I have not really been a fan of Dale Sveum since Theo Epstein et al hired him to take over as manager for the Chicago Cubs in November 2011. What was Sveum going to bring to the Cubs as this franchise is rebuilt from the ground up? The belief was that Sveum was someone that the front office was familiar with as he was previously a coach for the Boston Red Sox. Feelings were that Sveum was going to excel at teaching and emphasizing the fundamentals of playing the game of baseball. The belief has been that Sveum, who had no previous Major League Level managing experience other than an interim stint in Milwaukee, would grow as the rebuilt/restructured Chicago Cubs grew with the prospects that were being brought in or brought up to play at Wrigley Field.
The 2012 Season was something that left a lot to be desired by most fans as the Cubs stumbled to a 101 loss season and the overpaid veteran players that were traded away for potential top prospects. With the lack of experience that the players all had at the Major League level and with the few veterans left, there really was not a lot of hope for much success. 2013 has come and almost gone and there was a secondary fire sale of over-paid veterans still left on this team that could possibly bring something back in return. The hope was that there would be a little bit of improvement yet, the entire organization was talking about potentially being a surprise contender for the season. Players were dealt and the kids remaining have struggled all season. Now it is up to Theo Epstein, Jed Hoyer and Jason McLeod to evaluate the entire team from manager to the relief corps that makes up the Cubs.
With the recent uprisings in the dugout that have been shown on TV, what should they do to fix this clubhouse? In my view, this is a reflection on the manager who was brought in to supposedly teach and help these players to remember the fundamentals. You have the apparent blow up of never was Edwin Jackson with Dale Sveum; Jeff Samardzija going off on third base coach David Bell; and on Friday, Kevin Gregg goes off on the organization because he feels that he is being disrespected. Everything happening at the end of the year for this season comes across that Sveum may have lost this team somewhere along the season. Continue with the way that key components of the core are struggling mightily and it would seem that there may be a change in manager coming after the season. While the won-loss record is not impressive, that is not the key element for Sveum’s job evaluation. I’m not sure that Ryne Sandberg would have done any better in win-loss ratio yet, it just seems that Sandberg would have brought a whole different element that it appears that Sveum does not possess: respect for the game and the effort needed to be put in for being successful.
Will Epstein et al make the move to eat the final year of Sveum’s contract, or keep him around and hope that 2014 would be better? If the decision is made for a change in leadership, who is available? There is speculation that Joe Girardi will not return to the Yankees. Girardi is from Peoria and played for the Cubs. Plus, he is a Northwestern grad, so this would make sense for Girardi’s “roots” though it’s not something to rely on. Mike Scioscia may be forced out in Anaheim due to lack of success with the overpaid free agents that were supposed to help the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim contend. Ron Washington in Texas may be wanting a change of scenery as well if the Rangers do not make the playoffs. I’m not sure that these three will be available and not completely sure who in their right mind will be willing to take on this team with the players who are truthfully too young to contend right now. A manager I would be willing to see as a temporary solution until the Cubs really are ready to contend would be Omaha Storm Chasers manager Mike Jirschele. Jirschele may not have the Major League level experience that Epstein et al want, but he has led Omaha to two of the last three Pacific Coast League titles including 2013. Jirschele has been doing something right the last couple of years with an organization that has been a doormat in baseball for over a decade in the Kansas City Royals. It is fun to see that this season the Royals remain in contention and their minor league team wins. We’ll see what happens! However, the probability is that Sveum will return for the final year of his contract.