Cubs

Scenes from Wrigley Field: Astros shut out Cubs

254263.jpg

Scenes from Wrigley Field: Astros shut out Cubs

Wednesday, Sept. 8, 2010
11:58 PM

By Patrick Mooney
CSNChicago.com

Mike Quade has been recognized waiting for the L, and people wonder what the Cubs manager is doing taking public transportation. From the night of Aug. 21, when he found out that he would be taking over for Lou Piniella, he vowed to do it his way.

Quade grew up in Mount Prospect, so it figured that he wouldnt be blindsided by all the attention his new job would generate. He knows the city, follows its politics and planned to spend part of Thursdays off day catching up on the coverage of Mayor Richard M. Daleys decision not to run again.

The Cubs (60-80) realize how valuable it can be to get away from the distractions of Wrigley Field. This season Carlos Zambrano made his first bullpen appearance in almost eight years in Milwaukee, returned to the rotation in Houston and apologized to his teammates in Colorado.

Starlin Castro had his big-league debut in Cincinnati. And when Piniella talked about starting Tyler Colvin at first base an idea abandoned for now he promised it would be down the road.

So it was for Quade, who managed his first game in the majors 15 days ago in Washington before 17,921 fans at Nationals Park.

Quades first homestand ended with Wednesdays 4-0 loss to the Houston Astros. The Cubs went 5-4 and won two of three series during that time. The 51st manager in franchise history has been calling it a process and said, So far, so good.

Here are a few snapshots of what goes on around the man standing on the top step of the dugout:

Now that Triple-A Iowas season is over, Ryne Sandberg is free to have his formal interview with general manager Jim Hendry. Sandberg has earned the respect of his players, but theyre simply answering questions from reporters, not lobbying for him to get the job. This weeks September call-ups brought another wave.

Rynos awesome, plain and simple, Brad Snyder said. Every day hes the exact same and you know what youre going to get from him. (He) doesnt say a whole lot, but he gets his point across and we know what he expects out of us and we get the job done for him.

There will be inconsistency. One night the Cubs won a game 14-2 with Zambrano, the player they suspended two months earlier in part because of his perceived selfishness. The next they lost 14-7 behind starter Ryan Dempster, who deferred part of his 2010 salary so the front office could have payroll flexibility and add a piece to the roster. Both games came against the Pittsburgh Pirates, the worst team in baseball.

Wrigley Field isnt just an office, and its not only about baseball. During this homestand alone: its smallest crowd in nearly four years came out for Andre Dawson night; Harry Carays statue was rededicated; Billy Williams statue was unveiled; and board member Todd Ricketts filmed an episode of Undercover Boss, a CBS reality show.

The 33,623 fans said to be there on a 61-degree Wednesday night saw Brett Myers retire the first 14 Cubs and give up only three hits across seven scoreless innings. Myers has accounted for at least six innings in 29 consecutive starts, the longest streak to start a season in the majors since 2002, when Curt Schilling did it through 35 for the Arizona Diamondbacks.

Randy Wells gave himself mixed reviews after allowing four runs in six innings. Quade indicated that there are no immediate plans to move Wells to the bullpen so the organization can take a look at some other potential starters.

If anything, Quade said, We might end up with a six- or seven-man rotation.

If given the choice of ending the season now and starting over again with 2011 spring training, Wells (6-13, 4.61) wouldnt take it.

You got to try to finish on some kind of positive note, he said. The four days between starts are the worst for me right now. No matter what happens out on the mound or the outcome of the game by far the worst part about it is sitting there waiting. So Im anxious to get the ball again.

Some of the same people that are evaluating Wells are studying Quade, who survived his first homestand as manager surrounded by family, and almost everyone speculating about his future.

(Im) more relaxed, Quade said. Im more comfortable in my surroundings here at home, thats for sure.

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

Nationals 'love' Kris Bryant but potential holdup could stymie trade talks

Nationals 'love' Kris Bryant but potential holdup could stymie trade talks

With Anthony Rendon officially joining the Angels, the Nationals have a vacancy at third base.

Washington has options to replace Rendon; Josh Donaldson is still available in free agency, and Cubs third baseman Kris Bryant could potentially be had via trade.

The Nationals have reportedly inquired with the Cubs about Bryant, and while they “love” the 27-year-old, their focus is on Donaldson, according to MLB Network’s Jon Heyman. The Cubs would likely seek center fielder Victor Robles in a deal, a holdup on Washington's end, Heyman said.

From the Cubs perspective, it would make all the sense in the world to ask for Robles. He’s 22 years old, plays excellent defense (22 DRS in 2019, No. 1 in MLB by center fielders) and is only scratching the surface as a big-leaguer. Robles is projected to be a star, but Bryant already is one. If the Nationals want Bryant badly enough, they’ll have to sacrifice talent in a deal.

On the other hand, it’s easy to understand why Washington would be unwilling to trade Robles, who's under team control through 2024. Bryant will hit free agency after 2021, but if he wins his ongoing grievance case, he'll hit the open market after next season.

Nonetheless, if the Nationals do engage in Bryant trade talks, you can bet the Cubs will at least ask for Robles in return. A trade could be worked out without him, but for a Cubs team searching better center field production, you've got to wonder who could be more enticing than Robles.

Click here to download the new MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams Cubs games easily on your device.

Willson Contreras and his boundless energy join Cubs All-Decade Team

Willson Contreras and his boundless energy join Cubs All-Decade Team

With the 2010s coming to a close, NBC Sports Chicago is unveiling its Cubs All-Decade Team, highlighting the players who made the biggest impacts on the organization from 2010-19.

It didn’t take long for Willson Contreras to introduce himself to Major League Baseball. On the first pitch he saw as a big-leaguer, the Cubs catcher cranked a two-run home run to center field — on Sunday Night Baseball, nonetheless.

That moment was a sign of things to come for Contreras, who has since established himself as one of the best catchers in baseball. The 27-year-old holds a career .267/.350/.470 line with a 117 wRC+ and 67 home runs in four seasons. He’s started back-to-back All-Star Games, the first Cubs catcher to do so since Gabby Hartnett (1937-38).

Contreras offers so much to the Cubs besides his bat. His cannon of an arm and athleticism behind the plate are integral to the Cubs controlling opposing run games. His pitch framing is a work in progress, and admittedly, he could improve in this area by throwing behind runners less, ensuring he gets strikes called.

However, back-picking is part of Contreras’ value. He may lose some strike calls by not sticking a frame, but there've been plenty of occasions where Contreras' arm has provided the Cubs with a spark. His boundless energy is unmeasurable, but its importance to the Cubs — who feed off of it — cannot be overstated.

There are areas where Contreras can improve, and that's a scary thought. But he's already is one of the best backstops in baseball and has earned the starting catcher spot on our Cubs All-Decade Team.

Also considered: Welington Castillo, Miguel Montero, David Ross, Geovany Soto