Cubs Dale Sveum using media to motivate?

Cubs Dale Sveum using media to motivate?

We all should cut Cubs Manager Dale Sveum some slack.

Taking on a rebuilding job for your first gig isn’t easy. On top of that, it’s in a major market that hasn’t won in 100 plus years. It’s hard to find a lot of fault with the job the Cubs skipper has done to this point.

However, Sveum has raised my antenna lately with one go to move. He has developed somewhat of a penchant for putting players on notice or critiquing them through the media.

Is Sveum using the media to motivate?

We all know about the hollow Iowa threats he threw out to building blocks Anthony Rizzo and Starlin Castro. Come to think of it, there aren’t many weeks that go by without Sveum addressing or assessing his young shortstop publicly. He has done it with other players on many occasions as well.

Sveum is generally fair in his public observations and criticisms in my opinion. However, he does seem to use the media often to convey these messages, or is it just the local reporters getting some choice sound bites out of him? Edwin Jackson's comments the other day made me think I'm not imagining this.

Sveum said recently he wanted to see Jackson pitch with more conviction at the start of games, throwing at full velocity instead of gradually getting into the flow. When asked if Jackson had spoken to Sveum about the perceived lack of conviction the laid back Jackson let this fly.

"I have talked to him," Jackson said. "If he wants everybody to know what we talked about, I'm sure when you go ask him, he'll go put it out there in the paper."

I talked to someone today who is close to the situation on a daily basis. He originally thought Jackson was too laid back to even pay attention to Sveum’s comments to the media. It sounded to me like Jackson did in this case. I asked if the skipper was starting to rub some of his clubhouse the wrong way by putting his players out there too often.

There are somewhat mixed reports whether Sveum’s is intentionally trying to (motivate through media) or not. Sometimes it's just as simple as answering the questions, Im told. Apparently the line of questioning drives it more than his motivations.

“He's prepped, but there are times where he doesn't give it much thought” says my source.

If that is the case, maybe he needs to give it some.

 

Filed under: coaching staff

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  • I do believe Dale Sveum is using the media too much, which to me, is a red flag for any manager/head coach. Players quickly lose respect for a coach/manager who uses the media to call out players.

  • Interesting topic John. In the grand scheme of things, he's done an admirable job. While I question some things here or there, it's really not fair to expect him to be a finished product in just his second season is it? Anyways, while I'm not convinced he is our Skipper of the future, I'm not convinced he's not yet either. You could have any HOF Skipper at the Helm these past 2 years and we wouldn't have been much if any better off.

    However, whether it's initiated by the media or not, he really should keep some of the criticisms private. That whole sandwich them in between two positives, publicly praise, privately & constructively criticise, thing....

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    In reply to HoosierDaddy:

    When my Cubs friends and I discuss our current manager I seem to always bring up Leyland's first three years in Pittsburgh. He was not very good in W/L record his first year but it was a talent thing. His teams and the expectations got better every year. The FO for the Pirates in those days were pretty smart for not nickpicking the guy to death and just let him grow into the manager they thought he would be.

    There is no manager in his first year that is taking steps towards the Hall of Fame. It takes time to understand the big chair. I bet all this criticism will be a thing of the past when this FO's plan is fully in place.

    If you think it is easy being a first or second year manager even on a winning club ask a Cards fan about Mike Matheny......... and he only has the best record in baseball.

  • In reply to Richard Hood:

    Good example. You could see back then Leyland had control of his clubhouse and was a good skipper. He had good rep as 3B coach too.

  • In reply to Richard Hood:

    In most cases, managers have about as much effect on a team's short term success as the third string catcher.

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    In reply to DaveP:

    I totally agree in most situations. But when you are building something from the ground up (as the Pirates were and as the Cubs are) the manager is the voice to the players on what the new approach is going to be.

    Bobby Cox in Atlanta is a great example of this. His finger print was on the organization from the draft all the way to the big club. I remember a story about a young short stop in A ball hit a pop fly to the short stop in a situation where he should have tried to move a runner over. The kid pounded his bat against the plate and started jogging to first base. The manager of the team jerked the kid out of the game before he got to first base. Later the story goes that he told the kid that he had the talent to play for Bobby (meaning the show in ATL) but if he didn't get his head out of his ass it would be for someone else because Bobby doesn't deal with this crap.

    I do not know if that story was true or not but it was very telling on how the whole organization was doing things the way on the same page as far as prospects and development were concerned.

  • In reply to DaveP:

    I suspect there is a lot of truth in that.

    But it is also true that a manager can be 100% responsible for a team's failures.

    The easiest thing for a manager to do is to screw things up. The most difficult thing for a manager to do is to improve things (unless taking over for someone who screwed everything up!). This is true in nearly every instance that the job title "Manager" exists.

  • In reply to HoosierDaddy:

    Thanks and I think he's been solid so far.

  • In reply to Tom Loxas:

    Sorry, I called you John out of habit...lol

  • In reply to HoosierDaddy:

    Ha, no problem.

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    I would tend to agree. Some things need to be kept in-house. There are times when this can be an effective tactic to motivate players, but it's not a well you want to go to often. Because if you do, eventually, your clubhouse is going to start thinking you don't have their backs, and you'll lose them. It's probably works better if everyone in the clubhouse sees it as being done fairly and justly. It's a fine line.

    He isn't the first Cubs manager to use the media to send messages in my lifetime, and he probably won't be the last. I think the worst was Dusty Baker, and I say that because he was so unfair in the way he did it. Dusty played favorites. Certain players would never be criticized, no matter how badly they might have cost the team with their poor play, but if you weren't one of his favorites, he wouldn't hesitate to throw you under the bus.

  • In reply to Michael Caldwell:

    Quade was the worst. He only went after young players and ignored the vets.

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    In reply to Tom Loxas:

    Who is Quade? That's a name I don't recall. Must be some sort of mental block there.

    Dusty was exactly the same way. He only went after young guys. Quade, I suspect, had different motivations for doing it.

  • In reply to Michael Caldwell:

    You are so lucky. I need one of GOB's forget me pills.

  • Sveum has a unique approach to verbal construction. He said the ball wasn't coming out of EJ's hand with conviction - with authority, early in games. That's a description, not a judgment on the person. That said, there's rarely a game when his bullpen management doesn't make my stomach hurt.

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    In reply to wastrel:

    Bullpen management is one place I'm going to cut him some slack. When he has better optiions to pick from, then I'll worry a little more.

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    In reply to Michael Caldwell:

    Largely agree with this, have been singularly unimpressed with his use of Russell, though. Seems to think he's only good against lefties, instead of capable of shutting a team down for a full inning (or more).

  • In reply to Mike Moody:

    While Sveum is the guy pulling the trigger, let's not forget that him, Bosio, & Quirk, etc. are all involved in these decisions. He really hasn't much to work with, so it's not fair to judge him. (Not that I don't at times)

  • In reply to wastrel:

    That's true and I tried to be fair about those comments but Jackson did take the easing into games personally. I don't think that was an accident.

  • I'm not even saying using the media is a bad thing. It can be done right, just hope Sveum doesn't start to agitate some.

  • I'm OK with this technique...for now. Dale can get away with this while the pressure is lower and the Cubs are not drawing 40K every game. There will come a time in the near future when the expectations put on this team will be much higher and the media scrutiny will come on its own. Whether or not Dale is still around at that time remains to be seen.

  • He's a tough read for me. A great baseball mind with a tin ear for the psychological fine points. It seems like overall the guys play hard for him. Onward.

  • In reply to wastrel:

    I pretty much agree. However John and I were talking yesterday and and are a bit weary of his talking about Castro a bit much publicly.

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    In reply to Tom Loxas:

    I'm starting to fear that Castro is going to need to be traded to reach his potential. Chicago has been poisoned against the kid, and he does not seem to be adapting well to the Epstein/Sveum regime. I suspect he'll be like Justin Upton, and explode when he's no longer here.

    Oh, well, if it comes with a World Series title like dumping Nomar did, I won't complain.

  • In reply to Mike Moody:

    The Castro criticism is getting ridiculous. I've seen Castro criticized for not beating out an infield grounder -- he's not THAT fast people. Also saw him critcized for not fielding a wild throw by Castillo on a steal attempt, Yet nobody complained about the throw. I've seen him getting criticized for swinging at a strike on a 3-1 count -- and only because he made an out. People are actually looking for things to criticize him for.

    This is why the Cubs can't have nice things.

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    In reply to John Arguello:

    A year or so ago on another message board he was legit criticized for chewing too many sunflower seeds. That was the moment I knew all sanity had left the room surrounding the kid.

    Much like Soriano, he's a tangible link to a past that Cub fans want to forget. Combine that with Brenly's homey criticism of both players, and you have a toxic situation. If this front office would just let Castro be Castro, he might grow beyond it, as Soriano seems to be doing, but they're determined to make him Derek Jeter. If it works, no complaints. But, so far, it's been a monumental failure.

  • In reply to Mike Moody:

    How about all the angst and criticism over Darwin Barney's gum chewing when he came up.

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    In reply to John Arguello:

    That's not even a 1/4 of the ridiculous things Castro has been criticized for. I'm sure if you had one of google's satellites on any player in the game you'd find something to whine about every day too.

    Remember that play yesterday where Ramirez hit a slow roller up the middle Barney had a play on that tapped the bag and took a bad hop? Nothing to do with Castro right? Not to media and Cubs fans. He got criticized for blocking Barney's sight on the ball causing him to miss it.

    When he was nowhere near the play.......

    Just LOL.

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    In reply to John Arguello:

    And, for what it's worth, a year ago when I said I thought the Cubs would trade Starlin Castro, this was my fear. Epstein has a history of valuing his system over individual players. Castro simply doesn't play baseball the way Epstein wants his players to play baseball. When they did the extension and he started to show some improvement with the new approach, I figured that -- yet again -- Theo was showing that he knows more than I do. At this point, however, we've got a problem. Castro's trade value is way down and, as you point out, the criticism is getting out of hand. Hard to see how he can succeed in this environment.

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    In reply to Mike Moody:

    I wouldn't say his trade value is way down at all. Just the fact that he's a young, all-star level SS signed to a team-friendly deal with the potential to be much more means that he has a very high amount of value. Numbers won't mean squat to a team that would look to acquire Castro. They'd be getting him for what his talent projects to.

    In short, his value should still be the same. All he has to do is get hot for a month and things should cool down.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    Are you talking about len and jim ? Because they say certain things like that during the game.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    "This is why the Cubs can't have nice things."

    Classic. Somebody has a family. Or grew up in one.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    "This is why the Cubs can't have nice things."

    LMAO.... You're spot John, but that made me laugh out loud.

  • Count me in with those who think Sveum should keep this stuff in the clubhouse. I don't think he sets out to motivate. I think that the media gets the best of him sometimes -- and I think on some level, Sveum wants to prove he is doing things to try and improve the team, that hes not idly sitting by.

    He needs to find a balance. He doesn't need to be specific. He should have said Jackson was working on a couple of things and left it at that.

    He also needs to lay off of Castro publicly. It's never anything new and it just provides fodder for those who want to focus their frustrations on him.

    Not saying any of these players should get a free pass. Just keep it in house.

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    In reply to John Arguello:

    Great comment, John. And the thing I want to highlight about what you said is how the media gets the best of him at times. Media feeds on negativity. Negativity = headlines.

    Negativity + headlines = Castro bash time

    often times they ask Dale questions that they already know the answer to, which is usually negative, and Dale has the option tell the truth or ignore it. Also like someone point above that when talking to media and you want to criticize sandwich it in between two positive comments and it sounds better.

  • In reply to Marcel Jenkins:

    That's pretty much how it works. Some fans need someone to take their frustrations out on and the media serves up Starlin Castro on a silver platter. Just like they served up Soriano, Zambrano, and A-Ram before him.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    Amen good points.

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    In reply to John Arguello:

    But after years of the managers we have had the idea that he is trying to do something with the media instead of being the grandpa type figure or the village idiot when ever a microphone is in front of his mouth is refreshing. Not saying I agree with him calling out players but at least he doesn't come of as sadder version of Dr Evil.

  • If Sveum does use the media, It would be more on a spur of the moment thing. Someone asks him a question about Edwin Jackson and he thinks You know what, not the worst thing in the world for him to read these quotes in the morning". I sure don't think any of it is "planned" per se. I also think, or perhaps would just like to believe, that Sveum is more upfront with his players and speaks to them before or shortly after he speaks with the media.

  • It might hurt players' feelings to call them out in the press as Dale has done on occasion, and Dale's popularity in the clubhouse will suffer. But as a fan I do enjoy getting an inside scoop on some of the players beyond generic vanilla statements.
    Sometimes his criticisms are really just honest assessments seemingly made without rancor. I enjoy the lack of diplomacy--we get more than enough of well thought out public comments from Theo. I like Dale's blue collar off-the-cuff comments. A good summer rant against an ump would also be nice. We're on the cusp of June and I can't remember seeing Dale enraged yet.

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    In reply to baseballet:

    He backed up Shark a game against the Pirates where the strikezone was non-existent and Samardzija from getting ejected by putting all the heat on himself. He's a good player's manager but he shouldn't be so specific in the media.

    "Jackson need to throw his pitches with more conviction"

    should be

    "Jackson is working on some things, he'll be fine"

  • I want to say for the most part I'm very happy with Sveum. I think he's on a learning curve in some respects -- and he doesn't have the greatest talent to work with, especially in the bullpen.

    The same goes for him and dealing with the media. I think he'll learn better what to say and what not to say -- or at least how to better say things.

    I also believe the Cubs will be a lot better next year and some of these concerns will magically go away.

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    In reply to John Arguello:

    "I also believe the Cubs will be a lot better next year and some of these concerns will magically go away."

    And it's sad that it like to be like that. That most Cubs fans can only see 5ft in front of them instead of the larger picture. Too much short-sightedness. For them just because we're not winning 100 games already means everything else under the sun has gone to hell.

    Forget all the progress we've made throughout the entire organization in just 2 years, Starlin Castro isn't hitting .355/.418/.550 and were not better than the Cardinals so this season is sunk.

  • I've been beating this drum for awhile now, dale sometimes says things that makes me shake my head. Its ok if you call them out for not working hard but its not going to do any good by trying to be a straight shooter all the time.

  • Tom I missed the show last night, what was said about castro ? Can anyone tell me ?

  • In reply to seankl:

    They had Mooney on and were just general with what's wrong with him blah, blah. Mooney totally shot it down saying they need to get better players and everyone will get off his back. Loved it.

  • In reply to Tom Loxas:

    Thanks tom, Back to dale I just think some of the things dale says about his players are not smart. He has been on castro since he got the job and the quotes are mostly all negative. He should take his own advice and slow the game down and be aware of certain situations as he likes to say. He should know what the media is trying to do but he still gives them all the fuel they need.

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    Anyone see Cubs picking Jeremy Martinez, C from Mater HS with the third round pick? MLB.com has him ranked as the 87th overall prospect...maybe a C in round 3? Reunited w/ Almora...he was ranked a lot higher coming into the season, wasn't he?

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    In reply to Chris Lattier:

    Reunited from Team USA days...

  • In reply to Chris Lattier:

    Chris Okey from Eustis played with Almora too. A HS & Travel Ball coach who volunteers with Team USA told me that Okay was their clubhouse leader and was mature beyond his years....

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    Non-thread related:

    "My worth isn't bound in a long baseball career or making a lot of money. My hope and value are already taken care of. A big difference between early in my career and now is when I'm asked, 'If baseball were to end today, would you be OK with that?' My freshman year, I would've said no. Now, if baseball were to end today, would I be able to accept that? Yeah, it would be extremely tough, but I wouldn't feel lost, because if for whatever reason I'm not playing baseball, that really frees me to not live up to any expectations or hype and not worry about what people say or think." ~ Mark Appel

    Interesting comments. I can see where people who like Appel are going to take this statement one way, and people who don't like Appel are going to take it another way.

  • Jonathan Gray is pitching right now against Coastal Carolina on ESPN3 if anyone is interested in watching him pitch.

  • Thanks Alex!

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    No problem John. Gray had a rough first couple of innings, But great pitchers shrug that off. He'll get back on track.

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