Although I previously expressed my desire to see Mike Quade depart as Cub manager at the end of this year, with today's news of the Cubs and him agreeing to a two-year deal with an option for a third actually seems to be the best direction for the Cubs. Surprisingly, I want to give the team credit for this, no matter how much it disappoints me. Once Bob Brenly took his name off the table, I essentially had no horse in the race. I was not sold on the idea of Ryne Sandberg taking over as manager, and I knew the odds of Joe Girardi leaving his cushy Yankee job were bad to say the least. Then, hockey started and I willfully forgot about the Cubs... until today.
I believe I had broken one of my major "sports rules," and I had been thinking with my Cub fan heart instead of my Cub fan brain. I know the team is essentially not going anywhere for at least a couple of seasons, and I have been an avid supporter of the team rebuilding. Spending money on Girardi, even if he wanted to leave New York, just doesn't make since for the Cubs right now. That's also why we will see payroll cut next year and no big name free agents signing to play in Cubbie blue during the off-season.
These are all good things, and under these circumstances, a guy like Mike Quade is the perfect fit. He will be here for at least two years, three if needed or wanted at that point; a time when the team will be slashing payroll and looking to cut ties with expensive and expiring contracts (hopefully this will include GM Jim Hendry. Many young players will be given opportunities to play everyday while the team refocuses on building a solid and consistent farm system to supply the major league roster with talent.
Quade's experience in the minors means we know he can work well with young talent, and after a successful stint at the end of last year, why not give the guy another go-round and see if he can continue to work his odd magic with the pressure of managing a full season. There will be no using six months of Lou running the team into the ground as an excuse for under-performance anymore for Quade. The 2011 Cubs will be solely his responsibility.
By the end of Quade's contract, the team will actually be able to start fresh, if that's what Tom Ricketts then wants to do. The farm system will have had some time to settle in, hopefully there will be some new youthful and exciting talent on the field, and the team will legitimately be able to start out in a new direction. This will be when the "Tom Ricketts Era" will truly begin, until then, he's still cleaning up the mess of Jim Hendry and the Tribune Company.
I wanted to believe the Cubs could start fresh now, entering next season, but that is just illogical. There are simply too many loose ends for Ricketts to cleanup and tend to. Mike Quade is the bridge that will get the Cubs from this point to the point when they can actually once again logically be looking at as a playoff contender.
Having thought this out, I still would have loved to see Bob Brenly bridging this gap, as I think the chance for "catching lightning in a bottle," as they say, would be better in the next two years with him than with Quade, but the extension of Quade's tenure makes since logically and financially, and these are the types of decisions Cubs fans are not used to seeing: good ones.