Since being fired by the Cubs last week (seriously, only last week? It feels like months for some reason…), former Chicago Cubs manager Mike Quade has remained largely silent about the circumstances of his dismissal and his time leading the Cubs.
Yesterday, Quade opened up a bit about those subjects, and others.
“I don’t think we were dealt a losing hand at all, and it’s too easy to go back and say that, especially now if you’re me,” Quade said on “The Waddle & Silvy Show” on ESPN 1000. “Happy with way guys competed.”
The losing hand to which Quade referred, of course, is the lackluster performance of the players on his roster, the lackluster makeup of that roster, and the damaging, early injuries to players on that roster. Quade, as he said all season long, doesn’t want to point the finger at the roster or the injuries.
Quade also isn’t particularly upset with Carlos Zambrano, who walked out on Quade and the Cubs after a mid-August meltdown in Atlanta.
“The thing with Z, I got the biggest kick out of people talking about him being disrespectful in that situation,” Quade said. “Z’s blown [his stack] with a number of guys, Lou [Piniella], Dusty [Baker], Derrek [Lee], pick your guy. That’s just his nature. When things go they go.
“I didn’t take that personally. I felt terrible about it. Obviously wish it wouldn’t have happened, and heck the son of a gun pitched really good for us. You make decisions and you’re not going to please everybody all the time, but I think in general having those guys back and trying to win games no matter what the situation is what he stayed focused on.”
Indeed, Quade was more bothered by the public disagreement he had with Ryan Dempster after pulling the pitcher early in a post-injury start.
“I think our relationship maybe made it hurt more than most situations,” Quade said. “Still in all, whether it was Z, whether it was Demps, any confrontation or anything that happens you always feel unfortunate about.
“You’re always making decisions that are right for the club and right for the individual and guys don’t agree sometimes. It’s not unique to Mike Quade and not unique to baseball. It hurt, but those things happen. I didn’t take it personally and I don’t think Demps did either.”
Another fine response.
And, when it came time to discuss his dismissal, Quade remained positive and upbeat.
“I think [Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer] were open in a big way,” Quade said of the meetings with new Cubs’ management that preceded his firing. “It was about as constructive a seven-hour meeting – I don’t know if I’ve had any seven-hour meetings – as constructive a time as I’ve spent talking to a GM or baseball people in general. There was very little that was left unsaid or talked about as far as everything from the roster to philosophy, strategy and everything else. I enjoyed it very much and felt pretty good.”
Quade, who had a year left on his contract with the Cubs, was not offered another position with the Cubs, which he thought was the right decision.
“It doesn’t seem appropriate to me,” Quade said. “If you’re a longtime manager stepping away and somebody is taking over, then absolutely. Or if you’re another position as a coach, then why not.
“But if you’re running the club, when you’re managing the club, it would just be an awkward situation. I think Theo and Jed are looking to shake things up and wanted to change things and I got caught in the switch.”
But it wasn’t all sunshine and roses from Quade, particularly when he was asked about the criticism he faced about his lineups later in the year.
Quade admitted that, when he refused to play younger players with regularity once the Cubs were eliminated from playoff contention, he was doing so in an effort to save his job.
“I think [the criticism is] wrong, and what young kids are we talking about?” Quade said. “If somebody said, ‘We’re going to re-sign you for three years, play them all, and if you lose every game we don’t care.’ Well, then maybe it’s a different deal. But no one came across with that proposition.”
It’s such an unfortunate response. We long suspected it was true, but, as I said at the time: it’s unfathomable to me that a relatively smart guy couldn’t see that “winning games” wasn’t going to save his job. If anything, he’d have been in a far better position to plead his case at the end of the year if he’d clearly done everything he could in the best interests of the organization, his own future be damned. He didn’t do that, and his future was damned anyway.