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Being the manager of the Chicago Cubs – even in a mere interim capacity – brings with it certain indelicacies. Most notably? The microscope. Every move you make is scrutinized by a rabid pack of irrational freaks.

Today, I am but one of those freaks.

Cubs interim manager Mike Quade took the reigns yesterday, and in his first lineup, there were more than a few surprises: Alfonso Soriano had been dropped to 7th (good move), Geovany Soto was back to 8th (bad move), and Blake DeWitt was batting leadoff (more on that in a bit). But the most surprising move was a guy that didn’t move: Tyler Colvin was back in right field, not at first base, where we’d been told for days he would be playing this series.

And it wasn’t just a one-game aberration, either. Quade says he doesn’t expect to put Colvin at first any time soon.

“Nothing imminent for me there. We’ll pick a spot,” Quade said. “Maybe see him over there in a late-inning game, where maybe it makes sense to do that. It’s something that we’ll look at, but sparingly, probably.”

Colvin, who started in right field, has been working out at first since the Cubs traded three-time Gold Glove Award winner Derrek Lee to the Braves on Wednesday. The rookie hasn’t played first since his sophomore year in college at Clemson. He had his most intense workout Sunday under the tutelage of bench and infield coach Alan Trammell.

“It’ll hold off. I guess I’m not quite ready,” Colvin said. “It’s good to work over there and I’ll do the work on the side and I’ll be ready for it. It’s fine taking fungos the whole time, but game speed, that’s different. Once I get some balls hit hard at me, I’ll see what I do with those.” cubs.com.

Here we see the clear problem with having an interim manager like Mike Quade. Do I mean that Quade is, himself, a problematic manager? Of course not. I’m sure his managerial style is just fine.

The problem is: he’s up for the Cubs full-time gig in 2011. So when it comes to making choices on a game-to-game basis, Quade is going to make the choices that help the team win today – even if the choice is at the expense of the future of the organization. Quade has himself called his interim job an “audition.” Does anyone really believe he’s going to do anything that lessens the chance he’ll win during his audition?

Perhaps Tyler Colvin really isn’t ready to play first base at the big league level. But we already know that! The point is to give him a look – even at the risk of him being a disaster – to see if he can be the Chicago Cubs’ first baseman in 2011. Quade, on the other hand, has a strong incentive not to take that risk.

Quade’s incentive to win right now is also the reason we saw Blake DeWitt batting leadoff for the first time. It isn’t a coincidence – DeWitt batting leadoff and Colvin batting in a production spot makes a whole lot more sense than where they’d been batting previously… if you want to win today, that is.

Was Lou leaving Colvin in the one-hole because he liked having a .310 OBP at the top of the order? Of course not. Lou was doing it because he knew that Colvin could have a long future in the bigs, and felt it was in the best interest of the organization for Colvin to get as many meaningful at bats as possible.

I’m not criticizing Quade, mind you. He’s just doing what anyone would do when given a golden opportunity such as this. And after all, it’s incredibly defensible: what’s he supposed to do, not try to win?

But the Cubs have put the organization in a difficult position with their decision to install an interim manager, and then tell him that he’s trying out to be the guy next year. How many meaningful innings and/or at bats is he going to give all of those soon-to-be September call-ups? How many innings is he going to let Sean Marshall and Carlos Marmol throw? How many pitches? If Geovany Soto’s achy shoulder needs an extra day off, how eager will Quade be to give Koyie Hill a start? If you’re an online sports betting type of person, I’d put my money on Quade doing what’s best for Quade.

  • jstraw

    “So when it comes to making choices on a game-to-game basis, Quade is going to make the choices that help the team win today – even if the choice is at the expense of the future of the organization.”

    This is nuts and I hope you’re 180 degrees wrong. Hendry needs to sit with Mike and council him to concentrate on the good of the future. We have 6 weeks to see these players in roles they may be considered for next season. Winning games shouldn’t be the priority at all.

    “…the reason we saw Blake DeWitt batting leadoff for the first time. It isn’t a coincidence – DeWitt batting leadoff and Colvin batting in a production spot makes a whole lot more sense than where they’d been batting previously… if you want to win today, that is.”

    I disagree. It just makes sense, period. Seeing what DeWitt can do in the one hole is on the list of things we need to see.

    I want to believe that Quade’s audition is much more nuanced than showing Hendry that he can in-game manage for wins. I want to believe that he wants him to do the job that needs doing now, which is to evaluate talent.

    I agree that the reluctance to look at Colvin at 1B suggests the worst but I’ve always thought it was a stupid idea unless it was clear that Hendry wasn’t looking for a 1B FA signing in the off season. Hendry has said we’re not rebuilding and the we’re a few pieces away from contending. Whether you agree with that or not, it may mean that Quade knows that Colvin to first isn’t in the 2011 plan.

    • Jacob

      “Hendry needs to sit with Mike and council him to concentrate on the good of the future.” Now that made me laugh dude. Seriously. Hendry has killed the foreseeable future of this team. Handing out double digit a year contracts like they were pamplets, and handing out full no trade clauses like they were a stick of gum. Yeah, thats good for the future.

      • wax_eagle

        Jacob,

        look at some of the other contracts that were handed out about the same time. The contracts for Z, Demp and Sori are large, but they were not outlandish for the time they were given. They are longer than what we consider prudent in this time period, but just 5 or 6 years ago those contracts were just on the high side of average.

        The emphasis on youth is relatively new for larger market clubs. Don’t forget that.

        • Bric

          The market has changed. Jim hendry has not. He’s more dillusional now than when he signed Milton Bradley, with all his talk of one more piece for next year. Let’s face it… with or without Adam Dunne, next year’s team will be lucky to win 82 games. So unless Ricketts fires this run away spending, arrogant, “Don’t you know who I am?” a-hole Jim Hendry, we can look forward to him outbidding himself and giving Adam Dunne a 3 year year 27 mil contract. Result?: Dunne will bat .236, hit 33 meaningless late inning homers, and join Burnitz, Sori, Fuke, Bradley, Grabow, Howry, Gregg, and a few others in the Jim Hendry hall of shame. But on the plus side he did sign DeRosa and Lilly… oh, wait, he traded them away for 5 minor league pitchers and a left handed Theriot. What an incompetent clown.

    • Ace

      Fair point on DeWitt in the leadoff hole – you’re right, we need to see what he can do there.

      Nevertheless, on the main point, I’d like to see what Colvin can do at 1st – it costs nothing, and if nothing more, it allows the Cubs to know if they’ve got a backup at first.

      • jstraw

        Yeah, I agree with that. I have to get passed the fact that he’s never played an inning at 1st as a pro.

  • wax_eagle

    On topic.

    This is as good of a reason as I have seen to have made Tram the interim guy or to have just given the full time job out right away.

    Quade needs to be told that his status for next year is based on far more than what he can manage with this team. He should be doing things that are in the interest of the Cubs now an going forward, if he does get the job he will have to manage these players next year and the years to come. It’s not in his best interest to screw himself over for the next few years by overusing Marmol or Marshall.

    The question of Colvin at 1b needs to be an entirely organizational one. It should be Hendry’s call not Mike’s. If Hendry is confidant he can sign Dunn or Pena to a contract this fall/winter than he should keep Colvin in the outfield. If he is not confidant of that than he should choose to either extend Nady now or make Mike work Colvin out at 1B.

    I don’t like any of the inhouse 1b options, but Im not sure its prudent to pick up a declining Dunn either, not with the 2011 free agent crop of 1bmen looking very nice. I think I would be happy starting the year with a Hoff and Nady platoon or some other replacement level combo at 1b and picking up a rental if we are competitive next year.

  • mark

    I almost always agree with you, but on this one, I don’t think so. Colvin has no business at First. You yourself said you want to bring in Adam Dunn next year. That is what the Cubs will and should do. Then trade Fukodome. I liked his lineup yesterday, especially DeWitt leading off. Hendry needs to do his job first and take care of getting the right players in and out in the offseason…if he still has a job. Just my opinion.

    • Ace

      I do think Adam Dunn is shaping up to be a good option for the Cubs … but they might not get him. He might decide to go elsewhere, the Cubs might go cheap, or heck, his legs might fall off.

      In any of those scenarios, wouldn’t you agree that it would be a good idea to know FOR SURE whether Colvin could or could not handle 1st base in the bigs? That’s all I’m saying. It makes no sense not to find out now that the Cubs are long out of it.

      • mark

        There are way to many free agent possibilities for the Cubs to even try the experiment. By your theory, why not move Ramirez to First and give him some reps so maybe Vitters can play 3rd next year.

        • Ace

          Mark, nobody believes Ramirez will be playing anywhere but 3B next year – and nobody believe Vitters will be ready next year. So that point really doesn’t offer much. On the other hand, there IS at least SOME possibility that Colvin could be playing 1st next year – as a starter, or as a backup. It costs the Cubs literally nothing to try him out there for a few games. Why in the world would they not do it?

          • Mark

            You’re right on Ramerez and Vitters. But I think the Cubs feel they can get an established 1st baseman in the off season. I think they feel he needs more games in the outfield and that it is hard enough to play at that level as a kid w/o changing his world up (e.g. Theriot’s performace stunk after they moved him to 2nd). Young players need to get comfortable and when they start changing positions, usually there batting performance suffers. For hypothetical sake, if Colvin goes to 1st, do they still try to move Fukudome. If they do, which outfielders will be free agents next year?

            If he do

            • Bric

              I honestly see Brett Jackson lighting up spring training similar to the manner that Colvin did this year. I think Fuke WILL be traded in December to save some cash. We know that the Nationals are at least one team that showed interest last winter. He’s not in the Cubs’ future anyway, and you’ll probably get more from him in December than July. Let’s hope Hendry doesn’t then jump the gun and sign some journeyman outfielder to play right. Either leave Colvin there and Jackson in the minors or shift Colvin to first, Byrd to right, and put Jackson in center. Hendry needs to go one way or the other, but all this “We’re just missing one or two pieces” BS got old after last year. We’ll know by March if all Ricketts’ handshaking and baby kissing is for real or if the Cubs are just another revenue stream for him to exploit.

  • Kevin G

    Ace I have a list of minor league 1B and 3B that I will send you later tomorrow. All of them are blocked.

  • wordpress designers

    You may have opened up my eyes at this time with this thanks a bunch

    • Internet Random

      Me too. Of course, I do love me some spam.

      • Hansman1982

        I’m glad it only took 2 1/2 years for the eyes to be opened.

        • MichiganGoat

          I love it when this happens and we get in the Delorean to see how we acting 2 years ago.

          • Hansman1982

            That Ace dude was quite the douchenozzle. Acting like he was a big shot and everything. Glad he’s gone.

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