As mentioned on Cubbies Crib on Friday, Chicago Cubs President of Baseball Operations Theo Epstein spoke to reporters at Wrigley Field while observing first round pick Albert Almora work out. Epstein told reporters on Friday that it has been admirable to watch this group of players play each game with a fresh outlook and not quit, despite where the team sits in the standings. Epstein also praised the progress of the Cubs’ farm system.
When Epstein credited the Cubs for not quitting this season, that could also be praise for Cubs’ manager Dale Sveum. After all, Sveum is the leader of the 25 men within the Cubs’ clubhouse and each player has responded positively to his managing techniques. The biggest example of all may be left fielder Alfonso Soriano, who some would consider a MVP candidate had the Cubs been in contention for a post-season spot this season.
Given the Cubs record this season, eventually, the evaluation of Sveum was bound to happen. Now, there are some who would undoubtedly take the naive approach and suggest that Sveum has failed to meet expectations because of the Cubs’ poor record. But, the could not be any further from the truth. Think about the goal for the Cubs this season. The goal was to turn short term assets into long term assets while progressing the farm system. Sveum’s role in that process would be developing the prospects that earned a promotion to the Major League this season while also continuing the development of the young players on the roster. In that aspect, Sveum has succeeded. Center fielder Brett Jackson has responded well to the adjustments offered by Sveum’s staff as well as first baseman Anthony Rizzo. Meanwhile, shortstop Starlin Castro and second baseman Darwin Barney have also taken steps forward in terms of their progress and development.
“We told Dale in the (job) interview that based on where we are as a franchise, we’re going to try to win, but we’re not even going to evaluate him on wins and losses in the first couple of years,” Epstein said. “It wouldn’t be fair because we knew we would be putting out a team that had too much development talent to evaluate him strictly on wins and losses.” Chicago Tribune
Knowing this fact, it should be no surprise that Epstein is not evaluating Sveum on the amounts of wins he collects. In fact, given the goals of the organization, Epstein appears to be impressed with how Sveum carried not only the team but himself during his first season as Cubs’ manager.
“For a team that’s where we are in the standings, it has been one of the best clubhouses I’ve been around,” Epstein said. “They show up to play every day, they like each other, they prepare, they work hard.
I’m not sure if Epstein intended to say this comment the way he did, but the Cubs’ President may have also been taking a shot at his former employer, the Boston Red Sox. Epstein left the Red Sox last winter amid rumors about the character of the Red Sox clubhouse, and through the course of this season, those rumors have become glaring truths. Red Sox manager Bobby Valentine has lost control of the Red Sox clubhouse, and it is that circus like atmosphere that may have added to the list of factors that led to Epstein joining the Cubs’ front office. Despite anything that has gone wrong on the field, Sveum has never lost control of the Cubs’ clubhouse and that could be the reason why he will be the manager of the Cubs for not only the rebuild but the for the finished product as well.