When Lou Piniella stepped down from his post as Cubs manager earlier this year, there was an assumption that Triple-A Iowa skipper and Cubs legend Ryne Sandberg would take over to start the 2011 season. Then Mike Quade stepped in, led the Cubbies to a 24-13 down the stretch and was awarded the full-time position last week.
The Cubs asked Sandberg to return to his post at Iowa, but he felt snubbed when they went with Quade and he is now planning to move on after four years as a coach within the organization. This according to ESPN Chicago’s Bruce Levine.
“There’s no good-bye. He’s a Cub. He’ll be a Cub for life,” Cubs owner Tom Ricketts said Wednesday on “The Afternoon Saloon” on ESPN 1000, confirming the report. “If he would like to explore some options with other teams to pursue some other opportunities that doesn’t really change anything with respect to what he has accomplished for the team or what he means to the team … He’s a Cub forever.”
Quade patched the final holes for his 2011 coaching staff this week with the hiring of Pat Listach as bench coach and Dave Keller as a major league staff assistant. Pitching coach Larry Rothschild, hitting coach Rudy Jaramillo, bullpen coach Lester Strode, third base coach Ivan DeJesus and first base coach Bob Dernier will return from Piniella’s staff.
The Orioles have inked shortstop Alcides Escobar to a minor league contract, MLB.com’s Joe Trezza reported Saturday. The deal comes with an invitation to spring training and will allow Escobar to earn $700,000 in the majors if he breaks camp with the team (via Jon Heyman of MLB Network). The team has yet to formally announce the agreement.
Escobar, 32, completed an eight-year run with the Royals in 2018. No longer the .280-average, 3.0-fWAR player of seasons past, he hit several career lows after batting .231/.279/.313 with four home runs, eight stolen bases (in 10 chances), and a .593 OPS through 531 plate appearances last year. His defensive ratings also took a hit, and FanGraphs pegged him as the fourth-worst shortstop in the majors after he accumulated -12 DRS over the course of the season, only slightly higher than the Orioles/Dodgers’ Manny Machado, Mets’ Amed Rosario, and Red Sox’ Xander Bogaerts.
Still, Heyman holds that Escobar is being considered for the starting gig this spring and could yet prove an upgrade over top prospects and infield candidates Richie Martin and Drew Jackson. At the very least, the veteran shortstop figures to stabilize the position given Martin and Jackson’s relative inexperience, as both infielders played to varying results in Double-A Tulsa last year and have yet to break into the majors. Should either player earn consideration for the position in camp, however, Escobar might still work his way onto the Opening Day roster in a utility role as he saw some time at third base, second base, and center field in 2018.