(Ed. Note: Because of the early game today, this piece will double as the game thread. Lineup, etc. will be added below)
Is Dale Sveum going to end up being Alan Trammell?
You remember Trammell, the bench coach for the Cubs under Lou Piniella.
However, I was thinking more of the Trammell who managed the Detroit Tigers back in 2003-05 when he lost 119, 90, and 91 games respectively.
Trammell ended up being the point A guy for the Tigers franchise. The guy who took the beatings until the team was rebuilt and ready to win. Then voila! In came Jimmy Leyland to win a pennant.
Many in the media speculated when Sveum was hired he would ultimately suffer a similar fate. I scoffed at that notion because I wasn’t of the thinking that Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer would bother making such a move. I assumed all along they wanted to hire the point A to point C guy all in one.
I have to say my belief that Sveum could be that guy has taken a bit of a hit lately.
I’m not thinking he is on the hot seat in any way. Nor would it be justified. This team was hardly expected to do anything. I believe this front office whole-heartedly when they say the losses are on them. Unfortunately, the losses look like they are more on Sveum lately.
"It has been painful to watch because we keep squandering leads," Hoyer said. "It's on Theo and it's on me. We have to figure out ways to get better. We're not the most talented team in the league right now. We're trying to build to get there, but as we get there we can't continue to make the kind of mistakes we've been making."
He is showing some frustration and taking heat from the fan base and some of the media. The only thing Sveum is to be judged on this season should be fundamental play, effort, and the development of the younger players. At times in this young season, it doesn’t look so good on some of those fronts.
It is indeed early, but not too early for GM Jed Hoyer to come to his aide today.
Hoyer hadn't planned on coming on the trip, but flew into Cincinnati Tuesday "because it was the right thing to do." He and president Theo Epstein generally try to pick their spots, Hoyer said.
"When things are good, we stay away," he said. "When things are bad, be around a little bit."
Sveum’s comments the other day about players not being above a demotion were taken by some in the media to be directed at young building blocks Starlin Castro and Anthony Rizzo.
Those comments among Sveum’s more visible frustration prompted me to ask around if he was in fact "losing it" a bit.
I was told indeed the Cubs skipper is losing some patience, that his comments were a definite shift in tone. We can't be really sure if the Iowa stuff was a power play or orchestrated with front office. These things are done all the time to light fires, especially under impressionable younger players.
The coaching staff has been frustrated since last season I’m told. The manager wants better talent, and the front office would like to give it to him. Yet the (money) support has to come from the top.
Here we go again with the issue of (resource) frustration surrounding this organization. It comes up a lot of late. Yes, frustration will come from losing, but how much of it could be avoided with a little more investment to make some strides year to year?
We can’t be sure, but if the frustration continues to trickle down and land on the shoulders of the manager how much longer will he be able to avoid being Trammell-ed.
Also in the news:
- Matt Garza has a "dead arm" and will miss his scheduled rehab start today. The Cubs say there is no structural damage and that his rehab will continue in a couple of days with another bullpen session and then back on schedule. The dead arm is the same issue that all pitchers face in spring training.
- SF Toby passes along a link on Theo Epstein, Billy Beane, and rebuilding. It's a good read, check it out here.
- DeJesus CF
- Borbon LF
- Castro SS
- Rizzo 1B
- Schierholtz RF
- Navarro C
- Valbuena 2B
- Ransom 3B
- Samardzija SP
What to Watch For:
- Tom: Julio Borbon. I'm curious to see how the Cubs will utilize his speed at the top of the lineup.
- John: Luis Valbuena at 2B. He may see more time there if and when the Cubs call up Ian Stewart. We know Sveum likes Valbuena and this season there's been good reason for that, as he has provided OBP and good defense on a consistent basis. Valbuena may not be a star -- or even a starter -- but you know what you're getting with him. And on a team with an unpredictable bullpen and defense, plus the slow starts by Rizzo and Soriano, I have to think Sveum appreciates the level of certainty Valbuena brings everyday.
- Felzz: Julio Borbon- It's clear Dale has the green light going, trying to squeeze whatever offense he can. So let's see if the manager has Borbon dropping bunts, stealing bases, hitting and running, etc.