By Ben Finfer–
The 51st manager in Cubs franchise history may very well be the least exciting. Mike Quade. I haven’t been this dissatisfied with a coaching hire since Vinny Del Negro was handed the reigns at the Berto Center.
Maybe it will turn out that this was the right direction for Jim Hendry to go with the first hire of the Ricketts era. The last three under the Tribune Company were of the high profile variety…Don Baylor, Dusty Baker and Lou Piniella. None of them had anything to prove in Chicago. Each were established managers who had won several games in other cities. And of course all three left Wrigley Field with a World Series ring.
But here’s the problem with Quade…he’s Mike Quade. He’s one of the same faces these players have seen in the dugout the past four seasons. Along with Larry Rothschild and Rudy Jaramillo (who return in their roles as pitching coach and hitting coach respectively) the brass won’t be drastically different than it was in during the disastrous 2010 season. Wasn’t this a team that needed a fresh take at the top?
A lot of pro-Quadites will point to the 24-13 record that the Cubs carried down the stretch as a reason to hand him the job. However, there is a real danger that it was fool’s gold. This could be the equivalent of a September call-up playing well down the stretch, being a handed a roster spot out of spring training, and failing to live up to the potential he showed the year prior.
2011 will be much different for Quade than the final 37 games of 2010. Very few people were paying attention to the Cubs in September. He didn’t have to deal with the daily scrutiny that comes with one of the highest profile coaching jobs in all of sports; or with the panic that a five-game losing streak in April can bring. No one knows how he will handle that, including Hendry or Ricketts.
The Cubs gave Quade a two-year deal with an option for the third. Because of bad contracts and young players it likely will be a playoff-less existence for the franchise. It’s basically a transition period for the new owners to flush the Tribune Company remnants down the toilet before filling it up again. So it’s Mike Quade. And for now the Ryne Sandberg vs. Joe Girardi debate is on hiatus. But keep your notes. Because it will return in 2013.