Cubs manager Mike Quade was fired yesterday in the first major move by Theo Epstein since becoming the team’s president of baseball operations.
Epstein, who was introduced in his new position last week, said Quade would not return after traveling to Florida to tell him in person. He called Quade an “outstanding baseball guy’’ but it was time for a change.
Quade got the job after a 37-game audition at the end of the 2010 season, replacing Lou Piniella on an interim basis. The Cubs went 24-13 and he was chosen over Hall of Famer Ryne Sandberg for the job last season.
The Cubs went out and stumbled through another disappointing year, finishing fifth in the NL Central with a 71-91 record that extended their infamous World Series championship drought to 103 years.
Epstein, the former Red Sox general manager, and new Cubs GM Jed Hoyer had a long meeting with Quade last week. Epstein had another lengthy conversation with him after a news conference Tuesday to introduce Hoyer and new scouting director Jason McLeod.
“While Mike is clearly an asset to any organization and any major league staff, Jed and I believe that the Cubs would benefit long-term from bringing in a manager for 2012 who can come in with a clean slate and offer new direction,’’ Epstein said.
Epstein spoke with Sandberg yesterday to let him know that he wasn’t in the Cubs’ plans.
Sandberg, who managed in Chicago’s minor league system and left the organization after Quade was chosen to replace Piniella, does not have major league managerial or coaching experience. He managed Philadelphia’s Triple A team last season. Another potential candidate in Chicago could be Tampa Rays bench coach Dave Martinez, who once played for the Cubs.
The process of finding a new owner for the Dodgers began when current boss Frank McCourt and Major League Baseball released a joint statement saying they had agreed to a court-supervised sale of the once-glamorous and now bankrupt franchise.
In the long term, the deal will allow the Dodgers to move ahead and try to get back to baseball’s elite. But the club’s fans may well have to endure another season adrift as the sale works itself out.
While the sides hope for a quick deal, giving McCourt the money to pay his divorce settlement by April, MLB sales sometimes drag on for six months to 1 1/2 years. Once bidders are identified, the court is likely to conduct an auction.
The price likely will break the record for a baseball franchise, topping the $845 million paid for the Cubs in 2009.
Investors will be solicited by the Blackstone Group, McCourt’s investment banker. Mavericks co-owner Mark Cuban and Penguins co-owner Ron Burkle, who lives in California, have been mentioned as possibilities. Asian investors have made inquiries.
Former agent Dennis Gilbert, a friend of White Sox chairman Jerry Reinsdorf, hopes to put together a group. Former Dodgers Steve Garvey and Orel Hershiser have said they might be interested, as has former general manager Fred Claire.
Red Sox chairman Tom Werner - a former Padres owner - lives in southern California. Asked whether he had interest, Werner responded in an e-mail: “No, but thanks for asking.’’
Francona to St. Louis?
The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported that former Sox manager Terry Francona is a candidate to replace retired Tony La Russa in St. Louis. Francona has also been mentioned as a potential manager for the Cubs. Other Cardinals candidates, the newspaper reported, are Sandberg, Cardinals third base coach Jose Oquendo, Triple-A Memphis manager Chris Maloney, former Cardinals catcher Mike Matheny, and White Sox coach Joe McEwing. The Cardinals will start interviews today and hope to have a hire within 10 days.
Testing is urged
Two House Democrats are urging Major League Baseball and the players union to implement testing for human growth hormone and ban chewing tobacco by players in uniform and in public view.
Representatives Henry Waxman of California and Frank Pallone of New Jersey made those requests in a letter to commissioner Bud Selig and Michael Weiner, executive director of the players union.
It’s the latest in a series of salvos from Capitol Hill on tobacco and HGH, although recent congressional attention on HGH has focused on the NFL.
Statue for Pujols
With hundreds of fans in St. Louis cheering and many urging him to stay, free agent Albert Pujols watched the unveiling of a 10-foot statue of himself and then said he wasn’t yet sure where he would wind up next season after helping the Cardinals to the World Series title last month . . . Infielder John McDonald agreed to terms on a two-year, $3 million contract to stay with the Diamondbacks. McDonald, 37, played 19 games for Arizona after arriving in a deadline trade from Toronto . . . Infielders Andres Blanco and Esteban German were among five players the Rangers outrighted off their 40-man roster after each cleared waivers. Pitcher Darren O’Day was claimed on waivers by the Orioles . . . Ex-Twins star Tom Brunansky was named the hitting coach for Minnesota’s Triple A affiliate in Rochester.