Was Sveum Just a Cubs Band Aid at Manager?


In this age of social media and the Internet, the release of Dale Sveum can be considered old news at this hour. Theo Epstein had kind words for the man he hired and now fired for the Cubs manager job. The front office lead man thanked Sveum for his service, emphasizing the poise and dignity the now former manager had displayed during a rough two season stretch that will be all Sveum gets to mark his time with the Cubs.

Epstein then set the stage for the search of a replacement by mentioning that the time had come to move forward with their long term plan. With an expected influx of young talent over the next two seasons, it appears one of the reasons for the change at manager was to create a tangible disconnect with the previous pair of 90 plus loss campaigns. That was backed up by Epstein specifically using the words “energy, creativity, and freshness” during his statement. This was certainly not a shot at Sveum. As admirably as the former Brewer manager handled the constant losing, in reality any skipper would have been worn out by the loss totals the Cubs have accumulated in 2012 and 2013.

Sep 18, 2013; Milwaukee, WI, USA; Chicago Cubs manager Dale Sveum watches the game against the Milwaukee Brewers from the dugout in the seventh inning at Miller Park. Mandatory Credit: Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports

With the attention now turning to who the Cubs will bring in to lead the team from the ashes to contenders, there is a hint of wondering as to whether Sveum was just a bridge to pass the time until the journey from rock bottom was to begin the climb up. In other words, was it Epsten and Jed Hoyer’s plan all along to just hire a band aid to get by the toughest patch of the rebuild? That thought process would be in line with the defense to not hire Ryne Sandberg back when the Cubs had a chance to do so. There was word that the front office would not have wanted the awkward situation of firing a Hall of Famer and North Side legend.

There was implied by Phil Rogers of the Chicago Tribune that the three year deal and an approximate salary of $1.5 million annually was above market value for a manger of Sveum’s stature. While the ex Cubs manager was a finalist for the Red Sox opening that same off season, he certainly did not bring the name recognition that would have come with a Sandberg or a Joe Girardi that is being sought after now. The Cubs needed someone willing to grind through the expected losing.

With phase one of the rebuild now out of the way, Epstein and Company can turn their focus to the climb out of the ditch. With cornerstones Starlin Castro and Anthony Rizzo seemingly caught in a rut off the path to stardom, a manager like Girardi, who is known to maximize the abilities of his players, would help spark the infield duo back in the right direction. The hiring of someone with a Girardi like pedigree would signal to the players in the organization from top to bottom that things just got a little more serious.

But that can be discussed in a separate managerial search post. For now, let us take a moment to thank Sveum like Epstein has for the former managers service the past two years. While Svuem may not get to see out the vision of being along for the rags to riches ride to a World Series title with the Cubs, in hindsight he should be appreciated for handling the past two seasons and the rebuild phase with the effort and selflessness that Sveum displayed.