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Quade Plays Vets & Odds For 2012

By bullpenbrian - September 15, 2011 - 2:01 am 1 comment.

Last September Mike Quade was praised for playing his younger guys on a daily basis. The notion that the interim manager was thinking ahead for next season, instead of solely playing for wins, was significant in landing him the full-time job as Cubs manager.

However, that approach appears to have changed this September with the lack of consistent playing time given to younger guys like Tyler Colvin and Bryan LaHair, who were again absent from the starting lineup for Wednesday’s game vs. Cincinnati.

With the Cubs in a similar, if not worse, position than one season ago, why waste the opportunity to further develop prospects in favor of sticking with veteran players down the stretch?

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Fundamentals, Waveland & Waivers

By bullpenbrian - August 24, 2011 - 1:57 am Leave a comment.

Since Mike Quade took over the Cubs last August he’s (80-86) .481.

Quite honestly, the record isn’t all that bad. But it’s the way the Cubs are losing that’s the problem.

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Ricketts Sending The Right Message

By bullpenbrian - August 20, 2011 - 2:58 am Leave a comment.

Got to be honest. I had my doubts Tom Ricketts had it in him to fire Jim Hendry.

But it’s the bold move I talked about yesterday, sending the message all Cubs fans want to hear–losing is no longer acceptable.

Ricketts has done well spreading the good cheer, which is commendable for any owner, but losing can never be overlooked.

Firing Hendry let’s us know the ownership is listening, they’re committed, they’re keeping their word about bringing winning baseball, in particular a World Championship, back to Chicago.

Handing out coffee, meeting with fans and offering encouraging words for his players is all a nice gesture, but it doesn’t win games.

If the Ricketts family wants to be loved, the way Yankees fans loved George, winning comes first above all else.

In this case that means starting over with a new GM, and likely, a new manager.

Hendry and Mike Quade are two of baseball’s good guys. I’m certain both will land on their feet with another big league organization.

The direction of the Cubs under Hendry is of much debate. But I suspect Jim will not be viewed in the same light years from now that he is today.

It wasn’t always this bad on the North Side, and Hendry deserves some credit. But with Cubs fans frustrated to no end, in part by some of Hendry’s questionable moves, he’s being run out of town on a rail.

Quade might still be a good big league manager. Chicago, however, hasn’t been a good fit for him. The mish-mash of overpaid veterans and budding youngsters has been an unsolvable puzzle for Quade all year.

Building a winning team takes time, a good plan and patience. Quade didn’t have the privilege of any of those things–only the support of his boss Hendry, who of course, is no longer his boss. 

This moment, however, is not one of celebration. In fact, it’s a reminder just how far the Cubs are from any celebration at all.

There’s still a lot of work to be done, starting with the hiring of a new GM, and soon to be, his new manager. The offseason will be the Cubs most important one in years, setting the foundation for what we hope to be a championship caliber team–sooner rather than later.

If winning starts at the top down, it’s a relief knowing the Cubs finally have an ownership that gives a damn. For that we can all agree on.

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Cubs And The Bunny Hutch

By bullpenbrian - August 16, 2011 - 2:47 am Leave a comment.

Go Cubs Go

When I first heard of the ‘Bunny Hutch’ I thought what a great place for a bachelor party!

Turns out it’s not that kind of Bunny Hutch, but a rather family oriented place of batting cages and miniature golf. Still not a bad way to spend a Monday afternoon.

I took a couple rounds of BP from both side of the plate then shot eight-over par for the course. Finished the day off with some Lou Malnati’s–deep dish pepperoni. Yum!

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I was home in time to catch Big Z’s exclusive interview on Comcast SportsNet. Wasn’t much to it. Zambrano apologized, denied throwing at Chipper Jones and stated he wants to remain a Chicago Cub. Blah, blah, blah

Carlos likely followed the script of his agent making his apology less sincere than usual. But it’s all too little, too late.

Zambrano might recover some of his pay that the Cubs are withholding, but there’s no undoing Friday night.

The guy’s gotta go…don’t know where, don’t care how. But he simply can’t return to the Cubs.

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Would you believe the Cubs have the second best record in baseball since July 31? They’re (12-3) with only Philly and Milwaukee playing better.

Go back to the All Star break and the Cubs are (17-13). And if they win one more game in Houston this week that’ll be five straight series victories.

As I’ve said before, with the pressure off the Cubs perform as we expected. But what does it say for Quade that his guys don’t play up to standard when they’re still in the hunt?

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Dan Uggla

The Cubs ended Uggls’s terrific hitting streak  at 33-games Sunday afternoon. Here’s a quick wrap of his streak.

-The streak marked the longest in the majors this year.
-It’s the second longest in Atlanta’s franchise history–Tommy Holmes (37).
-It started on July 5th and lasted five weeks.
-He batted .377 during the march (49-for-130).
-11 were multi-hit games, with 9 infield hits.
-That also including 5 doubles, 15 HR & 32 RBI.
-His 15 HR ties the MLB record during a streak–DiMaggio, McCovey, A-Rod.

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Big Z, Big Mess. Now What?

By bullpenbrian - August 13, 2011 - 2:01 am 2 comments.

My goodness…where to begin?

Just when I thought Mike Quade was saving his job with a (14-12) record since the All Star break, the wheels came off yet again.

The Cubs may not lose 100-games this season, but they’ll come close. Trouble is, there’s a larger problem at stake for Mike Quade.

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In Quade We Trusty?

By bullpenbrian - August 8, 2011 - 1:01 am Leave a comment.

A tough 8-7 loss to the Reds on Sunday ended the Cubs seven-game winning streak. But the string of wins greatly improves Chicago’s chances of avoiding 100-losses.

That means little in the grand scheme of things, the Cubs still stink and remain one of baseball’s worst clubs, but it’s huge for Mike Quade.

Why?

Because it’s tough justifying the return of any manager whose team reaches triple digits in the loss column, and especially for a club expected to contend.

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No Pressure, No Problem For Cubs

By bullpenbrian - August 5, 2011 - 2:02 am 1 comment.

If only Mike Quade could get his team to play when the season still mattered.

Turn the pressure off, as it was last August when Quade took over, and the Cubs perform up to standard, as evident during this five-game winning streak with the Cubs floating in obscurity 18-games below .500 and 15-games back in the division.

Add expectations, however, and the Cubs get cooked for four months before playing like the the team that was suppose to avoid such dire straights this year.

So if Quade rallies the Cubs on another late season charge, the Cubs are playing .500 ball over the last 20-games since the All Star break, is that grounds to bring the skipper back for another season?

Or has the precedent been set–Quade Power is limited to no-pressure situations, which is good for drumming up offseason excitement, but doesn’t hold water come April.

That’s the question Cubs management must figure out before next year…or risk losing another season to post season obscurity.

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The Pirates’ seven-game losing streak is as a prime example of the old adage ‘good teams know how to win’

Pittsburgh has shown they’re a far better team than anyone expected them to be. However, they’ve also shown their youth and inexperience by buckling under the pressure of a divisional race.

Becoming buyers at the Trade Deadline was exciting, but also added additional pressure to the expectations of winning…the stakes being raised with each game seemingly more important than the last.

Good teams know how to channel the excitement into wins. Inexperienced contenders like Pittsburgh often crumble, as has been the case with the Pirates falling seven-games behind division leading Milwaukee since Sunday.

No doubt the Peg Legs feel the screws tightening. This is, after all, unfamiliar territory for a team that’s spent nearly two decades sweeping up the basement of the NL Central.

But learning how to win over the course of a 162 game marathon doesn’t happen over night, let alone, over four months of .500 baseball.

A huge part of becoming a division winner is beating lesser teams like the Cubs, especially at home. But a four-game sweep at the hands of lowly Chicago has virtually eliminated the Pirates’ post season bid.

The Pirates have, at last, enough collective talent to win its division…learning how to win it is the next step to becoming a good team.

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Who Will Replace Mike Quade?

By bullpenbrian - July 31, 2011 - 1:01 am Leave a comment.

It’s obvious the Cubs are no longer playing hard behind Mike Quade, which despite all the losing, was the one thing the skipper could hang his hat on this season.

However, the Cubs’ lack of focus and general disinterest during this five-game losing streak has become frightening.

It’s more than just poor fundamentals, lack of talent or speculative trade rumors. It’s unprofessional. It’s the definition of embarrassing–far more than any earlier point in the season.

During this horrid streak we’ve witnessed poor base running—guys thrown out at third and home plate. Countless fielding errors. Poor starting pitching. Poor relief pitching. Wasted at-bats, and a complete loss in motivation and drive to win games.

At the surface it all seems status quo for a team 23-games below .500–the Cubs are a bad team playing bad baseball. But dig a little deeper and we see a team crumbling apart at its core…a team with no heart or desire to continue playing hard for the man in charge.  

Of course it’s not surprising the season has slipped to such depths. What else would one expect from a team destined for 100-losses?

But if this losing skid has shown us anything, it’s that Quade’s tenure as manager is speeding towards its end–or at least should be.

That’s not to say it’s all Quade’s fault. We know better. But someone must come under the gun for the plethora of excuses to go around. And that someone is usually the manager.

Relieving Quade of his duties is the Ricketts family’s first step to stop making excuses, begin a changing of the guard, and start building a winning culture, all of which the Ricketts have promised to do.

The time to deliver has grown long overdue.

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Dempster & Quade Hug It Out?

By bullpenbrian - July 10, 2011 - 1:08 am Leave a comment.

Was Quade’s quick hook of Dempster stemming from all the pitching injuries the Cubs have suffered this year?

Or was Quade simply looking out for Demps given he just missed a scheduled start due to illness and lower back soreness?

I can’t ever remember seeing such an animated outburst from Dempster. But it’s not surprising given the team’s record of 17-games below .500.

That’s a recipe for boiling frustrations and quick tempers–regardless of pitch counts.

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Feather In Quade’s Cap

By bullpenbrian - July 8, 2011 - 1:01 am Leave a comment.

The Cubs’ dramatic comeback Thursday night, down 8-love through five, put a feather in Mike Quade’s cap following a 10-9 victory at Washington.

Certainly, a comeback of this magnitude proves Quade’s not a deadbeat manager in the clubhouse–well, not yet.

But measuring staying power for a manager pulling the strings on a team 17-games below .500 is tricky when his players keep battling the good fight.

It would be easy for the Cubs to simply roll over. Q’s guys, however, continue to play hard…whether or not it’s for the skipper, who knows?

We could blame any number of issues on the Cubs’ miserable season: injuries, lack of talent, plain bad luck, or Quade’s inability to manage and instill fundamentally sound troops. Perhaps, it’s a little of all the above?

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