Quade goes out with class

After another conversation with Chicago Cubs president of baseball operations Theo Epstein on Tuesday, Mike Quade was hopeful his face-to-face meeting with Epstein in Tampa would have a happy ending.

“We had a really nice lunch at the Capitol Grill in Tampa,” Quade told ESPN Chicago on Wednesday. “Unfortunately, it didn’t quite end the way I was hoping it would.”

Quade was told by Epstein that the team was moving on without him as manager in 2012.

“Very disappointing,” Quade said. “But Theo and [GM] Jed [Hoyer] were first class all the way with me. I really enjoyed our conversations during our meetings. I truly wish them well.”

The promising managing career that began with a 24-13 finish in 2010, ended for Quade with a 71-91 record and fifth-place finish in 2011. His only full season with the Cubs featured more drama in the team's clubhouse than on the baseball field.

The 2011 season will be remembered for the Carlos Silva’s spring training fight, the hassle with Ryan Dempster in July and Zambrano’s August meltdown in Atlanta, all of which overshadowed anything that happened on the field last season.

“I know I can manage in the big leagues and win as a big league manager,” Quade said. “We got a taste of that winning in 2010, but everyone knows the game is about the players, and this year we weren’t deep enough as an organization to survive some of the injuries. I know we played better baseball the last couple of months of the season, but we all know that wasn’t good enough.”

Quade leaves Chicago with a 95-104 record and a lot of friendships that he believes will be lasting.

Truthfully, Quade was dealt an average hand with his 25-man roster in 2011, but he wasn’t really able to do much with it after losing a pair of starting pitchers in the season’s first week. To be blunt, Quade didn’t play the young players at his disposal as much as he should have. It appeared he tried to appease the veterans by giving bench players such as Reed Johnson and Jeff Baker at-bats, instead of some high-upside young talent. In Quade’s opinion some of those young players weren’t ready for the major leagues.

You might not have liked Quade as the Cubs’ manager, but his quality as a person and a baseball man cannot be questioned. He never ducked a hard question, and never once complained about having a bad team or player who couldn’t get it done. What the 53-year-old baseball lifer said about Epstein and Hoyer holds true about Quade as well. He’s first-class all the way.

Quade does leave Chicago with an generous parting gift: a million dollars for the 2012 season.

“I’d give back all that money for another shot at winning this year,” Quade said.