The 2011 Chicago Cubs don’t look very much like the 2010 Cubs, to say nothing of the 2008 club. And, for all the e-ink spilled on the reasons, one difference between those teams is hard to ignore: the manager.
That is, of course, not to say that new manager Mike Quade – who got a cup of tea as the manager at the end of the year last year – is the reason the Cubs are on pace to lose nearly 100 games this year. The list of reasons the Cubs are terrible is long, and the players and front office feature prominently.
But, it’s hard to argue that Quade hasn’t contributed to the struggles. His in-game management has been, at times, alternatingly maddening and baffling, and more than once he has appeared to lose the clubhouse. Maybe worse, the team’s already poor fundamentals have regressed. Badly.
Quade knows he’s on the hot seat.
“I feel like [I'm managing for my job] every day,” he said. “You come here to solve problems, to teach, to make the best decisions you can make, to stay involved with your club. I come from a long line of one-year contracts, and the idea of people being day-to-day when they’re hurt, I’ve always thought that that was the case [with me]. I don’t feel any more or less like that. I come here to try and do the best I can every day.
“Everybody is doing that, but try to stay involved and make sure that you’re identifying everything you need to and address it accordingly. And that’s all I can do, for me as a manager with these guys as a club. To that end, I’ll do that until the day I die.”
Quade sounds a bit more like a coach than a manager, no? Maybe that’s why he spent so many years on Major League staffs without landing a managerial job. Until this year with the Cubs, that is.
For his part, Quade recognizes his role in the losing.
“I take it personal, and I’m disappointed that the record is not better,” he said. “When the blame game starts, you can’t sit in this seat and not take some of it. There’s just no way. And I understand that, but me sitting here and cowering because of that is absurd. You attack every day… you go home [after a loss] and it’s tough.
“You sleep on it, and figure out who you need to talk to and what we can do today and you come and try to do it.”
Quade’s had plenty to sleep on this year, as the Cubs go for their 66th loss today. Last year, a very bad Cubs team didn’t take its 66th loss until August 11.