We all knew it was coming… Well, sort of. For weeks, the internet blogosphere has been permeated with rumors of Dale Sveum‘s impending doom. This morning, these rumors came to fruition as the Cubs announced they had dismissed the 49-year old after two seasons at the helm.
So… what’s next? That’s the million dollar question.
Theo Epstein stated earlier this afternoon that he would begin the search for the organization’s next manager tomorrow morning, but several other holes exist within the club.
The coaching staff and their future in Chicago tied to Epstein’s decision concerning a new skipper, the questions surrounding them as individuals remains uncertain. However, in my opinion, hitting coach James Rowson has a lot to worry about. The team ranked as the fourth-worst hitting team in all of Major League Baseball in 2013, and cornerstones Anthony Rizzo and Starlin Castro struggled to make contact all year long.
The starting rotation has potential pieces to go along with Jeff Samardzija and Travis Wood, but there’s a lot of question marks, as well. Edwin Jackson is coming off one of the worst seasons in his career, in which he led baseball with 18 losses – a career high.
Jake Arrieta, Scott Baker and Chris Rusin all look to earn rotation spots next season and some of the organization’s top pitching talent could see late-season action. Potential free agents that could draw the attention of Epstein and Hoyer could include Bronson Arroyo, Phil Hughes and Scott Kazmir. (At least it would be nice to see some of those arms in talks with Chicago).
Offensively, the team needs major help. Darwin Barney barely hit his weight this year, Anthony Rizzo showed impressive power despite lapses in contact and Starlin Castro showed side effects from organizational tampering for much of the season. Bring these three back to their career averages and a lot of problems would be solved.
The emergence of Welington Castillo behind the dish proved that the Cubs could have a long-term answer at catcher and Junior Lake‘s impressive rookie season provides the youngster something to build on next year.
What do you think the Cubs need to do this offseason? Should the team target major free agents or stick with internal development? Let us know on Twitter at @CubbiesCrib.