By Brad Spencer
Mike Quade is a good man. He's truthful, engaging and humorously self-deprecating — "I love being part of selling the Cubs," he told reporters at a press conference announcing his appointment as Cubs manager last week. "I'm not very fond of being part of the selling or marketing of Mike Quade."
Quade is not a character like Lou Piniella, the pear-shaped one with the temper who could stop the heart of a mountain goat with merely a growl. Quade is liked by the players, but the fans won't hold such regard for the shorn-headed one a season from now if he doesn't win. When your team hasn't won a World Series in over 100 years, likeability does not make for longevity as a manager.
Quade is a good coach, but will he infuse life into this dormant ballclub? We won't know the answer to that question until next season, but it sure would keep Quade on his heels if a former Cubs second baseman were there by his side in the dugout. Jim Hendry and Tom Ricketts need to get Ryne Sandberg in the Cubs dugout as a bench coach. It wouldn't be disrespectful to Quade, putting a hall-of-famer in close proximity for the manager to bounce around ideas. Sandberg would be a great resource for Quade, and with Quade's coaching and minor league managing experience he would be a great resource for Sandberg.
Hendry and Ricketts haven't treated Sandberg well following their announcement that Quade would be taking over permanently as manager. The former Cub star told reporters that neither man told him directly that he was welcome back as the Cubs' Triple-A manager. Hendry only mentioned it in an interview with a reporter, who turned around and mentioned it to Sandberg.
So Sandberg now has an inducement to leave and be successful elsewhere. He could become the next Joe Girardi, another former Cub who a few years ago was passed over for the managerial job in the friendly confines. Giving the shaft to these former Cubs players is reminiscent of the way Jerry Reinsdorf and Jerry Krause treated Michael Jordan after his final retirement with the Bulls. The two Jerrys should have done everything possible to make Jordan a lifetime fixture with the organization, even if it meant coddling his Airness with part ownership of the team.
Sandberg should remain tied to the Cubs. Not many former players of his stature have had to spend time coaching in the minors. He's paid his dues. He deserves to be in the dugout. Hendry is being a bit hypocritical in this situation after last January hiring future hall-of-famer Greg Maddux as his own special assistant.
No matter how you look at this recent move, it's going to be a long two years for us Cubs fans. But what's two years to us anymore? It's a diploma from a junior college. It's a stalker's prison term. It's half the time Sandberg has spent as a manager at the minor league level, awaiting his chance to coach the Cubs.