Cubs' Quade handles himself nicely at winter meetings

ORLANDO, Fla. -- There was a symbolic passing of the torch Tuesday at the baseball winter meetings.

Doing the passing were retired managers Lou Piniella, Joe Torre, Cito Gaston and Bobby Cox, all of whom were honored by Commissioner Bud Selig during a special panel discussion. Cox had to leave the meetings before the program, but he was recognized all the same.

Among those doing the receiving was new Cubs manager Mike Quade, who held court, and did so flawlessly, with the media a little later in the day.

Torre, for one, seemed happy a new generation was taking over.

“I was telling Lou earlier, when you look out over the faces and you're having meetings, you realize somebody younger should be doing this stuff,” Torre said.

The 53-year-old Quade seemed flattered to be called “younger.”

“I'm too old to change my style,” Quade said in response to one question. “Everybody says you're a young manager. Is that nice?”

Whatever, Quade paid tribute to the man who preceded him at the top step of the Cubs dugout after being in the audience for the panel discussion.

“You can't be a young manager and not look up there and go, ‘I hope I can accomplish a half or a quarter of what that group (of managers) did,'” he said. “What a great group of people. Then, obviously having worked with one of those guys for four years was huge, too.

“I've said it before: If Lou doesn't bring me on his staff and he doesn't have to then who knows where I'm at now? I'm fairly certain I would have been a long shot sitting here, even a longer shot than most of you guys thought it was anyway.”

Quade seemed to do everything right after taking over for Piniella, going 24-13 with a team that had all but given up. He also earned the respect of rookies and veterans alike.

In the end, there wasn't anything this local boy from Prospect High School didn't do right, and he got to keep the job over fan favorite Ryne Sandberg.

Another thing Quade did right during the final six weeks of the season was handle the media deftly. He did so again Tuesday, fielding questions from not only the locals, but from various national media members.

Here is how Quade answered a few questions during his grilling.

Ÿ On whether he expects the Cubs to win the division: “I expect to win every game every day and make an adjustment afterwards. That's the God's honest truth. I'm fairly certain we are not going to go 162-0, but I really do (want to win every day). I don't know how else to approach a season or a ballclub without thinking, ‘Let's find a way to get that done.' And then react as you go along and see what happens.”

Ÿ On the expectations of the fans: “My expectations are normally higher than the fans. Now, the reaction to those expectations might be a better question, how you deal with that.

“When I was coaching third (base), you get criticized. You send somebody, they get thrown out, bad decision, but nobody was ever more critical of Mike Quade than Mike Quade. So I go in with high expectations. And realistically, make adjustments if necessary along the way. Having lived there and having the Chicago experience most of my life, I understand the angst. But I have to stay focused on getting the most out of my club every day, and that's a daily task in itself.”

Ÿ On having to prove himself more because Sandberg didn't get the job: “No. And I don't blame them (the fans), and I get it. It's a heck of a deal when you have a guy that meant so much to that city.

“I learned a lot about myself those last six weeks, and that was as important as anything. The record was great and the kids did a super job and all the rest of it, but I needed to find out in my own mind. I believed I could do it, but I learned a lot. And now I just need to keep proving to myself that this is an important situation and I'm going to do the best I can.”

Time to wheel and deal? Time will tell

Hendry has no doubt: quick turnaround possible