Mike Quade

Cubs manager Mike Quade is in over his head

6 Comments

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.

The new intentional walk rule isn’t a big deal but it’s still dumb

PHOENIX, AZ - JUNE 06:  Anthony Recker #20 of the New York Mets calls for an intentional walk as Paul Goldschmidt #44 of the Arizona Diamondbacks looks on during the eighth inning at Chase Field on June 6, 2015 in Phoenix, Arizona.  (Photo by Norm Hall/Getty Images)
Getty Images
1 Comment

Let us preface this by stipulating that the new rule in which pitchers will no longer have to throw four balls to issue an intentional walk is not a big deal, objectively speaking. Teams don’t issue many IBBs to begin with. A couple a week, maybe? Fewer? Moreover, the times when a pitcher tosses one to the backstop or a batter reaches out and smacks a would-be intentional ball may be a lot of fun, but they’re extraordinarily rare. You can go years without seeing it happen.

So, yes, the intentional walk rule announced yesterday is of negligible consequence. We’ll get used to it quickly and it will have little if any impact on actual baseball. It won’t do what it’s supposed to do — speeding up games — but it won’t harm anything that is important either.

But let us also stipulate that the new rule is dumb.

It’s dumb because it’s a solution in search of a problem. Pace of play is a concern, but to listen to Rob Manfred and his surrogates in the media tell it, it’s The Most Pressing Issue of Our Time. Actually, it’s not. No one is abandoning baseball because of 5-15 minutes here or there and no one who may be interested in it is ceasing their exploration of the game because of it. And even if they were, IBBs are rare and they’re not time-consuming to begin with, so it’s not something that will make a big difference. It’s change for change’s sake and so Rob Manfred can get some good press for looking like a Man of Action.

It’s also dumb because it’s taking something away, however small it is. One of my NBC coworkers explained it well this morning:

I agree. Shamelessness is a pretty big problem these days, so let’s not eliminate shame when it is truly due.

Picture it: it’s a steamy Tuesday evening in late July. The teams are both way below .500 and are probably selling off half of their lineup next week. There are, charitably, 8,000 people in the stands. The game is already dragging because of ineptitude and an understandable lack of urgency on the part of players who did not imagine nights like this when they were working their way to the bigs.

Just then, one of the managers — an inexperienced young man who refuses to deviate from baseball orthodoxy because, gosh, he might get a hard question from a sleepy middle aged reporter after the game — holds up four fingers for the IBB. The night may be dreary, but dammit, he’s going to La Russa the living hell out of this game.

That man should be booed. Boo this man. The drunks and college kids who paid, like, $11 to a season ticket holder on StubHub to get into this godforsaken game have earned the right to take their frustrations out on Hunter McRetiredBackupCatcher for being a wuss and calling for the IBB. It may be the only good thing that happens to them that night, and now Rob Manfred would take that away from them. FOR SHAME.

And don’t forget about us saps at home, watching this garbage fire of a game because it beats reading. We’re now going to have to listen to this exchange, as we have listened to it EVERY SINGLE NIGHT since the 2017 season began:

Play-by-Play Guy: “Ah, here we go. They’re calling for the intentional walk. Now, in case you missed it, this is the way we’re doing it now. The new rule is that the manager — yep, right there, he’s doing it — can hold up four fingers to the home plate umpire and — there it goes — he points to first base and the batter takes his base.”

Color Commentator, Who played from 1975-87, often wearing a mustache: “Don’t like it. I don’t like it at all. There was always a chance the pitcher throws a wild pitch. It happened to us against the Mariners in 1979 [Ron Howard from “Arrested Development” voice: it didn’t] and it has taken away something special from the game. I suppose some number-cruncher with a spreadsheet decided that this will help speed up the game, but you know what that’s worth.

No matter what good or bad the rule brings, this exchange, which will occur from April through September, will be absolutely brutal. Then, in October, we get to hear Joe Buck describe it as if we never heard it before because Fox likes to pretend that the season begins in October.

Folks, it’s not worth it. And that — as opposed to any actual pro/con of the new rule — is why it is dumb. Now get off my lawn.

Jung-Ho Kang: “I deeply regret what I have done”

PITTSBURGH, PA - SEPTEMBER 23:  Jung Ho Kang #27 of the Pittsburgh Pirates fields a ball hit by Jayson Werth #28 of the Washington Nationals (not pictured) during the first inning on September 23, 2016 at PNC Park in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Joe Sargent/Getty Images)
Getty Images
2 Comments

Pirates third baseman Jung-Ho Kang was in court in South Korea today to face DUI charges. He admitted to them in court and threw himself on the mercy of public opinion afterward, speaking to Yonhap News:

“I deeply regret what I have done. If I can get one last chance, I will become an exemplary player to earn respect from everyone.”

Kang will be sentenced on March 3, which is a week from Friday. Pretrial proceedings involved talk of a $13,000 fine, but the judge can do whatever he wants. It would seem that Kang will be in South Korea at least until then. He and the Pirates have also spoken of a treatment program. All of which, taken together, suggests that it will be some time before Kang joins Pirates spring training, where full-squad workouts began last Friday.