This week's Ask Paul addresses the managerial search, Ramirez's defense, Nady's future and whether Ask Paul is playing out the string.
What's all this about hiring Ryno? The guy has no big league experience. Wouldn't it be better to hire Joe Girardi, Joe Torre or Bob Brenly, as all are former catchers that know the game and have rings to show? Wouldn't it be better to bring Sandberg in as a bench coach so he can learn? It's been a 103 years. Don't they need experience? -- Hal Danielson, Bailey, Colo.
That's the big question, of course. Do you need someone with major league experience to manage the Cubs? Or, if you're going to develop more kids, would it make sense to do it with a guy who has managed them in the system? There is no correct answer. It's up to Hendry and Ricketts to decide which way they'll go.
Aren't the Cubs screwing up again by making the rest of the season a job interview for Mike Quade, and not for young players? Jim Hendry once again shows he doesn't have a clue what it takes to win. The older players we have aren't winning anything, they might have called up some young everyday players to see what they can do. Mike Quade isn't going to look at young players when his future is at hand. -- Rob Knox, Portsmouth, Va.
I'm not sure which players you're referring to, but I agree it is a dilemma for Quade, who obviously wants to keep the job and is going with veterans like Nady, Fukudome and Hill instead of seeing what guys like Hoffpauir, Snyder and Castillo can do with a bit of playing time. I guess if I was in the same position, I'd do the same thing.
Paul, the tone of your responses not-so-subtly indicates that you are annoyed by your readers and their questions about the Cubs. So folks can avoid getting belittled by you in the future, please post some questions you wish people would have asked, and then provide answers to your own questions. -- John, Indianapolis
I'm pretty sure anyone who comes here to read this column knows what they're getting into by this point. It's not for everyone, but the response we've received this year has been great, despite the terrible Cubs season, and hopefully they'll all come back any annoy me with their questions again next year.
So are the Ricketts making the pick on the next manager or just going to look at Hendry's list? -- Art, Westmont, Ill.
Not exactly sure what Tom Ricketts has in mind, though he says he will let Hendry pick the list and then go over the candidates with him. If he vetoes Hendry and picks someone he doesn't want, then Hendry should just leave the organization since there's no sense being a general manager if you can't pick the manager you're going to have to work with.
Paul, lifelong Cub fan and Chicago expatriate. I don't get to see much of the Cubs these days -- and that's probably a blessing right now, but I follow them via the Internet. Ramirez has taken some heat this year about his fielding. From your observations, how much of what he's being criticized for can be attributed to last year's shoulder injury? He used to get dogged for not hustling out of the batters box and I believe Lou pinned some of that on chronic hamstring problems. Not trying to make excuses for Ramirez, just wondering if there may be a mental/physical link to his performance. -- Eric Andersen, Elizabethtown, Ky.
Ramirez hasn't had a strong year defensively or offensively, though he rebounded at the plate in the second half. The shoulder injury shouldn't affect his ability to get in front of balls, so I don't think that has anything to do with it. Just a mediocre year all around for the guy who was their best clutch hitters and a decent fielder for years. The Cubs have to hope he's back to normal in 2011, or it will be another long season.
Do you think that Alan Trammell and Larry Rothschild will be back next year? They both seem to be class acts and good at what they do. I am a 74-year-old former Chicagoan who has never lost my desire to follow the Cubs. -- Carl Abbate, Aiken S.C.
Depends on who is hired. If Quade is hired I would imagine Rothschild will be back. Not sure about Trammell, though he probably would be offered a job if he wanted to return. If it's Sandberg or anyone else, not sure which coaches they'd want to bring in, or whether they would have enough clout to get to name their own coaches.
My personal favorite thing about Mike Quade is that he can talk. After listening to Dusty Baker answering questions with his God awful "Dude" references. And Lou Pinella struggling with answers like "What...what more can I do?" I find listening to Quade very refreshing. He's very fluent and articulate. If he becomes our permanent manager I predict he will have great success with the media, which in my opinion, the last two guys failed miserably at. If he doesn't get the job, I hope WGN is listening (No pun intended.) He would make a terrific analyst. -- Michael Hollow, Racine, Wisc.
Yes, Quade is a talker, and seems to enjoy dealing with the media. Of course, he's only had to do it for a month, and with a team that's been winning. Whether you liked what they said or not, both Dusty and Lou were great with the media, even though they both got frustrated with the line of questioning on occasion. Quade might be the same way after a full season of dealing with the Chicago media, especially one reporter in particular who will not be named here. I don't expect Quade to turn into a TV or radio analyst anytime soon, but he does know the game.
Paul, what are the chances that the Cubs resign Xavier Nady as their first basemen, instead of wasting money on Adam Dunn? Do they try to go value with Nady at first, if it would allow them to splurge on Carl Crawford? -- Chad, Kansas City. Mo.
Nady's agent, Scott Boras, is probably working on a 20-page mission statement regarding the value Nady has provided with his strong finish since Derrek Lee was traded and he got regular time at first. I like Nady, but his slow start while recovering from Tommy John surgery was one of the problems early on in 2010. The Cubs need a power hitting first baseman, preferably a left-handed hitter. If not Dunn, then perhaps a short-term, one-year fix like Aubrey Huff until they get more payroll flexibility in 2012.
We all hear about players simply playing out the string at the end of a bad season. But what about you? Is it more difficult to come to work every day with the Cubs on their way to a 90-plus-loss season? Or does the challenge of writing a daily story keep you going full tilt? -- Rick Bogren, Baton Rouge, La.
Hopefully I can't be accused of playing out the string, though every time Len Kasper asks me how I'm doing, I tell him: "Just playing out the string." I still enjoy the daily challenge of coming up with something different, and the blogging, the Tweeting and taking Official Paul Sullivan Facebook photos with my Blackberry helps keep things interesting. Covering a playoff team is preferable, and I've been fortunate to cover four of them in 1998, 2003, 2007 and 2008 But the agonizing season of 1997, 2004, 2009 and 2010 seasons have been just as newsworthy, and there's never a dull moment.