Quaalude Quade

Is Quade the stress-relief drug the Cubs have been looking for?

The Cubs just concluded their best road trip of 9 games or more in team history. They won in blowout fashion with a lineup in which Sam Fuld was the seasoned veteran, a lineup that consisted exclusively of rookies and minor-league call-ups. The team has gone 17-7 since Quade took over for Lou Piniella, scoring 5.1 runs per game and yielding just 4 per contest over that stretch.

His tenure hasn’t been without adversity. I (among many others) questioned the way he handled the Castro benching. And not that it had anything to do with Quade, but just yesterday the Cubs lost Geovany Soto to surgery and Tyler Colvin to a life-threatening bat shard to the chest (something that would never happen to anyone if MLB cared to fix the problem). But the Quade win train keeps on rolling.

A lot of people attribute the Cubs’ good fortune to the absence of Lou or Quade’s superiority to Lou, which I find preposterous. Lou’s time at the helm ended against a string of five teams with winning records. Quade has had it much easier. The Quade-led Cubs (heretofore known as the Qubs) have faced just two +.500 teams. Qub opponents have a combined season winning percentage of .472, and the six series they have won have been against opponents with a collective .455 win rate. The only good team the Qubs have dominated has been the St. Louis Cardinals, who have had just one day off since August 23 (and won’t have another before season’s end)—they are 10-17 in that stretch. Quade hasn’t exactly been a giant-killer.

But under Lou, the Cubs weren’t anything-killers. Overall, the Cubs have a 41-43 record against sub-500 teams in 2010. So while I don’t think it’s at all fair to compare Quade’s two-dozen games managed to Lou’s 3,548, I am curious to know if Quade has had a relaxing effect on the Qubs. A lot of people are saying they’re thriving in September’s low-pressure environment, but there hasn’t been any realistic pressure on this team since July. And, with the exception of the Cards, none of the teams the Qubs have won series against are feeling much pressure either. So I don’t think we can dismiss the entire positive swing exclusively to low-pressure situations and low-talent opponents.

Maybe the Qubs are feeling less pressure, less stress, and less performance-hampering anxiety because of Mike Quade.

I have often argued that a manager isn’t likely to add or detract much to a team’s ability to play, but I will add that the Cubs’ Achilles heel has often been their penchant for buckling in critical situations. I won’t blame any manager for that. I have, mostly in jest, blamed the fans for that. But Milton Bradley said it. Lou Piniella said it. Ozzie Guillen said it. Derrek Lee said it. All of them agree that there is a negative pressure on the Cubs that requires them to compete against 29 other teams and 100+ years of history. If there is one quality that could put one candidate ahead of the rest in my eyes, it would be the ability to shield the team from that pressure or to use it productively.

I don’t know if Mike Quade really has that skill, but it seems like he very well might. And the simple fact of the matter is that if Quade is the manager in 2011, there will almost certainly be less pressure simply because of the fact that his name carries no expectations with it. I’d be willing to take that low-risk gamble.

8 Replies to “Quaalude Quade”

  1. I'm finding it more and more difficult to find reasons that Quade shouldn't be the manager next year. In a way, it is somewhat funny that everything that I felt Sandberg needed before he was to become a manager, Quade now possesses: Minor League managing experience, coaching time at the big league level, and ability to show that he can handle veteran players. I know that September is not a fair barometer of how good or how bad a team is doing, but Quade seems to have a good idea of what he's doing, and that might be all the Cubs need at this point.

    But with all that being said, I still want to find a reason to want someone else in the job.

  2. Okay, here are a some reasons not to: he's never had to deal with the Chicago press in the middle of a long losing streak. He has had even less pressure on him than the team has had. Eventually he will say entirely too much when the press is in the mood to skewer someone.

    If the Cubs continue anywhere close to this pace through the end of the season, he'll have a pretty solid case to present Hendry as to why he should be the manager. But I don't think Hendry will get run out of town for going with someone else . . . at least not until right after the first loss of 2011.

  3. This may be too political of a Cub thought, but I still think smart money is on Sandberg…it's just too logical for too many reasons to list. I wonder if Sandberg would take a bench coach job for Quade until Quade inevitably gets fired when the team sucks next season? Or if that would be just too insulting and Ryno bolts for Seattle if they try something like that.

  4. That's why I think the other interviews are a smokescreen and they're just waiting for the Sandberg interview to tell him what's up. 99.9999% of your Cubsmos is pining for Sandberg to manage the Cubs, and if he goes off and manages somewhere else because he got spurned from this job, the Cubsmos will supernova.

  5. I think it goes like this:

    1) Girardi
    2) Sandberg
    3) Quade

    I've read a lot of people, including Mark Grace, who don't think that Girardi will leave the Yankees for the Cubs. But his local connections aside, if he wins again with the Yankees, what else is there to prove there? But winning with the Cubs — that's baseball's holy grail. If you win with the Yankees, you've proven that you can win with a bazillion-dollar payroll. Congratulations. But if you win with the Cubs, you're baseball royalty forever.

    But if Girardi doesn't take the gig, I'm fine with Sandberg. And I think the Cubs would go for Sandberg for name recognition alone. Quade presents a great insurance policy in case Ryno doesn't work out, and I think he'd be a great bench coach. (Then again, maybe his performance this year will get him an offer from another team…)

  6. There is still a lot of developments that can potentially write Girardi out of contention:
    –If Hendry wants to make his decision before the World Series and the Yankees go all the way, no Joe.
    –If Girardi does something stupid in the postseason and/or the Yankees don't advance to the World Series or even past the first round, that would become a new strike against Girardi.
    –Actually, if the Yankees lose the World Series it might be the worst possible outcome for Girardi, as it would probably be against the worst team they would face in the postseason.
    –If the Yankees do go all the way but don't offer Girardi a contract extension, I'm sure he'd have to at least explain that in an interview with the Cubs.
    –If the Yankees do want Girardi back and do make him an offer, I would still think the Cubs would have to beat the Yankees' offer AND he would have to decide he'd rather coach in Chicago.

    It just seems like for Girardi to emerge as the top candidate when all the dust settles, he has to lead the Yankees to another title, receive and decline an offer from the Yankees, and have the Cubs outspend the Yankees for his services (after waiting until after the postseason to make a managerial decision). I'm not saying all that HAS to happen in order for the Cubs to hire him, but his desirability will take a hit if any of that falls through.

    I would say that if the Cubs don't decide on Quade before the season ends, his chances all but evaporate. If the Cubs wait beyond the end of the postseason, Sandberg's chances give way to Girardi. The longer the Cubs prolong the decision, the more it looks like Joe is their guy.

  7. Well, the other favorite, Sandberg, hasn't had to deal with the Chicago press in the middle of a long losing streak as well…at least not as a manager.

    Oh what fun!

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