When the Chicago Cubs opted not to retain Mike Quade as the team’s manager after the 2011 season, there was a sense that most of the players within the Cubs’ clubhouse were relieved by the news. However, despite rumors and speculation that Quade had no control over the Cubs’ roster last season, there had yet to be a player from the Cubs’ clubhouse to go against their former manager. Until today. Starting pitcher Matt Garza has been sidelined with an elbow injury since late July, however, he remains in attendance in the Cubs’ clubhouse to show support for not only his teammates but his manager as well.
September 8, 2012; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Chicago Cubs pitcher Matt Garza (22) looks out onto the field during batting practice before the game against the Pittsburgh Pirates at PNC Park. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-US PRESSWIRE
Cubs’ manager Dale Sveum met with 10 veteran players on Saturday to get feedback on the 2012 season, and Garza was one of the players that took part in those discussions. Garza spoke with reporters on Sunday in what could be seen as a ringing endorsement for Sveum while taking some shots at how the Cubs were managed under Quade.
"“I told him we’re on the verge of [100 losses] … and I told him last year we were close to .500 and I hated every day of my life coming in here,” Garza said. “It was miserable [last year]. I said, ‘This year, I enjoy it, and I look forward to coming in here.’ I said, ‘You brought that back, so thank you.’ Last year was a trying year. This year was a different type of mental fight but I can actually enjoy this one.” Muskat Ramblings"
The Cubs finished the 2011 season 20 games under the .500 mark, and the Cubs will in all likelihood lose 100 games this season. The difference between last season and this season is that the Cubs have a purpose. Sveum is operating as the Cubs’ manager with a sense of loyalty and support from the front office. Quade clearly lacked those concepts last season. But, it is interesting to hear Garza say that he hated coming to Cubs’ games last season. That would certainly give truth to the rumors that Garza was not a happy camper last season. Nonetheless, the biggest flaw that Garza saw with Quade was that he treated the players like property instead of players.
"“He’s more open, more sociable with us,” Garza said. “He treats us like players. It’s not like, ‘This is you, this is you’ — he gives you the opportunity to fail. The way he’s handled the situation we’re in right now, it’s tough. It’s tough for him to keep it the same way each day, that’s huge.” Muskat Ramblings"
That was the biggest issue that many had with Quade last season. The fact of the matter is that Quade had no idea how to manage 25 Major League Baseball players. Whether it was his constant public lashings of Starlin Castro or Darwin Barney, or the lack of confidence that players such as Ryan Dempster showed in Quade; the former manager failed in every aspect of managing the Cubs.
This is the area that Sveum has succeeded in this season with the Cubs this season. The biggest example may have been his work with left fielder Alfonso Soriano. Soriano is having a season that is worthy of MVP mention, and his successes could be attributed to the fact that he has been open and willing to work with Sveum and his coaching staff. It was Sveum who suggested that Soriano use a lighter bat in May, and since then, the veteran left fielder has been one of the most productive offensive players in all of baseball. Soriano also indicated that this was the first season in where he received outfield coaching, and that has resulted in Soriano having a defensive season that has placed him in the same sentence as Gold Glove. Not to mention, that Barney and Castro have also responded tremendously to Sveum’s coaching this season.
The Cubs may lose 100 games this season, but for Sveum and the Cubs, it is pairing that should last well into the future.