Mike Quade: An MVP for me is someone who has been here all year. We've had Ronny Cedeno at times, and he's played great. We've had various other guys come in here, including Rich Hill, who has been a nice late addition. I think he's getting better and we can all look forward to seeing him in Chicago. But, Scott McClain and Jermaine Van Buren have done it for us all year. If I could have two different categories at this point, Scotty would win the offensive award and Jermaine would win the pitching award. We've had contributions all over the place, but those two guys have been consistent. Without either one of those guys--well, I still don't know where we'd be, but I wouldn't be too happy without either one of them.
Inside The Ivy: Sergio Mitre is another guy who hasn't been here for the entire year. After watching him pitch, how impressed have you been by his performance after he was sent back here?
Mike Quade: He's been good. It's getting close to where he should be asserting himself at the next level. He's done a nice job here, but like most young kids; it's all about being consistent; it's about making sure you can still pitch on the days when you don't have your best stuff. He's got a great sinker and when he's throwing it for strikes, he'll be effective. I'm sure he'll be effective at the next level and I think the people in Chicago got a chance to see him as the pitcher we hope to see more often.
Inside The Ivy: One guy who I know has been a big part of your pitching staff, and one who has certainly been moved around from the rotation to the bullpen a lot, is Bobby Brownlie. Your thoughts?
Mike Quade: I think the bullpen move was a group effort from Rick Kranitz, Les Strode and Oneri Fleita. Looking at all of the movement we've had between here and Chicago, pitching-wise, there had to be some flexibility as to where guys threw. We had to be very careful with Bobby. He's had a few arm issues in the past and his velocity is down somewhat. We've tried to give his arm a chance to rest and find that velocity again. The kid has a good changeup and a good breaking ball. He's up a few ticks velocity-wise lately and we'd like to see him continue that.
Inside The Ivy: The velocity issue didn't seem to concern him all that much. How much did it worry you, if at all?
Mike Quade: I'm not a huge radar gun guy, because there are lots of guys throwing 90-95 that are getting knocked around the ballpark. I think it's a weapon that, given his off-speed game and his competitiveness, if you could add three ticks to his fastball, he'd be that much more impressive. I think there's every reason to believe that as time goes by, that velocity will come back. Whether it comes back all the way, I don't know. But, he still competes and he still battles. A lot of guys who lose that fastball have a hard time figuring it out. He has not. To his credit, he's a grinder and a guy that will get the most out of his ability. He's certainly done that all year for us.
Inside The Ivy: You mentioned Van Buren a minute ago. Here's a guy that sort of took the organization by surprise.
Mike Quade: With the year he had in Double-A last year, he didn't miss a beat. When he came here last year at the end of the season, he didn't miss a beat either, really. Unfortunately, he had that one bad outing in game two of the (Pacific Coast League) Championship Series, which kind of put us behind the eight ball. Overall, though, he's picked up right where he left off in Double-A. Nothing has fazed him, and that's the way he came out this year. To his credit as well, so many of his saves have been one-run saves. He gets very few two- or three-run save chances where he can relax and have a little wiggle room. That makes him all the more impressive when you look at that. I don't know the exact number, but he has simply not blown many for us. He's been a vital part for us.
Inside The Ivy: It seemed that, for the most part, once you got out of that horrid series in Albuquerque to open the year, the team has played much better. Is that your assessment as well?
Mike Quade: We were 13 under at one point I think. You always try to assess where you're at and which kids have been here and made progress. There's so much more than just winning and losing at this level. I'll never be totally happy with our win-loss record, but there's been a lot of progress made and a lot of kids who have stepped up and taken the right steps. More than anything, I think we've found out about a lot of guys. That's what a minor league season is about. We've sent some kids from here to Chicago that have done a good job. That's honestly what it's really all about.
Inside The Ivy: Will Ohman is one of those guys that has stuck around in Chicago since being sent up.
Mike Quade: Yeah, I wasn't here when it all took place, but I know he had two arm surgeries. He contributed last year and it was all about seasoning; it was a matter of him being consistent. We've sent a bunch of people up there. Roberto Novoa has done a decent job. Cedeno, Mike Fontenot and Matt Murton, when they were there, all did a decent job. From our standpoint, we'd like to see them get up there and never come back.
Inside The Ivy: Lastly, how impressed have you been with Geovany Soto behind the plate in his first year at Triple-A?
Mike Quade: I would say the best way to look at it is by the progress he's made overall. He's done a good job in a variety of areas. For one, he's lost a ton of weight and has committed himself to staying in good shape. That's a huge factor. I think his game-calling has also improved. It has a way to go, but it's gotten better. He's swinging the bat a little better here recently and I think he's starting to understand more and more offensively. When you consider that he's 22 and wasn't always a catcher, he's still trying to get a feel for that position. I think we've got to be happy with his progress. Would I like to see him with 30 more points on his average and a few more home runs? Sure. Would I like to see him with a better average at throwing runners out? Yeah. There are so many different areas to go into, but I think we have to consider this a positive year for him and just think of him building on that with winter ball and maybe another good season here.
Inside The Ivy: Coach, always a pleasure.
Mike Quade: Same here, Steve.