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Cubs Mon Jan 31 2011

Cubs Preview: Part Three -- Mike Quade

Thumbnail image for cubs.gifPart of a series previewing the 2011 Cubs.

When Mike Quade replaced Lou Piniella as Cubs manager last summer, he ended a 25-year minor-league quest by becoming a big league manager. Before shedding his interim tag and officially becoming the 57th manager in franchise history, he had to prove himself. He did just that by winning 24 of the team's final 37 games.

That might not seem like much, but it helped the Cubs brass choose him over Cubs legend Ryne Sandberg. Some fans wanted Sandberg, some wanted Quade. The only thing that absolutely matters at this point is winning. And the question in this discussion: Is Quade good enough?

Thirty-seven games -- less than one-quarter of the season -- is an awfully small sample size, but apparently whatever Quade said or did worked because the team responded. The fact of the matter is that the players had given up on Piniella whether they'll admit it or not. It begs the question of what could the Cubs have done had Piniella stepped down sooner?

But the only thing that matters now is the 2011 season. I think the Cubs choosing a low-profile guy like Quade will benefit them in the long run. Unlike the last two big-name managers the Cubs hired, he won't have as much immediate pressure to win.

When the Cubs hired Dusty Baker the bar was raised and the same can be said for Piniella. The pressure to bring a winner to Chicago is already at critical levels -- adding the likes of Baker and Piniella to it only make the situation worse than it already is. Quade is low-key, but he gets it. He's native of suburban Mount Prospect. He knows the history and all hoopla that surrounds this storied franchise, unlike imports Baker and Piniella.

Compared to Sandberg, I believe Quade's 25 years in the minor leagues give him an edge. Ryno managed just four seasons in the Cubs system.

The question isn't who is more qualified for the job, but can Quade get it done as big league manager. Based on what I watched as the season winded down last year I would have to say yes he can and here's why. He took a "dead-ass team," as Cubs TV analyst Bob Brenly put it, and brought them back to life. They played the role of spoiler down the stretch and knocked contending teams like San Diego and St. Louis out of it instead of rolling over and playing out the stretch.

Also I don't feel that Quade has a reputation to uphold say the way Piniella did. Everyone expected him to come in yell, scream, kick dirt and throw bases and he did on occasion, but that took away from what was most important and that is winning games. Down the stretch Quade had this team playing fundamentally sound ball. Can that carry over to 2011? We'll have to see.

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