Cubs manager Mike Quade is in over his head

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At least he sort of admitted after the Cubs’ latest loss Friday.

“This one is on me,” Mike Quade said after trying to get Randy Wells through the seventh inning in the game against the White Sox.

In Quade’s defense, Wells was cruising up until that point.  After a two-run first, he retired 11 in a row at one point.  That stretch was only broken by a Brent Morel bunt single to begin the sixth.  After the single, Wells got Carlos Quentin to ground into a double play and Paul Konerko to ground out.  The entire inning consisted of just three pitches, and that followed a fifth in which he threw all of five pitches.

Wells, though, didn’t deserve the benefit of the doubt once thngs started unraveling in the seventh.  The right-hander, who was 0-2 with a 7.20 ERA in six starts since coming off the DL, gave up a single to A.J. Pierzynski and then an Alexei Ramirez homer that tied the game at 4.

The obvious move was to pull him then, but Quade left him in.  Alex Rios singled before Gordon Beckham grounded to third for the first out of the frame.  After that, pinch-hitter Adam Dunn walked and Juan Pierre delivered a two-run triple, giving the White Sox a 6-4 lead that would stand up for the rest of the game.

This is the way things have gone for Quade all year.  Not that any manager would have the Cubs playing better than .500 ball, but even with their injuries, they’re better than a 34-49 team.  They’re getting solid production out of every spot in the lineup, and while the bottom of the rotation has been a disaster, the top three guys have been just fine the last two months.

Quade is getting outmanaged at practically every opportunity, and it’s time for him to go.  I’m not sure bench coach Pat Listach is any better of a choice to step in — he’s the one in Quade’s ear when the tactical choices are being made — but he would be the likely choice to take over on an interim basis.  The Cubs need to wipe the slate clean anyway, and when GM Jim Hendry is fired — something that needs to happen this winter whether Quade is retained or not — it’d be for the best if the new general manager gets to pick the manager of his choice.

Pirates looking for outside outfield help

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Bill Brink of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports that Pirates GM Neal Huntington is looking for outside outfield help in the wake of Starling Marte‘s 80-game suspension for using performance-enhancing drugs. With Marte out of the picture, the club moved Andrew McCutchen back to center field and have played Adam Frazier, John Jaso, and Jose Osuna in right field. But, as Brink points out, Osuna and Jaso — neither an outfielder by trade — misplayed balls over the weekend against the Yankees.

Among available free agents, the pickings are slim. There’s Coco Crisp, Jeff Francoeur, Cole Gillespie, Kelly Johnson, and Nolan Reimold (who is currently in independent baseball). The Pirates may have to find themselves a trade partner. They could also try to talk Angel Pagan back into action, as the veteran outfielder recently said he’s taking the year off. The Pirates could also look at Leonys Martin, who was recently designated for assignment by the Mariners.

Matt Barnes ejected after throwing at Manny Machado’s head

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On Friday, tension between the Orioles and Red Sox rose when Manny Machado spiked Dustin Pedroia sliding into second base. Although the umpires found no fault with Machado’s slide, third base coach Brian Butterfield was later ejected, still feeling like Machado wronged the Red Sox. Pedroia exited the game and was not in the lineup on Saturday or Sunday. He’ll undergo an MRI for his left knee and ankle in Boston on Monday.

For what it’s worth, Pedroia didn’t seem to feel any bitterness towards Machado for his slide. As MLB.com’s Jeff Seidel reported, Pedroia said, “I don’t even know what the rule is. I’ve turned the best double play in the Major Leagues for 11 years. I don’t need a … rule. The rule’s irrelevant. The rule’s for people with bad footwork.”

Tempers flared between the Red Sox and Orioles again on Sunday. In the bottom of the eighth inning with a runner on first base and one out with the Red Sox leading 6-0, reliever Matt Barnes threw a first-pitch fastball up-and-in to Machado. The ball actually hit Machado’s bat, so it counted as a foul ball. Home plate umpire Andy Fletcher ejected Barnes and the Red Sox brought in Joe Kelly. Machado doubled on the first pitch Kelly threw to put the Orioles on the board, but the Orioles ultimately lost 6-2.

MASN’s broadcast later showed Pedroia talking to Machado, seemingly clarifying that Barnes acted of his own volition without encouragement from Pedroia. “You know that,” Pedroia appeared to say. “It wasn’t me. It’s them.”

Update: Pedroia even apologized to Machado and the Orioles, per Brian MacPherson of the Providence Journal.

Commissioner Rob Manfred will likely look into Sunday’s incident. He could fine and/or suspend Barnes.

The Orioles and Red Sox meet again in Boston for a four-game series May 1-4. It will be interesting to see if the tension still remains then.