At 17-22 after a loss to the Cincinnati Reds Monday night, Chicago Cubs manager Mike Quade had seen enough and decided he wasn't going to take it anymore. He called a team meeting after the game to air out his grievances with how the club was playing.
I guess everything isn't sunshine and lollipops anymore for Quade, who has had an excuse or has found something positive out of just about every dismal mistake, failure to execute, or lack of hustle from his team so far this year.
How far we have gone from that 24-13 finish last year that convinced GM Jim Hendry and owner Tom Ricketts that Quade was the right guy for the job.
The fact that there was no pressure on the team being as far out as they were, and that their pitching was lights-out at the time wasn't taken into consideration as possibly the reason for the strong finish.
Quade also had the backing of his players, including Koyie Hill, Ryan Dempster, and Alfonso Soriano.
Hill saying anything should have been ignored, as he's a minor league baseball player that somehow found his way onto the team again this year.
With starting catcher Geovany Soto out and Welington Castillo brought up to take his place, you would think Quade could get him into a game instead of sticking with Hill.
He's only been in one game, and has sat on the bench while the offensively-challenged Hill takes away his at-bats. He's also nothing special defensively, but I guess when you stick up for the manager, he's got to stick with you.
Dempster also has been left in games too long this year and for too many pitches, as Quade tries to give him an opportunity to win games and show appreciation for his support.
He never seems to know when to pull his starter, often leaving them in too long like he did Carlos Zambrano last night, allowing him to stay in long enough for the Reds to tie the game.
Zambrano seemed very animated after being pulled in the dugout talking with hitting coach Rudy Jaramillo, but he said the right things after the game, and at least waited for Quade to come to the mound to hand him the ball, unlike an incident earlier this year when he walked off before Quade got out to the mound.
Pitcher Matt Garza also went off earlier in the year after getting knocked around by Milwaukee.
Reacting to a comment by Quade that "as his soft game goes, so goes how he's going to do" that was in Gordon Wittenmyer's story in the Chicago SunTimes, Garza said, "That's not my style, and that's not who I am." "And that's something that is going to change," reacting to Quade wanting him throwing more breaking balls.
Soft-spoken center fielder Marlon Byrd also went off on reporters earlier this year when he was thrown out trying to steal. He did his best Milton Bradley imitation as the same reporter asked him if he was given the steal sign.
He kept on saying, "Did I go?" before cutting things off with "End of question."
In Paul Sullivan's column in the Chicago Tribune, Quade said he didn't want Byrd to run in that situation, but followed it up with, "Make sure I didn't screw the damn thing up...and I might have."
He has seemed reluctant to blame the players for anything other than having to hit better with men on base.
And now we get to the elephant in the room: Alfonso Soriano.
Soriano has consistently failed to hustle all season long, whether in the field or running the bases, yet he has received no criticism from his manager, at least publicly.
Supposedly he spoke to him a few weeks ago when he failed to run hard on a play and was questioned about it from reporters. But everything is hunky-dory since, because even last week when he fell on a line drive and then jogged after it like he was on a lazy Sunday afternoon run, Quade said he no problem with anybody's effort in that game.
Soriano again jogged out of the box last night against Cincinnati on a ball to right-center that went to the wall. The outfielder misplayed it, and if he hustled, he might have made it to third, but that word isn't in his vocabulary, and he has a manager who empowers him to continually play that way.
Why is it that Quade could call out Starlin Castro in the media last year, a rookie, but he lets the $136 million-dollar-man get a pass?
You would think if he let everyone know that wouldn't be tolerated from anybody on the team, including an "alleged superstar," it would filter down to the rest of the players that there would be a price to pay if they didn't play hard all of the time.
Anybody can make a mistake and make an error, but there is never an excuse for the lack of hustle Soriano shows on a regular basis, yet nothing is ever said about it.
Former Cub analyst Steve Stone even came out on WSCR radio this morning mentioning that the last manager and the current one have let Soriano get away with not hustling both in the field and at bat.
It's a bad example for a young player like Castro to let that go.
It's also not in his best interest to constantly being moved around in the batting order. He was doing great batting leadoff, with Darwin Barney batting second.
The Cubs are actually 8-7 with those two leading things off, not great, but better than without them. Yet he keeps shuffling the lineup just about every game. Going into Sunday, he already had thirty different lineups for thirty-seven games.
He used lefty James Russell as a starter despite saying that he's really a "situational lefty." He has done that four times so far this season.
The Cubs have lost their fourth and fifth starters to injury, but if you think a player is not qualified to do the job, why don't you make a change there instead of doing something you already admit is wrong.
What this comes down to is that he is in over his head as the manager of this team. He thinks things out too much before making out the lineup each day, and over manages to make up for his lack of managerial know-how.
There's a reason why he was a minor league manager for so many years before Jim Hendry elevated him to the Cubs coaching staff in 2007: Nobody was very impressed with him.
It again shows the lack of leadership in the Cub organization with Jim Hendry calling the shots and nobody above him to correct the situation.
Tyler Colvin was just sent down to the minors because Quade wouldn't give him an opportunity, despite belting 20 homers and driving in 56 runs last year in only 358 at-bats.
The Cubs have been looking for a left-handed power bat for ages, and while I'm not convinced Colvin is that guy, why wouldn't you play him over Kosuke Fukudome, who is in the last year of his contract and is not the future of the team?
Ryne Sandberg was passed over last year for Quade. I find it hard to believe he would allow Soriano to get away with playing the way he is, and that the team would be as fundamentally inept as they are with him running the show.
I wonder if he would answer the phone if the Cubs admitted they made a mistake and offered him the job. Even though he was a perennial gold-glover, I'm sure he could overlook an error.
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