Dale Sveum Says He Isn’t Into Platoons

New Chicago Cubs manager Dale Sveum seems to be a hybrid. Of everything.

He’s a player’s manager, but he’s also a tough guy. He likes having veteran presence, but he holds everyone equally accountable. And, when it comes to advanced stats and managerial methods, Sveum is all over it.

But he might also be a little bit “old school,” too. To wit, from the Tribune:

New Cubs third baseman Ian Stewart will not be in a platoon situation with Jeff Baker, though he will have to prove he can hit left-handers in the early going.

Stewart batted .156 last season for the Rockies and was 2-for-22 (.091) in limited at-bats against lefties. Baker hit .314 against lefties in 2011 and has a career average of .309 off southpaws.

“All that stuff is day to day, how they’re swinging it at the time and what they have been doing against lefties or this kind of lefty,” manager Dale Sveum said. “Not every lefty is the same. … A guy is swinging the bat good, you still need that guy in the lineup.

“I’m sure (Stewart is) going to get days off against lefties. When you have a guy like Baker who can play multiple positions and kills lefties, you have to find him at-bats.”

Sveum added “there is no platoon situation in mind for anybody” in his regular lineup.

I can certainly understand why Sveum is saying this now. First of all, there are no *obvious* strict platoons in the offing for the Cubs, based on the current roster. Second of all, there would be very little point in setting up a platoon before even the first Spring Training game.

So, in that respect, I have no beef with Sveum’s position.

For now.

But, when the season rolls around, as Sveum hints, there will be very little reason not to ensure that Jeff Baker is playing in every single game against a lefty, and one of Bryan LaHair, Ian Stewart, or David DeJesus is sitting. Given that Baker can play each of first base, third base, and right field, there’s no defensive obstacle to the arrangement. And we all know what Baker did against lefties last year (.314/.349/.463 in 129 plate appearances). He needs to be in the lineup against lefties.

As for the presumed three lefty regulars in the lineup, it’s probably worth reiterating their career splits (which aren’t all bad):

Ian Stewart, for his career, goes .223/.320/.406 against lefties, which actually isn’t that far off from his .240/.324/.435 line against righties. If one of the three lefties is going to be an everyday player, Stewart is probably the best bet (assuming, you know, he hits at all).

David DeJesus, on the other hand, has a much more stark split. While he’s slapped righties around in his career (.292/.368/.447), he has struggled a fair bit against lefties (.264/.328/.362). When DeJesus sits against tough lefties, as he should, it will probably be Reed Johnson (or Dave Sappelt, if he makes the roster) picking up the starts.

Bryan LaHair doesn’t have much in the way of big league splits at which to look, he has just 219 total plate appearances. But, in them, he’s gone .286/.345/.435 against righties, but just .147/.293/.206 against lefties (42 plate appearances). Perhaps, against lefties, this is where Baker would best settle in for semi-regular starts.

Maybe that won’t be a “platoon,” but here’s hoping Sveum sees the sense in something approximating one.

Brett Taylor is the editor and lead writer at Bleacher Nation, and can also be found as Bleacher Nation on Twitter and on Facebook.

43 responses to “Dale Sveum Says He Isn’t Into Platoons”

  1. Matt3

    good film

  2. BD

    Love the picture for this article.

    I see Reed filling in for DeJesus and Baker filling in for LaHair against lefties. At least, it appears to make a lot of sense.

  3. die hard

    Manager has to say that so as not to discourage perceived starters. However, there may come a time in late May when hes going to have to re-evaluate. Actually platooning keeps everyone fresh and in the game. With a team lacking in Pujols like superstars, this may be the best way to go.

    1. HoustonTransplant

      I actually agree with this statement! Sveum is saying what needs to be said; I’m sure in the back of his mind he has some ideas when/if things don’t pan out the way he *hopes* they do. Most of us in the same position would say the same thing. But, as it sounds, both of those “lefty specialists” will get plenty of at-bats, and they should. They’d be doing a disservice sitting on the bench collecting dust while one of our lefty “regulars” is getting eaten alive on a regular basis.

  4. florida Al

    Bring back DeRo!

  5. Norm

    so it’s not a platoon, but he’ll be giving guys days off based on the matchups and how they are swinging the bat, so it sounds like it essentially IS a platoon, but without the label.

  6. HoustonTransplant

    While I agreed previously with die hard, I really like when Sveum said that if a guy is hitting, he won’t automatically sit him based on a match-up. At least that’s how I read the comment. That seems like a strong enough idea to me, or at least logical — something that’s been lacking on this team in recent years.

  7. DocWimsey

    Given the large number of day games that the Cubs play, regularly resting guys for a “9th” starter would be a good habit for Sveum to develop.  It won’t matter this year, but historically Cubs players fade badly in September relative to players (even the same players in different years) on other teams.  Sveum & company should literally manage for late season stats  this year and probably next: i.e., what tactics do best  to have high production Cubbies in September?  (They’ll need that if the team is competitive in 3-4 years time.)

    And, yes, I realize that, ideally, you’d have a much bigger sample size: but that’s not an option.

  8. Sweetjamesjones

    Im just gonna post this here….whoever has been interested in the bunting tournament going on right now: Lendy Castillo over Casey Weathers and Beliveau over Cabrera.

    1. Dave H

      How are you getting results? Are you there?

      1. Spencer

        Beat writing live tweeting results and pictures.

      2. King Jeff

        Twitter is abuzz with the bunt tourney. I’m getting updates every 20 seconds or so.

        1. Dave H

          I better get that!

    2. Smitty

      Please keep the results coming!!

      1. Spencer

        So far, Beliveau over Cabrera, Lendy Castillo over Weathers, McNutt over Carrillo. Now it’s Jay Jax v. Dolis.

      2. Spencer

        Dolis moves on.

  9. TWC

    “Sveum & company should literally manage for late season stats  this year and probably next: i.e., what tactics do best  to have high production Cubbies in September?”

    I know you didn’t mean it this way, but when I first read this, Doc, I thought the former part of your statement sounded an awful lot like what we all slammed Quade for.  (Seemed like late season stats were all that Quade knew.)  But, indeed, I’d much rather the Cubs have a lights-out September and a middling April than  vice-versa.

    1. King Jeff

      Only if it means that there were growing pains from either young players, or learning to play a different style of ball. I am still fumed at Quade for wasting valuable development and learning experience two years in a row. I wouldn’t mind losing right out of the gate if it means the team is progressing and becoming a better team. I definitely don’t want to see a team/manager who is only trying to save jobs at the end of the year again.

    2. DocWimsey

      Quade actually was trying to recoup season stats with a strong September, which is a little different.  What I want is for Sveum, Theo & Hoyer to figure out, given that the Cubs have to play so many more day games than the competition, what is the best set of tactics to make Sept. stats from the Cubs Sept. look like Sept. stats from the other 29 teams?

      I’m not sure that you’ll ever get the sample size to mean anything, but it is possible that some plan (other than play as many night games as everyone else, which is not going to happen) will produce drastically different results than the other(s).

      1. King Jeff

        We’ve never really had a manager that thought far enough ahead to give guys days off to keep them fresh later in the year. It would be nice if Svuem adapts that strategy because I have little doubt that playing all the day games and switching between day and night games wears guys down.

        1. rocky8263

          King Jeff, Lou Pinella rested his starters all the time with the post season in mind. I’m painfully aware the Cubs didn’t win a playoff game in 07 or 08 but I’m sure the stats will back me up.

          1. DocWimsey

            Lou didn’t do that until 2009.  He noted after the ’08 playoffs that the Cubs had actually been playing poor ball for a couple of weeks (it actually was a month), and the next year he managed with that in mind.

            In ’08, the Cubs and Brewers were in a pretty good race through late August, and both played pretty brutal schedules in terms of games per day and level of competition in that month.  Although the Cubs won the division by a comfortable margin, Cubs fans tend to forget that this was due to an absolutely monumental collapse by the Brewers: the Cubs could not “relax” until it was too late.  (The Brewers collapse gets forgotten only because of the Mets’ collapse, which let the Brew Crew get into post-season with the worst September since the new playoff structure!)

            Ditto that for ’07, where both teams were in a tight race going into September.  The Cubs got helped by Sori’s return (his DL stint kept him fresh) and the Brewers collapse.  However, the Cubs did not clinch until the end of the year, so Lou couldn’t manage around keeping his guys fresh.

  10. Tim

    Is LaHair eligible for ROY?

    1. Spencer

      Yes.

    2. King Jeff

      No, he’s had too many career at bats. A rookie is a player with less than 130 career major league at bats, less than 50 innings pitched, or less than 45 days on a major league roster.

      1. Spencer

        Really? How many ABs has LaHair had? I thought for sure he was under the limit.

        1. King Jeff

          He had 130 something at bats with Seattle in 2008, so he used his rookie status up sometime in September.

          1. Spencer

            that makes me sad pants.

  11. ty

    Sitting on my patio watching the bunt tournament across the street on the infield diamond. Give credit to the groundscrew guys who had to lay out the lines-several hours work. Noisy event but I have had to go in and out so do not know results. Handful of spectators.

    1. King Jeff

      You should have been sending us updates, and pictures, and videos, and still life drawings.

  12. Edgar

    I just found out that Tim Lincecum was drafted by the Cubs in 2003 but did not sign. If he had panned out like he has, we would of at least reached the WS in 2007 or 2008

    1. King Jeff

      I try to forget things like that.

    2. ogyu

      If ifs and buts were candy and nuts, we’d all have a lovely Christmas.

      1. HoustonTransplant

        Is that really how that saying goes?! I never knew the ending!

  13. Kyle

    We should platoon Ian Stewart with someone who can actually hit, and let his platoon partner face all the pitchers.

  14. KB

    I’m starting to wonder what Epstein’Hoyer saw in Sveum. Having no (real) MLB experience as the top dog is universally considered a recipe for disaster. And he hasn’t uttered one word since his hiring that doesn’t strike me as old-school. And if you’re gonna get a guy like that, why not Ryno?

    I can only assume that
    a-EpHoy have already written off the 2012 season anyway, so they figure that Sveum might as well get a little experience as skipper, or
    b-Sveum is completely full of crap, and is simply lying to the media.

    1. JulioZuleta

      He certainly isn’t just “old school”. He is known to use the types of advanced metrics that Epstein and Hoyer use. To me, he seems to be a rare combination of old school hold-the-players-accountable while not running from the advantages that have become available in the evolved, modern game.

    2. Stinky Pete

      “I’m starting to wonder what Epstein’Hoyer saw in Sveum.”

      Its February.

      1. CubsWin

        So based on this one article, you have decided that Sveum was a poor choice for manager?

  15. KB

    Nope, based on 15 articles, numerous TV spots, quotes, and video. He’s repeatedly said things that strike a Hendry/Colletti vibe.

    But hey, perhaps he’s simply saying things he doesn’t actually mean.