The Cubs entering the All-Star Break 18 games under .500 has, of course, led to some criticisms of all facets of the organization and first-year Manager, Mike Quade is not exempt. The first half of the 2011 season, Quade has given a lot of ammunition to those fans that wanted to see Ryne Sandberg (or others) as the skipper. He’s also made some of us that supported him question his management skills. I’m not going to get into all the details of his supposed mis-management. If you’ve watched the games or heard the talking-heads on sports talk radio, you know what he’s done.
Of course, there have been rumblings from fans that Quade should be fired. I’ve said on the podcast that I believe Quade will be the manager of the Chicago Cubs through the end of his contract. (Almost) everyone under the sun believes Jim Hendry should be let go and these two contracts will end at the same time. The only person that seems to support Hendry is Tom Ricketts. I believe we are seeing Ricketts’ poker-face and he’s not showing his hand. However, I have seen the bumbling public relations moves the Ricketts family has made, so maybe they are actually behind Hendry and his…uh….vision(?).
Quade’s struggles actually make me glad that the Cubs did not choose Sandberg. I think Quade’s 17 years of minor league managing experience prepared him for managing the Cubs better than Sandberg’s four years of managing experience. I see the troubles that Quade is having and I have a hard time believing that Sandberg would not be facing as many issues with this underperforming line-up and injuries.
If Sandberg had not worn a Cubs uniform or been such a great player, I find it hard to believe that anyone would have wanted him over Quade. Quade won Minor League Manager of the Year twice and led three teams to championships (one at the AAA level). Sandberg had a combined 131-146 record in his two seasons as the manager of the Peoria Chiefs. He led the Tennessee Smokies to the league championship game with a regular season record of 2 games over .500. It was his one season with the Iowa Cubs that convinced many that he could step up and manage the big league club. Iowa ended the 2010 season 20 games over .500 and tied in 1st place. Sandberg was voted PCL Manager of the Year.
So now, as Mike Quade struggles and seems to lose the support of the players that vouched for him less than a year ago, here come the calls for him to be fired. Then this comes along to fuel the fire: Sandberg was on the Waddle and Silvy Show on Wednesday and said that he is still “open to managing the Cubs”.
Good, he should be. If Sandberg is so angry with the organization for hiring someone with 4 times as much managing experience that he has no interest in accepting a position with them at a later (and more appropriate) date, that really says something about him. I think hiring Sandberg instead of Quade would have been a risky move. If Sandberg wouldn’t have worked out, it could have been a very drawn out process and divisive decision for the Cubs to fire Sandberg. Sandberg is now managing the Lehigh Valley Iron Pigs (AAA Phillies affiliate) and it’s been a successful campaign for the Iron Pigs, so far in the 2011 season. Great, let Sandberg build his experience. In this one season, he will increase his management experience by 20%. I wouldn’t mind seeing Sandberg get picked up by a team to manage in the majors. Let him go through the growing pains that Quade is experiencing with another organization. If the relationship isn’t damaged beyond repair, I think Sandberg (unlike a guy like Girardi) would come just about anytime the team calls.
This story isn’t going away. The team isn’t showing signs of improving and the time on Quade’s short contract is ticking. The fact that Sandberg is on a Chicago radio station and talking about the possibility of managing the Cubs tells me that the relationship isn’t damaged beyond repair and he’s very much interested in the idea of managing the Cubs.