The Chicago Cubs have named Mike Quade their manager and signed him to a two-year contract, according to the Chicago Tribune. Quade returns to the Cubs dugout full-time after going 24-13 as interim manager of the team following manager Lou Piniella's retirement in August.
Quade served as a coach and minor-league manager in the Cubs organization for seven season prior to getting his shot to manage in the big leagues, but impressed Cubs management with his handling of young players like Starlin Castro and Andrew Cashner. Quade is an inside hire, which the team had long hinted would be a preferred option.
For the Cubs, the choice of Quade over fellow in-house candidate and 2010 Pacific Coast League Manager of the Year Ryne Sandberg signals the team's commitment to winning in 2011. Sandberg is more intimately familiar with the young players upon whom the team figures to rely in 2012 and beyond, but Quade showed his ability to manage veteran big-leaguers this season, which gave him the leg up on the job.
Quade and Sandberg offer many of the same qualities in terms of managerial style, with each showing deference to the modern mode of statistical analysis without allowing it to become a truly primary part of their decision-making. Quade favored lower pitch counts for his starters during his interim tenure than had Piniella, but said that was a nod to the team's place in the standings and not an overarching philosophy.
Ultimately, the man on the top step won't determine the course of the Cubs' 2011 season, but the fact that Hendry chose Quade does indicate management's interest in trying to win sooner rather than later. That choice may be self-defeating: Little the Cubs could conceivably do would put them in good position for a title run in 2011.
Still, this decision tells Cubs fans something about the way Hendry will approach this winter. Adam Dunn now seems a more likely free-agent target for Chicago, whereas the team might otherwise have chosen an older stopgap for first base such as Derrek Lee or Lance Berkman.
There has not yet been any word about Sandberg's plans. The Hall of Fame former Cubs second baseman indicated little interest in staying on as a bench coach, after he managed the team's Triple-A Iowa affiliate to an 82-62 record. Sandberg is a candidate for the vacant managerial position in Toronto, a job for which he may now be the front-runner.