The Cardinal Nation blog

Brian Walton's news and commentary on the St. Louis Cardinals (TM) and their minor league system

Heat turned up in Wrigleyville

Given the nature of the St. Louis Cardinals’ long rivalry with the Chicago Cubs, I watch that club a bit closer than some others.

Lame-duck Lou Piniella walked away with 37 games last season and coach Mike Quade was given the managerial reigns on an interim basis.

The Cubs went 24-13 in garbage time to finish the season, while Quade received high marks for his leadership. He was kept on for 2011 ahead of Triple-A manager and Hall of Fame Cubs second baseman Ryne Sandberg, who left the organization when he was passed over.

Expectations were high coming into 2011. In fact, at least one well-known Cardinals beat writer picked the Cubs to win the National League Central.

It hasn’t gone that way. Starting with the Carlos SilvaAramis Ramirez spring training altercation and through multiple injuries since, the Cubs lost the first two games in St. Louis this weekend and sit at 23-33. Being ten games under .500 and ten games out of first place provides a major contrast to the ten-games-over 35-25 Cardinals.

Amid general poor play and a meltdown against the Reds on May 17, Quade called a team meeting. It didn’t help. At that time, they were 17-23 (.425). Since then, the Cubs have gone 6-10 (.375).

The survivor in the general manager’s chair throughout all of this including the Piniella years and the Dusty Baker years is Jim Hendry, hired in 2002.

The Arlington Heights, Ill. Daily Herald may be the first of the Chicagoland papers to be calling for a change in leadership. You can read the article yourself, but I find the most interesting questions to be whether or not Hendry deserves a third rebuilding shot and if not, how much more traumatic the resulting changes may be in the short term.

Hugs or no, the potential impact on signing Albert Pujols in the upcoming off-season was not mentioned.

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Brian Walton

Brian Walton runs The Cardinal Nation and The Cardinal Nation Blog, covering the St. Louis Cardinals and minor league system.
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