Results tagged ‘ Mike Quade ’

7/30 Rebuild? Retool? Reboot?

Are the Cubs in rebuilding mode? Yes and no.

“There are certain people who won’t be back and there are a whole lot of people we should be happy with — young players, two kids in the middle,” GM Jim Hendry said Friday. “We’re hoping [Tyler] Colvin gets back to where he was. Marlon [Byrd’s] been a fine player here and he has another year on his contract.

“You have a bullpen of a lot of guys coming back who are very good,” he said. “Everybody should be encouraged by the year Jeff Samardzija has had and where he’s going and the year James Russell has had since moving back into the bullpen. Sean Marshall will be here, [Carlos] Marmol will be here.

“You always need some kind of rebuilding when you’re in fifth place but you certainly don’t look at it like, ‘Oh, we’re not going to compete.’ When somebody says, ‘Blow the place up and start over and do it right,’ well, OK, does that mean we should get rid of the people who are really young and real good? I’ve said this a hundred times, wasn’t Pittsburgh 20 games under a year ago, and Cleveland? All you need is for your young people to get better and make the right moves, and why couldn’t we be right back in it?”

The Cubs did fall to 22 games under .500 after Friday’s 9-2 loss to the Cardinals.

“We’re having a bad year, and there’s no way around it, no excuses for it,” Hendry said. “Nobody picked us to be in the first three this year but we felt by now, we’d be at .500. [If we were .500] a week ago, it would’ve got you two or three back. We didn’t do our part. Excuses or no excuses, injuries or not injuries, we haven’t played to the level we should have.”

At the start of this road trip vs. NL Central teams, Mike Quade said he felt the Cubs still had a chance to get back in the race.

“I respect his optimism,” Hendry said. “There are a lot of teams above you. You don’t want Mike hanging his head and saying, ‘We can’t do something, we can’t do this.’ I’m sure in his heart he believes we can have a good couple months like he had last year at the end and hopefully we will. You’ve got a lot of people in front of you [in the standings] and you’re a lot of games behind. I wouldn’t want him to say, ‘Hey, we’re all done and let’s get the guys ready for next year.'”

— Carrie Muskat

7/27 Z says Cubs need changes

Carlos Zambrano repeated Wednesday that he wants to stay with the Cubs but if the team decides it needs to make a change, he’ll think about it as the Trade Deadline approaches. Zambrano does have a no-trade clause, and would have the last word.

“I do want to stay here,” Zambrano said. “At the same time, I want this team to make some changes. If we want to win here, we need to make changes. If I have to go, I have to go but I’ll still have the Cubs in m heart. If the change has to be me, that’s OK.”

The Cubs haven’t approached him about any possible trade.

“If it comes, it comes and I’ll think about it,” Zambrano said.

What kind of changes would he like to see the team make?

“Change. A lot of change,” he said. “A lot of changes to win.”

Does that mean change the players?

“Change,” Zambrano said.

He did pitch well enough to entice somebody, posting the ninth quality start by a Cubs pitcher in the last 12 games. But Zambrano was clearly not happy about being lifted in the seventh when manager Mike Quade pulled him with two outs and Nyjer Morgan at the plate.

“I think at that point, I had confidence that I could get Nyjer out,” Zambrano said. “It’s [Quade’s] decision. There’s nothing I can do about it.”

Morgan, who had doubled off Zambrano in the third, began the day batting .333 against right-handers and .231 against lefties. Those numbers were behind Quade’s decision.

“I don’t blame him,” Quade said about Zambrano asking to face another batter. “I thought with the two guys coming up behind Nyjer and the way he’s struggled in the past against left-handers [it was time to pull Zambrano]. A lot of decisions ain’t easy and that was not an easy decision but I thought we needed to try to stop it right there.”

— Carrie Muskat

7/27 Extra bases

Kerry Wood was back with the team Wednesday, recovered from his bout with a virus, and available. The right-hander has not pitched since July 20. He posted a 1.38 ERA in his first 13 appearances and has a 4.91 ERA in his last 20. However, outfielder Reed Johnson was still bothered by his back, and not available Wednesday. He has not played since Saturday.

* Alfonso Soriano and Carlos Pena are both in a funk. Soriano did not start Wednesday. He’s batting .171 (12-for-70) in July after hitting .265 in June. He has one home run in his last 32 games — July 22.

“He hasn’t been able to be consistent,” Quade said of Soriano. “It’s been a tough run for him. We’ll give him a mental day off, or at least won’t start him, and give Blake [DeWitt] a needed game.”

Pena entered Wednesday’s game 0-for-15, and batting .219 overall.

“He goes through these things,” Quade said of his first baseman. “Hitters go through this a lot and I don’t think it’s unique to Carlos. Nobody works harder than him on his swing.”

* Quade is a proponent of instant replay or possibly challenge flags, like coaches use in the NFL, to get close calls like the one that ended the Pirates-Braves game correct.

“The question I had is if you went to a challenge flag system, would you still have the flag in your pocket in the 19th at 2 in the morning?” Quade said Wednesday about the 19-inning marathon game, which the Braves won on a controversial play at the plate.

Quade is an advocate of instant replay in football and would support something similar in baseball. That said, he doesn’t want 15 replays a night.

“[The umpires] don’t want to get those calls wrong,” he said. “They’re bearing down and these things are going to happen. If you have the ability to correct it, in some sort of form that doesn’t have us all here for five hours, maybe you look into that.”

* Edwin Jackson, whom the Cardinals acquired Wednesday in a three-team multi-player deal with the Blue Jays and White Sox, will open the Chicago-St. Louis series on Friday. Kyle Lohse will start Saturday. Jackson was the winning pitcher when the White Sox beat the Cubs, 6-4, on July 1 at Wrigley Field in an Interleague game. He gave up four runs on five hits over six innings, including a home run by Aramis Ramirez.

— Carrie Muskat

7/27 Big Z “enticing?”

There were reports on Wednesday that the Cubs had tried to get the Yankees interested in Carlos Zambrano, and the Cubs would pick up part of his remaining salary. However, the Yankees are not interested. Zambrano was to start Wednesday against the Brewers at Miller Park, where he is 7-0 with a 2.40 ERA in his last eight starts.

“I hope nothing comes of it and he pitches lights out and entices whoever is here to look at him,” Cubs manager Mike Quade said. “I think he, like a few guys, are in control of their own destiny.”

That’s true. Zambrano has a full no-trade clause in his contract.

The right-hander is 2-3 with a 6.23 ERA in his last seven starts after posting a 1-0 mark with a 2.03 ERA in his previous four starts. Zambrano was on the disabled list because of lower back stiffness. He’s still getting back on track.

“Guys don’t always come back ready to roll like when they left,” Quade said, not worried about Zambrano. “Some of that is understandable. He felt good about his finish in his last outing.”

That was against the Astros, when he gave up two runs on nine hits over six innings on July 22.

— Carrie Muskat

7/26 Extra bases

Kerry Wood did not make the trip to Miller Park but stayed in Chicago to deal with flu-like symptoms.Wood was too ill to get on the team bus for the start of the Cubs’ three-game series against the Brewers. Jeff Samardzija will likely fill Wood’s role as the right-handed set-up pitcher.

Catcher Koyie Hill, who had similar symptoms on Sunday, was back and healthy. However, the Cubs were without outfielder Reed Johnson, whose back was stiff and sore, which made him unavailable on Sunday.

“Right now, it’s OK,” Johnson said of his back. “I’ll probably give it a day or so and make sure it’s moving in the right direction and if not, then we’ll have to make a decision as to what to do with me. If things keep moving in the right direction then I won’t have to go on the [disabled list]. That’s always the goal.”

* GM Jim Hendry and his staff were in Chicago to monitor moves heading into Sunday’s Trade Deadline. Manager Mike Quade is staying focused on the current roster. The Cubs began play Tuesday 12 games back in the National League Central. That doesn’t deter Quade.

“Why not?” he said as the team began a 10-game trip against the Brewers, Cardinals and Pirates. “What if we win 10 out of 12 — who knows?

“It’s an interesting division,” Quade said. “What are there, 60 games left? Let’s go play ’em and see. Daunting task, four clubs in front of you, not having played well, but why not?”

Does that mean Quade wants to the Cubs to be active and make some deals?

“That’s not my business,” he said. “My business is to see if we can beat [Chris] Narveson tonight.

“Time will take care of all the prognostications,” Quade said. “I’m not a lunatic. There’s a lot of work to do ahead of us but we’re playing the right clubs and let’s see if we can’t put something together.”

* Quade and several players took part in the 15th annual Ron Santo golf tournament on Monday to benefit Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation.
Quade didn’t golf but rode in a cart around the Kemper Lakes course with Santo’s wife, Vickie and “antagonized” the other golfers. Santo, the popular Cubs radio broadcaster and third baseman, died in December 2010. The Cubs will honor Santo when they unveil a statue of him at Wrigley Field on Aug. 10.

— Carrie Muskat

7/24 Extra bases – post-game edition

Finally. The Cubs finally posted a three-game win streak with a 5-4, 10-inning win Sunday over the Astros to sweep the series. It’s their first

“What a way to do it,” Mike Quade said. “You knew it wasn’t going to be easy.”

Marlon Byrd tripled and scored on pinch-hitter Jeff Baker’s single with one out for the game-winner. Matt Garza deserved the win, but didn’t get it. He gave up two runs on five hits and departed after seven innings with a 3-2 lead. This was the sixth time he’s left a game with the lead but did not factor in the decision.

“We won a ballgame because he gave us seven great innings,” Quade said.

“Every time you contribute it’s a plus,” Garza said.

Cubs starters posted seven quality starts in the 10-game homestand, and a 1.32 ERA in those games.

The reason Garza didn’t get the decision was Carlos Lee’s two-run homer in the eighth off Jeff Samardzija. The home run didn’t bother Samardzija as much as the walk to Hunter Pence to set up Lee’s blast.

“What Lee did is what he gets paid to do, hit home runs, but Pence, you have to make him put the ball in play, and that way if Lee does hit one, it’s just a one-run home run,” Samardzija said.

Samardijza had not given up a run in 12 straight outings prior to Sunday.

“You’re asking a guy to pitch three days in a row and it’s a lot,” Quade said of Samardzija.

* The Cubs were a little short-handed. Koyie Hill and Reed Johnson weren’t available; neither was feeling well. Both Sean Marshall and Kerry Wood were not available either but both did volunteer to pitch if needed. Wood had warmed up a few times in the last few days.

“News flash. Sometimes guys need a day here and there,” Wood said. “Nothing new. I pitched a lot in the pen.”

* The Cubs notched the three-game win streak in their 102nd game of the year. Only once in team history has it gone longer into a season without winning three in a row. In 1966, the Cubs picked up their first three-game win streak Aug. 4-6 in games No. 106-108. Six previous times that year, the Cubs had won two straight only to lose the third.

The only other time the Cubs ended the month of July without a three-game win streak was in 1960. That year, the Cubs won three in a row for the first time July 30-Aug. 2 in games No. 95-97. Thanks to Cubs historian Ed Hartig for the info.

“It took a while but we finally got it done,” Byrd said of the three-game streak.

* Byrd was playing in his 1,000th game, and went 4-for-5 with three runs, a double and a triple. He’s hitting .359 with three walks, 10 runs, four doubles, a triple, two homers and four RBIs in 17 games since July 4. The four hits were a season high, and the first time he’s done that since July 9, 2010, against the Dodgers.

* The Cubs are 6-3 in extra-inning games, including a 5-0 mark at home.

— Carrie Muskat


7/24 Extra bases

The Cubs will be vying for their first three-game win streak on Sunday.

“I’d like to get 12 [wins in a row],” Mike Quade said. “I’d like to see [Matt Garza] pitch well and win. If we get three, don’t think we won’t be hungry for four. It’s still a part of playing well and doing stuff consistently, whether it’s getting consistent starting pitching or driving in runs or finding a way to finish games. Three in a row doesn’t happen unless those things happen.”

* The trade deadline is one week away but Quade doesn’t think any of his players should be distracted by it.

“Show up every day and focus on who we’re playing,” Quade said Sunday about what their approach should be. “Everybody deals with stuff differently, whether it’s speculation or reality. I do think that when I look at the veterans who are here, this is not their first rodeo and this is not stuff they haven’t experienced before, whether it’s them personally or a teammate. I suppose [the rumors are] out there but I would expect them not to be distracted at all.”

* The Cubs have a tough road trip ahead, facing the three top teams in the Central Division in the Brewers, Cardinals and Pirates. The rotation against Milwaukee will be Ryan Dempster, Carlos Zambrano and Randy Wells, and Garza will open the series in St. Louis on Friday, followed by Rodrigo Lopez. Lopez remains in the bullpen for now.

“He’d be available even through the second game in Milwaukee,” Quade said. “He’s been pretty resilient. His experience is important.”

* Garza, who started Sunday, has not let the lack of run support bother him.

“To his credit, he just keeps pitching,” Quade said. “He’s something. He shows up and he’s ready to go every day. I don’t notice any wear or tear because he’s not getting the breaks. He comes back to pitch and wants to pitch well for his club.”

— Carrie Muskat

7/23 Extra bases

Alfonso Soriano just needed a day to clear his head. He hit his first home run since June 19 on Friday, and said part of the problem was that he was thinking too much about the team’s struggles.

“The way we lose, the way we play, sometimes I think about the team instead of thinking about me first,” Soriano said. “Sometimes those things affect me mentally. The day off [Thursday], I said, ‘I have to control my situation. I cannot control the whole situation.’

“Sometimes you try to control the whole situation and mentally I get tired,” he said. “Now, I just think about me and see the team and how it plays but I have to think about what I can do to help the team win.”

His homer snapped an 0-for-18 skid. Soriano hit .265 in June but was batting .186 (11-for-59) so far in July.

“Sometimes it’s very hard, the way we play, to keep your mind strong,” he said. “That’s the difficult part of this game, the mental part.”

* Aramis Ramirez has held the cleanup spot in the Cubs’ lineup most of his career but was bumped up to the No. 3 spot and is producing. In 19 games batting third, he was hitting .324 with eight homers and 19 RBIs. In 65 games batting fourth, he hit .291 with eight homers and 32 RBIs.

“Knock on wood, day in, day out, it’s not like he takes three games off,” Mike Quade said of his third baseman. “He’s been not just good but consistently good and hitting in big situations. He’s what you need in the three-, four-hole and especially if you’re not producing a lot of runs, whatever he can give you is good.”

Ramirez has been hot, batting .358 this month with eight homers and 20 RBIs. The Cubs have been a litte sluggish in eight games since the All-Star break, batting .242 with seven homers and 23 RBIs.

* Carlos Marmol struck out two batters in the eighth inning, which was a good sign.

“That was the guy I know,” Quade said Saturday.

Expect Marmol to be used in a save situation next time.

* The Cubs want to see if they need Rodrigo Lopez this weekend before announcing the starting rotation for the upcoming series against the Brewers, which starts Tuesday. Because of off days on Thursday and Monday, the Cubs didn’t need a fifth starter and Lopez was assigned to the bullpen. One pitcher who will face the Brewers will be Ryan Dempster, who has a 15-3 career record against them.

— Carrie Muskat

7/22 Marmol back as closer

Carlos Marmol needed one more tune-up on Friday, and now is back as the Cubs’ closer. He struck out both batters he faced in the eighth to help preserve the 4-2 win over the Astros.

“He’s a closer and he pitched like it today,” Mike Quade said.

Marmol was given a few days to work with pitching coach Mark Riggins to get his mechanics straightened out. Before the game, Quade said he hoped everything was back to normal. But Riggins wanted Marmol to be the set-up man before he pitched the ninth. Sean Marshall got the final three outs for his third save.

“I feel very good now,” Marmol said after the game. “I’ve got my confidence back.”

Carlos Zambrano gave his support to his teammate.

“Marmol’s a good pitcher and he’s a great closer,” Zambrano said. “But he’s human, too. The most important thing is he keeps his head up, like I told him the other day, and comes back ready.

“He has to try to be the same guy that he was last year and the year before and the year he went to the All-Star Game,” Zambrano said. “That’s what the game is about is making adjustments and come back stronger after a bad outing. Consistency is the most important thing in baseball.”

— Carrie Muskat

7/20 Q: “Play with some freaking intensity”

Mike Quade was hot after Wednesday’s 9-1 loss to the Phillies and it wasn’t because of the weather. He was upset about Starlin Castro and Darwin Barney failing to catch Michael Martinez’s pop up in the first.

“We set a bad tone there,” Quade said. “A ball’s in the sun, they’re communicating, Cassie thought he had it all the way. I look back at this whole game and look at that play, and the sun’s been in the same [darn] spot for however long Wrigley Field has been here.

“Those are the kind of mistakes — there are certain ones you’ll accept but there are other ones that have to be taken care of,” he said. “Those are two talented kids in the middle of the diamond. We make enough mistakes that we need to clean them all up. It’s so important for those guys to play well in the middle. Everything goes through them, everything. If we’re going to be good pitching, we have to play good in the middle.”

Quade felt Dempster might have escaped the first if the ball had been caught. Instead, Martinez was credited with a single, Dempster walked the next batter and both eventually scored. The Cubs manager talked to both Castro and Barney after the game about the importance of defense. His message?

“Put the negativity behind us, play with some freaking intensity and continue to work on playing the game the way we need to play, and we’re not,” Quade said. “That’s what we’re looking for. It’s not universal. We have to clean up some specific areas.”

He spared the veterans, saying they were doing a darn good job.

“I just know the value of the middle of the diamond,” Quade said. “We have two talented kids there who need to get better. They’ve got 60-some games to prove that and to show that the rest of this season and go on from there.”

Barney said he wasn’t surprised that Quade was upset.

“I’m surprised it hasn’t happened earlier to be honest,” the second baseman said. “When it comes down to it, you’ve got to play better. We’re playing the best team in baseball. We want to be the best team in baseball and we’ve said many times we believe we can be. I guess it’s time to take a gut check and try to get better and come out and work hard in BP and get quality ground balls and turn this thing around. It’s not going to happen overnight.”

Barney didn’t want to comment on the play specifically. Quade did say the two communicated, and Castro thought he had it. The problem isn’t lack of experience.

“We’re here for a reason,” Barney said. “You don’t come to the big league level and have the excuse of being inexperienced. You have to get the job done. The way I look at it, Starlin’s 21 and I’m 25. If he wasn’t ready and he didn’t have what it takes, he wouldn’t be here and neither would I. We’ve got to do it, we’ve got to get the job done and we’ve got to get better.”

— Carrie Muskat