Mike Quade Fired, Dale Sveum May Join Dream Team

Yesterday, Cubs President of Baseball Operations Theo Epstein announced the Chicago Cubs and manager Mike Quade have parted ways. Kudos to Theo Epstein for not doing what we all expected him to: Fire Quade immediately.

It appears Epstein — like he has approached most everything in his young Cubs reign — decided to withhold judgement until he had fully investigated the matter himself. Like Joe Maddon is wont to say, “Tell me what you think, not what you heard.”

Quade’s managerial time with the Cubs was both short and possibly undeserved. Taking the helm when Lou Piniella suddenly retired in 2010, Quade inherited a team that was predisposed towards failure. But, despite that, the team went 24-13 to close out the season. That was enough proof for Jim Hendry to vault Quade not only into the manager discussion, but the manager’s chair:

If the Cubs didn’t get hot in late 2010, does Mike Quade
even get an interview for manager? Probably not.

The undeserved element comes from the Cubs 1-run-game record in the 2010 season. Up to Piniella’s departure, the Cubs had the worst 1-run-game record in recorded history at .333. They finished the 7-2 in 1-run games and a .475 record — a sudden boost that artificially made Quade look like a genius.

A World Series commentator would probably say Quade was “pushing all the right buttons” — and who knows? Maybe he was? But the Cubs’ 2011 1-run-game record of .491 suggests this is not some secret Quade skill, but rather the 2010 Cubs finished strong because the team just normalized luck-wise (and Aramis Ramirez getting healthy and hot did not hurt either).

In the FanGraphs Audio podcast yesterday, I discussed at length the Chicago Cubs and the new era Theo Epstein brings with him. And frankly, Mike Quade does not fit. Of course, this topic has recently had strangers inform me my baseball IQ is below replacement level, so maybe I am assuming too much.

From what we can tell, though, Mike Quade managed on feeling, gut, old school statistics, and nicknamification. Only one of those processes — the time-honored tradition of adding a y to every one-syllable name — has a chance of remaining in the Theo Era.

The latest rumors suggest Theo will likely go with a sabermetrically-minded major league coach or bench manager. The short list appears to include:

    Dale Sveum — Hitting coach for the Milwaukee Brewers and a former player. He just interviewed for the Red Sox opening and could do the same for the Cubs any day now. Sveum spent some time in Boston and is supposed to be numbers-friendly.

    Mike Maddux — Pitching coach for the Texas Rangers, brother to legend Greg Maddux, and legend in his own right. The Cubs have also been connected to rumblings concerning Mike Maddux, who has been universally considered one of the best pitching coaches in the majors for like a decade now. Not sure if he’s ever owned a TI-83, though.

    Dave Martinez — Current bench coach for Tampa Bay Rays and former Cub. Martinez gets my star of approval, as I have closely followed the Rays since before he started working for them. Martinez appears to have the progressive stats in hand (he works for Joe Maddon, so he must) as well as a strong rapport with players.

    Sandy Alomar Jr. — Recently-anointed bench coach for the Cleveland Indians and freshly-retired player. I hear Alomar’s name bandied about like crazy, but I know so little about him. Which brings me to…

What do we really know about any of these guys?!

Honestly, I know about Martinez the most, but even then, I have no idea if he will start Koyie Hill every other day, send John Grabow face righties in high-leverage situations, or ask Carlos Zambrano to go to the bullpen, oh wait, I mean the rotation, er, just go home — all mistakes the previous managers stumbled into so easily.

Seemingly not on the list for the opening:

    Terry Francona — Former Red Sox manager and two-time World Series winner. The Cubs leadership, having only weeks early released Francona, seem unlikely to re-sign him. Maybe they give him a look after they have done their due diligence, but it seems unlikely. Personally, I’m okay with this.

    Ryne Sandberg — Triple-A manager and former Cubs star. Ryno does not have the major league managerial experience, the proven pedigree of statistical fortitude, or any chance at getting the job. In an ultra-classy gesture, Theo has already told Sandberg the Cubs will look elsewhere. Which is a shame, because Cubs fans think Ryno is handsome and they used to watch him play the baseball, so, I mean, he’s gotta be like the best manager ever, right?

    Bob Brenly — Cubs color analyst and World Series-winning former manager. Another fan favorite, Brenly endeared himself to Cubs fans by throwing the Cubs under the bus every time they did poorly. So, often, in other words. Brenly is tried-and-true old school, often saying fingernails-on-the-chalkboard-wrong kind of stuff during Cubs games — which makes for great fun to listen to play-by-play man Len Kasper cringe and gently attempt to correct his advanced-analysis-less partner.

Of course, given the way these searches go, the Cubs may very well hire someone we have never before heard of — much like how the names Jason McLoed and Jed Hoyer meant next to nothing to Cubs fans until just days ago; now every Cubs fan has a #SABRbeatles poster in their bedroom featuring the Fab Three (soon to be Four).

In the meantime, Cubs fans should harbor no ill-will towards Mike Quade or even Jim Hendry. Though their time with the Cubs brought much suffering, they also were with the Cubs during great times — and frankly, they put all of themselves into their work and did their jobs to the best of their abilities.

But now the new wave is in town, and Cubs fans are watching the most amazing makeover in the team’s history. Feel free to get excited now.

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Bradley writes for FanGraphs and The Hardball Times. Follow him on Twitter @BradleyWoodrum.

34 Responses to “Mike Quade Fired, Dale Sveum May Join Dream Team”

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  1. Yirmiyahu says:

    “If the Cubs didn’t get hot in late 2010, does Mike Quade even get an interview for manager? Probably not.”

    I don’t know much about the guy’s managerial skills, but that’s just not true. He was interviewed for the Cubs managerial opening in 2006, when Piniella was ultimately hired. He obviously has a much better resume since that time.

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  2. jwise224 says:

    Personally, I love your articles. It’s baseball and it makes me laugh. What could be better? Well, maybe the Cubs in the World Series, but that’s a long ways off.

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  3. GiantHusker says:

    Bruce Bochy takes the adding a “y” to an extreme–nearly every player has a “y” added after the first syllable to make his Bochy-nickname, e.g. Brian Wilson is “Willy.”
    Would somebody please fire him!

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  4. Vinnie says:

    You’re too hard on Brenly as an analyst. In fact, I would say he’s one of the least codgery, old-school ex-manager / ex-player broadcasters out there.

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    • Eh, maybe I am. All I know is that almost every Cubs broadcast has a moment or two wherein I yell at the mustachioed man on the screen, “HOW DO YOU KNOW?! HOW DO YOU [redacted] KNOW!?”

      He makes unfounded claims far too often — granted, he also knows a LOT about baseball, but that shrinks in comparison to the poor suggestions he makes on air constantly in my mind.

      Nonetheless, the Theo Commission is looking for managers on the edge, not ones on the fence between advanced and old school.

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      • Chady says:

        Respect the Mustache, sir, respect it!

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      • Vinnie says:

        I hear ya… yet I find myself having far fewer of those reactions to Brenly than to most other color guys. By no means am I advocating for his managerial candidacy, but that’s in part because I’d rather he stay in the booth, lest we end up with another Joe Carter. I do find his bus-throwing-under refreshing.

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  5. Joe says:

    I’m very good at math and in grad school for statistics, but I’ve never owned a ti-83. Currently I have a Ti-82.

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  6. Joe says:

    Grabow is done as a cub after this year? He had a 2 year deal and we have “lived” through it. If he’s back I don’t know what I’ll do.

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  7. Greg H says:

    I didn’t thank managers mattered that much.

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  8. baty says:

    It’s a tough draw for Quade to get his start this way, but I don’t blame anyone for feeling ill-will towards Jim Hendry. Hendry certainly had some bad luck throughout his tenure, but for a guy with a background heavy in player development to have such a poor record in creating long-term in-house player solutions, is extremely disappointing. It’s parallel to the string of poor contract offerings he made while trying to desperately reclaim momentum after some brutal disappointments of the late ’90s and early 2000s. I can’t think of a reason for why Hendry would force Zambrano onto a pedestal with a rewarding contract other than him being the only legitimate prospect that was able to survive long enough to get that chance. When Hendry had to make a very significant decision, it quite more often than not appeared and proved to be in the wrong direction.

    Jim made a few great moves, but when you consider the financial growth and success the Cubs experienced, I have a hard time believing a good General Manager wouldn’t have been able to turn that spark into something more tangible.

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  9. Kevin says:

    To be fair, I’m willing to accept that zero baseball knowledge is replacement level. I also believe there is such a thing as detrimental baseball knowledge.

    Sort of like how a manager that doesn’t screw things up should be the baseline in a managerial discussion, but a manager who actively destroys things should be below that baseline.

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  10. shel says:

    we don’t want Sandburg because he’s handsome, we want him because 1) he has proven himself as a manager, winning wherever he has gone, including winning manager of the year in his AAA league, 2) he knows wrigley field and all its eccentricities, such as the wind which makes it a totally differnet park depending on which way it’s blowing, and 3) he knows these players – he was the AAA manager for the Cubs when guys like Barney, Castro, Vitters, Cashner and Jackson were coming up. Any other manager would have a learning curve -Sandburg would hit the ground running from day 1. We remember the disastrous Gene Michael experiment – hot-shot AL manager from the Yankees -did not know the NL players, the league, even the NL rules. Another AL manager? NO thanks.

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    • This is all true, though I’ve heard some reports that may work contrary to the first point.

      The problem is: Sandberg would still have a learning curve with the New Cubs. Theo is progressive, he wants a progressive manager. Sveum et al. fit that bill perfectly. Sandberg would need to play bench for a few years before given the helm, but I doubt he’s interested in such a position when a manager’s position is so close elsewhere.

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  11. Cuban X Senators says:

    For a writer, that’s awful imprecise language around deservedness, Bradley.

    Quade’s years in the game, minor league managing & big league coaching clearly do not make him a ridiculous big league manager candidate.

    Having gotten lucky in 1-run games does not detract from his résumé.

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    • That’s true. My bad.

      Quade does really deserve more credit than I gave him there. Still, if the Cubs go kaput or just *whimper* at the end of 2010, I don’t think Quade gets that job.

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  12. DavidCEisen says:

    Turns out Theo has been in discussions with Francona for a few weeks.

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  13. Buford says:

    “All I know is that almost every Cubs broadcast has a moment or two wherein I yell at the mustachioed man on the screen, “HOW DO YOU KNOW?! HOW DO YOU [redacted] KNOW!?” ”

    Of these hundreds of “Brenly moments” that made you go into an all-capitalized funk, why didn’t you list a dozen examples to prove your point ?

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    • CubFan says:

      Or failing a dozen examples, how ’bout one?

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    • I’m confused. Are you trying to convince me I actually secretly agree with Brenly?

      Frankly, I don’t keep a diary of comments he makes and I dislike. Do you have specific examples of things he’s said that you feel I would agree with? Or maybe some comments that maybe Theo Epstein — were he with the Cubs at the time — would have agreed with?

      Maybe I’m being too harsh on him, so I’m open to being convinced I’m wrong.

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  14. Schu says:

    TI-83 is for noobs. TI-89 is where it’s at.

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  15. AzianSensazion says:

    kubz R ghey, everiwon noes thiss. theo sux bawlz and rikkex lix dixx

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