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updated: 10/19/2010 5:59 PM

No Girardi? Then Quade a fine choice

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Mike Quade was given the job Tuesday, but it doesn't really matter who the Cubs new full-time manager is.

Unless it was Joe Girardi, of course.

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"Our time frame was what it was, Cubs' general manager Jim Hendry said, apparently in reference to Girardi still managing the Yankees in the playoffs.

What exactly does that mean, anyway? Were Hendry and club chairman Tom Ricketts unwilling to wait for Girardi? Did they learn through back channels that he wouldn't leave the Yankees? Didn't they want him regardless? What's the deal?

"Joe Girardi is an outstanding manager, Hendry said. "Joe has a great job, a terrific job, but at the end of the day Mike Quade is our guy.

It sure seems irresponsible if the Cubs didn't wait for Girardi if there was at least a 10 percent chance he would abandon the Bronx.

Anyway, Quade is a decent alternative. That's not to say he was the best available candidate among the rest, but he probably is the Cubs' best fit.

That includes when compared to Ryne Sandberg, perhaps especially when compared to Ryne Sandberg.

Quade is a career grunt who managed in the minor leagues for 17 seasons and 2,378 games. Sandberg was a career Hall of Fame second baseman for the Cubs who managed in the minors for four seasons.

However, length of service as a manager isn't Quade's biggest edge over Sandberg. Nor are his previous four seasons as a Cubs coach under Lou Piniella.

The biggest difference between Quade and Sandberg is that since 1985 Quade has navigated his way through several organizations, including as a major-league coach with the A's and Cubs and as a minor-league manager with the Expos and Phillies.

Quade saw how other organizations conduct business, some successfully and some less than successfully.

Meanwhile, Sandberg has been with only the Cubs since they acquired him from Philadelphia as a prospect in 1982.

During that time the Cubs haven't exactly been a model franchise. If anything it could be said that a player/coach/manager/whatever is poisoned by them if they represent his only experience.

Sandberg did play under a slew of managers and a few general managers, all of who operated somewhat differently. However, they always fell short of ending the Cubs' championship drought.

Sandberg was either too loyal or too content to demand a trade or leave through free agency, but that meant he missed out on playing in a World Series.

In a convoluted way the Cubs did Sandberg a favor Tuesday by freeing him to work in some capacity with another franchise and see how the other half lives.

From there Sandberg can witness what Quade did the past quarter-century the right way, the wrong way and all other ways to run a baseball team.

Quade's contract to manage the Cubs is for two seasons with an option for a third, not exactly a long-term commitment even if his bosses insist this is a long-term hire.

The new manager won't work out if the Cubs don't give him more talent to work with. If Sandberg is willing to pay some more dues elsewhere, heck, he might be the right guy for the Cubs next time.

That's if Joe Girardi either is a bust in New York or still doesn't want to make himself available here.

mimrem@dailyherald.com

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