June 19, 2013; St. Louis, MO, USA; Chicago Cubs managerDale Sveum
(4) looks on as his team plays the St. Louis Cardinals during the third inning at Busch Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports
After last night’s win against a Dodgers team that had won eight straight against the Cubs, dating back to last year, Cubs skipper Dale Sveum recognized how big of a win this was for his ballclub.
"“Especially for the guys who were here last year & myself & coaching staff, (this was) probably one of our most satisfying wins, that’s for sure.”"
It’d be hard to find anyone who would argue with that statement. With the the game-tying runner on base and Dodgers’ standout Yasiel Puig at the plate in the bottom of the ninth, Chicago closer Kevin Gregg set down the Cuban sensation on a weak pop-up to end the game and give the Cubs a much-needed 3-2 win.
It’s been a forgettable season for Chicago, but with that in mind, the team has improved quite a bit from 2012. One year ago today, the Cubs were 49-79 – a whopping 30 games under .500 for the season. Currently, Chicago sits an even 20 games below .500 with a record of 56-76, a noted improvement from just last season. The starting pitching has been better, and win totals have increased – despite a lack of consistent production from both Starlin Castro and Anthony Rizzo, two main pieces in the lineup on a daily basis.
With this in mind, one glaring question comes to mind. Is Dale Sveum the man for the job?
With one season remaining on his three-year deal, and another losing season practically hand wrapped with a bow on it, the discussions amongst Cubs’ faithful will soon begin. Is Dale our guy? Could we do better? Where would we even go from here?
There are countless aspects that could tilt an individual either way on whether or not Sveum will be the man at the helm come contention time in Chicago. Despite ranking second in the league in both home runs and doubles, the Cubs are ahead of only the lowly Astros and Marlins in batting average, hits, and on-base percentage. Furthermore, the team is barely staying above the dreaded Mendoza line with runners in scoring position.
The roster, on the other hand, is comparable to some organization’s Triple-A club. When you have the likes of Brian Bogusevic, Donnie Murphy and Luis Valbuena starting regularly for your team, things clearly aren’t where you’d like them to be. The talent on the roster, simply put, just isn’t there. This is only further evidenced by the fact that Kevin Gregg is still the Chicago closer, despite struggling more as the season progresses. He’s been known in his career for racking up blown saves, and this year has been no different. (See Sunday’s loss if you need a refresher course).
The organization is continuing to develop a strong minor league core, containing the likes of Javier Baez, who clubbed 35 homers and drove in over 100 this season between two levels, Albert Almora, who was a dominant force for the Class-A Kane County Cougars, Jorge Soler and Kris Bryant – who didn’t miss a beat after joining the Cubs after being taken with the second overall pick of the June draft. All of these players will appear in the Arizona Fall League this offseason.
This year’s free agent class is loaded with top notch talent, and Chicago is already rumored to be pursuing Reds outfielder Shin-Soo Choo, who is largely considered one of the best all-around players in the class, combining a great approach at the plate with speed and solid defensive skills. Whether or not the Cubs will seek to land David Price remains to be seen, but Cubs fans continue to dream about it regularly.
For now, stay the course. Sveum is a gritty baseball man who knows the game better than most. Things haven’t been good – well all know that. But for now, Sveum is our captain. Give him the tools, and he will get the job done.