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.

Steven Souza's healthy and ready to prove himself to Cubs fans and baseball in general

Steven Souza's healthy and ready to prove himself to Cubs fans and baseball in general

MESA, Ariz. –  Two years ago, things were looking bright for Steven Souza. At 28, he was coming off the best season of his career, one where he slashed .239/.351/.459 with 30 home runs, good for a 121 wRC+. The Rays are certainly never prohibitive favorites in the AL East, but the team was talented and the idea of catching up with the division’s juggernauts was no longer unrealistic. 

Then came the shoulder injury, which delayed the start of his 2018 season until mid-May. After that there was a pec injury, and before he knew it, the year was over and the right fielder had only played in 72 games. Think that’s bad? The following season, now playing for Arizona, Souza slipped while crossing home plate during one of the last games of Spring Training. He tore his ACL, and his season ended before it began. 

“It’s been a grind,” said Souza, who signed a one-year deal with the Cubs in late January. “Coming off the year I had in ‘17, I was excited for the future held for me, and I just kind of ran into a couple injuries that really derailed my last couple seasons. It’s been frustrating, but all that’s behind me, and even though it’s been a grind, I’m excited to get back out here and look forward to the future.” 

Freak injuries derailed what looked to be a promising prime of Souza’s career, and you wouldn’t blame him for harboring his fair share of resentment. It’s impressive, then, to hear him talk about what lasting effect the run of injuries has had on his psyche. 

“Personally, I don’t believe in accidents,” he said. “I believe everything happens for a reason. I don’t know what that reason was, but I know that I’m stronger for it. Mentally, I think if there’s a silver lining, it’s that I got to spend a full year with my son and my newborn daughter. As we all know, in this game, we don’t get to spend a lot of time with our families. So it was a huge blessing and I’m looking forward to moving on from that.” 

Unlike the years he spent playing alongside All-Star center fielders like Kevin Kiermaier and A.J. Pollock, Souza’s outfield positioning will be less set in stone with the Cubs. He’ll get ABs from the corners, but with Schwarber and Heyward not losing their starting positions anytime soon, the quickest road to more at-bats may come in center field. 

"Like I said, wherever I need to fit on the field,” he said. “Whether it’s first base, catcher, shortstop – I mean I’m not very good at those, and there are some really, really good players that are way better than me at those – but I’m just looking to help this team any way I can.” 

Not unlike new teammate Jason Kipnis, the draw of Wrigley was also too much to turn down. He has some moderate success there, too. Over 23 career plate appearances in the Friendly Confines, Souza’s hit .333/.391/.429 with an .820 OPS. It’s a small sample size, but it’s one that has him optimistic that he can prove himself the the North Side’s faithful. 

“I’ll tell you what, that was one of the things that brought me here, the fans and the environment. I’m super pumped,” he said. “And no offense, but I’ve played in Tampa and Arizona and those aren’t the greatest markets in the league. I’ve always enjoyed going to Wrigley, and I’ve had some good success at Wrigley, and I know the Cubs fans bring it every day and I’m looking forward to that.” 

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Can Cubs keep Báez and Bryant? Tom Ricketts says that's 'on Theo and Jed'

Can Cubs keep Báez and Bryant? Tom Ricketts says that's 'on Theo and Jed'

It's a pretty simple question with a pretty simple answer. Can the Cubs, one of baseball's wealthiest organizations, afford to keep both Kris Bryand and Javy Baez? Is there room in the infamous budget to make both of the team's homegrown stars Cubs for life?

“There’s certainly money out there. It’s a very, very profitable game," Bryant said, in regards to keep the core together. "It’s just a matter of if they want to. I don’t know, I really don’t. But it would certainly be cool.”

“It’s up to them,” Báez added. “I hope we both stay here. Obviously, we want to keep everyone here because we pretty much have the team that we want." 

Then, on Monday, "they" – being Cubs' owner Tom Ricketts – finally talked. So, Tom? You sign their checks, what do you think?

"Well, where we place our resources is a baseball decision," Ricketts said. "That’s Jed and Theo. But I mean, ultimately, we have to look at it from a bigger perspective."

It's been a week since Theo Epstein, David Ross and Jed Hoyer (he was there too!) addressed the media for the first time this spring, and no one seems to be able to get a straight answer on the team's most-pressing long-term concern. It's almost certainly by design, as the Cubs are adamant that speaking on finances publicly creates some sort of competitive disadvantage when it comes to negotiating with players and agents. KB and Báez say it's up to ownership, ownership says it's up to the front office (?) and the front office isn't going to speculate. Terrific! If you're to believe the rumor mill, the team seems marginally closer to an extension with Báez than they are with Bryant, and are maybe – according to some – more focused on moving the latter.

Epstein said Bryant was given no assurances about what the time between now and Opening Day holds, and regardless of Bryant's wishes to be in the loop, Ricketts also doesn't feel that an explicit guarantee is totally necessary. 

"I imagine there’s communication between Theo and Kris at some point," Ricketts said. "I think they met yesterday. But a lot of the stuff, what – do you communicate to say that the stuff you saw is a rumor? I mean, I don’t know. Like I said, we love KB. I think he’s ready to go and a full season of a healthy Kris Bryant is something we could really use." 

Put aside for a moment the fact that, yeah, that's exactly what you'd communicate. Compare the apparent transparency of an owner who said that the CBT "won’t define the situation" and "won’t determine the actual player moves" vs. what he said when pressed about all of the offseason turbulence surrounding Bryant and the Cubs. 

"Well obviously we love KB, he’s a great player and he’s a great teammate," he said. "He’s just a great part of the team. Most of the things that are out there are just rumors and noise. A lot of it is just not true. But with respect to all player decisions, if anything was going down that path, it’d obviously be a baseball decision."

Most of the things out there are just rumors and noise. A lot of it is not true. Can the Cubs' afford to keep Bryant and Báez? Yes. Will the Cubs' make that choice? 

"Once again, that’s in Theo’s camp. That’s his decision," Ricketts said. "We’d have to take a look at what that means for us all financially." 

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