Questions from the readers and just wondering about other things.
How is Mike Quade doing as manager?
Given the talent he's got, just fine. For any manager to look good next year, general manager Jim Hendry is going to have to do a better job of providing talent.
Quade has done some creative, and necessary, things with the lineup, such as moving Geovany Soto up at times and Alfonso Soriano down.
He's shown that he pays attention to splits as evidenced by playing Jeff Baker and leading him off against left-handed pitching.
Quade hasn't been afraid to throw the young relievers into key situations. Sometimes they perform. Sometimes they don't.
Did he handle Starlin Castro correctly?
Yes. It's easy to say there should be one set of rules for veterans and young players alike. It's also unrealistic.
When Quade sat Castro earlier this week for a mental mistake, it wasn't as if he sent the kid to the end of the bench and forgot about him. Quade and the coaching staff worked with Castro and explained things to him. The manager also kept saying what a nice year Castro has had as a rookie.
Veterans have been talked to behind closed doors about their own shortcomings.
Give Quade credit for answering questions honestly and directly about the differences in handling younger and older players. Remember, too, that he had years of experience handling young players in nearly two decades as a minor-league manager.
Will it hurt Ryne Sandberg to have missed the Pacific Coast League playoffs?
No. All organizations understand that the minor leagues are for development first and winning second.
Winning is great, and Sandberg's Class AAA Iowa Cubs finished tied for first place, missing out on the playoffs because of tiebreakers.
Sandberg has had success at Class A, Double-A and Triple-A. It's more difficult to win at the Triple-A level, given the constant movement of players and the fact that you may be saddled with some disgruntled older players who think they should be in the major leagues.
A Triple-A manager often has to juggle his pitching rotation at a moment's notice when the farm director calls and says tomorrow's scheduled starter is going to Chicago instead.
It probably didn't help Sandberg that he got ejected from Sunday's game in the first inning, but that shouldn't be a deal breaker, either.
The players at Iowa expressed total respect for Sandberg.
Unlike the big-name managers the Cubs have hired from the outside, Sandberg "gets" the whole Wrigley Field and Chicago thing.
What does Sandberg do now?
A. He'll await another talk with Hendry. The two met in Albuquerque last week, and they'll talk again soon.
"He informed me I'd be one of the candidates, and he'd be talking to me after I was done with everything here," Sandberg told the Des Moines Register's Rick Brown. "We talked a lot about the parent team and the possibilities for next year as far as players. We talked a lot of baseball.
"I'm looking to get to the major leagues somewhere. If someone (other than the Cubs) would call, I'm sure I would listen."
What's up with the Ricketts family?
A. Right now, it looks like the Ricketts kids are having a good time enjoying their new toy, as they don goofy glasses, preside over statue ceremonies, bow to Andre Dawson and film reality shows (calling it a "marketing event") at Wrigley Field.
Nothing wrong with that.
You would hope that behind the scenes, though, they're taking a good look at a baseball operation that needs plenty of fixing less than three years after Hendry proclaimed, "We're going to get good, and we're going to stay good." And I'm sure they're taking that good look.
The hiring of stats guru Ari Kaplan by Tom Ricketts was a good idea. (In fact, I can attest that Ari really exists. I saw him outside the lunchroom the other day and was going to give him the secret stats-geek handshake, but he was talking to somebody else. I'd love to talk a little VORP and WAR with him.)
A better idea would be bringing in a respected baseball man along the lines Pat Gillick - something I suggested last year - and letting him advise Hendry, who has no such help now but could use it.
If the baseball part of the toy is irreparably broken, the fun will soon cease for the Ricketts kids and everybody else around the TV set known as Wrigley Field.