Reporting Matt Spiegel
Mike Quade’s reaction to the spring training dugout scuffle has incensed many. The Cub haters have seized upon it, and many defeatist Cubs fans, expecting a sign that the status quo of losing will reign, have shaken their head in disappointment. Objective baseball people fall back on agreed upon axioms here, to never let a pitcher show up a teammate.
I get what the manager is trying to do. I think.
This is a really, interesting and risky way of dealing with the situation. He’s looking to foster the accountability that was lacking under Lou. When you’re bad on defense or on the mound, the guys you’re letting down are right there all around you. They’re the ones you’re supposed to be at your best for, and they’re the ones you should be afraid to look in the eye if you’re not. Quade is trying to let the players breed that accountability amongst themselves in this instance, even in the face of ancient baseball wisdom.
“I’m not interested in having donnybrooks in the dugout,” Quade said. “I do like the fact that some people were [upset], I really do. Now, let’s see if we can’t take some of that in the right direction.”
The problem is that the guy he’s allowing to be embarrassingly angry is Carlos bleeping Silva. Letting Silva, who doesn’t really deserve any quarter, get away with blaming others when he couldn’t get people out doesn’t sit well. If it was Ryan Dempster, or Carlos Marmol, or Sean Marshall, it becomes a different debate.
How first time manager Quade deals with the underperforming veterans is one of the huge keys to this season.
That list starts with Aramis Ramirez. There is no one on the roster, including Alfonso Soriano, who mixed decaying skills with laziness and apathy quite the way Ramirez did last year. He has lost a step defensively, and seemed to lose another as he dogged it time after time. How many times did we see him not bothering to get in front of grounders…instead taking them sideways? How many distracted throws across the diamond that Derek Lee then nor Carlos Pena now (both top-tier first basement) would ever corral? Pundits have been guessing/hoping that Ramirez’ contract year of 2011 will be enough to spur him on to competence, but I have my doubts.
Mike Quade is choosing to let Ramirez hear it and feel it from a teammate, and he’ll wait to see if that self-policing has any effect. The ugliness that has been Cubs defense so far can’t be allowed to last, and it seems the manager is going to let this frustration play itself out. To be sure, it’s a surprisingly hands-off approach from a guy who has talked tough in other ways.
On this one, Quade gets a raised eyebrow, and a re-invigorated expectation of defensive results. But it’s a little early to judge him on one of the central issues of his tenure. Let’s see who makes the team first, and how those vets respond a month or two into the games that matter.