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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