The Chicago Cubs are wiping the slate clean and are one more significant move away from gaining relevancy again-ahem, Albert Pujols...

On Aug. 19, 2011, former general manager Jim Hendry was fired. On Oct. 21, Theo Epstein made the move from Boston Red Sox general manager to Cubs president of baseball operations. And, on Oct. 26, Jed Hoyer, former San Diego Padres general manager, was hired as executive vice president and replacement general manager for Hendry.

Now, exit manager Mike Quade who seemed practically invisible amid the abyss that was the Cubbies last season and has been for years. Epstein announced the decision Wednesday after traveling to Florida to inform Quade face to face.

When I joined the Cubs last week, I knew that Mike had a reputation as an outstanding baseball guy, as a tireless worker, and as a first-rate human being, Epstein said in a release to the media. After spending some time with him this past week, it became apparent to me that Mike's reputation is well deserved. His passion, knowledge of the game, commitment, and integrity stood out immediately. 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.

Quade had one year and $1 million remaining on a two-year deal he signed last November. The deal carried a club option for 2013.

The firing is not surprising considering that the Cubs finished the season 20 games under .500 with a record of 71-91, good for fifth place in the NL Central. Rough patches with pitchers Carlos Zambrano and Ryan Dempster, as well as the trade of fan favorite Ryan Theriot to the now World Series champion St. Louis Carrdinals, really hit the team, and by extension Quade's future as manager, hard.

Quade got the job after a 37-game audition at the end of the 2010 season, replacing Lou Piniella on an interim basis. And after the Cubs responded to him and went 24-13, he was chosen over Hall of Famer Ryne Sandberg to lead the team last season.

As per Tweets by ESPN the Magazine's Buster Olner, the search for a new manager has begun immediately. Sandberg, who was thought to be a sensible candidate because of his ties to the Cubs, will actually not be considered for the managerial position.

Theo Epstein reached out to Ryne Sandberg today, thru PHI, and explained to him he will not be a candidate for the Cubs' managerial job, said Olney.

Recently fired Boston Red Sox manager Terry Francona was also thought to be a candidate. However, Foxsports.com's Ken Rosenthal reported on his Twitter that the Cubs are not focused on Francona.

Olney also said on Twitter that Philadelphia Phillies bench coach and former Cincinnati Reds manager Pete Mackanin and Tampa Bay Rays bench coach Dave Martinez are candidates. Mackanin will at least get an interview, Olney said.

Another candidate along with Mackanin and Martinez could also be current ESPN analyst and former manager Bobby Valentine.