In his short time as manager, Mike Quade has already established that he likes to talk. A lot. As someone who writes about all things Chicago Cubs, having a gregarious manager is definitely a good thing. I find it also a good thing as a fan.
But sometimes, the most interesting information will come from what Quade doesn’t say.
He was recently asked about veteran leadership on the Cubs, and he gave a list of players whom he believes are the natural leaders on the team.
Asked Friday about leadership potential, Quade listed Marlon Byrd, Ryan Dempster, Matt Garza, Carlos Pena and Kerry Wood as the kind of veterans who “can command the kind of respect where you would like to think players are listening and keep things together.”
While I don’t think anyone could quibble about the five players Quade listed – Byrd and Pena, in particular, have already stepped up as leaders, each immediately after joining the Cubs – it was the two players he didn’t list that really stuck out to me: the two longest-tenured Cubs, Aramis Ramirez and Carlos Zambrano.
Have either Ramirez or Zambrano ever stood out as leaders in their collective 18 seasons on the team? No. Not really. But can you imagine another team believing that their most tenured pitcher and most tenured positional player were not capable of being leaders? Picture Joe Girardi ommitting Derek Jeter and Mariano Rivera in conversation about Yankee leaders. Imagine Tony LaRussa saying nothing of Albert Pujols or Chris Carpenter. It’s tough to do.
But so it has always been with Ramirez and Zambrano – they do their thing, and the team does its thing. I guess I’ve always known it to be true, but until Mike Quade said it – or, more accurately, didn’t say it – it hadn’t struck me as so unfortunate and so absurd.
Maybe the Cubs’ offseason moves for Garza, Pena, and Wood were more important than we realized.