Cubs

Green light? Quade sends Cubs strong signals

Green light? Quade sends Cubs strong signals

Monday, April 11, 2011Posted: 9:45 PM

By Patrick Mooney
CSNChicago.com

HOUSTON The day after, here was the image flashing on the television in one corner of the clubhouse: Marlon Byrd arguing with reporters before telling them to beat it.

The MLB Network ran the clip and while it may have caught the attention of a few players reclining in lounge chairs, the Cubs want the matter closed.
WATCH: Byrd snaps at reporters

Byrd led off the ninth inning of Sundays 6-5 loss to the Milwaukee Brewers with a line-drive single that raised his average to .342. Aramis Ramirez had already tied his career-high with three doubles when he stepped to the plate.

Moments later, Byrd was caught stealing second, a mistake manager Mike Quade called a miscommunication. Byrd couldnt believe that was the first thing the media asked him about. Byrd said he looks at third-base coach Ivan DeJesus.

I dont think he has the green light. Zeus didnt think (so), Quade said Monday. (Byrd) thought he did. (So) three of us screwed the thing up and then we move on and we try not to do that again.

That play didnt decide the game, but Byrds reaction generated all the headlines, and made it difficult to not blow out of proportion.

Quade estimated that he gives 60 or 70 signs each game offensive, defensive and catching. By the managers count, his players have only missed one or two through the seasons first nine games.

I wish (we) had a microphone to put in a guys helmet like they do in the NFL and say, Hey, look, youre gonna hit and run, Quade joked.

WATCH: Quade weighs in on the issue

Quade will not be standing on the top step of the dugout with headphones on and a play sheet covering his mouth. But he has tried to simplify the signs and still wants to pick his spots.

Quade once worked for an Oakland As organization that devalued stolen bases as part of their Moneyball philosophy. But for Quade, its mostly about the personnel. The Cubs finished tied for last in the majors in stolen bases last season.

Beyond the runner, the Cubs will take into account the pitchers time to the plate, what hes about to throw and whether hell use a slide step or a high leg kick.

We want to run intelligently, Quade said. I dont think people understand sometimes all the different factors that go into whether youre taking a shot to run or not.

Just because you dont have speed doesnt mean you dont take advantage of situations.

So given all the information thats synthesized into a split-second play, its probably not as simple as red light or green light, or safe or out, or Did I go?

Quade said the Cubs will turn the page, which is really just a nice way of saying the exact same thing as Byrd: Next question.
PatrickMooney is CSNChicago.com's Cubs beat writer. FollowPatrick on Twitter @CSNMooneyfor up-to-the-minute Cubs news and views.

Kyle Ryan's emergence is coming at exactly the right time for Cubs

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AP

Kyle Ryan's emergence is coming at exactly the right time for Cubs

With the MLB trade deadline two weeks away, bullpen help figures to be on the Cubs' wish list.

But thanks in part to Kyle Ryan's emergence, the Cubs don't absolutely need that reliever to be left-handed (though it would probably be ideal).

The Cubs began the week with three southpaws in their bullpen, but at some point this weekend, Ryan may be the lone lefty remaining. Mike Montgomery was traded to the Royals late Monday night and with Carl Edwards Jr. progressing in his rehab (he threw again Tuesday), he might take Randy Rosario's spot in a couple days. 

The Cubs like Edwards against lefties and they also feel confident in Pedro Strop against either handed hitter when he's on. But Ryan has worked his way into Joe Maddon's Circle of Trust and is currently the only lefty residing there.

That's not to say the Cubs don't need another reliable southpaw in the 'pen, but Ryan looks like he's going to get some big outs for this team down the stretch.

"He's done a great job for us since he's been here," Jon Lester said of Ryan last month. "I don't think he gets enough credit for what he's been able to do."

Ryan impressed the Cubs with his work as a multi-inning reliever in Triple-A last season and turned heads again in camp this spring. Still, Rosario made the Opening Day roster over him, though Ryan got called up on the team's season-opening road trip and made his first appearance on April 6.

Since then, he's been a mainstay while Montgomery battled injury and ineffectiveness, Rosario and Tim Collins have bounced between Triple-A Iowa and Chicago and veteran Xavier Cedeno's time off the injured list was short-lived.

Ryan looked to be finding his way throughout his first month in the bullpen, but after his infamous "freeze" moment against the Marlins, he endured some struggles (7 runs allowed on 12 hits in 7 innings from May 8 through June 1).

He's righted the ship since then, permitting only 1 run over his last 17 appearances (14 innings) and lowering his season ERA to 3.21 to go along with a 1.31 WHIP and 33 strikeouts in 33.2 innings.

A big part of that recent success can be tied to Ryan's increased improvement against left-handed hitters. 

Lefties hit .344 with a .405 on-base percentage off Ryan through June 5. But since then, Ryan has surrendered only 3 hits — all singles — and zero walks to the 19 left-handed hitters he's faced (.158 AVG).

He credits part of that turnaround to working on a changeup, which he thinks has helped lock in the "feel" of all his other pitches as well as his mechanics. 

As he works to add a new pitch to his repertoire, Ryan has leaned on Cubs bullpen coach Lester Strode and pitching coach Tommy Hottovy for assistance, while also picking the brains of veterans like Cole Hamels, Kyle Hendricks and Brad Brach who have all thrown changeups for quite a while.

But even with all that work, he still hasn't resorted to using the changeup much in games. The pitch is so foreign that it's still being picked up as a sinker, including on the Wrigley Field video board Sunday when he threw one in his inning of work.

"Eventually, I'm gonna find the changeup and it's gonna be a comfortable, confident pitch," Ryan said. "But I do think it's gotten me behind all the rest of my pitches and it's maybe a little bit better feel for everything. It's gonna stay where it is for a while. I'm gonna keep trying."

Ryan said one of the things he likes about the changeup is that it can eventually be a nice weapon because it "goes in the opposite direction" of all his other pitches.

We'll see if the new pitch can ever become a factor for the 27-year-old. But if it's helped lock in his other pitches, that's great news for the Cubs, especially as they look to fortify their bullpen this month.

Cubs Talk Podcast: The Yu Darvish 1st Wrigley win and post-ASG hot start podcast

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USA TODAY

Cubs Talk Podcast: The Yu Darvish 1st Wrigley win and post-ASG hot start podcast

On the latest Cubs Talk Podcast, Kelly Crull and Tony Andracki discuss Yu Darvish's 1st win at Wrigley, Cole Hamel's status, and Kris Bryant playing better than he did in his MVP season.

01:00     Darvish picking up 1st win at Wrigley

03:30     Cole Hamels injury update

05:00     Starting rotation after the All-Star break

06:00     Cubs defense looking sharp

07:30     How the Cubs will approach the weekend and the expected heat

09:30     Kris Bryant playing above his MVP level

12:00     How the NL Central stacks up

14:00     Upcoming road trip to San Francisco, Milwaukee and Saint Louis

16:00     Addition to Martin Maldonado

Listen to the full podcast here or via the embedded player below:

Cubs Talk Podcast

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