Mike Quade Outmatched as Manager

It was a long journey for Mike Quade to finally become a major league manager, and it’s become apparent why this was the case.   At the All-Star break, Quade’s 2011 record with the Cubs stands at an abysmal 37-55, which is the second worst record in all of baseball.  This still comes as a shock even though many Cubs fans already had diminished expectations coming into the 2011 season due to the team’s perceived lack of talent.  Needless to say, Quade’s ineffectiveness comes as a huge disappointment after he led the Cubs to a 24-13 mark in 2010, when he took over for Lou Piniella after his sudden retirement.

 

Is there something misleading about the 2011 team?  The Cubs did not really gain or lose many important pieces during the off-season, and they arguably improved by adding Carlos Pena’s left-handed bat to the middle of their lineup.  So why the abrupt turnaround? The truth: Mike Quade’s 2010 reign as interim manager are where the real misleading numbers can be derived.

When Quade took over in 2010, the team was ready for a change, a breath of fresh air so to speak.  Piniella’s tenure had run it’s course and the team was ready to put that era behind them.  The Cubs were 21.5 games back in the NL Central when Quade took over and they had nothing to play for, aside from proving their new skipper’s worth.

 

The team played well after Quade took over, which is often the case immediately after an in-season managerial switch.  For example, Buck Showalter has had a similar run since taking the helm of the Baltimore Orioles in 2010.  He led them to a 34-23 record to end the 2010 campaign strongly, but the team has come back to reality in 2011 by going 36-52 thus far.  Both cases lead me to believe that the previous managers needed to go, moreso than either team required Quade or Showalter as a solution.

 

On multiple occassions this season, Quade has shown that his decision-making skills as a manager have not been developed.  These are skills that after 17 years of managing at different levels like Quade has, should be fine-tuned by now.  He’s even admitted to making the wrong decision at times, such as leaving Randy Wells in the game too long against the White Sox, when Juan Pierre finished a comeback with a two-run triple off of the Cubs right-handed pitcher at Wrigley Field on July 2nd.

 

‘‘I thought it was something I’d try to push through and shouldn’t have, and I over-thought the thing,’’ Quade said.

 

I’m glad to hear that Quade owned up to his mistake, but it’s not enough.   This is the kind of mistake that top major league managers don’t make.  Instead of merely admitting to his mistakes, Quade should work towards not making them.  He has managed only a short time in the major leagues, but he’s had experience managing at all levels before this and should know better by now.  So why hasn’t he learned?

 

I’ve come to realize that the reason Quade makes these mistakes is that he is not, in fact,  a major league manager.  He is a third base coach or a bench coach at best.  He is the “ra-ra” guy that every team has behind the scenes to support the players, give hints for improvement, and educate about the ins and outs of baseball.  He is not a decision-maker.  His ideal job, frankly, is to be friends with the players.

 

It seems that Quade has had a hard time filtering out that last quality.  All season long he has taken a backseat to the star power of many of his highly paid players.  There have been many instances involving Carlos Zambrano this season where this was the case.  Back in April, Kerry Wood had to talk to Zambrano about proper mound etiquette when Quade went to take him out of the game and Zambrano did not wait until the manager was all the way to the mound before giving him the ball.  Furthermore, when Zambrano was asked about breaking a bat over his leg and what his manager thought of it he replied “What manager?”  Quade shrugged these incidents off and said he tries to look the other way when these situations arise.

 

Now that Quade has come under fire and been criticized for his lackadaisical managing style, it may be too late for him to instill a different managing attitude.  It seems that the “buddy-buddy” method may have cost him the ability to demand his player’s respect.  The biggest red flag was Ryan Dempster’s uncharacteristic outburst against the manager in his most recent start.  Dempster, who had just come off some stomach and back problems, was told by Quade that he would be lifted for a pinch-hitter after just 87 pitches and 5 innings of work.  Dempster immediately became vocal and barked back at his manager in front of the entire team as well as the dugout cameras.

 

I believe that this incident was downplayed after the fact and that Dempster’s actions speak volumes to how he and many of his teammates feel about Quade.  When the unquestioned, veteran leader of your ballclub cannot keep his cool in public, you have to wonder how all of the other players feel and feed off of that type of response.  As the Cubs continue to play worse this season, it is likely that you’ll see a few more players questioning the manager’s moves along the way.

 

It’s rather sad because Quade is a very likable individual.  He’s paid his dues in baseball for years and finally got to reach his ultimate goal by becoming a manager.  In the end, he was never destined to win with the team that general manager Jim Hendry put on the field in 2011.  His reign will be short-lived, and likely his only shot at the big stage.  I’m happy for him because he worked hard to get where he is today and I hope he enjoys it while it lasts.  He should be proud because it seems the players really do like Mike Quade, just not as their leader.  To them, he’ll always be their friend…and third base coach

 

 

 

 

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  • John Campbell

    I am not a Mike Quade fan, actually wanted Ryno to get the job but I think your criticism of him is a little unfair. He has been open and honest about some of the mistakes he has made (never heard Lou say that) and he is an eternal optimist. I have become a fan of his because i love his dedication to the sport he actually loves.
    But in spite of the flaws he has, he does’nt throw a pitch, hit a ball or play defense. Nor does he hit with RISP. The combination of all of these on any given day is the reason the Cubs have the record they do. They are at best, a Triple A team. And at worse, they would give the Bad News Bears a run for their money.
    The only thing that I see that he needs to do is to sit the veterans when they fail to play the game the right way. He has no problem with doing that to Castro or Barney but somehow has an issue with doing it to Soriano, Ramirez, etc. A leader leads by example and there would be no better example than to sit one of these guys when they fail to run out a ball, etc.
    It is thru no fault of his own that he has a terrible ballclub. You can blame Hendry for that one. If anyone needs to go it’s him.

    • John Nardulli

      There has been several starts that Quade has left the starting pitching in too long or doing a poor job matching up relievers vs hitters. Yes, he admits it on occassion but he does it pretty often.

      I also don’t like the fact that he is so player friendly… all these nicknames for the players he throws out and his overall jiminy cricket additude. I just feel like he doesn’t hold the players accountable and is too happy go lucky in the clubhouse.

    • Billy Wolfe

      While I agree that Quade has been destined to fail from the start due to the team Hendry put on the field for him, I still think he lacks what it takes to lead even a good team to prominence. He does have a great attitude and knows the game well, but good managers need more than just optimism and knowledge to make the right decisions. He has sat young players as you mention, but how could they take him seriously when he lets veterans walk all over him?

      I think being an eternal optimist is more of a fault than a desirable quality. For years, Cubs fans on the whole have been ridiculed for displaying this type of optimism year after year. Quade has the typical “Wait til’ next year” mentality that has surrounded the north side for decades. The truth is, fans are able to see through this now because they’ve become smarter. They’ve experienced a few good years and playoff runs with Piniella and Dusty Baker as manager so they know what a winning team looks like.

      Just a few weeks before the All-Star break Quade mentioned that if they could get to .500 by then that they would have a legitimate shot of being back in the race. While a .500 record would put them in contention, Quade said this when they were already 12 games under .500 and only 20 games to go before the break. Did he think fans would believe the Cubs could muster a 16-4 run when they have yet to even achieve a 3 game winning streak in 2011? We need to stop looking for optimism and start practicing realism.