November 02, 2011
All the Chicago Cubs have been doing this fall is holding introductory press conferences, but the team will now have to hold at least one more.
The meet and greet will be for whoever they hire as their new manager after announcing on Wednesday that Mike Quade won't be around for the last year of his contract in 2012. New team president Theo Epstein says he flew to Quade's home in Florida to deliver the news.
A quintessential baseball lifer, Quade took over from Lou Piniella near the end of the 2010 season before guiding the 2011 Cubs to a 71-91 finish. He will still be paid the $980,000 he was set to make, adding to the Cubs' pile of sunk costs.
"When I joined the Cubs last week, I knew that Mike had a reputation as an outstanding baseball guy, as a tireless worker, and as a first-rate human being. After spending some time with him this past week, it became apparent to me that Mike's reputation is well-deserved. His passion, knowledge of the game, commitment, and integrity stood out immediately.
"While Mike is clearly an asset to any organization and any Major League staff, [GM] Jed [Hoyer] and I believe that the Cubs would benefit long-term from bringing in a manager for 2012 who can come in with a clean slate and offer new direction."
Epstein says Quade's replacement "must have managerial or coaching experience at the Major League level." That would seemingly rule out Ryne Sandberg — who Ken Rosenthal reports will be interviewed by the St. Louis Cardinals (!) — while keeping the door open on current coaches like Milwaukee's Dale Sveum and Tampa Bay's Dave Martinez.
Considering that Quade was given an affordable two-year contract after being the interim manager, you always had to figure that he was seen by the Ricketts family as expendable. That said, Wednesday's news surprises me a little bit as I was figuring that Epstein and Hoyer would set their sights on bigger and more pressing renovations. Quade was still a cheap placeholder and if they figured out they liked working with him in 2012 then, hey, all the better.
But this dismissal clearly shows that everything on the North Side is going to have Epstein's stamp on it from the start. Let the speculation for the regime's first big hire begin.