Online Staff Report
Fewer than two weeks after assuming the role of president of baseball operations for the Chicago Cubs, Theo Epstein has announced Mike Quade will not return as Cubs manager in 2012.
According to a Chicago Tribune report, Epstein flew to Florida Nov. 2 to notify Quade he would not be with the team next season. Quade had one year remaining on a two-year contract.
Epstein ended any speculation that former Hall of Fame Chicago Cubs second baseman Ryne Sandberg might replace Quade in the dugout. According to the Chicago Tribune, Epstein said in a statement that the next Cubs manager “must have managerial or coaching experience at the major league level.” Sandberg has no experience as a major league manager or coach.
The Chicago Tribune also reported that “Epstein’s statement said his next manager must have ‘leadership and communication skills; he must place an emphasis on preparation and accountability; he must establish high standards and a winning culture; he must have integrity and an open mind.’”
Some have speculated former Boston Red Sox Manager Terry Francona might be on Epstein’s list to be the Cubs’ next manager. Epstein hired Francona to manage the Red Sox in 2004. Boston won the World Series in 2004 and 2007 under Epstein and Francona. The 2004 championship ended an 86-year World Series drought for the Red Sox. At 103 years, the Chicago Cubs currently have the longest World Series drought.
Both Francona and Epstein resigned from their positions with the Red Sox following a colossal collapse at the end of the 2011 season in which the team won seven of 27 games and finished one game out of the playoffs.
Quade, 54, was 95-104 (.477) in his one-plus seasons as Cubs manager. The Cubs had their second-consecutive losing season in 2011, finishing 71-91, fifth in the National League Central.
In their first full season under Quade, the Cubs had the third-worst team ERA (4.67), the most fielding errors (134), the second-fewest bases on balls (425) and the second-fewest stolen bases (69) in the National League in 2011.
Providing a glimmer of hope for the future, 21-year-old shortstop Starlin Castro batted .307 with 10 homeruns, 91 runs and 22 stolen bases. Yet, Castro did commit 29 fielding errors.
The Cubs are likely to let veteran third baseman Aramis Ramirez go during free agency, creating an opening at third base. The team is also reportedly interested in pursuing two of the biggest names in free agency — Milwaukee first baseman Prince Fielder and St. Louist first baseman Albert Pujols.