Today the Chicago Cubs will welcome managerial candidate number two, Milwaukee Brewers’ hitting coach Dale Sveum. The Cubs interviewed Phillies’ bench coach Pete Mackanin on Friday.
As with Mackanin, Sveum will meet with Cubs’ brass all day today (and, if it is just like with Mackanin, it started with dinner last night) before facing the media in a press conference that will hopefully yield a little more meat than did Mackanin’s (bonus points to any reporter who asks about the outfield wall lights at Miller Park, which are rumored to be used to help Brewers’ hitters and hurt opposing hitters (the Brewers won a league-leading 57 games at home, losing just 24)).
Sveum, 47, has been with the Brewers since 2006. Before that, he spent a couple years making controversial decisions as the Red Sox’s third base coach, and before that, he did some managing in the minor leagues. The time in Boston could prove valuable for Sveum, if he ends up in a city like Chicago, because in Boston he faced enormous – almost comical, he says – levels of scrutiny for every move he made. Obviously, as manager of the Chicago Cubs, the same would be true.
And Sveum has a tiny bit of Major League managerial experience, too, albeit in Milwaukee, in an interim role, over just 12 games and a first round playoff loss in 2008. He was considered for the full-time gig thereafter, but was passed over in favor of Ken Macha because management wanted someone with big-league managerial experience.
The Cubs are considering Sveum for a number of reasons, some obvious, some less so. As a former Red Sox coach, Sveum is not an unknown quantity to Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer. And, as a current Brewers’ coach, the NL Central is not an unknown quantity to Sveum. Indeed, he’s likely to have a pretty good gauge on, at a minimum, a large number of the pitchers in the NL Central, and in the National League, generally.
Sveum’s Brewers have had great success offensively, and, while it’s fair to wonder whether he could have any impact on studs like Ryan Braun and Prince Fielder, it’s also fair to wonder whether he can be credited with the offensive resurgence of guys like Nyjer Morgan or offensive development of guys like Corey Hart and Rickie Weeks. Given that the Brewers of late seem to consistently outproduce their talent, I’d say Sveum has at least something to do with their success.
Sveum is also considered a numbers guy, with rumors floating around that he obsessively pours over statistics in his spare time. And, the fact that he’s remained with the Brewers through three managerial changes suggests he’s a well-respected, and highly-valued member of the staff.
Like Mackanin, Sveum has already been interviewed by the Red Sox, and met with the Boston media last week. Among the topics discussed, Sveum addressed his managerial style vis a vis the players, and how he would address clubhouse problems.
“I don’t let things fester,” Sveum said. “If I see something that’s disrespecting me or disrespecting the game or the teammates that I’m managing, I’ll have a problem with that and I’ll take care of it at that given time.”
On his time in Boston, and the constant scrutiny, Sveum was magnanimous.
“I’ll just say I’m glad I was scrutinized for being aggressive instead of passive,” Sveum said. “I’m a very aggressive person and always have been.”
It will be interesting to hear more from Sveum later today, but, at this point, you’ve got to believe he’s one of the Cubs’ top candidates. His resume is solid, his attitude is appropriate, and his affection for the way new Cubs’ brass intend to do things is likely. In many ways, Sveum is the offensive equivalent, in terms of attractiveness in this search, to Mike Maddux, the pitching coach for the Rangers. It’s still too early to declare one candidate or another “the right guy” (in fact, we probably won’t know that for years), but I’m developing an affinity for both Sveum and Maddux.