Today is decision day, or more accurately, it's announcement day. Whatever the decision is, it has already been made and if the players have their say, then it appears they'd like to have Sveum back. Of course, it's not up to them -- something they all freely admit, and perhaps they'd say that publicly no matter what they think in private. For what it's worth, here are what some of the players said as quoted in columns from Patrick Mooney and Carrie Muskat,
Samardzija has been the most vocal supporter of Sveum and while he said he'd stand by whatever the front office decides, he did reiterate that support.
“He’s a great guy, a great coach,” Samardzija said. “As a player, you want consistency. You want to build those relationships, and you want that to lean on at certain times when you need that.
Curiously, he said the players have not been contacted for their opinion. That may be because they aren't concerned about Sveum's relationship with the players -- only development and perhaps, communication. Or maybe they'd figure the players would be loyal to their manager and don't want to put them in that position.
Rizzo had a down year and some blame Sveum for his off-season. But not the young first baseman,
"Dale’s been great. The whole coaching staff’s been great. I’ve heard nothing but good things about (our minor league system). Hopefully, everyone continues to develop.”
Castro also had a poor year and he acknowledges that. He will work with strength and conditioning coach Tim Buss in the offseason and believes that his struggles will make him better in the end. He also had the most visible relationship with Sveum in that he was benched in the middle of the game and has also been called out publicly by his manager. Does Castro think he should be back?
“Yeah, why not?” Castro said. “But it’s not my decision. I think he’s OK.”
Muskat adds that he described his relationship with Sveum as “good, nothing bad.”
Not a ringing endorsement to be sure, but Castro doesn't seem to be too upset. He just wants to play baseball.
The guy Sveum leaned on and some would say overused doesn't seem to have any issues either. According to Mooney,
"Just ask homegrown lefty James Russell, who has played for Lou Piniella, Mike Quade and Sveum and hopes he doesn’t have another new manager when pitchers and catchers report to Mesa, Ariz., in February 2014."
Russell may seem more weary of change and he wants to get to the point where the team stays on track, however long it takes,
“It sucks because you’re in the present, and you have no clue where the end of the tunnel is and how long it’s going to take,” Russell said. “Who knows? It could be next year. It could be five years after that. There’s no telling, but it kind of makes you want to work harder, because everybody in the clubhouse wants to be that team that wins in Chicago.”
I think Russell sums things up very well there and no matter what happens with Sveum, there will be uncertainty again heading forward. A managerial change signals an early failure and re-direction in the rebuild. The talk that is is a natural progression and about point A to point B isn't accurate and dismisses the history of this front office. They are methodical in their selection and it's intended to be a long term hire, as it was with Terry Francona.
“We were starting a program here where we were, in a lot of ways, starting at the ground level and building it up,” Epstein said. “Sometimes it’s nice when you can have a manager that grows with the organization and grows with the big-league club."
And Theo said this just last March,
“It ended up working out great where we got Dale, who we’re thrilled with.”
So no matter what happens today, I won't see it as a victory for the organization. Like Russell, I just see more uncertainty. Sometimes new managers bring new hope, but as history has shown here in Chicago, new managers aren't saviors. For me it's less about who fills out the lineup card and more about the players who are actually in that lineup.