One of these days we won’t be talking about Nick Cafardo so much, but today he makes it back into Cubs news.
Cafardo issues his annual ranking of managers, and he has Dale Sveum ranked only ahead of White Sox skipper Robin Ventura.
29. Dale Sveum, Cubs - We all know he lives and breathes baseball, and that dedication should get him far as he helps rebuild this organization.
I have a feeling Sveum will be climbing the ranks of that list pretty quickly. A lot of people around the game are really impressed with his camp. It sounds like you can count his own players as being on board. Jeff Baker gives his take.
“When you’re doing well, everything’s great. (And) if the team goes into a slump and you’re not playing well, it’s disappointing when you see the manager get off you or get bummed.
“You really don’t get that feeling with Skip this year. He’s going to ride with you. He knows there’s going to be good times. He knows there’s going to be bad times. He understands how hard this game is.”
Jed Hoyer tells Patrick Mooney he liked the way Sveum was focused on laying down a new foundation this spring.
“One of the things he focused on in the interview is spring training (as) a tone-setter,” Hoyer said. “That’s where you build the makeup of your team about having that attention to detail and creating some camaraderie, too. It’s not only about being a drill sergeant.”
Sveum has also laid down the law that Starlin Castro will be his three hitter.
Now we can speculate that if he struggles, there still could be a change. However, I really like the decisiveness and the confidence thus far in Castro. Sveum is thinking big picture on this one, and that is what you want in your Cubs manager.
Sveum knows this is about much more than this year, and that is refreshing. We presented the unfavorable numbers back in January on Castro in the three hole (small sample size) but they didn’t deter Sveum.
‘‘Yeah, I know the stats,’’ said Sveum, referring to Castro’s .225 average and .571 OPS in 187 career plate appearances in the 3-hole — all last season. ‘‘It’s a commitment I made. He’s still the best hitter on the team, and sometimes for the future of the team, too, you have to do it. Like I said early in camp, when do you do it to a good young hitter? Does anybody really know that answer?
‘‘It’s just something I committed to, and he’s been committed to it.’’
Back to Cafardo’s notes, he sounds resigned to the ultimate fate of the Theo Epstein compensation.
It’s amazing how little the Red Sox got for him: a pitcher (Chris Carpenter) who just had elbow surgery and another (Aaron Kurcz) who has put up good numbers in Single A but is hardly considered a top prospect. The Red Sox don’t seem to have any grounds to ask for a player to replace Carpenter, since they had access to all of his medical records.
Lastly, Cafardo states that an NL scout indicated that Byrd’s name is being mentioned more and more as we reach the end of spring training. It’s something John and I have been hearing all along.
Cafardo mentions that there are "quiet a few teams" inquiring with the Phillies and Braves being among them. Phil Rogers of the Tribune mentions the Nationals as a possible suitor.
It's interesting that the top 3 teams in the NL East all may be vying for Byrd's services. It appears that Byrd has a fair amount of value considering the demand and that some of those teams are competitors in the same division. Cafardo opines that, "righthanded hitters who can play center field are hard to find" but that the Cubs may have to eat some of Byrd's $6.5M salary to make it work. Multiple sources have stated that the Cubs have been interested in inquiring a reliever although the Cubs would certainly entertain the idea of acquiring a prospect as well.
The latest I heard was the Cubs wanting to wait until summer for a deal. However, if the right deal presents itself you can bet this front office will move appropriately.