The Cubs’ new front office tag team of Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer have finally found their man. Dale Sveum has accepted a three year offer (with a possible team option for a fourth year according to some sources) to leave his former position as Milwaukee’s hitting coach and come to the North Side.
Sveum, who enjoyed a 12 year major league career as a journeyman infielder, has been widely considered a prime managerial candidate for a few seasons. He spent a number of years as a coach in the majors, including time as third base coach for Boston. Since he has been with the Brewers for the past few seasons, Sveum will already be familiar with the NL Central and much of the Cubs roster. That will pay off, as the team will be moving rapidly in the next few weeks to prepare for the Winter Meetings.
This hiring should give the Cubs a clear inside track on Prince Fielder, should the Cubs want him. There is no known discord between Fielder and his former hitting coach, and that level of familiarity could be attractive to the big first baseman as he ponders his future.
Sveum’s experience as a major league shortstop and second baseman could also pay dividends for the Cubs young double play combo of Castro and LeMahieu (probably). Sveum made a ton of errors early in his career and should understand the need for patience when developing a young middle infield.
With Sveum as hitting coach, the Brewers were 5th in the league in OBP, well above league average (and the Cubs). Hopefully his presence in the dugout will help improve the Cubs in that critical offensive category.
As we head into the official press conference to announce Sveum tomorrow morning, this decision will no doubt be analyzed every possible way by every sports writer in the Mid-West and beyond. Regardless, the bottom line is that the Cubs plucked one of baseball’s prime managerial candidates to lead the team for the next three years. You never can tell how a manager will pan out until he has a few dozen games under his belt, but we have every reason to believe that the Cubs have found themselves a good one.