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updated: 10/20/2010 12:00 AM

Cubs' Hendry not going anywhere

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There was so much talk about Mike Quade and Ryne Sandberg on Tuesday that the story of the day was buried under an avalanche of misdirection.

We knew Quade had the job a month ago, so the big news was really that GM Jim Hendry will be sticking around a few more years.

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No, there was no announcement, but it happened when Hendry pulled off the improbable and secured for Quade a two-year deal with an option for a third year. And of all the contracts Hendry has manufactured, this is as remarkable as any of them.

Go back to when Tom Ricketts took over the club, when he had every right to blow it up and start over but chose to give Hendry another chance.

He had another opportunity to restart the engine when Lou Piniella left, but Ricketts said Hendry would be back for another winter with a chance to fix the club and hire a new manager.

So one of the reasons Quade made so much sense was that with zero leverage he would have taken the job on a one-year contract (with a team option). And if next year were a disaster, he and Hendry would get whacked, and the next GM wouldn't inherit a manager.

But the fact that Quade got two years (plus a team option) is a virtual guarantee that Hendry will be here for two more years, at least until Hendry's contract expires after the 2012 season.

And that is a shocking development.

There is simply no way Ricketts is going to guarantee a manager two years now and then fire his GM at the end of next season, forcing a new GM to work with Quade for a season.

Why unnecessarily eat a year of Quade's contract when Ricketts didn't have to give him that extra year in the first place?

That's not going to happen, not when Ricketts already has passed on two chances to fire Hendry.

This is really a brilliant move on Hendry's part, convincing Ricketts that Quade ought to get two years, because whether or not you like Hendry, get used to him being here.

And once again you wonder just what the Ricketts family is all about.

Their ownership has been rather unimpressive thus far, from the strange beginning to the bad season to the status quo with Crane Kenney. One gets the feeling that if Lou Piniella had another year left on his deal, he'd be back in 2011 as well.

In keeping Hendry, they entrusted him with this so-called manager search, which was not a search at all. It was a put-up job.

Mike Quade basically won the job by the middle of September, the baseball people had settled on him by the end of the season, and the rest was for show.

Ryne Sandberg never had a chance, as was the prediction here for two years. This management team had zero interest in him, and so now he'll look for work elsewhere.

As unpopular as it might be, however, Hendry was smart to pick a guy he wants, not someone he thinks the owner wants or fans desire. That would have been a formula for disaster, as Sandberg and Hendry couldn't possibly be more different.

But the funniest part Tuesday at the news conference was when Tom Ricketts described needing a manager who wanted to coach, someone who knew what it meant to be a Cub, and someone committed to the organization long term.

Let's see, great teacher, lifelong Cub and wants to be here forever?

Are they so vapid as to not understand they were describing everything about Sandberg without actually mentioning his name?

That's classic Cubs for you right there.

Hey, you want Mike Quade? Fine. I think he's a solid choice. But that argument was just plain stupid.

Nevertheless, this was all supposed to be done by last week, and yet the Ricketts family got involved and slowed everything down.

The entire family was in on the process and instead of an announcement late last week, the process dragged through the weekend, before Hendry was given the OK.

It's just odd. He's either the GM or he isn't. You either trust him or you don't, and Quade was his man from start to finish.

As for the choice itself, Quade did a fine job this past season and will do a fine job in the future. Guys I've known in the game 20 years, guys who have known Quade for 20 years, think the world of him.

Most people you run across in life are all about self-promotion, and here's a man who couldn't stomach the thought, insisting that his actions speak for him and if he were good enough, someone would find him someday.

How can you not love that?

He's a solid baseball man who's great with the kids, works well with management, and handles the media with ease.

Let's hope in the future, now that he's got contract security, he's as good with lazy veterans as he has been in the past with eager youngsters.

All other Cubs idiocy aside, there's nothing not to like about Quade, who has earned this chance.

But all in all, from Piniella retiring to the Quade hiring, it's yet another odd chapter in Cubs baseball.

And, of course, we would expect nothing less.

brozner@dailyherald.com

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