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Mike Quade, New Cubs Manager: Who Is He?

One of the things we can say for sure about Mike Quade is that he has done his job as third-base coach for the Cubs since 2007 very well.

How do we know this? Because it's an infrequent event when Quade is criticized for sending or holding a runner at third base -- unlike his predecessor, "Wavin' Wendell" Kim, whose aggressive coaching style under his buddy Dusty Baker often sent Cubs runners to their doom at home plate.

Quade, on the other hand, has been one of the quieter members of Lou Piniella's coaching staff, so it was something of a surprise when he was named interim manager for the last 37 games of 2010 upon Lou's retirement. As I wrote yesterday -- and this is nothing but speculation on my part -- the job may have been offered to bench coach Alan Trammell first. Trammell was told he wouldn't be considered for the fulltime position next year, so he may have turned down the part-time gig, leaving Quade as next in line.

Quade, though, was considered for the Cubs job four years ago after four successful seasons managing at Triple-A Iowa -- the same job now held by Ryne Sandberg, who is seen as a strong candidate (and my personal choice) for the position starting next spring.

So who is Quade? What will he be like for the season's final six weeks? And does he really have a chance to manage the Cubs for more than that time? For Quade's part, he's going to take it, as we all do, one day at a time: "If it’s something you want to at this level, whether here or somewhere else, you’d like to think it’s some kind of a boost. It’s something that I’m excited about. If I started thanking people, it would be like a bad Academy Awards speech or something."

Mike Quade is a Chicago-area native who graduated from Prospect High in Mt. Prospect in 1975. Including interim managers and the members of the infamous College of Coaches, he will become the 57th manager in Cubs history. He is the first Chicago native to manage the Cubs since Bob Kennedy had the helm from 1963-65. He will become the fourth manager in major league history whose name begins with the letter "Q": Joe Quinn managed the well-known Cleveland Spiders to most of their horrific record in 1899; Frank Quilici managed the Minnesota Twins for four years in the 1970s, and Mel Queen was interim manager of the Toronto Blue Jays for five games in 1997.

For me personally, this is a major landmark. Mike Quade is the first man to manage the Cubs who is younger than I am (about a year younger).

Is Quade a genuine candidate for the job in 2011 and beyond, or was Jim Hendry just giving lip service? It's really hard to tell. Hendry has, with players, often given them some major league opportunities without really intending to give them a larger role with the Cubs; some of these players have gone on to more playing time for other teams. This could be the case with Quade; he might, with a month and a half of major league managing experience, have a nice credential to show the many teams that will have managing jobs open this offseason. Or, if Ryne Sandberg is indeed the choice, Quade could wind up as his bench coach. Before Quade came to the Cubs organization in 2003, he managed for 15 seasons in the Oakland Athletics organization at all levels, and was their first base coach from 2000-2002 -- all of which were playoff seasons for the A's, and in two of them Oakland won 100 or more games.

What are we likely to see from Quade that's different from Lou Piniella? Not much for the next six weeks, because Quade's got the same roster that Lou leaves behind. Perhaps there will be a minor lineup shakeup or two; perhaps the reflexive yanking of a relief pitcher after one batter or one inning might cease; perhaps Welington Castillo or another young catcher will get playing time in September, and it seems certain that Tyler Colvin will play some first base (he is expected to, at least, during the series beginning tonight in Washington). He's much more glib and active than Lou -- so the postgame news conferences may wind up being more (and, in a strange way, less) quotable.

With Quade's promotion, first base coach Ivan DeJesus will shift to third base duties. Bruce Miles reports that one of the minor league roving instructors will likely take DeJesus' place at 1B. The roving instructors are: Dave Bialas, Bob Dernier, Franklin Font, Dave Keller, Marty Pevey and Mark Riggins.

I'll end this with some more pure speculation on my part: it'll be Dernier. And if it is, that might be a sign that next year's manager will be Ryne Sandberg.