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Throughout the long managerial search process, I was frequently asked: who do you want to get the job?

It is, at the same time, a totally understandable and fair question, and an unfair and difficult question. On the one hand, I’m a huge Chicago Cubs fan, and I know a bit about the team, the game, and the candidates, so surely I must have a favorite (and I suppose I did). On the other hand, my visibility to these guys is – like everyone who isn’t conducting the interviews or interacting with them in the ballpark on a daily basis – minimal. It’s much harder to know that you want hitting coach X to be the Cubs’ manager than it is to know that you want Theo Epstein to be the Cubs’ president, because, while the track record of the latter is totally evaluable, the track record of the former is much tougher to gauge.

So, when I was asked who I wanted to get the Cubs’ job, I had an instinctual response lined up: whoever Theo and Jed want.

I rarely said that, mind you, because it sounds thinly-reasoned and lemming-like. Instead, I usually finagled some combination of “really like Maddux,” “Sveum looks good, too,” and “I can see the merit in Alomar.” But, deep down, I knew how I really felt: whomever Theo and Jed select, after a grueling, personal interview process is the guy I want. I already trust their instincts.

And I knew I’d be thrilled to get whichever guy they chose.

So that’s why I’m squealing just a little bit now that the Cubs have landed former Milwaukee Brewers hitting coach Dale Sveum as the team’s new manager. Sveum gets a three-year deal (most new manager deals are just two years, but Sveum was a hot commodity), with an option for a fourth year. He’ll be introduced tomorrow morning at 9am.

Even if I wasn’t happy with the move just because Theo and Jed are happy, there are objective reasons to be excited, too. As I said when Sveum came in as a candidate:

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.

You can see more on Sveum here, when he spoke to the media after his interview.

Sveum also learned from some of the best. As a player, he played under some managers who know their way around a dugout: Tony LaRussa, Joe Torre, Lou Piniella, Jim Leyland and Gene Lamont.

Sveum was going to be a Major League manager sooner or later, and clearly some of the smartest executives in baseball wanted him. The only ding you can lay on him is the fact that the Brewers never promoted him to the managerial position, including after a short, successful run as interim manager. They say it was because they wanted to hire externally, and maybe that’s true. It’s fair to wonder.

Some will try and ding Sveum by saying, “he’s not Mike Maddux.” Here’s the thing: (1) our visibility to the interview process is so limited that it would be unfair for us to say that Maddux was clearly a better candidate than Sveum, even if the Cubs maybe preferred Maddux, and (2) Maddux being awesome says nothing about whether or not Sveum is awesome. The fact that the Cubs moved aggressively to nail down Sveum when it appeared that the Red Sox were going to try and do so speaks to their opinion of just how good of a candidate Sveum is.

One other not-insignificant plus? Sveum wanted to manage the Cubs. According to various reports, the Red Sox wanted Sveum, too, but Sveum preferred the Cubs’ job. As I’m sure you’ll hear tomorrow morning, Sveum likes the idea of being able to build the Cubs together with Theo, Jed, Jason, and the rest.

Now. How will this all play out?

We can’t know for certain. There was a time in the not-so-distant past that I was satisfied with the hiring of Mike Quade. The lesson there? Observing a man manage over the course of a season tells you a whole lot more about how much you like or dislike that man as a manager than a couple weeks of interviews and articles (or a short interim managerial role) could ever tell you. So, I’m happy with the hiring for reasons tied to Theo and Jed, and for reasons tied to Sveum’s resume.

So, for now: I’m happy. But it’s up to Sveum to justify that happiness next year. I think Theo recently used the phrase, “trust but verify.” That sounds about right.

  • johnbres2

    Good stuff, Brett. I am delighted with the Sveum hire. I purged my Maddux frustrations this morning, and am ready to move forward into the bright future. It feels good to be able to turn our full attention back to the guys who will be on the field.

  • Bails17

    Now….let’s see how many of the best coaches in the game he can get to come his way!  I want new Pitching, Hitting, and Bench Coaches for sure!!

    • Josh Z

      Well Sveum and Jarmaillo are considered the best and they are both Cubs. No way Mike Maddux comes. Maybe Greg.

      • Bails17

        I wouldn’t say Jarmaillo is considered THE BEST.  He came highly regarded, but I am not sold on him at all.

        • Joe

          Yeah, can’t be too happy with what he taught Aramis… wait, Aramis didn’t talk to him? Like, even during his protracted slump?

          Oh.

          That said, blame goes on both parties for that screwy dynamic, and those above them for not cleaning it up.

          Frankly, I think this is the year that Jaramillo shows his worth. Gonna be a lot of young guys in the lineup, more than likely…

  • R.I.P. SANTO

    Love the aggressiveness glad its over . Let’s hope he hires an inventive and respected pitching coach I think this is key . Look at the WS this year Maddux ,Duncan 2 of the best

    • http://cubbiescrib.com Luke

      Agreed. First order of business for Sveum has to be finding a pitching coach.

      • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

        That will be a HUGE decision, and one in which I’m sure Theo and Jed will be heavily involved.

  • Spencer

    Did he play minor league baseball?

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      He did! And I approve!

  • johnbres2

    I wonder if Mike Maddux would consider being pitching coach. I think that is a slightly shorter flight from Texas than Manager.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      That’s almost too clever.

  • http://www.calliopevoices.com EtotheR

    SVEET!

    • TWC

      Heh.  Like.

    • Joe

      Love it. Stealing it now. What’re the odds we can get #SVEET to trend on Twitter?

      • http://www.calliopevoices.com EtotheR

        Svell!

    • http://www.calliopevoices.com EtotheR

      Svoot!

  • jt

    I also like that Sveum spent 12 seasons playing big league ball, might help him keep control of the clubhouse a little better than someone like Quade.

  • Josh Z

    As far as bench coach I think DeMarlo Hale would be a good choice. He had a phone interview with the Cubs already and with Francona out, Boston may just clean house.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      Except that Boston will demand “significant compensation” for letting Hale go…

      • http://cubbiescrib.com Luke

        We probably owe them Szczur and Cashner just for mentioning his name.

        • JasonB

          I’m over Boston – time to move on. I’m sure there are plenty of good coaches not associated with them.

      • Hawkeye

        Damn Brett, you beat me to it.

    • http://cubbiescrib.com Luke

      At bench coach, I’d rather have someone who has spent a lot of time in Wrigley and is more familiar with the oddities of so many day games, the wind, and so on. Either keep someone who was on Quade’s staff as bench coach, or bring back someone who coached under a previous manager.

      I do think that managing the Cubs has enough unique challenges that having a guy in the manager’s ear who understands those challenges intricately would be a good thing.

    • Adam

      Bruce Levine was just on ESPN 1000 and mentioned that Sveum and Jason Kendall are apparently very close, and that he might be a possibility for bench coach. I don’t know how I feel about that, but he is familiar with the division and he knows Wrigley from his time (albeit brief) with the Cubs.

      • http://cubbiescrib.com Luke

        He spent long enough with the Pirates and Brewers he probably gets Wrigley even without his time with the Cubs.

        And he’s a pretty good former catcher, and I like catchers as managers / bench coaches. I’d be ok with Kendall.

    • Wilbur

      While one would think MLB playing experience has value I’d submit its an Irrelevant item to use to project a manager’s skill in “managing the clubhouse.”

      I think Walt Alston and Sparky Anderson each had one game apiece in the majors. There have been numerous other good managers with very short major league careers. That’s why skills at the game have little correlation to how well you lead, motivate, soothe bruised egos, and when necessary discipline individuals.

      Works that way in life too, is the best salesman the best sales manager … etc …

  • MightyBear

    Good article Brett. Another job well done. There’s a video on espn chicago of John Kruk talking about Sveum and he said whether it was the Cubs, Red Sox or someone else hiring him, Sveum would be a good manager. We shall see. I do trust that Theo and the boys know what they are doing. (Again I love saying that.)

  • Fishin Phil

    Squeal!

  • Rob Samuelson

    So are we going to be getting Obsessive New (Whatever) Coach Watches now? I’d imagine Sveum will want to bring in his own people for most or all of the coaching positions.

  • Hawkeye

    Brett, we discussed some time ago that we thought alot of things were coming from the desk of Theo as opposed to the desk of Jed.   We noted how interesting it was that Theo has been doing so much of what we percieved to be Jed’s job at the time.   We eventually wrote it off to just being so much to do so fast that there was no time for formalities and postioning.   My question to you and the BN, who introduces Sveum at the PC tomorrow?

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      Ooh, I like it. Based on how everything has gone to this point, you’d have to guess Epstein. He’s clearly been the man in charge, even on this stuff. On the other hand, Hoyer’s comments make it sound like he’ll be the guy working directly with the manager.

      My guess is Theo, but it should probably be Jed, if he’s the one who’ll be working more closely with Sveum.

      • Hawkeye

        I would like to see Jed as well.   Just feel like we as a fan base need to get used to hearing and seeing him.   I do think that after all is said and done, Theo is going to start to step out of the light and go back to his office with his computers and be a little more behind the scenes.   Ultimately, I am just glad we have the seat filled and can move on.  

        Moving forward, I did see that all Cubs jerseys with Riggans written on the back have been marked 98% off.   Thinking about getting one myself.   How nice to get such a great deal a week before black friday.

        • JasonB

          I still think my theory holds some water – Theo was actively involved in the managerial search because he was already actively looking at candidates in Boston.

          They’ll both be there tomorrow – just a matter of which one talks but you raise an interesting point.

          • Joe

            Involved, yes, but I agree that it should be Jed’s show tomorrow.

    • TWC

      “My question to you and the BN, who introduces Sveum at the PC tomorrow?”

      Yosh Kawano

      • hardtop

        my question is, how do you say his name?  im sure ive heard it uttered but never really processed it.  i always say “cee-vum” in my head… but also said “fav-ray” for a certain old fudge packer.

        if he teaches the cubs that they swing like fielder, ill be pissed.  if he teaches our power hitters to take walks like fielder, ill be happy.  no way rudy stays on the bench with sveum: it appears that their philosophies as hitting coaches couldnt be more different.

        • Joe

          I believe it’s “Sway-um”. The V pronounced as a W, the E as an A.

        • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

          Swaim.

          • hansman1982

            “Sway-em” or “Swam” or “Swym” or “Swamey (please dear god no, 1 of those is annoying enough)”

            • DRock

              Starts with an S! Let’s see. Swim? Swammi? Slippy? Slappy? Swenson? Swanson?…Samsonite! I was WAY off! Knew it started with an S though!

              • Polar Bear

                Outstanding reference!!!

                • Cubbie Blues

                  I think I heard Quade pronounce it Swaimy

                  • hansman1982

                    V-Diddy is the official Q-name

        • Wilbur

          Hopefully in three seasons it will be “Dale Sveum, manager of the Central Division Champion Chicago Cubs.” Other titles will come if they achieve this one frequently.

  • matt

    What’s not to like about taking the hitting coach of one of our NL Central Rivals? Sveum automatically makes the pitching staff better as he knows the intracacies of that Brewers lineups, and I’m sure he has an idea or two about how to get them out.

    I think this is a good hire. Next move Pitching Coach!!!!!

    • Joe

      Heheh. NICE. #SVEET

  • Todd

    Congrats to the Cubs’ management. It appears they hired the most sought after candidate of the off-season for all the right reasons. Thorough interviews led to the best match with management, all the while stymieing the Red Sox (suck it). Looks like they’re running a real tight ship on Clark and Addison these days.

  • Alex

    Everyone, you have to read this from HardballTalk.com

    The Fenway Stadium Group Smear Machine is in FULL gear on this one. I’m too disgusted to say anything more about it, just read what the link says.

    http://hardballtalk.nbcsports.com/2011/11/17/report-theo-was-the-one-who-leaked-bostons-dirty-laundry-last-month/

    Those guys will never quit.

    • JasonB

      This is funny…

      “Which means that the people telling these radio hosts this about Epstein are slamming a guy who just left in an effort to make it clear that the Red Sox front office is not in the business of slamming people who just left.

      Got that?”

      • Alex

        Exactly..

      • Hawkeye

        Not only that, but I can’t believe they are still requesting compensation for a guy that they obviously weren’t that happy with.

        • Alex

          No doubt.. They should also be happy that the Cubs are paying off the bonuses from Theo’s contract.

          • Fishin Phil

            Where have I heard that before?

    • http://cubbiescrib.com Luke

      At this rate they’re going to run that franchise right into the ground.

      I can hear Larry now…
      “Welcome to the Red Sox. Don’t have too much success or we’ll trash your reputation when you leave. Don’t have too little success or we’ll trash your reputation anyway. In fact, we’ll just trash you. Wait… why are you leaving? Get back here! You didn’t sign your contract yet!”

      • Alex

        I’ll bet Larry is going to want compensation for Theo signing Sveum. They’ll probably start up the Garza talk again.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      What a load of horse shit. That’ll be getting some attention.

      • Alex

        Did you see one of their points of justification after Theo left? “Papelbon leaves and nothing negative gets leaked to the press.”

        WOW!! Those guys are REAL pieces of work.

    • Hawkeye

      Thanks for the link Alex.   As I was reading the article, I saw a link on the side bar for another story on the website.   Very hard to not smile to yourself when you read this one.   It’s called Karma, and these folks have alot of the bad kind coming their way…

      http://hardballtalk.nbcsports.com/2011/11/17/do-the-red-sox-have-any-idea-what-theyre-doing-in-their-managerial-search/

      • Alex

        Can’t wait to see them fall. It will be a pleasure.

        I can’t believe that I am actually going to pull for the Yankees to win the AL East from now on. Anyone but the Red Sox.

        • JasonB

          Me either – amazing how much better the Yanks look than the BoSox after this.

          • Cubbie Blues

            Curse of the Sveumy. Strike two Boston. Care to be cut down?

    • Todd

      Thanks, Alex. Unbelievable article. The Red Sox are falling apart and their fans know it. I love reading the comments on articles like these. One reader opines, “Boston is, apparently, the anti-Vegas. What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas; what happens in Boston will soon be broadcast from the highest mountaintop, from which the reputations of all who left will be thrown into the gorges below.” Good stuff.

      • Alex

        It’s as if the Fenway Stadium Group thought people would buy into that hot garbage. It’s great to read the comments and see them getting blasted.

        Even the Red Sox fans aren’t buying it.

        • Cubbie Blues

          I wonder why Epstein wanted to leave? It sounds so rosy over there.

    • R.I.P. Santo

      I’m sure no one in the front office will leak info about how juiced up those World Series teams were.

  • R.I.P. Santo

    To be honest the Cubs coulb be announcing “Mary Jane Rotten Crotch” (Full Metal Jacket) as the new Manager and it would be a step up from eyebrow pencil. I am glad its over and cant wait for the Hot Stove to heat up more

  • Mike Foster

    Bleacher Nation says Theo + Jed + Dale = #SVEET 2012!

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      Ha.

  • MC2

    In case anyone missed it Sveum (Swaim)… …

    1) Cubs Online reports: Sveum is close to Pat Listach and Listach has a year left on his contract. I heard Levine mention the Kendall thing also but didn’t know if Kendall had officially retired or not?

    2) Thought boston had cleaned house with the coaches and released them all to pursue other jobs (pitching coach went to Oakland), Don’t know if compensation would even be in play for Hale?

     

  • Cheryl

    Glad its over! Was afraid there’d be a last minute snafu but when Boston announced they might widen their search that may have helped Sveum to go with the Cubs.

    • Cubbie Blues

      That was obviously in response to OUR hiring.

  • jandersonjr81

    Great writing Brett. I must admit, I wanted Tito or Mike, But I still find myself excited about the hire. I think its just because I trust Theo. Just a thought for you. Whats the chances you think we could hire Ryno for a bench coach? Also, if we offered, do you think he would take it?

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      Thanks, JA. I’d say the chances on Ryno as a bench coach (or any coach with the Cubs in the next two years) are between non-existent and really, really, really unlikely. It’s a distraction that probably isn’t worth the upside.

      • TWC

        “Upside.”  Heh.

      • Hawkeye

        “So you’re saying theres a chance…”

        • Wilbur

          Great line …

      • jandersonjr81

        I feel the same. But the fact that he wants to be a manager, and nobody is going to hire him without some big league experience, he would have to take a coaching job somewhere. Why not us? it would also line him to be the manager is Sveum doesn’t work out, which of course I hope it does work out. I never wanted Ryno as manager, but, I still support him as a cubs fan and think he would make a good bench coach.

        • TWC

          “[If] nobody is going to hire him without some big league experience, he would have to take a coaching job somewhere. Why not us? it would also line him to be the manager is Sveum doesn’t work out…”

          That’s exactly why you don’t hire him.

      • Mike Foster

        Totally agree, nice to see you chance a reaction from the Ryno worshippers…I Iike edgy, sometimes.

  • MC2

    Unconfirmed sources out of Boston report Larry Lucchino is pissed and wants the last word in the manager race. His Expanded search to include:

    Don Zimmer

    Don Baylor

    Jim Essian

    Jim Lefebvre

    Lou Pinella respectively declined… … :)

    • Hawkeye

      It’s not often that you get to sit back and actually watch a train wreck happen in slow motion like this.

    • JulioZuleta

      I’ll confirm those reports….I’m pretty sure this is how all rumors out of boston start.

  • DolphinDan

    New to the site. IT IS AWESOME!!!!! Cubs fan since mid 80’s and I have not felt this optomistic since the days of Jody Davis, Leon Durham, and the Hawk!! GO CUBS!!!

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      Thanks, Dan. Glad to have you.

  • Cliffy

    WEEI hosts blame Theo for the smear campaign against Francona,

    http://boston.cbslocal.com/2011/11/17/gresh-zo-reports-are-theo-was-the-leak/

    • JulioZuleta

      Too bad they are too stupid to realize that blaming the smear campaign on theo just furthers the smear campaign. I would hope no one has a low enough iq to think theo would leak that. First of all the clubhouse stuff isn’t theos fault but it certainly doesn’t reflect well on him. Also why would he leak it and then consider francona for the cubs. Pure stupidity

      • hansman1982

        This is pure democracy in action.

        Fans wanted blood after the Sept collapse, they boot Francona to the curb which causes Theo to leave which puts them in an even further freefall as they try to PR spin their way out of the hole they dug on Oct 2 (roughly the day Tito was fired)

  • NMINTS

    Do you guys think this helps us if we are in the race for Fielder?

    • Hawkeye

      Do we know if Fielder liked Sveum?   If they didn’t get along, then I would say this move didn’t help us.

    • JasonB

      I hope not, unless he only asks for a 5-year deal.

      From Brett’s recap of Sveum’s interview, it seems as if Sveum and Fielder got along pretty well. I don’t think Sveum would give him that much praise if there wasn’t a good relationship.

  • MC2

    Earlier on ESPN 1000 they had said Fielder had lobbied for Sveum at the last managers change in Milwaukee… …

     

  • nonesuch

    Brett, some f-d up stuff emanating from Boston. Any insight on the Theo/Lucchino relationship. Is this a big part of the reason he left? Was it a “let’s hire the 28 yr. old whiz kid but have Larry babysit him” and Theo got sick of it? Are the bad free agent signings part Lucchino’s influence? It’s just that inquiring minds want to know the dynamic and what we might expect from Theo out on his own.
    awesome work on the site, by the way.

    • Jeff

      I think Theo’s track record there, and the way he’s been going about business since he’s been here speaks volumes about what we can expect from him.  Everyone that has worked with him wants to work with him again, and our new manager just chose a team with 70 wins over a team with 90 wins who already compete annually.  What does that tell you?

      • nonesuch

        It tells me a hitting coach just accepted a big raise, promotion and an historic opportunity. It tells me nothing about why Theo signed Crawford, Lackey et al. to those horrendous contracts.

  • die hard

    With Houston going to American League, wouldnt be surprised if they have inside track on Pujols, Fielder and any other power hitter free agent looking to DH in later years. And hitting in that park can be lots of fun.

  • hawkboy64

    im happy about dale sveum being hired but my question is theo said befor got going that he wanted someone with previous experience, why wasnt sandberg included he has just as much id think as svem does  dales never ,managed before if were hiring someone with little 2 no experience which is fine why wasnt ryno even thought of by theo just askin

    • Jeff

      All the candidates had major league coaching experience of some kind.  It might not have been manager, but they were all at least pitching coach, bench coach, or hitting coach for an extended period of time.

  • MC2

    Houston may be restricted from increasing payroll until after the sale is finalized. They don’t go until 2013 anyway and until then they should be great with securing the door on the division cellar. Wish they would have moved Colorado to the AL and sent Houston the NL West. I knew there wasn’t a chance of Milwaukee returning to the AL it makes too much sense.

  • Alex
    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      Maybe in another role. Kind of steps on Oneri Fleita’s toes … though that hasn’t stopped Theo yet.

      • BetterNews

        Brett—-Have you heard anything on potential candidates to replace Riggins?

        • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

          Not yet. No one was really speculating until the manager was decided. I bet we’ll start hearing names soon.

          • BetterNews

            What I’m reading and hearing is Theo and Co. are going to put the emphasis on pitching and defense rather than offense when they start moving players. Does that seem to be accurate in your opinion?

            • MC2

              They were last in the NL defensively;

              Defensive Efficiency:  .678 (League ave. .694)

              Errors: 134 (League ave.101)

              Fielding %: .978 (League ave. .983)

              Pitching:

              Team ERA: 4.34  (Col/4.44, Hou/4.51, League ave. 3.81)

              Runs against: 756 (Hou/796)

              Earned Runs: 690 (Col/713, Hou/719)

              Walks: 580

              WHIP: 1.408 (Hou/1.420, Pit/1.413

              Makes sense that’s what they fix 1st. Just having a manager that provides a consistent batting order will help offense. Also having someone who knows how to handle pitchers a little better will help with pitching stats. Defense will be the big fix project.

              • BetterNews

                Yep,I agree. That said, I think the Pujols and Fielder options can be thrown into the “hot stove”.

      • Alex

        Another set of eyes would be nice though.

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