Cubs

As manager search continues, Wells impresses

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As manager search continues, Wells impresses

Tuesday, Sept. 14, 2010
11:26 PM
By Patrick Mooney
CSNChicago.com

ST. LOUIS Mike Quade took over a team adrift, and he was assured that he would be judged beyond wins and losses. No matter what criteria general manager Jim Hendry laid out that night, it was an offer Quade couldnt refuse.

Quade understands the process, that Hendrys due diligence will lead him to other candidates. He could be developing players for the next Cubs manager, and he already inherited several from Ryne Sandbergs Triple-A Iowa team.

Fredi Gonzalez declined a chance to interview for the job, according to Tuesdays AOL FanHouse report. Gonzalez has a history with Hendry, as they have ties in Miami and worked together in the Florida Marlins organization.

The Marlins fired Gonzalez in June, but hes viewed as the leading candidate to replace Bobby Cox. Gonzalez used to be the Braves third-base coach and has a home in the Atlanta area and was reportedly high on Hendrys short list.

Bob Melvin who managed the Seattle Mariners and Arizona Diamondbacks and now scouts for the New York Mets is expected to speak with the Cubs.

Sandberg was publicly identified as a candidate nearly two months ago. Hendry has already met with Eric Wedge, who was one game away from leading the Cleveland Indians to the 2007 World Series before being fired last year.

With the way things are moving, Quade might want to be evaluated by the scoreboard and not teaching moments. After Randy Wells dominated the St. Louis Cardinals in a 7-2 victory on Tuesday night, the Cubs improved to 13-7 since Quades promotion.

Im too honest to say Im not looking at our record, Quade said. Im proud of the progress that we see. Can you make progress and lose? Yeah, but right now its (working out) and theres still plenty of work to do.

But to me (its) so far, so good. Im happy with the way theyre going about their business.

This is a diminished Cubs-Cardinals series, and not just because Lou Piniella isnt staring out across the field at Tony La Russa, his childhood friend from Tampa, Fla.

The day after the Cubs (64-81) were officially eliminated from playoff contention, a Baseball Prospectus simulation that plays the rest of the season a million times gave the Cardinals (74-69) a 1.5 percent chance of winning the National League Central.

And Albert Pujols wasnt in Tuesdays lineup, resting his left elbow after getting a cortisone shot. It didnt matter to Wells, who grew up in downstate Belleville and made his first career start at Busch Stadium in front of 40,509 fans.

This is my team its no secret. This is a great baseball town, Wells said. The people are passionate about their team just like Chicago and until youre drafted or signed by a team its tough to let go of something like that. But it was nice to see family and friends (dressed) in blue and cheering me on.

My grandma told me to take it easy on the Cardinals. I was like, What is that all about?

Wells limited St. Louis to one run on five hits across eight innings, striking out five and walking none. He is now 7-13 with 4.46 ERA in what he admits has been a disappointing second season on the major-league level.

Once viewed as a No. 3 starter at the beginning of the season while Ted Lilly recovered from offseason shoulder surgery, Wells has slid to the back of a rotation that has incorporated Casey Coleman and Jeff Samardzija.

Wells will be pushed, but so will everyone else without a no-trade clause in his contract. Like Quade, he hopes he does his job well enough that the Cubs dont need to look at other options.

There are guys coming up here that can throw just as good as I can or better, Wells said. The key to this whole thing is keeping those guys off your tail and not giving the team a reason or a chance to fill your spot.

Patrick Mooney is CSNChicago.com's Cubs beat writer. Follow Patrick on Twitter @CSNMooney for up-to-the-minute Cubs news and views.

The most underrated storyline of the Cubs offseason

The most underrated storyline of the Cubs offseason

There are plenty of intriguing Cubs storylines to monitor this offseason from their potential pursuit of the big free agents to any other changes that may come to the coaching staff or roster after a disappointing finish to the 2018 campaign.

But there's one question simmering under the radar in Cubs circles when it comes to this winter: How will the team solve the shortstop conundrum?

Just a few years ago, the Cubs had "too many" shortstops. Now, there are several different factors at play here that makes it a convoluted mess.

First: What will the Cubs do with Addison Russell? The embattled shortstop is in the midst of a suspension for domestic violence that will keep him off an MLB diamond for at least the first month of 2019.

Has Russell already played his last game with the Cubs? Will they trade him or send him packing in any other fashion this winter?

Theo Epstein mentioned several times he felt the organization needs to show support to the victim in the matter (Russell's ex-wife, Melisa) but also support for Russell. Does that mean they would keep him a part of the team at least through the early part of 2019?

Either way, Russell's days in Chicago are numbered and his play on the field took another big step back in 2018 as he fought through a hand injury and experienced a major dip in power. With his performance on the field and the off-field issues, it will be hard to justify a contract worth somewhere in the neighborhood of $4 million in his second year of arbitration (prorated, with a month's worth of pay taken out for the suspension).

Even if Russell is on the roster in 2019, Javy Baez is unquestionably the shortstop for at least the first month while Russell is on suspension. 

But what about beyond Baez if the Cubs want to give him a breather or disaster strikes and he's forced to miss time with an injury?

At the moment, there's nothing but question marks on the current Cubs shortstop depth chart throughout the entire organization and they're certainly going to need other options at the most important defensive position (outside of pitcher/catcher). 

There's David Bote, who subbed in for Baez at short once in September when Baez needed a break and Russell was on the disabled list. But while Bote's defense at third base and second base has opened eyes around the Cubs, he has only played 45 games at short across seven minor-league seasons, including 15 games in 2018. There's also the offensive question marks with the rookie, who hit just .176 with a .559 OPS and 40 strikeouts in 108 at-bats after that epic ultimate grand slam on Aug. 12.

The Cubs' other current shortstop options include Mike Freeman (a 31-year-old career minor-leaguer), Ben Zobrist (who will be 38 in 2019 and has played all of 13 innings at shortstop since 2014), Ryan Court (a 30-year-old career minor leaguer) and Chesny Young (a 26-year-old minor-leaguer who has posted a .616 OPS in 201 Triple-A games).

Maybe Joe Maddon would actually deploy Kris Bryant at shortstop in case of emergency like a Baez injury ("necessity is the mother of invention," as Maddon loves to say), but that seems a lot more like a fun talking point than a legit option at this current juncture.

So even if Russell sticks around, there's no way the Cubs can go into the first month of the season with just Baez and Bote as the only shortstop options on a team that with World Series or bust expectations.

The Cubs will need to acquire some shortstop depth this winter in some capacity, whether it's adding to the Triple-A Iowa roster or getting a veteran who can also back up other positions. Right now, the free agent pool of potential shortstops is pretty slim beyond Manny Machado.

Epstein always says he and his front office look to try to mitigate risk and analyze where things could go wrong to sink the Cubs' season and through that lense, shortstop is suddenly right up there behind adding more bullpen help this winter.

Podcast: In light of recent hitting coach turmoil, who’s to blame for Cubs offensive struggles?

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USA TODAY

Podcast: In light of recent hitting coach turmoil, who’s to blame for Cubs offensive struggles?

On the latest Cubs Talk Podcast, David Kaplan, Kelly Crull, Luke Stuckmeyer and Tony Andracki discuss the comments Chili Davis made after being fired as Cubs hitting coach, ask if the Cubs struggles on offense were Davis' fault or the players and what Anthony Iapoce will be walking into as he tries to gets the team back on track a the plate.

 

Listen to the entire podcast here, or in the embedded player below: