The Cubs sent manager Lou Piniella home on a fitting note, losing 16-5 to the Atlanta Braves.
I have listened to a lot of talk on Chicago sports radio and television shows since yesterday and one idea I’m tired of hearing from some show hosts and call-in fans is that the Cubs have shown their lack of respect for Lou with the way they have played.
Look, this Cubs team is just bad. The idea of a team playing “harder” or being able to get more hits in pressure situations, or rookie relievers being able to throw strikes consistently simply because of who the manager is in the dugout is absurd. These are professional baseball players. Sure, this team has underperformed. But to assume that it is because they don’t respect Lou Piniella enough to play better is ridiculous.
By now we’ve all seen video of the emotional Lou after the game talking about his time in Chicago the last few years. We’ve seen the highlights of Lou throughout the years yelling at umpires, throwing bases, fumbling through post game interviews—Lou was a character and it won’t be the same without him. He fit in with the Cubs.
A lot could be written about Piniella’s tenure with the Cubs, and his career as a whole. What I’m interested in right now is what this means for the Cubs moving forward.
Piniella had already announced that this would be his last year as a manager and Jim Hendry had already planned an extensive search for the next Cubs skipper. It was assumed that bench coach Alan Trammell would be one of the many candidates for the Cubs job next season. Trammell has previous managerial experience with the Detroit Tigers.
Normally when a manager steps down, the bench coach takes over as interim until the position is filled. While Piniella was on leave last week visiting his mother, Trammell was the acting manager.
In an odd turn of events, however, Trammell was not named interim manager.
Instead, Hendry announced that not only would third base coach Mike Quade be promoted to manager through the end of the season, but Alan Trammell would not be considered a candidate for the managerial position moving forward.
This is all very odd to me. Quade has managed 2,378 minor league games, including four seasons at Iowa before he became the third base coach in 2007. He may be the best choice for managing the Cubs. I honestly don’t know.
I guess I’m just surprised because I was assuming that the Cubs would bring in Ryne Sandberg, Trammell, Girardi, Brenly, etc. And they still might. But everything about promoting Quade seems like an audition for next year.
With everything going on this year- the horrible season, selling off beloved players, etc, you just had a feeling that Hendry would be bringing in a manager that would boost the Cub fans morale (Sandberg, Girardi, etc).
Perhaps I should give Hendry a little more credit. Maybe he’s looking for the best man for the job, and maybe that guy is Mike Quade. I don’t know.
What I do know is the steady stream of Cubs managers over the past decade that were supposed to be “bigger” names (Don Baylor, Dusty Baker, Lou Piniella) didn’t bring a championship either.
Maybe it is time to go with a baseball guy that has put his time in that won’t have such huge expectations. Guys like Sandberg or Girardi would probably be expected to be the saviors of Chicago and to bring a storybook ending of leading their former teams to a World Series victory.
Even Bob Brenly has already won a World Series and would have some pressure to do with the Cubs what he was able to do with the Diamondbacks.
Mike Quade, though?
No one would put the expectation on Quade to come in and win a championship. Not because he couldn’t do it, but really- what do Cub fans know about Quade other than he looks like an older John Olerud who isn’t “Waving” Wendell Kim in the third base coaches’ box?
Maybe Quade is the perfect guy for the job.
Or maybe I’m looking too much into it and Quade is just a fill in for Piniella while the search for the next Cubs manager heats up.
Nothing would surprise me anymore.