Tuesday, October 19, 2010

The Great Debate: Mike Quade Vs. Ryne Sandberg

It was announced this morning that Mike Quade would have his interim tag dropped and the Cubs would choose him, over a small handful of candidates, for the Cubs managerial job. By doing this, this sparked a firestorm of discussion around Cubs fandom. Although there was 5 candidates for the job, it was almost a given that it'd come down to 3. Mike Quade, Ryne Sandberg and the possibility of Joe Girardi after the MLB playoffs concluded were the front-runners. Former Indians skipper Eric Wedge was also a candidate, however he just had taken the Seattle Mariners managerial position.

Cub fans everywhere thought Ryne Sandberg was slowly being groomed and would become Cubs skipper once Lou Piniella left. He was slowly working his way up through the Cubs full-season leagues and once Lou resigned and a quick Interim manager was picked to finish the year, Ryne seemed poised to walk into the 2011 season as Cubs manager.

Enter Mike Quade

Mike Quade was a long-time Cubs coach and former manager for various teams throughout the organization. He'd worked with a great majority of the players at some time or another and was already on Lou's staff after his resignation. If anyone could quickly assimilate to the managerial role and finish the season, it was Quade.

Surprisingly the Cubs mish-mash of talent, after a small firesale, bought into Quade's style and the Cubs played spoilers and inspired baseball to finish the season. In fact, only the Philadelphia Phillies had a better record in the period that the Cubs had Quade as manager.

Was this turnaround of a horrible season to a somewhat mediocre season caused by Quade's mixture of old and new or due to the fact it happened during the point in the year in which prospects and players were brought up to show the organization if they've got a future with the team? Its unclear to which was the catalyst of this, however the results showed enough to give the Cubs good reason to remove the Interim tag and give Mike a 2-year extension and forego the "Ryne Sandberg Coronation" for another 2 years.

Cubs fans are probably still debating whether the 6 weeks of Quade is enough to overlook the 3-4 year process that Sandberg was part of. On the other side, it's unclear if Ryne is "ready" for the majors and the headache of "larger than life" egos and primadonna players in the MLB. Sandberg's name has been thrown around for other managerial jobs(Seattle and the still-open Toronto job), so he still has a shot to be managing in the MLB in 2011. However, Toronto's never-ending list of interviewees lends to the fact that they're unsure if anyone is truly "perfect" for the job just yet.

I'd like to point out to Cub fans the length of Quade's deal, 2 years. Why do I point this out? Well, due to the fact that this will be when Zambrano and Soriano's albatross-like contracts are diminished enough to where the Cubs can trade them without having to add prospects also to get even a marginal return in a trade. If not a trade, these players can be diminished enough in ability where a non-tender isn't bally-hooed by fans. If Ryne remains in the organization until then, this opens the door for him to be given the Cubs managerial job with a completely clean slate.

Now if the Cubs could only work on replacing their GM, Jim Hendry...

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Monday, October 18, 2010

Learning How to Deal

With the 2010 MLB coming to an end, teams will be re-tooling or rebuilding towards the 2011 season. Two interesting teams that will be doing A LOT of work in this upcomingoffseason will be the Tampa Bay Rays and the Chicago Cubs(oh, the cruel irony). The reasons why these teams will be working the most are different, however it is what it is.

The Chicago Cubs, always in the discussion for being a contender at the beginning of the season, need to decide if they're going to be slowly converted into a middle-spending(smart-spending, though), big-market teams or if there's going to be a continuance of the old ways of The Tribune Company. Personally, Tom Ricketts' background and his ownership press conference show that the Cubs will eventually be a tad more dependent on their Top 15 farm system and less dependent on making big splashes on the Free Agent market. The Cubs need to choose their manager, but that likely won't happen until after the World Series. The biggest question marks ahead for the Cubs are 1B, Outfield and the back-end of the rotation and non-closing relief. With youngsters like Tyler "Dracula" Colvin and Starlin Castro, Cubs don't need HUGE moves but a lot of little ones.

The Tampa Bay Rays, on the other end, have just come off their best 3-year stretch in franchise history. 2-Time AL East Champs, 3 consecutive "winning" seasons and 1 World Series Appearance. However, this is the "Winter of Discontent" for the franchise. The Rays owner announced in Spring Training of the 2010 season that the team planned on "slashing payroll" from the 70 MIL range that they were at in 2010 season to a more acceptable/workable 50 MIL. The Rays have 9 Free Agents and 6 or so will be definite goners. The Rays have an absolutely loaded farm system, so there's a great chance that the Rays could re-tool from within on some of those lost players. The Rays' biggest holes in the offseason to work on will be the back-end of their bullpen and their bench and they'll likely have 14-18 MIL to work with.

Bad news, fans, is that these offseason moves won't happen until January. Gonna be a looooooong, loooooong wait.
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