The Cubs officially fired Dale Sveum today as I speculated they would yesterday. Again, this isn’t so much about Sveum and the job he did but the Cubs thinking that the guy they want is becoming available. In a statement the Cubs said they would like to have a new manager in place by the November GM meetings, and have not had discussions with anyone as of yet. More as it comes.
Here is Theo’s full statement:
“Today, we made the very difficult decision to relieve Dale Sveum of his duties as Cubs manager. Dale has been a committed leader for this team the last two seasons, and I want to thank him for all of his dedication and hard work. I have a lot of admiration for Dale personally, and we all learned a lot from the way he has handled the trying circumstances of the last two years, especially the last two weeks, with strength and dignity. In his own authentic and understated way, Dale always put the team first and never complained about the hand he was dealt. He and his staff helped us excel in game planning and defensive positioning, contributed to the emergence of several players, and helped put us in position to make some important trades. I have no doubt that – much like Terry Francona, whom we hired in Boston after his stint with a losing Phillies club – Dale will go on to great success with his next team. We had hoped Dale would grow with our organization to see it through the building phase to a period of sustained excellence; instead, I believe Dale, who felt the weight of losing perhaps more than any of us, will grow because of this experience and find excellence elsewhere. Today’s decision to pursue a new manager was not made because of wins and losses. Our record is a function of our long-term building plan and the moves we have made – some good, a few we would like back – to further this strategy. Jed and I take full responsibility for that. Today’s decision was absolutely not made to provide a scapegoat for our shortcomings or to distract from our biggest issue – a shortage of talent at the major league level. We have been transparent about what we are, and what we are not yet. Today’s decision, which was painful for all of us, was made to move us closer to fulfilling our ultimate long-term vision for the Cubs. Soon, our organization will transition from a phase in which we have been primarily acquiring young talent to a phase in which we will promote many of our best prospects and actually field a very young, very talented club at the major league level. The losing has been hard on all of us, but we now have one of the top farm systems in baseball, some of the very best prospects in the game, and a clear path forward. In order for us to win with this group – and win consistently – we must have the best possible environment for young players to learn, develop and thrive at the major league level. We must have clear and cohesive communication with our players about the most important parts of the game. And – even while the organization takes a patient, long view – we must somehow establish and maintain a galvanized, winning culture around the major league club. I believe a dynamic new voice – and the energy, creativity and freshness that comes with this type of change – provides us with the best opportunity to achieve the major league environment we seek. We will begin our search immediately – a process which will be completed before the GM meetings in early November and perhaps much sooner. There are no absolute criteria, but we will prioritize managerial or other on-field leadership experience and we will prioritize expertise developing young talent. We have not yet contacted any candidates or asked permission to speak with any candidates, but that process will begin tomorrow morning.”
Another season is in the books, one that for the most part we would all like to forget, again. Those of us that have bought in to the rebuilding plan that Theo and company have put into place expected this, still, it really isn’t a lot of fun to sit through 95+ losses. The common theme since the beginning of the rebuilding process has been “is Dale Sveum the right man for the job?” Well, everything that the front office has said up until the last month or so has been yes, Sveum is the right guy and he can’t be truly judged on wins and losses given this roster. The tune has changed in the last month, as now I’m thinking that Sveum has a better chance of being unemployed come Monday than he does opening the season with the Cubs in Pittsburgh next April. So, what has changed?
I think above all else Theo and the front office know what guy they want to lead the Cubs as they slowly start to gain traction, and win games on a more regular basis. I don’t think that guy is Dale Sveum, one reason for that I think is the stalled development of Anthony Rizzo and Starlin Castro this year. Not saying that Sveum is completely to blame for this, but he shares the blame as do Rizzo and Castro. Others have questioned his use of the bullpen, again not really sure how clear-cut that argument is given the choices out there. The other reason is that I think the guy the Cubs want running the show is now available, well maybe, hello Joe Girardi.
Via an ESPN article today
“I haven’t really made up my mind,” Girardi said during his nearly 30-minute state-of-the-season news conference before the Yankees’ final game against the Houston Astros.
Girardi, who turns 49 next month, said he’ll make his decision after consulting with his wife and three children, who are 14, 11 and 7.
Of course this doesn’t mean that Girardi has made up his mind yet, but I get a feeling that he is ready to move elsewhere in his managing career. There is a fit in Chicago for Girardi, but Girardi is quick to explain that he has moved on from Chicago with his family and is happy in New York. To me, there is too much smoke here for there not to be a fire, I would not be surprised to see Sveum canned tomorrow, and Girardi introduced shortly thereafter during this off-season as the next Cubs manager. If Girardi decides to stay in New York I still expect the Cubs to part ways with Sveum, I think the organization is taking a chance here, but I also think it is a necessary one to take at this point in the process. Brad Ausmus has been also rumored to be on a short list to take over the Cubs, but that is all speculation at this point as well. A change to Ausmus doesn’t make as much sense here as I don’t think you would really be “upgrading” with that move. Stay tuned tomorrow to see what will happen, I’m sure it will be an interesting day.
September is usually a busy roster month and the Cubs are doing nothing to dispel the notion. Two moves of note today, first, the Cubs purchased the contract of Chang-Yong Lim and DFA’d Michael Bowden. Lim is intriguing, the 37-year-old right-handed pitcher was signed this off-season as he was rehabbing from Tommy John Surgery. All that Lim has done since getting back on the mound is dominate, and has done so while pitching at four different levels this year. His most recent stop was at Triple A Iowa where he had an ERA of 0.79 in eleven appearances.
The second move of the day could end up being a big one. There were whispers that once the Red Sox cut Daniel Bard the Cubs would be front-runners to claim him, and they did. This season has been a disaster for Bard, think Rick Ankiel disaster, as Bard can’t find the plate. Bard tossed 6.1 innings in the minors this year and threw ten wild pitches and walked twenty-three, yes both numbers are correct. The Cubs don’t want that Bard, they want the Bard that was considered to be one of the best bullpen arms in baseball in 2010, and 2011. In 2010 Bard worked 74.2 innings while posting a 1.93 ERA, and in 2011 Bard worked 73 innings with a 3.33 ERA. If Bard can find that magic once again this could be a huge deal for the Cubs as they might have acquired the best set up man in baseball for nothing, well they had to DFA Cole Gillespie to make room, so Bard for Gillespie, I’ll take that chance.