Sveum Flexes His “Cybermetric” Knowledge


Let’s face it… we all have a slip of the tongue sometimes.

It’s like those awkward moments when you’re talking to someone really good looking or a celebrity and you just fumble over your words. Your tongue becomes play-doh in your mouth and all that comes out is an inaudible gurgle-grunt type thing.

The best thing to do is play it off like you speak some exotic language and you can all laugh about it later. It’s a great ice-breaker.

But sometimes you just straight up say the wrong thing.

Dale Sveum had one of these moments during a press conference where he discussed a controversial call to get Starlin Castro to lay down a bunt against the St. Louis Cardinals on May 14th.

If you weren’t tuned in to the game, here’s the situation:

Runners on first and second, none away, Sveum signals to Castro to bunt in order to advance the two runners to second and third.

This should already be chiming off warning alarms to most people. When on earth do you make your #3 guy in the batting order bunt?! But moving on…

Bryan LaHair (who is arguably the fourth best batter in baseball right now) would have been due up next, and Cardinals’ pitcher Mitchell Boggs would have almost certainly given him the intentional walk. Pending everything working out for the Cardinals, the end result would have been not letting the hot-handed LaHair even have a look at hitting the ball and the double play that Sveum wanted to avoid with the sacrifice bunt in the first place, would have been there anyway.

Castro listened to his manager, laid the bunt down and ended up bunting into a double play thanks to a heads up play by Cardinals first baseman Matt Carpenter.

Essentially, Castro wasted an AB thanks to a poor call by Dale Sveum.

Now I’m not one to criticize the team I love so dearly. I’m usually pretty optimistic and take the brightest outlook on any situation, but I have never screamed so much at my own TV in my life. My throat is sore today from cursing Sveum’s name.

I’m certain I wasn’t alone in this either.

The twitterverse exploded with “WTF’s” and other explicit language that my editor would probably not be happy to see published. People were outraged and rightfully so.

I began to ponder if maybe Dale Sveum was a little bit… you know…. nutty. I had total faith in him as a rookie manager and I never really questioned many of his oddball calls or lineup choices. I always thought that he’d had a “bigger plan” in his back pocket and his slightly unconventional strategy was just part of the new Cubs regime.

Trying to think nothing of it, I watched the Cubs news conference today and Sveum had a few pungent answers for the Catro-bunt questions.

"You can go on and on about the goods and the bads of all of these things. The bottom line is I’m the one that make the decisions. Sometimes they work, and sometimes they don’t."

Strong words, but words that had to be spoken none the less. He has to keep his authority and confidence or else he’ll lose control of the team as a whole. The press conference continued:

"You wanna talk about cybermetrics, then OK. Then you talk about the team that has more people on base during the course of the game is going to win way more games than the other teams. You want to keep intentionally walking guys and all that? Then the odds gradually come (the opposing team’s) favor to win the game. If (the opposing team’s) third, fourth and fifth hitters get up five times in a game, you’ve got a chance of losing that game at an alarming rate."

Cyber… cyber what Dale? Did you really just say CYBERmetrics?!

I literally had to scrape my jaw off the floor. Was this guy serious? Sveum was already on my radar, but this was just sensory overload for me.

After I was done losing my mind and cleaning up my spilled bowl of mini-wheats (with fruit filling!) I tried to collect myself.

“There’s no way he meant it. It must be a joke! Maybe he lost a bet? God, there is milk all over the place….”

The more I think about it now, the more I realize it cant be real. The Cubs are known for being a sabermetrics based team, especially now with Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer at the helm. They’ve even partnered up with Bloomberg sports to create a stats engine specifically designed for the Cubs.

Numbers and SABERmetrics are literally the backbone of this team. Could it be that such a disconnect exists from the head office to the dugout?

Dale Sveum isn’t a moron… not by a long shot. He’s been involved in baseball for many years and he can still manage a baseball team better than most of us arm-chair fans sitting at home can. No contest doesn’t even begin to cover it.

But I cant help but wonder what on earth possessed him to say Cybermetrics?! Maybe Dale just had a slip of the tongue. Maybe Dale is sitting at home laughing his head off at all the Cubs websites and media outlets who are doing the same thing as I am right now. Who knows.

One thing is for certain though: Dale Sveum scared the crap out of me, a lot of fans, and hopefully the front office.