Tagged: Mike Quade

HOT STOVE SEASON HAS BEGUN! PLUS, MY NEW WISH LIST FOR THIS OFF-SEASON

Okay, the Cubs have been busy over the last month.  Theo Epstein has been brought in as President of Baseball Operations for the Cubs and he has gotten Jed Hoyer, from the Padres, as the new GM.  Theo also landed Jason McLeod as the Director of Scouting and Player Development.  These three amigos are tasked with turning a century of losing into a championship contender on a yearly basis.  That is an enormous challenge!

Theo and crew has already started by “releasing” Mike Quade from his position as manager of the Cubs.  Theo then called up Ryne Sandberg and notified him immediately that he would not be considered for the newly vacated managerial position.  I think that was a good thing to do.  Don’t lead Ryno on and let him believe he has a chance at the job like happened last year.  However, I do hope Theo is able to get Sandberg back into a Cub uniform as a major league coach or minor league manager.  I’ve read that the Cardinals are interested in him and that would just kill me.  If he took over for the Cards in 2012 and won a World Series……..well, it wouldn’t be a good thing for me.

Anyway, before I worry too much about this worst case scenario, I have to remind myself that Theo realizes knows what he’s doing.

The search for a new manager is underway and I have a feeling that Theo will make a wise and educated choice.

Here is my wishlist for this off-season.

1.  Bring Sandberg back to the Cubs organization.

2.  Hire a quality manager.

3. Keep Greg Maddux in the front office.

4.  Go after Prince Fielder

5.  Make offer to Aramis Ramirez (this one goes hand-in-hand with number 4 and I’ll explain later)

6.  Trade Carlos Zambrano.  (Even is he says it won’t happen again I know it will)

7.  Trade Alfonso Soriano

8.  Sign Kerry Wood again or find him a job with the Cubs.

9.  Strengthen the pitching staff

My goal over my next few posts will be to address all 9 of these items on my personal wishlist.  I will also add new ideas to my list when I can come up with something feasible.  I look forward to the HOT STOVE season and I plan on blogging about it as much as I can.

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TRADE DEADLINE AND FRUSTRATION

I must admit that I was disappointed the Cubs were not more active this year as the trade deadline approached.  I like the trade of Fukudome to the Indians.  I hope he is able to help them out.  I would love to seen the Cubs do an overhaul on their roster.  I felt Marlon Byrd should have been traded to a contender such as the Braves.  I was hoping that Soriano would have been traded to an AL team and I really felt that reuniting Carlos Zambrano with former pitching coach, Larry Rothschild, in New York would have helped the Yankees.  I was surprised that we weren’t more active.  I also expected Carlos Pena to get traded to the Pirates.  Instead, former Cub D. Lee was.  I will be rooting for him to do well except when he plays the Cubs.  Last night Lee homered twice, but the Cubs still managed to win.

Maybe Jim Hendry and the Cubs believe that this team will be able to compete next year with a few minor tweaks.  I hope that is the case, but I’m not sure at this point.  I haven’t been impressed with Hendry for a while now and I am disappointed with Mike Quade’s performance as manager.  It really makes this Cub fan angry for not hiring Ryne Sandberg!!!!

I think the Phillies acquisition of Hunter Pence was a great move and Carlos Beltran will definitely help the Giants.  I did not like the Cardinals move of trading away Colby Rasmus.  I understand he has wanted to be traded for a while, but the Cards traded him while his value was low.  Bad move in my opinion.  I think Edwin Jackson is a young pitcher with lots of potential and Dave Duncan may be able to turn him around, but he is also a free agent at the end of this season.  So, they traded away the “heir” to Jim Edmonds for some rentals.

The Cubs need to play some good baseball the last two months of this season so I can regain some of my hope for next year.  The fact that Hendry is probably going to begin next year with the same roster is frightening unless several players start turning things around soon.

DOWN ON QUADE

Well, I must admit that I am embarrassed by the Cubs performance this season and especially over the last week or so.  We’ve lost 7 in a row including being swept at home by the Astros and on the road against our Arch rivals.   Two of those losses were extra inning games ended by walk off home runs by Albert Pujols.  Anyway, we aren’t playing very good baseball as a whole and it’s obvious.

I still don’t understand Mike Quade and his lineup.  I believe that Aramis Ramirez needs to bat third.  That gives us our best chance to drive in runs in my opinion.  I know he’s not producing all the well this season, but part of that is due to having little protection in the lineup.

Quade baffled me early in the season when he platooned Fukudome and Colvin in right field.  Both are left handed batters and he let Fukudome play against right handed pitchers and Colvin against left handed pitchers.

Quade frustrated me when he kept batting Marlon Byrd in the three hole.  I think Byrd is better suited to hit 1st, 2nd or 5th in the lineup.  He’s never been known to be a great run producer.  That’s usually who you want batting third…..a run producer!

Quade has also aggravated me with the handling of our starting rotation early in the season.  There was a stretch where he kept leaving starters in too long and not trusting the bullpen setup of Wood, Marshall and Marmol.

I guess I am taking out a bit of my frustrations on our new manager and I know it’s the players who play the games.  But he’s setting the lineups, making the pitching changes and is in charge of this team.  I know that he’s competitive, but I think he’s going to have a long summer.

DEFENSE WINS GAMES TOO!

Wow, last night we scored 5 runs and still lost. I didn’t think our pitching was all that bad. However, our defense was miserable! I know that the wet weather didn’t help us any, but the Reds only made one error compared to our four. So, there is no excuse for yesterday’s loss in my eyes.

On a bright note, Carlos Pena is heating up and raised his average to .231 with five homers. Hopefully, that hot hitting continues and spreads to our other power hitters.

We also optioned Tyler Colvin to Iowa. I think this is a good move for Colvin since he’s not getting much playing time. I understand that it’s hard for Quade to find playing time for everyone, but he wasn’t giving Colvin much of a chance this season after Tyler had such a good performance in spring training. To start the season, he was platooning Colvin with Kosuke Fukudome in right field. Kosuke batted played against the right handed pitchers and Tyler batted against the left handers. Considering Colvin is left handed himself, this wasn’t a good idea in my opinion. Then Colvin was regulated to the duties of pinch hitter. He hasn’t gotten consistent at bats and needed to be sent down to get some regular playing time. I hope he does well in Iowa and returns to the Cubs soon.

I am still getting familiar with the switch to word press. I wonder if there is a way to have my comments posted automatically without me having to approve them first? If anyone has an answer for me please let me know. Thanks!

FINALLY! A WIN!

I was able to stay up late last night and watch the Cubs actually win a game.  It was nice to see.  We had good starting pitching and Quade did not leave Zambrano in too long.  He trusted his setup of Wood, Marshall and Marmol for the 7th, 8th and 9th innings.  We played good defense and had three solo homers.  Soriano was the hitter of the night blasting two bombs!  I liked the fact that Castro batted third again too.  Now, if we can repeat last nights performance I would be really happy.

Matt Garza will be pitching against Ian Kennedy tonight. Hopefully, we can play better for Garza and get him his first win of the season and as a Cub.  Even though he’s striking out a lot of batters he hasn’t had much luck.  He pitched 6 shutout innings in a no-decision against San Diego, lost to Colorado due to 4 errors and 4 unearned runs, has seen the Cubs get shutout twice during his starts and saw the bullpen blow the lead in another.  That’s five starts and little run support, bad defense and a loss to the bullpen.  Hopefully, tonight is the night the guys rally around Garza and get him a win.

RANDOM STUFF

The Cubs took two of three from the Astros, but it wasn’t easy.  In the two wins, both starting pitchers were left in too long, in my amateur opinion, and the Astros almost came back and won each game.  I’m hoping Quade recognizes this and makes the appropriate adjustments.  In the game we loss during the series, it was a horrible display of baseball by the Cubs.  Lack of hustle, poor hitting and terrible defense.  That’s all I’ve got to say about that!

I am still not happy with Marlon Byrd batting third.  He’s off to a good start this season, but should be batting somewhere else in the lineup in my opinion.  I think the number three hitter in your lineup should be your best run producer.  I believe Aramis Ramirez is best suited batting third. He’s a proven run producer in his career.  Meanwhile, Byrd is batting .353, but only has four RBIs!  With runners in scoring position this year he’s hitting .214.  We need to make a slight change in the lineup so we can score more runs!
Kosuke Fukudome’s hamstring is bothering him and it’s allowing Tyler Colvin to play every day.  This is good news and I expect Colvin’s bat to wake up!  
Darwin Barney has been excellent this spring and seems like a good double play partner with Starlin Castro.  Everyone expected Castro to be playing well, but I don’t think very many people even knew who DB was before the season started.  I’ve said it before, but he reminds me of Ryan Theriot when he first came up with the Cubs.  That’s a good thing!
Former Cub, Sam Fuld, is turning into a human highlight reel for the Rays in Tampa.  He’s playing great defense, stealing bases and hitting the cover off the ball.  I’m glad he’s getting a chance to play and that he’s playing so well.  Even though he’s no longer with the Cubs, I will keep rooting for you!
The abrupt retirement of steroid user and cheater, Manny Ramirez, seems like a fitting end to his career.  I believe he had great talent, but I wonder how much of his talent was due to his steroid use.  
The Cubs are gearing up for a weekend series against the Rockies in Denver.  I hope we can win another series and that Matt Garza has a good game tomorrow night.  I hope he sticks with his fastball more than he did last outing against the Brewers.

WRAPPING UP SPRING TRAINING

With spring training almost over, the Cubs are looking pretty good believe it or not.  We are relatively healthy and have had some solid performances by key players this spring.  Here’s my breakdown of some players that impressed or even won a job in spring training and some others that didn’t. 
 
Ryan Dempster, or Dumpster as my Cardinal friends refer to him, was selected as the Opening Day starter by Manager Mike Quade early in the spring.  Dempster has posted a 2.57 ERA in 28 innings at the time of this post.  That’s what you want from a team leader and your number one pitcher. 
 
Randy Wells won the 4th spot in the rotation by having an amazing spring training.  He posted an ERA of 2.10 in 25.2 innings so far and looks more like the 2009 version when he went 12-10 with a 3.05 ERA.  I don’t know if the rumors about him partying last year are true, but it appears he is strictly business this year.  I hope his performance this spring continues as the season starts this weekend.
 
Marcos Mateo has won the final spot in the bullpen by posting a 1.29 ERA so far this spring in 7 innings pitched.  Mateo turns 27 next month and may be a surprise strength for our bullpen.  The way I see it, he came to ST and earned his spot on the team.  I wish more players would do this!
 
Tyler Colvin has had a decent spring seeing action in rightfield and first base.  I would prefer him as our everyday rightfielder, but we still have Fukudome and I foresee them splitting time at the start of the season. 
 
Starlin Castro has had a great spring batting .350 so far and leading the team in home runs and RBIs surprisingly.  I think he’s going to have a solid second year in 2011.  He’s our shortstop of the present and future!
 
Darwin Barney has won the job over Blake DeWitt to platoo
n at second base with Jeff Baker.  Baker will see most of the action against lefties and Barney should play the rest of the time.  DB is batting .362 so far this spring and brings a lot of energy to the field.  Kind of reminds me of Ryan Theriot when he first came up with the Cubs.
 
Unfortunately, Blake DeWitt has had a difficult spring offensively and defensively.  He’s only hit .193 and has played himself out of a starting job.  For now, it appears he will be a backup infielder logging time at second and third base for the Cubs.  I believe he would be better off starting the season in Iowa so he could play everyday.  He’s still young, only 25, and could use a little incentive.  I think he could be the future second baseman for the Cubs with Barney being a backup middle infielder in the near future.  However, if Barney keeps hitting then that won’t be the case. 
 
Marlon ByrdAramis Ramirez and Geovany Soto have all had a decent spring.  These are three key players for the Cubs to be successful in 2011…..especially, Ramirez!  Meanwhile, Alfonso Soriano and newly acquired Carlos Pena have struggled this spring and that’s not a good sign.  Hopefully, both of these veterans will turn the corner once the regular season starts Friday against the Pirates.
 
I like the direction the team is currently heading.  We still need to improve our defense and base running.  Our pitching may end up being our biggest strength this year.  However, we need to score some runs if we want to contend for the NL Central title.