By Matt Abbatacola-

CHICAGO (WSCR) — One year ago, Mike Quade was named the manager of the Chicago Cubs. When he took over for Lou Piniella, the Cubs were 51-74. The team finished strong under Quade (24-13) which earned him a two-year contract to continue on as the manager.

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Today, his team is 56-72. Quade has watched slow starts from veteran players like Ramirez, Pena, Dempster, and Zambrano build a deficit in the standings that has been too great to overcome.

He has seen several of his players make visits to the DL, including Soriano, Byrd, Barney, Soto, Johnson, Baker, Garza, Zambrano, Cashner, Wells, and Wood.

Quade’s Triple-A call-ups for various reasons have included: Wellington Castillo, D.J. LeMahieu, Justin Berg, Jeff Stevens, Marcos Mateo (he also went on the DL), Tony Campana, Chris Carpenter, Brad Snyder, Lou Montanez,  Scott Maine, and Casey Coleman.

James Russell came out of the bullpen to start 5 games for Quade even though the manager knew in his “heart of hearts” that the young pitcher was best suited to help the team as a reliever. Quade was right about that :

Starting: 0-5  9.33  18.1IP 5GS

Relieving: 1-0  1.98  41IP 46G

In order to fill holes in the starting rotation, the Cubs have also signed Doug Davis, Rodrigo Lopez, and Ramon Ortiz this year.

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On August 12, Carlos Zambrano had a rough outing against the Atlanta Braves. He threw at Chipper Jones, was ejected, and then later said he was retiring from the game of baseball. He was placed on the disqualified list and has not been with the team since the incident. Cubs owner, Tom Ricketts, has said that he has a “hard time imagining” Zambrano’s return to the team.

The start of the team’s current homestand began with the firing of Jim Hendry as the club’s general manager. Oddly enough, he was actually fired on July 22 and continued on in the postion until August 19.

Quade was asked about his one year anniversary and if it’s been a wild ride.

“It was, yeah – for sure. That’s just what we’ve been up against here. We’ve gotten through a lot of tough times and we’re gonna keep working to make them get better. I thought that last year when I took over and I believe that now. I wish the record was better – wish things had developed better. There’s not a darn thing that we can do about that now other than try and make them better from here on out.”

I believe that Mike Quade is a good baseball manager. Has he made some rookie mistakes? Yes. Is he learning on the job? Yes. Looking back on this season, I don’t know which manager in the game today would have this team leading or competing for the NL Central title.

Excuses or facts aside, it doesn’t really matter what you or I believe about Mike Quade.

The reality is that he will manage the Cubs for just 33 more games. Tom Ricketts will eventually hire a new GM and that GM will fire Mike Quade and hire the next manager of the Chicago Cubs.

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On an interesting side note, the starting pitcher for the Braves Tuesday night, Mike Minor, started against the Cubs on Lou Piniella’s last day as the Cubs’ skipper. Minor only set an Atlanta team record for rookies by striking out 12 Cubs’ batters as the Braves beat the Cubs 16-5.