A couple days ago, I focused on what the Cubs were doing to their pitchers and whether they were responsible for the Ibsen-unfathomable amount of injuries to the staff. Today, let's take that and add on to it some other things that may lead one to believe that Mike Quade may be in over his head as a Major League manager.
I don't like to take one particular move and use that as the basis for an argument. It's one plankton in an entire sea of a season. But last night's failure to predict or deal with an obvious suicide squeeze by the Nationals left me in an infuriated state that only mob bosses seem to get to. On the first two pitches of the at-bat to Wilson Ramos, either he or Michael Morse (runner at 3rd) biffed a squeeze sign. On the first pitch, Morse broke for home but Ramos swung away, assuredly causing Morse's life to flash before his eyes. On the second pitch, Ramos squared around but Morse didn't break for home. That's two attempts on two consecutive pitches, leading one to believe pretty heavily that the Nationals were intent on trying this.
So, with the count 1-1, it would seem the perfect time to try a pitchout. If they weren't trying it again, all you've lost is a ball, the count would be 2-1, and Ramos should still be overmatched against Kerry Wood (assuming Wood could find the right zipcode with his pitches, which hasn't been a guarantee). Moreover, Quade said he was waiting for 2-1 count, which just happens to be the most obvious time to run a squeeze. The guy in the other dugout, Davey Johnson, has only been managing baseball since Visigoths were still alive, so it might dawn on one that he's not going to do the obvious thing. But no, there were the Cubs caught cold, and yet another game went down the drain, following the rest of the ever growing army of losses in their march to oblivion.
Obviously, no manager should be fired over one move. But it follows a pattern. Quade has been caught napping with his bullpen numerous times. There was Randy Wells against the Sox. Even though he was cruising, he hadn't been to the 7th inning all season and someone should have been ready in case the collapse arrived, which it promptly did with a thud to set off car alarms. Another solider down. When he hasn't been doing that, he's been burning arms here and there -- Jeff Stevens and Marcos Mateo can't shake your hand right now.
To top that, the Cubs lead the league in walks and errors. And the Cubs shouldn't in either. They have enough strike throwers, and defensively they really should only be considered sub par in left field and third base. Watch any game, and notice how many times you see the Cubs miss a cutoff man, allowing a runner an extra base. These are basic fundamentals that are being biffed. Moreover, he's being walked over by the veterans. Alfonso Soriano and Aramis Ramirez have waltzed through games, with a smile on their face. Carlos Zambrano is still a nutbar who won't drink water.
I liked the hiring of Quade. And admittedly, there's only so much he can do with this collection of the silly and stupid. I thought he'd earned the job last year and through decades of paying his dues. I thought he would treat the job like the dream it was and do it his way. I loved the way he handled the Carlos Silva blimp-crash. But too often it seems that Quade wants the veterans to be his friend instead of their boss. The Cubs still mess up too many things that a team shouldn't. Too many decisions just don't make any sense. And the summer gets shorter.
Sam Fels is the proprietor of The Committed Indian, an unofficial program for the Blackhawks. You may have seen him hocking the magazine outside the United Center at Gate 3. The program is also available for purchase online. Fels is a lifelong 'Hawks fan and he also writes for Second City Hockey .