled Arrieta after 99 pitches with a five-run lead (leaving Aroldis Chapman to clean up Felix Pena’s mess in the ninth inning and get the final two outs, giving him eight saves in a Cubs uniform).

“Yeah, I was mad at Joe taking me out,” Arrieta said. “But at the same time, he came over to me and he said: ‘Hey, just remember last year and let’s conserve some things for October.’

“That’s our game plan. We want to be as strong and as dominant as we can be, but still in the back of our mind understanding that late September, early October, mid-October is really the most important time for us.

“Could I have finished the game? Yes. Does it play in our favor to maybe conserve that for later? Yeah. Joe’s a really smart guy. He knows what he’s doing. I feel like he makes the right moves in the right situations. And that’s why we’ve been playing as well as we have.”

No doubt, Addison Russell is becoming a star for Cubs

No doubt, Addison Russell is becoming a star for Cubs

SAN DIEGO – On a team bursting with MVP frontrunners and Cy Young Award candidates – and in a clubhouse with louder, flashier personalities – Addison Russell can emerge as an All-Star shortstop and not become the center of attention.

But here at Petco Park last month, Russell drew scrutiny for his spot in the all-Cub infield, patiently answering questions from reporters about whether or not he deserved to be the National League starter the fans voted for in that popularity contest.

Russell might actually be developing into a superstar now, a Gold Glove-caliber defender with legitimate middle-of-the-order power, someone absolutely essential to what the Cubs are doing now. Russell crushed the San Diego Padres again on Tuesday night, opening up a two-run game with a two-run homer in the fifth inning of a 5-3 victory.

“Just watch me over the course of a year,” Russell said. “My numbers may not be great or whatever, but I contribute to my team every single day. I play my heart out for my team.”

Super-agent Scott Boras, posted up at Petco Park to see clients and watch Jake Arrieta pitch, pointed out that Russell is now only one of five shortstops within the last 40 years to have at least 19 homers during his age-22 season, joining Cal Ripken Jr., Alex Rodriguez, Troy Tulowitzki and Corey Seager.

Russell is the first Cubs shortstop to reach the 80-RBI mark since Ernie Banks did it in 1961. For all the comparisons to Barry Larkin, he didn’t make his big-league debut with the Cincinnati Reds until the age of 22, and didn’t exceed 12 homers in a season until five years later.

Russell has homered five times in his last five games, leads the best team in baseball with 23 multi-RBI games and exemplifies a no-panic approach that should translate in October.

“I’ve said all year, we have guys on our team that get on base and it’s my job to get them over or get them in,” Russell said. “I’ve taken that role to heart. It’s a lot of fun out there. I challenge myself whenever I’m in that situation.”

[SHOP: Get your Addison Russell jersey here]

Russell’s highlight-reel play during Monday night’s victory inspired manager Joe Maddon to give him a bottle of Justin Isosceles wine with a “6-3” written on it. Imagine the reward if Russell wins a Gold Glove.  

“Defensively, it’s as good as there is being played right now,” Maddon said. “It’s getting to the point where there’s nobody else like that right now.”

Whether or not Russell can stay healthy and remain productive enough to become another Mr. Cub – or come close to matching Larkin’s Hall of Fame numbers – you don’t get the sense he will be a one-time All-Star.

“I’m very happy for him, because I know prior to being selected, that was an issue,” Maddon said. “I’m so proud of him, how he came out and confronted it in his own way, very quietly, but in a distinguished manner. That’s who he is.

“Now he’s showing everybody how good he is. And I also believe that event has pretty much catapulted him to the point he’s at right now (with) the status that he felt by being here. In some ways, there was this negative dialogue going on. He’s turned it into a very positive one. Good for him.”

Golden State of mind: Joe Maddon meets Steve Kerr and sees similarities between Cubs and Warriors

Golden State of mind: Joe Maddon meets Steve Kerr and sees similarities between Cubs and Warriors

SAN DIEGO – Wearing a blue T-shirt, jeans and Vans slip-on sneakers, Steve Kerr looked like a believer in the Joe Maddon dress code. The Golden State Warriors coach walked down the dugout steps and into the visiting clubhouse, meeting with the Cubs manager for almost 30 minutes before Tuesday night’s game at Petco Park, a natural connection between two teams that have embraced the target.

Maddon is open to new experiences, and appreciates these opportunities to speak with innovative coaches from other sports. The Padres had shown Kerr, a San Diego resident, on their video board in the middle of Monday night’s game. Kerr also played in Chicago, winning three championship rings on Michael Jordan’s Bulls, and two more with the San Antonio Spurs, before winning another as Golden State’s rookie coach during the 2014-15 season.

“You got a combination of great players and his touch, along with (Luke) Walton,” Maddon said, referencing the interim coach who took over while Kerr recovered from back surgery last season, helping guide the Warriors to an NBA-record 73 wins and earning a head job with the Los Angeles Lakers. “Walton did a great job in his absence, also, which is really unusual, but that also speaks to the quality of the player, too. What that tells me is they built something pretty dynamic culturally.

“I’m sure there’s a lot of freedom within that group, also, to be themselves and play. It’s kind of a loosely based structure that works somehow. Xs and Os – I’m sure there is a lot of that. But when you have individual talent like that – like we do – you don’t want to get in the way too often either. I don’t want to get in their way at all.”

[SHOP: Get your hands on some Cubs gear here]

Of course, those Warriors are also the cautionary tale for Cubs fans watching a team dominate the regular season, only to see LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers win a Game 7 in the NBA Finals.

But when Kevin Durant ditched the Oklahoma City Thunder and joined the team that beat him in the playoffs, the superstar talked up Golden State’s chemistry, culture and vision, sounding a lot like Jason Heyward after the $184 million outfielder turned down the St. Louis Cardinals and switched sides in their rivalry with the Cubs.

“Believe me, it’s not everywhere,” Maddon said. “You don’t get that everywhere. It doesn’t happen. I’ve been in places where it doesn’t feel that way. Not a lot of fun to go to the yard sometimes. I’m sure it’s not a lot of fun to go to the shootaround in the mornings. But when you develop that, and people actually want to come there – good people want to come to your spot – that’s pretty solid.”