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New Cubs’ manager Dale Sveum has been in the news juuust a little bit over past 24 hours, so, to say he’s going to dominate these bullets is an understatement. Sveum spoke with the media in breakout sessions after his news conference yesterday, which sessions yielded a number of interesting bits. They’re all here, excepting discussions about Prince Fielder, which will get their own post soon. There’s also stuff on Kerry Wood and Carlos Zambrano…

  • What the heck, after that setup, I’ll lead with the non-Sveum bits. Theo Epstein is making clear that he wants Kerry Wood back on the Cubs, so it’s going to happen. “I’ll leave the details of [a recent] meeting confidential,” Epstein said. “But I have no trouble going on the record saying that Kerry Wood is a very important part of the Chicago Cubs. We want him back. He makes us a better team because of what he brings to the bullpen. He also makes us a better organization …. That’s because of what he brings to the clubhouse as well as his leadership so I’d like to get him back in the fold and move forward with him.” I wouldn’t be surprised to see the Cubs wait to ink Wood until after the Rule 5 Draft, just in case they want some extra flexibility on the 40-man roster.
  • Carlos Zambrano was hit in the face in his Venezuelan Winter League start last night, and was taken to the hospital as a precaution. He got stitches, but it doesn’t sound serious. Zambrano pitched excellently in the start, going five innings, striking out four, and giving up just two walks, two hits, and one unearned run.
  • Speaking of Zambrano, and now unsubtly transitioning into the Sveum bits, the new manager says Zambrano is out of strikes. “We all know his nine [lives] are up,” Sveum said. “Talking to Theo, [Zambrano] realizes that and he knows it, and he knows he has to win back the respect of his players as well as management. At some point we’ll sit down and talk. You try to get a grip on the guy and try to understand where he’s coming from because he’s out of strikes.”
  • Sveum said Carlos Marmol is his closer for now (“Right now … we don’t have another closer), and discussed Marmol’s problematic 2011. “One, [hitters] finally just decided all they have to do is sit there and look for a slider,” Sveum said. “They don’t have to worry about the fastball, because even if he throws it, it’s probably a ball. He has to get back to some kind of fastball command. When you have that kind of breaking ball, you have to use your fastball as a weapon as well. You’ve already established the breaking ball in so many hitters’ minds that now it’s a surprise attack to throw fastball strikes.” Good points. He’ll also want to check in on the velocity issues.
  • Sveum said, last year, he’d rather have seen Aramis Ramirez at the plate than Starlin Castro, but acknowledges that some work is needed on his defense. “He needs a lot of polish there,” Sveum said. “Whoever I bring in as the infield coach will get started right away on that. There’s a lot of things we see just watching him. I’m an infield guy. I watch and see a lot of things that are broke down and why those mistakes are happening. There are things with his feet and positioning that will help him out a lot.”
  • Loved, loved, loved this quote from Epstein on Sveum’s plans for managing and defensive alignment: “Everybody goes off spray charts,” said Epstein, referring to graphics that show where batters have hit balls over the last few years. “Dale got the spray charts, but then he would get video and watch where every hitter had hit his last 100 ground balls. He would use a different color to circle those balls and that’s what he would use to position our infield and outfield. He would do it before every series. That’s just his approach to the game …. You help a pitcher get an extra out or two, that could be huge.” Schwing.
  • Epstein said the coaching staff will ultimately be Sveum’s call, but the front office will have some input. Sveum will soon speak to the three coaches under contract – hitting coach Rudy Jaramillo, bench coach Pat Listach, and bullpen coach Lester Strode – to determine whether he wants them to return in 2012. He’ll also meet with the coaches whose contracts have expired, and line up a list of external coaches with whom he’d like to meet. Robin Yount to the Cubs’ bench – the subject of much speculation – is “not going to happen,” according to Sveum.
  • Dale says he has a few names in mind who he’d like to interview for his top lieutenant’s spot (bench coach). And he offered his thoughts on the type of guy he’s looking for: “I think he needs to be very close to me personally,” Sveum said. “It has to be a very good friend of mine, somebody I respect, baseball knowledge-wise, somebody who can slow the game down, especially the National League game, and the ability to tell me to get my [stuff] together. At the same time, we have to yell at each other and still be friends. That has to be somebody really close to you who you have a lot of confidence in and are very good friends with.”
  • Jon Greenberg offers a solid column on Sveum – one of many written over the last day.
  • Brewers players are happy for Dale.
  • Erstwhile Cubs’ managerial candidate Mike Maddux released a statement through the Rangers about the process and the decision: “I’d like to congratulate Dale Sveum and the Chicago Cubs on Dale’s appointment as manager. Dale is one of the best baseball people I know and will make a fine manager. His tireless work ethic, commitment, and communication skills give him the recipe to succeed. I would like to thank the Cubs for the flattery and opportunity to be considered a managerial candidate. Possibly in the future a managerial position may come to fruition for me. I am blessed to be with a quality organization, the Texas Rangers, and am looking forward to the 2012 season with high expectations. The DFW area is a great place to live and my family loves it here. Also, I would like to thank the fans whose support of the Rangers has made our jobs even more gratifying. P.S. To the fans I’ve met at the airport, grocery and home improvement stores, thanks for your support. It means a lot.”
  • Mike Foster

    Wow, this one is packed with great info. So who do you think is on Sveum’s very short list for bench coach. That definition is so tight it could only be 2 or 3 people max, (you, me and his father). And what about the pitching staff, who do you see as staying and who on the bubble?

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      I’ve read elsewhere that Sveum and Listach (the Cubs’ current bench coach) are friends. So, I would imagine he’s on the list.

  • http://www.calliopevoices.com EtotheR

    You remember that time we hired Dale Sveum, and everyone lived happily ever after?

    That was awesome…

    Actually…his spray chart analysis technique, along with Theo’s obvious enthusiasm for it, made me very happy. How many times does a ballgame hinge on “a couple of extra outs”? A lot. Love the attention to fine tuning…

    • Kyle

      Agreed! His intense dedication to defensive positioning was mentioned early in the interview process, and I felt like it was an area where the Cubs could certainly find a marginal edge.

  • Fishin Phil

    ” Schwing.”

    I believe the word is now spelled “Schving”.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      Nice.

  • fearbobafett

    I for one am hoping he nukes the current staff and starts with a new one. I Pat has been with the organization on and off for years, but he also needs to go.

  • Caleb

    I hope zambrano isn’t “out of strikes”… That could severly limit his trade value!

    • http://www.frenchrocks.net Ian Afterbirth

      Yeah but he has a couple of balls left.

      • NyN

        I’d say that followig his last temper tantrum he has no balls left either.

  • FINNER

    Pat Listach and Dale go way back to their playing days in Milwaukee. From what I understand they have remained friends. My guess is Pat stays on as the bench coach.

    • MrCub73

      Listach and Sveum never played together in Milwaukee.  Sveum’s last year was 91 and Listach first year was 92. Of course Listach and Sveum could have been in a spring training together a year or so before, but if they are good friends it did not come from playing together.   I am betting the bench coach is someone other than Listach.  Listach may stay on the staff, but I would bet not as bench coach.

  • Oswego Chris

    One of my favorite Sveumings from the last couple of days was his answer to a question about player development…he stated that player development is never ending, that he is constantly learning still…this is a wonderful way to approach player development, and my opinion life in general…sorry for that moment of seriousness

  • die hard

    Brenly likes to yell and scream, if Sveum is looking for someone to go toe to toe with him. Just as long as he doesnt yell and scream at his bench coach in the dugout in full view of everyone. The fans cant take too much more of that after seeing Z lose it so often. Spray charts may even earn Soriano a gold glove. Castro will never be a gold glover SS and as soon as Cubs accept that, they will move him to CF where he will be.

    • BetterNews

      To say Castro will never be a gold glover is irrational. Oh, wait its Die Hard.(LOL)

    • http://cubbiescrib.com Luke

      Right now, I feel confident predicting that Castro will have at least two Gold Gloves by the end of the decade.

      The fact that Gold Glove now means “best hitter who doesn’t suck at his position in the field” instead of “best fielder” increases my confidence in that prediction.

      • BetterNews

        Hey now! I remember people were saying the same thing about Ryne Sandberg. And he went on to win 9 “Gloves” I believe.

  • Cliffy

    Cubs will likely look at these two San Diego players to possibly add to their roster.

    Not protected on Friday were two notable players — 2007 first-round Draft pick, left-handed pitcher Nick Schmidt, and first baseman Matt Clark..

    Schmidt, the 23rd-overall pick of the 2007 First-Year Player Draft, had a 3.91 ERA for two teams in 2011, and had a 5.40 ERA in his first eight appearances in the Arizona Fall League.

    Clark hit .292 with 23 home runs and 83 RBIs with Tucson.

    • http://cubbiescrib.com Luke

      I want to think about Schmidt some more, but after looking over the numbers I’d take a flyer on Clark. I’m not sure he’d pan out in the majors… his strike rate is a touch higher than I like to see even for a AAA slugger… but I’d give him a shot.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      Clark’s numbers are pretty uninspiring considering his age and the leagues he played in. His PCL numbers, in particular, last year, are pretty meh for that league.

      What’s the story with Schmidt? He’s already 26, and he’s never made it higher than High A. Seems like there’s got to be something to the story there, otherwise he looks like a really uninteresting prospect.

    • Kyle

      There’s really no spot for Schmidt on this team. 26, never made it to AA, gives up homers at an alarming rate in the low minors. We have a lot of interesting bullpen guys already in our system who deserve a look on the 25-man roster, I can’t really see us taking a pitcher at all in the Rule 5 draft unless it’s someone we really just can’t pass up on, and this guy does not qualify. I wouldn’t want him on the 40-man, let alone the 25-man.

      Clark kind of intrigues me, though. He entered the minors at 21 and has progessed positively every year, so while he has never been young for a level, his age doesn’t concern me just yet.

      His AA numbers, including 28 home runs, were pretty good considering the Padres’ AA affiliate is another one of those pitcher-friendly AA spots. The .861 OPS in the PCL doesn’t knock my socks off, but he cut down on his strikeouts, made contact, drew walks and continued to show the plus-power that had been his calling card in the minors. He also started trying to set himself up as a corner utility guy in the majors, with time at LF, RF, 1b and 1 game at SS(?).

      I’d rather have him and his upside than LaHair, at least.

      • http://cubbiescrib.com Luke

        The catch with Clark is that I half suspect the Cubs have his virtual twin already: Rebel Ridling. But I think I’d still take a shot on him. He may not make it out of spring training, but if he doesn’t it costs Mr. Ricketts just $25,000. Goodness knows the Cubs have enough roster slots available to gamble on someone like Clark.

        • BetterNews

          Yep! I’ll go along with that one.

        • Kyle

          Ridling bats righty, isn’t Clark a lefty?

          I smell a platoon!

          • BetterNews

            Luke was just saying for the money, roll the dice. I agree.

  • Cliffy

    The obvious reason is that Jed & Jason are familiar with these guys. The same may hold true with some RedSox prospects left unprotected .

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      Diamondbacks prospects, too.

  • Deez

    I just wonder what direction will go at Pitching Coach!
    Riggins was downright “horrible.”
    I’ve seen better Little League Pitching Coaches if there is such a position.

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