Cubs general manager Jim Hendry had a quick answer when asked why he stuck with Mike Quade as manager of the ballclub.
“Mike Quade earned the job," Hendry said Tuesday after reintroducing Quade to Chicago.
The Cubs may have surprised some people, but Hendry and the Ricketts family, which owns the team, seemed firmly convinced the right guy will lead the Cubs on the field.
Quade, 53, and the Cubs agreed to a two-year deal with a club option for 2013 to allow this Chicago-area native to finish the job he started so well in the final weeks of the 2010 season.
According to Hendry, it wasn't just the 24-13 record Quade led the Cubs to after he took over from Lou Piniella in August, when Piniella resigned to take care of his elderly mother.
“The record is nice, Hendry said. “And winning never hurts you. But it's what he did behind the scenes and the way he ran the game and the way he handled the players, the way he controlled a lot of issues that could have snowballed … I don't think that anybody here didn't write that at 5-20 before Mike took over that we were an abysmal Triple-A club playing it out and that we'd probably lose 100 games.
“The record was not just the winning and losing. All the things that he did really made the record.
What Quade did was take a lifeless-looking club and get it to play inspired-looking baseball down the stretch, finishing 75-87 when it was on pace to lose 96 games in August.
In doing so, he beat out a field of candidates that included as finalists Cubs Hall of Famer Ryne Sandberg and former major-league manager Eric Wedge.
Hendry said he came to his final decision Friday after he and owner Tom Ricketts interviewed all three finalists at least twice.
Quade is an Evanston native who graduated from Prospect High School in Mount Prospect in 1975 (he was wearing a tie Tuesday that featured Prospect colors). He has 17 years of managerial experience in the minor leagues, and he served as the Cubs' third-base coach under Piniella since 2007.
“No. 1, we wanted a manager who wanted to be a coach, Ricketts said. “Anyone who has seen Mike on the field working with the younger guys and know his history knows that Mike is just that.
“Secondly, we wanted a manager who knows what it's like to be a Cub. Mike grew up in the area. He grew up as a Cubs fan. He's been with the organization for eight years.
“The third thing we were looking for was someone who is committed to the organization for the long haul. Mike has proved that he's got a focus on winning today and to building our organization for the future and over the long run.
Quade got a huge vote of confidence from veteran pitcher Ryan Dempster, who attended Tuesday's festivities.
“I was telling Jim I don't understand, and it's not a knock on anybody who had their name in … it's a great thing that it was given to somebody who took advantage of the opportunity, said Dempster, a frequent booster of Quade.
“On Oct. 19, he's been the second-best manager since he took over, and he hasn't even had a chance to go through spring training and just do what he wants to do with this team.
“That's the one thing I noticed about ‘Q' that really stood out, that he was in on every single pitch. He was in on everything. He gave great respect to the veteran guys. He gave some young guys opportunities. I think he helped a lot of young guys even in ways that might not show up in a box score.
“What bad happened for the Chicago Cubs today? Nothing. Something great happened for a great man and a great manager.
Quade was as polished before the media Tuesday as he was all season, but he made a point of thanking all those involved in helping him secure his first big-league managing job long term.
“I got an opportunity with six weeks to go that Jim was good enough to give me, he said. “I'm so thankful for that. He gave me an opportunity, I think, to do what I always believed I could do but to prove to myself and maybe to them that I could do it, as well.
“Without that, I don't know where we're sitting today. But I was treated so well in the process.Copyright © 2013 Paddock Publications, Inc. All rights reserved.