Decision Day for Sveum: Some thoughts from players and the uncertainty that lies ahead

Decision Day for Sveum: Some thoughts from players and the uncertainty that lies ahead

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,

Jeff Samardzija

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.

Anthony Rizzo

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.”

Starlin Castro

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.

James Russell

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.

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Tags: Dale Sveum


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  • I'llbe patient. I have nothing to add. I'm on the other side.

  • In reply to BLOOMIE1937:

    I'm not on a side. I'm just trying to look at this with an open mind, which I think has been lacking for the most part.

  • John,

    I think that some stability is in store and that they should keep Svuem and add another year on to his contract or else his tenure will be discussed all of 2014. He brought in good coaches but had not had the pleasure of keeping his best veteran players. Let him have a year or two more or else the players won't know which end is up.

  • In reply to Vito23:

    I'm leaning toward the Cubs keeping him for some reason -- but not so far that I'll be surprised if he's fired. It just seems weird that in March they were thrilled. In July they were just 7 games under .500 and in two months everything has changed? I'm not convinced, but nothing surprises me in this game anymore.

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    In reply to John Arguello:

    That's where I'm at, as well. I think the Cubs keep him, and they make some changes to the coaching staff, but I won't be shocked if they decide to wipe the slate clean. However, if they do fire Sveum, I don't think it will be Girardi who replaces him, and if it is, I think it will be a mistake.

  • In reply to Michael Caldwell:

    I found your stuff on Girardi interesting yesterday and if all of that is true, then I hope they take their time with their next hire and not rush into anything. Need to do the research.

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    In reply to Michael Caldwell:

    Where's your stuff on Girardi yesterday?

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    In reply to Mike Moody:

    That was a private conversation. Only me, John and the NSA were privy to. Just kidding, I'll clue you in, but not here.

  • In reply to Michael Caldwell:

    I think everyone who reads this blog and is not a part of the NSA would like to know your stuff on Girardi, too....

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    Not sure about everyone else, but I am kind of ambivalent about Sveum staying or going. He isn't responsible for the W-L shortfall, and some things he has done I felt were positive, like benching Castro earlier this year. But he hasn't wowed me either, so I kind of don't care either way.

    It's weird, but I just don't have an opinion

  • In reply to Zonk:

    It's kind of weird but I'm a bit that way too. I don't like a change because it's an early signal things aren't going in the right direction -- but I do trust the FO if they think that is indeed happening and they need to correct it as soon as possible.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    I think it kind of depends on who Sveum is replaced with though. If he's replaced with Ausmus, or some other "up and comer" with little to no managerial experience then yes I'll agree that it's a bad sign. But if he's replaced with Girardi or Gardenhire then to me it's viewed as more of getting the best guy available.

    Think of it like a player that's part of the "core" right now, any player that they have talked about. However if the chance became available to package that player in a deal for a better, established player, would that be a sign of things not going in the right direction?

  • In reply to Zonk:

    I'm in the same boat. After two seasons, you'd like to have more positives. But is he at fault for the negatives? There seems to be just as many, if not more questions with him than answers, but he hasn't had a legit MLB roster to work with either.

    In the end, it doesn't matter who is filling out that line-up card. We need more "impact" players in that line-up.

  • biggest thing for me is I ask myself, Do I want Dale managing a game 7 when the Cubs are good? I dont . Bring in the guy to manage a game 7 now . Girardi .

  • In reply to Bryan Craven:

    Unless the Cubs don't win and we get sick of him too.

  • Players will have no say, Sveum will have no say, media and fans will have no say, because it is Theo' s call. Stability is important, but so is having the best manager going forward and changes in personal happen all the time(players and coaches). It's not admitting mistakes.. It's part of the process. I have faith in this administration.

  • In reply to 44slug:

    Agreed. This is Theo and Jed's call all the way. Though I do think it's admitting a mistake. Both of those guys have historically hired managers for the long term. But admitting a mistake -- if there is one, i s okay with me. it happens, the important thing is not to compound those mistakes when they happen.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    You may be right about that John, but I'd rather work with and/or for management w/ the ability to admit its mistakes if indeed that's what it believes. Besides good sound judgment, I think the ability to self-reflect and make adjustments is absolutely critical for the success of any management team. Like you and most the others, I'll leave it to the FO to make the determination if an adjustment is appropriate at this time. As a fan, I admit I'm restless and prefer at least some adjustment, but if none are coming, I'm willing to take it on faith now, that there's something I can't see now, but likely will see next year at some point.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    I agree I have a "feeling" this is their call. With the word from the sources in Minnesota that Gardenhire will stay and the Yankees making it known that they are confident that they will re-sign Girardi. Look for Ausmus and Sandy Alomar Jr.

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    "For me it's less about who fills out the lineup card and more about the players who are actually in that lineup."

    Amen brother!!!

  • In reply to Michael Caldwell:


  • In reply to Michael Caldwell:

    True, but remember 'The boys of Zimmer' in 1989. Half those guys were out of baseball by mid year in 90. Pretty safe to say no one else could have won with that group.

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    In reply to 44slug:

    That team was a matter of everything clicking for them. The NL East was way down that year. Mets and Cardinals were sliding back. The Expos were where they always seemed to be. Pittsburgh hadn't started it's run yet, and the Phillies just sucked.

  • In reply to Michael Caldwell:


  • In reply to 44slug:

    Are you really going to say Jerome Walton, Dwight Smith, Les Lancaster, Mitch Williams, Mike Bielecki, Luis Salazar all had career years because of Zimmer? I think that is absurd. It was a fluke, nothing more. Zimmer certainly didn't bring the best out of Webster, Law, Schiraldi, Dawson and a few others that year.

    A handful of young players had their peaks before the league figured them out, combined with a few journeymen who had decent years around a solid core (Madduz/Sut/Grace/Sandberg). Weird seasons like that happen. The team collapsed the next year with almost the same personnel. Zimmer didn't have magic pixie dust.

  • In reply to mjvz:

    I say that he did! He used three third basemen to get through many games and was successful putting on a suicide squeeze with bases loaded and two outs. The team was pretty spent by the time that they clinched, but that team doesn't win with any other leader at the top.

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    I'm ambivalent too about Sveum. I don't like the way he handles the bullpen but many managers have issues with that, Dusty did too. And the complaints that Rizzo and Castro declined and Sveum is to blame, they had good years last year, so what did Sveum do to ruin them in one year? :)

    But I think he's gone. I think the front office hung him out to dry with their comment on evaluation and then non comments as speculation grew. Bringing him back will just create a circus environment because of the media, unless he were extended. I can also see that if they think they can upgrade at manager it's no different than some of the waiver wire claims. If there is a better guy out there you need to try and grab him. But if you fire Sveum today, there's no certainty you're getting a Girardi, Scioscia, or Gardenhire.

  • In reply to Just Win:

    Whether he's gone or not, the part I really agree with his you cannot make this decision based on you think might be available. That doesn't seem to be the way this front office works.

  • When is the press conference scheduled for today?

    Bringing in a proven guy like Girardi in a way could provide some stability as well. Will be an interesting day.

  • In reply to Holy Cattle:

    I don't think they've set a time yet.

  • Well said John. I think you hit the nail on the head when you said...

    "That may be because they aren't concerned about Sveum's relationship with the players -- only development and perhaps, communication."

    I think these are the two most critical areas where Sveum has to improve going forward. I believe he can change that (result) and the FO can also do their part in "encouraging him" to change (to get better results). People can change, andI believe Sveum can change some things and be a better manager next year.

    I'm "meh" on Sveum overall, but It really doesn't help the rebuild to start over with a new manager. We aren't even close to being in the 7th game of a World Series, so we have no need for a manager (at this point) who can "manage" a 7th game.

  • In reply to DetroitCubFan:

    So far I'm kind of "meh" as well. Kind of like Zonk, I am at neither extreme. I neither love him or hate him and while I can make some observations from the outside, I am not going through the thorough evaluation that this front office has.

  • Sveum and Hoyer already at Wrigley. Hoyer just got there.

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    I think it's okay for them to admit to a mistake. In fact, I think it's a good sign. Of course, it's much easier to admit a mistake with a manager or coach, than it is a player, but even there, I think they could and would. They're thought process makes them very results oriented.

  • In reply to Michael Caldwell:

    Agreed. If they feel they made a mistake then by all means correct it and don't compound it -- and don't repeat it.

  • i would much rather have Castro, Rizzo, Baez, Bryant all start playing together with a guy like Girardi than Dale but thats just me . Players sure didnt show any fight the last month .

  • In reply to Bryan Craven:


    I think most of the team just "checked out" the last couple weeks of the season.

  • In reply to DetroitCubFan:

    That will have weight in Sveum's evaluation as well.

  • Hawks fired Savard after he greatly improved the team over a season and a half and then they went to the Conference Finals. So lets save the idea that players need stability. I don't blame Dale for the bad seasons, but if there is a known commodity out there (Girardi for example), that management thinks is an upgrade, then get rid of Sveum. Firing him doesn't mean they made a mistake, it means that they think they can get someone better now.

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    I don't think player development is a strong suit of Girardi's. If this were a veteran team and ready to win now, I might feel differently.

  • In reply to Michael Caldwell:

    I don't know about that. He did a lot with a very young Marlins team.

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    In reply to Holy Cattle:

    There's more to that story than you know.

  • I'm a big believer in stability. But if they feel Sveum isn't the right guy, then move on. Better to ditch him now and bring in the right guy sooner rather than later so that you can begin to build that stability as soon as possible, rather than waiting a year and then replacing him.

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    In reply to mjvz:

    I'm with you. My issue is with the people who just assume that Girardi is the right guy, and you know they're basing that thought on purely sentimental reasons. They've not once asked themselves what really happened in Florida in 2006. They just assumed it was all Jeffery Loria, and much of it was, but if you asked Larry Beinfest and others who were around the Marlins organization back then, they'd tell you it wasn't all Loria.

  • In reply to Michael Caldwell:

    I've stopped paying attention to managers on other teams, so I have no idea what Girardi brings. I have come to believe MLB managers/hitting coaches are the most overrated influence in sports. They just don't matter that much. I think their positive effects are minimal, and there only seem to be a couple that seem to bring a positive influence year in and year out where you could point to it and say that it wasn't just fluctuations in talent level on the team. They can have more of a negative effect if they have a terrible personality or communication skills. But even those type of guys won't necessarily cripple a team. Bad managers like Bobby V, Ron Washington and others have managed playoff/WS teams.

    Regarding your Girardi comment, 2006 was a long time ago and Girardi was just getting started then so its possible whatever mistakes he made (if any) he could have learned from them. I wouldn't disqualify a candidate for something like that (especially when someone like Loria is involved). Girardi does seem like a guy that can win if given talent, so I would have no problem with him as the manager, but I think wasting money on a boutique manager is just stupid when you could get any number of guys that would do a similar job for less money. Spend the money on better players and magically the manager will perform better in my opinion.

  • In reply to Michael Caldwell:

    They could hire Will Clark or even Steve Garvey and I wouldn't care as long as they don't set teh room on fire with their personality.

    I might draw the line at Eric Show for pitching coach though.

  • I still wonder if the FO is not happy with the way Dale communicates or relays information / intentions to the players. The end of the season K. Gregg situation might have sealed Dale's fate if that is the case.

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    I'm the opposite of John. My gut says he's fired, but I wouldn't be at all surprised if he stays another year. If he does stay, though, I think he'll be on an extremely short leash and some of his decision making power with the young players will be taken from him.

    With the hitting coach, the only question I have is whether the new one is Duncan or Buckner.

    If he is fired, it's funny how again Samardzija has been a vocal opponent of this front office's decisions. That should make contract talks fun.

  • In reply to Mike Moody:

    I think either Buckner or Duncan would be a great choice. Hitters just really improved under both of those guys. Only question is if they want to take them out of those all important development years.

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    In reply to John Arguello:

    It's got to be a tightrope, wouldn't you say? You really want good coaches in the minor leagues, but you have to think Duncan for sure and probably Buckner would take a major league job if it was offered. Buses aren't fun for them, either. So, at some point, they risk losing them if they aren't promoted.

  • In reply to Mike Moody:

    This IS for you and John: I'd like to see Buckner brought on board as hitting coach,but I think he wants to stay home on the ranch. I'm not sure that one guy is out there who can implement the "Cubs Way",but know it sure as hell isn't Rowson or Dale.

    The Italian word for heartburn is agita, what a beautiful word,it describes all (agitated Cub fans) and I suspect Theo & Co. as well.

  • This team finished 18-41. That is winning 30% of your games. The Cubs traded Garza, Feldman, Dejesus and Soriano. Big losses but not exactly MVP candidates. Other than that it was the same team since June for the most part. That is why Sveum is getting the ax today.

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    IMO, Soriano was the only one that was really missed out of that group. Dejesus was mediocre when he wasn't hurt and his production was more than matched by Sweeney/Bogusevic/Lake. Same with Feldman and Garza. Arrieta and Strop improved the staff more than having Feldman would have, and until his last couple of starts, Rusin did a nice job as Garza hit a rough patch and some bad luck in Texas

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    I think a lot comes down to managerial style, and how they believe it will fit going forward with the core they are assembling. Development, motivation, etc. You need a guy that your players respect and want to go to war for. I'm not sure how it will go down, but I guarantee that style plays as much of a role as development ability/history.

  • Long time reader, first time commenting. You guys do great stuff here.

    I really think Sveum should be managing in 2014. He had a team that was not expected to be very competitive just 7 games below .500 after their series with the Giants near the end of July. Thinking long term they executed a few trades and were able to not only pick up a prospects and young players but they also obtained the 4th pick in next years draft (I hate looking at a season and saying we have a high draft, hopefully not much longer). With what Sveum and this coaching staff have been given to work with I believe they have done well. Hopefully Rizzo just experienced a sophomore slump and they are done trying to adjust Castro's approach, I think under any coaching staff they should improve in 2014.

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    In reply to JoeV10:

    I really do think there's a lot of good things you can say about Sveum. The team never gives up. They threw in the towel against St. Louis but to keep them going for two years minus three games is pretty impressive. They're also pretty good on fundamentals -- to the point that stupid crap annoys us because it's out of place.

    Having said that, the development of Rizzo, Castro, and BJax scares the hell out of me. I'm not sure I want him to "fix" Baez and Bryant when they reach the majors. While I admit the front office has far more information on his role in those three than I do, from what I can see, the risk seems pretty great.

  • In reply to JoeV10:

    Agree Joe, Dale has done a yoeman's job with what he was given. Remember, familarity breeds comptent, so it's natural to see something shiny, something new as improved. I think he stays with a couple of the coaches replaced.

  • If you take a look at the teams that have won over the last 25 years, the managers have the "It" factor. Don Zimmer, Dusty Baker, and Lou Piniella. You may not always agree with them, but those 3 managers won on a consistent basis. Unfortunately, Dale does not have the "It" factor. I know he doesn't have great talent, but the guy isn't getting anything out of Castro, Rizzo, and Barney. THose are core players. You don't think Girardi wouldn't get the most out of those guys? He has "IT". I don't believe Dale makes it another day, and Girardi will be in charge. He knows how to win and will win in Chicago, maybe not next year, but we will see improvement from the core guys.

  • In reply to vh4bvu:

    My gut agrees and when I allow it to do the talking, it sounds like you..

  • John,

    Great site all around. The content leading up and following the draft was amazing. Nobody does better recaps than Felzz.

    Thanks for the even keeled approach around this subject. Outside of any major red flags surrounding Sveum, the only way I see him going is if a 'wish list' candidate has expressed more than just interest.

    If Dale stays, I don't see media concerns dictating the extension decision and timetable. They could exercise the option or extend early, if they are confident in Dale and think the move would affect the club's culture.

  • In reply to Greggie Jackson:

    Thanks. Felzz has the most original recaps out there. Makes us laugh when we should be crying.

    I'm anxious to see what happens with the manager now and move on. I'm mostly interested in the players they bring in. If they do bring in a manager, I will be curious to see how (or if) that affects the rebuilding plan.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    Felzz is a must read after Cubs games, good or bad. Like the equivalent of listening to Buffone and O'Bradovich after a Bears game.

    The Score just reported Sveum is out.

  • I think the very best thing you can say about a manager (from a fans perspective) is that there's not much to say about him. Sveum didn't make horrible decisions. He wasn't a catalyst of debate, which I think is a good thing in Chicago. He's fine as the manager for the foreseeable future. If management feels another guy is better, I'm fine with that too.

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    Rosenthal reports Sveum is out.

  • Rosenthall says he's fired.

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    In reply to Holy Cattle:

    Great. We're all going to be drunk at work because we just popped the cork on a bottle champagne. lol

  • Ken Rosenthal ‏@Ken_Rosenthal 25s
    Source: #Cubs fire Sveum.

  • Per MLBTR, Sveum's been released. From Ken Rosenthal fwiw.

  • Kaplan confirms.

  • Sweeeeet

  • Rosenthal is saying that Sveum will be fired.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    If we take this information as given, I assume the whole staff has been terminated as well. Is that a good assumption? I think most of us would like to have seen a couple of coaches in Cubs uniforms next year.

  • If it's Girardi would he bring his pitching coach Larry Rothschild?

  • Since others have that....I won't repeat.

    However, an article saying that the players support the manager/coach is not news. They will until the next one is named. Only exception to that was Cutler in Denver.

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    Kaplan: Some members of staff may return. Search underway with Girardi far and away the #1 choice.

    Girardi's contract expires Oct. 31st. Cubs must request permission to talk to him before then.

  • In reply to Mike Moody:

    Maybe we can have another compensation debate!

  • get it done Theo .

  • In everything I read I didn't see that Bosio was in the meetings this morning. Perhaps he stays.

    Question: Since Girardi's Yankee contract does not expire until October 31st we would need permission to speak to him. I assume that the Yankees would want have the discussions limited with them until he says he will not return to New York. We can't talk to Girardi but can we talk with his agent?

  • In reply to Holy Cattle:

    pretty sure the agent has reached out, thats his job to put best deal possible in front of Joe .

  • Cubs just sped up the timetable , no other way to look at it, Girardi or any other name manager wont want 3 more years of rebuild, progress just got linear .

  • 'It's not personal it's business'

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    I think it's a long shot we'll get Girardi......I think Dale gave it 100% with a squad that depended upon guys who are in their early 20's to carry the team (Castro, Rizzo, etc). The pitching staff made good strides this year. I wish the Dale the best in whatever he does going forward.

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    Cubs make it official.

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