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dale sveum haz a sadOn the back of an ugly 5-13 start to the season and a handful of losses that could have been avoided if not for some fundamental lapses, it’s understandable that Chicago Cubs manager Dale Sveum would be receiving some heat (even if that heat is irrational). And when Sveum, himself, starts talking about job security, it opens the floodgates for the “fire the manager” discussion.

You can read about Sveum and job security here, and here … and here and here … and here and here.

Don’t read that line as a criticism of the media, mind you. As I said, it’s an understandable topic, and Sveum brought it on himself by saying things like, “we’re all [accountable] in this. I’m [not] exempt [from] being fired, so is my coaching staff. We’re all in this together as a team.” And things like, ““I’d be lying if [I said] you didn’t think about [your job] through some of this stuff, too.”

So, we talk about it. Is it reasonable for Sveum to be worried about losing his job at this point? It’s an easy no, right?

The Cubs’ struggles this year were pre-ordained by a roster that never looked like a .500 team, let alone a playoff contender. No amount of managerial massaging – even if you subscribe to the school of thought that says the quality of a manager can account for as many as five to eight wins per year (seems extreme to me) – was going to make this team competitive. Take it up with Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer if you’ve got a beef about that. (I don’t.)

That all said, simply because we don’t expect the Cubs to be a winning team does not mean Sveum and his staff are above evaluation. If the players seem unmotivated, are underperforming in surprising ways, are playing decidedly un-fundamental baseball, are getting into fights, and are expressing a general lack of desire or interest in playing the game, then you could start to wonder about Sveum’s fit for the organization. Further, if Sveum’s in-game tactical decisions were repeatedly head-scratchers that cost the Cubs games, I think you could make a case for firing, too.

But, to me, we simply aren’t there yet. We’re not even that close.

For one thing, I’ve generally found Sveum’s game management to be excellent. After years of Dusty Baker, Lou Piniella and Mike Quade, maybe my standards for lineups, bullpen usage, substitutions and shifts were unreasonably low. But it’s hard to argue that, as an in-game manager, Sveum doesn’t blow those three guys out of the water.

As for the fundamental and defensive lapses, eventually, some of that will fall on the coaching staff. It’s always going to have a personnel component, and Sveum can’t do much about that. But we’ll see how the fundamentals issue plays out over the next few months.

As for the peripheral and off-the-field stuff, I don’t have any reason to cast aspersions. The players all seem to have a good attitude, and seem to be approaching the game the right way.

All in all, I’ve got to believe that Sveum is still the guy that Theo and Jed wanted in place for this transition period, and there’s no reason to dump him just yet.

  • jim

    GOODBYE!

    • TWC

      You mean, you’re leaving? No more unintelligible, poorly constructed, and grammatically embarrassing rants?

      Well, I can’t say we’ll miss you, but I hope you find a better space.

      • Internet Random

        Heh.

  • Evan

    I’ve gotta think that all these fundamental lapses are on Sveum (or at least on his coaching staff, which would still reflect poorly on him). He had all of last year to fix it, and yet here we are almost a month into his second season and the problem is just as bad, if not worse, than last year. No one expects this team to be good, but it shouldn’t be too much to ask of a manager to at least get his players to grasp the fundamentals.

    • BluBlud

      Read my comment below. I agree with you 100%.

    • TWC

      I know, right? It’s so totally Dale Sveum’s fault that Scott Feldman has made three errors this season. Shawn Camp’s balks are all Sveum’s fault, too. I completely retroactively blame him, too, for Matt Garza throwing that ball in the upper deck last season.

      Yeah, the fielding errors are all on Sveum. Because scapegoat.

      • DocPeterWimsey

        I agree. People have to take the “mental” out of the errors. Throwing the ball away, balks, etc., are physical errors. You cannot “practice” avoiding them. You cannot have someone shout/cajol/plead/etc. with you to stop them. It’s not like lavender candles and Enya music are going to make the “relax” and “take it slowly” on the field in these cases.

        The problem is and will remain: the Cubs don’t get enough men on base, and the Cubs allow way too many baserunners. Get more guys on base, and Camp’s balk does not mean much.

        • hansman1982

          Right now we are on pace to score a hilariously bad 549 runs this season. (at least that is up from early last week when we were sitting in the 300’s).

          Right now, Houston is out scoring us. I’d like someone to explain to me that Houston has a better offense than we do, with a straight face.

          • DocPeterWimsey

            They get a DH? *strains* Ha ha haaaa!!! Sorry, I had to take the dare, and failed miserably.

          • Mysterious4th

            Doc I totally agree with you. If Sveum is responsible for Feldman and Garza competing for the “Not Top 10″ and Camp stocking up on balks, I think I will blame him for my flat tire last week and my flight being delayed out of Dallas. Can we blame him for the economy? Because that will make it all better. . . .OR NOT!

    • Chet Masterson

      Can you help me understand what you think should be happening? What should a manager be doing to prevent errors by their players? If players were making errors, how would Dale ‘fix it’?

      Do you think the Cubs don’t understand the fundamental concepts of baseball? Is that what you’re saying? Have they never known them and just got to MLB in spite of those deficiencies? Is it possible you’re interpreting a lack of execution as a lack of basic understanding?

      • Evan

        Physical errors happen (although the Cubs have been making even those at terrible rate). It’s the mental errors that are on the manager/coaching staff. It’s the manager’s job to get on his players when they’re making those kinds of stupid mistakes. Sveum clearly hasn’t been doing a good job of that. I’m not saying he deserves to lose his job over this, I’m just saying it’s something that he needs to improve on.

  • BluBlud

    I have to admit that I losing a lot of faith in Sveum. He seem overwhelmed at times. This team should not be 5-13 and the mental lapses that we have seen from certain players over the 1 year and some change have to at some point come back to him. I’m not suggesting that we fire him now, but if there is no showing of improvement over the course of this season, I would say it’s time to start searching for replacements.

  • MightyBear

    Too early to fire Sveum. Next year if the Cubs get some fire power and the pipeline is producing and they are still playing like they are now, then fire the manager. Right now, it’s too early.

  • Craig

    Time to give Sandburg a chance. He won in AAA with poor talent. Why not see what he can do. Sveum may be good at in game moves, but he is a terrible motivator and he seems overwhelmed. We need a leader with a clear vision to bring a healthy attitude to the team. I imagine Theo and Jed are fed up with the negative atmosphere. At some point, they need to face reality and look at their manager. Sveum is frustrated and worn out. Lets bring in some new life and get things in a better direction.

    • MightyBear

      If they do fire Sveum, I would love to see Sandberg get an opportunity.

    • http://www.twitter.com/jslip1 JSlip1

      I don’t think Sandberg would take it after The Snub.

      • TWC

        “The Snub”? All capitalized? That’s a thing?

        I think it’s more likely he wasn’t given the job due to “The Arrogance”, or “The Entitlement”.

        • http://www.twitter.com/jslip1 JSlip1

          I’m more apt to agree with your wording. I was trying to be more diplomatic. Just because someone is well liked and people allow his status to color his abilities doesn’t actually give him authentic abilities.

          • TWC

            Meh. Diplomacy/shiplomacy. It’s only the comments section (https://twitter.com/AvoidComments).

            The trouble is that there are people — many people — who remain furious that Sandberg wasn’t given the job.

            • http://www.twitter.com/jslip1 JSlip1

              We can’t win games with your childhood dreams.

              • TWC

                That’s for sure. If we could have, *I* would have hit all the game winning HRs in the bottom of the 9th.

        • Edwin

          “The Snub” sounds like it should be a Seinfeld episode.

          • TWC

            Not that there’s anything wrong with that.

            • http://www.twitter.com/jslip1 JSlip1

              At all.

  • Rsquared

    I like Dale. However I do know he’s got a minimal talent team. So I can’t blame him for all of the horses*#+. You can’t bench an entire team for bad play can you?

  • Rsquared

    I like Dale. He can’t bench a whole team for bad play can he?

  • cooter

    I’m not against sveum, but take a look at bruce bochey. the giants never look awsome on paper but seem to get the job done. ( except for the series against brewers)

    • hansman1982

      Bruch Bochey also has one of the best starting staffs in baseball to go along with the best Catcher in baseball.

      • MichiganGoat

        Plus a group of meh players that go all universe during the playoffs.

        • hansman1982

          Thanks to the 974 BELLYf from the Hunchback.

  • http://www.twitter.com/jslip1 JSlip1

    All in all, I think this is still one of the most desirable jobs in baseball if for no other reason than that, at this point, WHEN you win, it’s going to be huge. I think people still think that and despite the fact that they really stink, which hangs over people’s heads. However, for the time being, they stink. We knew they would stink before the season started. Unfortunately, we seem to be somewhat surprised that they actually stink as ripely as they do. It was really easy last season to say that was the worst of it, but as we can see, we might have been wrong. I really think Sveum was referring to their cohesion in the matter. Everyone plays their part and ultimately everyone PAYS their part.

  • Johnathan

    Made me think there should be a WAR stat for managers say based on decisions such as who to bring in, when to pinch hit or run, etc. That way there’d be actul statistics on a manager specific decisions instead of being judged by the play of his club, which in a situation like ours, is irrelevant.

    • DocPeterWimsey

      They actually have tried that in a variety of ways. Some of the early attempts just looked at managerial performance in close games. It turns out that many of the (supposedly) great managers were not particularly good at winning those games: and that many of the (supposedly) bad ones were not particular good at losing those game, either!

      Things basically are a wash these days. Years ago, when guys like Earl Weaver were first using stat sheets to maximize matchups in their favor, some managers did do better than others at bringing in the guys who *should* have had the best opportunities to succeed. However, as the “gut” managers are largely extinct, that’s now a wash: most of the matchups are the ones that should work out the best, at least when made.

      Of course, the one thing to keep in mind is that people judge based on the outcome, not the prior probability. If you bring in your best matchup reliever against a slugger and he gives up a big extra-base hit, then fans assume that the manager made the wrong call. What fans fail to add is, which reliever would have been better? Often the off-the-cuff (“gut”) response is wrong.

      The one elephant in the room is the use of closers: nearly all managers with good closers use inferior relievers in the 7th or 8th because they are trying to get a “save” for the closer. Similarly, managers run the closer out there in the 9th even when another reliever might match up better against the leadoff batter.

      • terencemann

        I think Gibbons is pretty good in Toronto. Early this year, he used his 3 best relievers late in the game and in extra innings when the team was down a run and it allowed the Jays to catch up in each situation.

      • hansman1982

        “Similarly, managers run the closer out there in the 9th even when another reliever might match up better against the leadoff batter.”

        Or in three-run games when there is no historical difference between Mariano Rivera and Carlos Marmol.

        • Cubbie Blues

          “no historical difference between Mariano Rivera and Carlos Marmol.”
          I’m calling shenanigans on that one.

  • David

    When you HAVE to field a team with Dave Sappelt, Dioner Navorro, Brent Lillibridge, Alberto Gonzalez and slumping Scott Hairston due to the FO wanting a platoon, I can see where several of these losses come from. But we see Dale make the right calls when it comes to pitchers, our starters have had a PHENOMENAL start to the season, and they will only get better as garza and baker return. The offense has been shaky at best, and what can sveum do with Dejesus and Schierholtz platooning? He stuck with Marmol twice, marmol is getting it back, and Fujikawa is on his way back. The bullpen will be getting better. Sveum’s managerial skills are not in question because of the losing. We are injury-riddled and underperforming. Castro, Rizzo and the pitchers making errors is inexcusable, but they have all been working on fielding practice! Sveum can still work on this stuff. I trust him this year, and hope he can stick around through the rebuilding process. The loss of these games is not his fault (unless you want to blame Dave Sappelt’s complete dunderheadedness on Sveum). Sappelt is horrid. Get Sweeney up from AAA please!

    • mysterious4th

      I think Feldman will challenge Garza for his amazing ability to mess up easy fielding balls -hint of sarcasim there-

      • lukers63

        Contest to see who can throw it away the farthest????

        • David

          Castro, hands down (and he doesn’t even pitch!).

        • mysterious4th

          And also who can make sportscenter’s not top 10 the most

    • terencemann

      The starters are definitely doing their job: 3rd in the NL in ERA, 4th in FIP, 4th in HR/9.

  • cooter

    I have a feeling that upper mngmnt. is going to stick with him until they actually spend some dough. Then they will move on.

  • mysterious4th

    With Dusty Baker and Quade low doesn’t even begin to describe fans expectations of managers. We are not even at ground level….our expectations after those to are at about basement level. Personally I kind of liked Piniella. Baker reminded me of an ex you look back and think “wtf was I thinking? Where were my standards?!” As for Sveum I like the guy. He’s done as good as one can with the sloppy seconds of Hendry and most of his goons. If they give him the right tools he can help sustain a pretty good Cubs team. Now just waiting for the tools to develop and the right trades/FAs to present themselves!

    • David

      I agree completely. Pinella was a great manager, and there’s a reason we won two division titles in a row in 07-08. Sveum was dealt a poor hand. It will come around. But we can’t go calling for his head now! It’s 18 games!

      • mysterious4th

        Ill call for his head when we have a line up that isn’t filled with utility type players (except castro, rizzo, sori) but with players that get paid to produce results and a bullpen who doesn’t blow 75% of the leads they’ve had.

        • David

          Agreed. But even then, the blame is not squarely on sveum’s shoulders. Marmol type players will always be around (see John Axford). Can’t blame a manager for going with his closer or his bullpen. That’s why the season is 162 games: you win some and you lose some. The Cubs just don’t seem to be getting the wins so far.

      • hubbabubba

        Piniella was a great manager…..many years before he got to the Cubs. When he arrived in Chicago he made repetitive stupid statements about how “this guy is a veteran” or “that guy has been a pro long enough” to explain why they didn’t need a lot of time in practice to work on the fundamentals. Then you saw them come out and make the fundamental mistakes over and over. I

        have been in my field for many years, and can never be complacent and just expect to have the same success. You always need to work on fundamentals or you get rusty. The Cubs had a lot more talent under Piniella and they underperformed (especially when it mattered most in the playoffs).

  • Paul

    I’m not a huge Svewami fan at this point, but you can’t expect to win the lottery without buying a ticket. This is a team built by sifting through the recycle bin and the discontinued model section at Wal-Mart.

  • sven-erik312

    I’m a musician, I love baseball. Perhaps because there is so much that music and baseball have in common. Sveum’s comment the other day where he said “But you put the third deck on the stadium and something happens” rings so true. It’s the same in music, sit in a chair on the stage in Orchestra Hall in Chicago and try to tell me it doesn’t make a difference. I know, I’ve sat on that stage.
    The conductor can give me the cue, but I have to deliver that solo, the conductor can’t play it for me. You take an orchestra like the Chicago Symphony, you could put anyone in this forum in front of them as a conductor and they will still sound great. Yes, it’s true that a great conductor will pull that extra out of them, but that is only because they, like any winning baseball team, have achieved a certain level of greatness.
    I don’t understand the complaints about Sveum. I’m with you Brett.

    • DocPeterWimsey

      Actually, that’s a great comparison. It’s been years since I played music in front of audiences, but the one thing that I still remember is that once the performance started, there was that added adrenaline with which you never practice. Ditto that for playing ball. Of course, what separates the pros from the amateurs (in sports and music) is how that adrenaline fuels you: some people feed off of it, others don’t. Nobody becomes a pro in either business without feeding off of it.

      • MightyBear

        Doc, What did you play?

  • ajbulls23

    We knew there would be struggles, but Sveum makes it worse by over coaching, over substitution, and his right handed line up. His right handed line up benches better players solely because they hit left handed. But if you look at Dejesus and Scherholtz BA against left handers, it is better then Hairston and Sappelts. Ex. David Dejesus has a career BA of .400 against Derek Holland. Sappelt has never faced him but is batting .046 and Hairston has a career BA of .111 against Holland. This makes no sense.

    • David

      He is forced into playing that, because the FO wants a platoon. How can you justify benching Schierholtz when he’s hitting .350?

      • ajbulls23

        I agree David, but when your given a job, you do the job. Screw the FO. I think the FO wants them to win as many games as possible making the players they have got look the best so they can get the most from them. As a coach you have to do what is best for the team to win games. He is making to many mistakes. They need to get rid of him before the young guys are ready to come up. I hated how he treated Campana last year. Campana came up and was hitting .300 stealing bases everytime he got on base. Then he was benched because Sveum said he needed more pop in the line up. Then the kid sat on the bench the next 2 or 3 weeks. Campana was doing everything you could expect from a lead off hitter. Getting on base, stealing bases, and scoring runs. By the time the kid got back into the line up he never got back on track. But never got any kind of regular playing time. If they needed more pop in the line up it makes no sense benching the guy that is getting on base. Find a 3B that can give you more pop. I thought this was very poor coaching.

        • BluBlud

          This I agree with.

          • hansman1982

            Only cause Campana is mentioned.

            • BluBlud

              Actually not. The benching of Campana last year for Mather made absolutely no sense what so ever. Campana was hot at the time, and was adding a spark to the lineup. Even if he was not the long term answer, replacing him with Mather at a time when he was actually performing at a decent to good rate seemed counter productive to me. I would have said that about anyone. Take Schierholtz for example. Do I think he’ll continue hit at the rate he is currently hitting on the season? Absolutely not. Would I even think about benching him, even for Campana at this point? Absolutely not.

              I told you the Campana love kind of became a game for me. I was playing that role. I’m a Cubs fan first, and just like I appreciated what Schierholtz is doing now, Campana was providing that spark at that time.

              • ajbulls23

                But not only was he a spark. He was one of the few guys producing. No matter who the coach is on this current team, the Cubs are not going to finish close to the playoff’s. But we can judge the way Sveum coaches and handles this team the last two years and it hasn’t been good.

                • AB

                  somebody Photoshop campana with a sparkplug in his hands instead of a baseball bat

                • Cubbie Blues

                  Yup, not having Campana is the reason we suck. You got us there. If only we had Campana we would be in 1st place.

                  [img]http://cdn.mlbmemes.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/02/45829_4320818299005_1476925217_n.jpg[/img]

                • MichiganGoat

                  OMG Campana and his spark, scrap, belly fire or whatever again. How is he doing right now? Did he make a MLB roster? The ghost of Campy will be lomming over us (waiting to get on base) for the next couple of years.

                  Campana… yup his suckitude is Sveum’s fault.

                  • http://www.twitter.com/jslip1 JSlip1

                    It’s probably his calm eyes and grit.

        • AB

          “Broken-Spirit” (Campana) off to a white-hot 130/150/150 start in the pcl.

          • MichiganGoat

            belly-fire-white-hot?

            • MightyBear

              He doesn’t have the spark yet. Wait until he gets it this year…….look out.

        • mjhurdle

          ‘when your given a job, you do the job. Screw the FO.’
          This doesn’t make any sense.
          When you are hired at a job, your job is to do what your bosses tell you.
          It doesn’t matter if you think you know better than your bosses or not. Sveum was hired and paid to manage a team in accordance to the policies and directives of the Front Office. it is not within his job description to say “Well, i know Theo says platoon Hairston, but i think i know better, so i am going to leave him on the bench all year.”

          There are arguments to be made against Sveum, but dong what he is told to do by his employers should not be one of them.

          • ajbulls23

            I see you adhere to the Jerry Jones style of management. If that is the case, why do you need a manager if he isn’t allowed to manage. Do you think Tom Ricketts is dictating to Theo what he needs to do. Or do you think when you hire someone to do a job, you let them do it. I thought that is what the interview process was all about.

            • Cubbie Blues

              The interview process is to find a candidate who already thinks or can follow the same thought process as the higher-ups. The higher-up give the overall idea, plan and destination. The Employees follow that aforementioned thought process to reach destination along the given route. It’s an overall plan vs detailed minutia.

            • mjhurdle

              I think it would be fairly obvious that there is a distinction between operational flexibility and long-term goals of an organization.
              You need a manager to manage, to teach, to pull pitchers, to call defensive shifts, to make defensive replacements.
              You don’t need a manager to work trades, to flip assets, to build a farm.
              By your logic, Sveum should be calling up kids from the minor leagues if he feels it will help him win games now, because that should be the only determining factor in his decision making process.
              I have flexibility in my job as a programmer. But if my boss tells me to update an older system to work with a newer framework, i would get fired if i instead just re-wrote the code and created a new application that would perform the same job a little better.
              Until you are at the top, you do not have access to the same level of information about both the current status and future plan as the people on the top. And as such you have to assume that you are told things for a reason, and not simply rely on your own, limited, understanding of the situation.
              It is the difference between someone saying “Build me a safe playground for my kids with an unlimited budget and using whatever material you can” and saying “build me a safe playground for my kids with a $1000 budget, and my kids are allergic to rubber”.

    • TWC

      “David Dejesus has a career BA of .400 against Derek Holland”

      In six plate appearances. Six.

      “Hairston has a career BA of .111 against Holland”

      In twelve plate appearances. Twelve.

      “This makes no sense.”

      Yeah, I’ll agree with that.

      • David

        I’d still rather see the guys on fire (like Dejesus and Shierholtz) hitting over sappelt and hairston.

        • TWC

          You shouldn’t take my response as an agreement with “ajbulls23″‘s comment. Quite the opposite.

        • brickhouse

          Dejesus & Schierholtz are hitting because they are not facing lefties.

      • hansman1982

        Ya, well, but, um…

        I wonder if our friend ajbulls knows these guys’ career handedness splits, or how they did against pitchers that profile similarly to Holland.

      • ajbulls23

        DeJesus production against Holland is more of a proven fact then Sappelt’s or Hairstons. Plus, look at what they are hitting against left handers this year. I believe DeJesus is .255 hitter against lefties. Still better then both. You want to give Sveum a pass on the Balks, Errors, or Garza throwing the ball in the upper deck. But do you see players on other teams that with good coaches do the samething?

        • TWC

          “DeJesus production against Holland is more of a proven fact then Sappelt’s or Hairstons.”

          Are you serious? Like, serious-serious? Dejesus has faced Holland six times. Six. Hairston has faced him twelve. And DeJesus’ production is “more of a proven fact”?! Does your high school not teach math?

          “But do you see players on other teams that with good coaches do the samething?”

          Yes. All teams have these sorts of misplays. You’re just not watching them.

          Did you run to the boards during the 9th inning last night lambasting the Reds’ poor fielding that essentially allowed the Cubs 5 outs? Oh, no? Were those Dusty Baker’s fault?

          • ajbulls23

            “Are you serious? Like, serious-serious? Dejesus has faced Holland six times. Six. Hairston has faced him twelve. And DeJesus’ production is “more of a proven fact”?! Does your high school not teach math?”

            Yes, I can do more then count how many AB’s. Your statement doesn’t disprove my point. When teams make the same mistakes over and over, your saying this has nothing to do with coaching? So the good coaches are just lucky, is that it? Errors, balks, and mental mistakes are not something that can be corrected by coaching? I don’t remember Shawn Camp balking so much last year. Your telling me a guy like Dave Duncan couldn’t make this pitching staff better?

            • TWC

              Jeez, kid, you gotta take a few minutes and learn about sample sizes. DeJesus’ 6 PAs against Holland (over the course of 4953 PAs in his career) are meaningless. Likewise, Shawn Camp has made 3 balks in his entire career (2489 batters faced/10 years). It’s entirely coincidental that two of those came within a week of each other.

              • ajbulls23

                Then no individual sample size will be good when looking at one individuals record versus another individual. Because they won’t ever face each other enough to give us a proper sample size. Then why do we keep track of the stats. I am not a big fan of past stats anyway. Last year was last year and this year is this year. This year DeJesus is hitting .293 and Schierholtz is hitting .321. Lets see what they can do against lefties. Because their replacements, who are hitting mostly against lefties are only hitting .111 and .095. Do you really think that DeJesus and Schierholtz can hit much worse then .111 and .095. What kind of difference do we think the lefty/righty stratagy really makes?

                • TWC

                  Where’s that facepalm gif that’s been getting so much play recently?

                  • Cubbie Blues

                    [img]https://dl.dropboxusercontent.com/u/77510188/Photo%20Nov%2019%2C%2020%2043%2019.jpg[/img]

                    • MightyBear

                      I stole this image and I’m using it all the time. Thanks.

                • Cubbie Blues

                  “Then no individual sample size will be good when looking at one individuals record versus another individual.”

                  Hey you got one right.

              • ajbulls23

                If it goes against what you believe is true, it has to be coincidental. You reply with that isn’t true really doesn’t provide any statisical proof. But I like how nothing that is going wrong with this team has anything to do with the way Sveum coaches it.

                • hansman1982

                  Where were Camp’s balks and non-fundamental play last year with the same exact coaching staff?

                  Oh, wait, he had a good season…

          • BluBlud

            I agree, the errors are not on sveum. But the mental lapses are on sveum. Plus, this teams just does not seem prepared. I think Sveum over thinks to many situations. A good Manager know when to removed himself from the game and just let it takes it’s course. I feel Sveum puts himself into the game to often. He over manages, and at some point, I think that takes a toll on your players.

            Also, I think sveum talks entirely to much. Eveytime a player makes a mistake, he doesn’t have to adress it with the media. In fact, If I were a manager, I would never discuss it with the media. I think you adress it with the players, and when you are ask about, you say it’s baseball and mistakes happen, and you move on. I think contantly discuss your players in the media takes a toll on them also.

            • ajbulls23

              I agree Blublud. Well written.

              • MichiganGoat

                I can maybe agree with talking to the media too much, but how a manager can impact the mental errors of professional athletes who have trained their whole lives, have specific routines that they developed, and invested the time and energy to be professional baseball players. How can a manager change or impact any of this? This is not little league, high school, or even A ball- these players have been coached, trained, and conditioned to be MLB players long before they reached Sveum’s dugout. I’m just curious how anyone suggest a manager fix a players mental laspes?

                • BluBlud

                  So maybe Castro throwing seeds in his mouth isn’t considered a “mental lapse”, though that’s what I consider it, but are you saying that Sveum, and Quade and Pinella before him should caught wind of that a long time before?

                  • MichiganGoat

                    I just don’t think its that big a deal, its not what is costing us games, and was blown out by Bobby V making it a big deal on a national game. This is just lifetime/hallmark/after-school movie feel good stuff… the coach demanded a performance and changed something about sunflower seeds and they won the WS.

                • BluBlud

                  You debate me on this and you let me spell address twice with only one D and never pointed it out. ;)

            • MichiganGoat

              Mental Lapses? How does the manager have a direct impact on this?

              • BluBlud

                I think a manager has a lot to do with the preparation of the players. “Mental” is part of preparation. Motivation also plays a part in this. Bad baserunning decisions, allowing a player to constantly throw sunflower seeds in his mouth as a pitcher is releasing his pitch is something Sveum should have cuaght wind of before Bob did. I sure that was not the first time it happen. Thats a mental lapse and a good manager would have caught it earlier and corrected it earlier.

                • MichiganGoat

                  I just don’t see how any of that would increase a players ability to hit with RISP, field a routine grounder, or make a throw. I know why we want to believe that managers are some magic leaders that can instill the will into a player, but that is just hypothetical musing. Its up there with Scrappy and Belly Fire.

                  • Cubbie Blues

                    Don’t forget about wanting it more than the other guy and giving 110%. Those are always my favorite.

                    • MichiganGoat

                      The first ingredients in BELLY FIRE! Don’t forget terms like focus, hustle, desire, the will to win, never giving up, playing till the final out.

                  • BluBlud

                    Now that I think about it, didn’t the Sunflower seed thing happen when Quade was Manager.

                    • MichiganGoat

                      Yes because Bobby V was the BoSox manager last year, it was a silly thing then its a silly thing now.

              • ajbulls23

                I love how Dave McKay received a lot of praise for Sori’s much improved defense last year, but Sveum takes no responsiblity for the mental errors. Must be great to have a job where you receive only praise but bare no responsibility for any errors.

                • MichiganGoat

                  Um consider this: Sveum is the Manager, he has other coaches that were hired to work with players on individual skills but he is not the one giving the direct instruction, plus give me one example of how a MLB Manager teaches professional athletes how to not have “mental lapses”

                  “M’kay bone head plays are bad, M’kay” “Don’t make bonehead plays M’kay”

                  Every player already know this and every player will still have mental mistakes and errors. We just get all worked up when the team is losing. I promise no Reds blog is screaming about poor coaching because of that 5 out inning… now if they lost then the DUSTY NEEDS TO GET FIRED voice would increase.

                  Seriously and think about what you are asking a MLB manager to do with MLB players and veterns. Use skills can be practiced but teaching someone not to make a mistake is just improbable.

                  • BluBlud

                    I disagree MG. I think you can teach focus. Some mistakes are going to happen, but there are some that you can attribute to bad coaching. I played baseball, and I have recieved some of this coaching. I too, kept a back pocket full SunFlower seeds( I still do to this day when during my softball games) and played to the crowd growing until I was taught to tune out the surroundings and focus on the play in front of me.

          • DocPeterWimsey

            “Does your high school not teach math?”

            Do you know, I think that a basic problem here is that most HS actually do not teach basic probability. I mean, how many people here learned basic binomial or Possion probability in HS?

            This problem extends to a lot more than baseball: a big reason why Americans are scientifically illiterate is because too few of them know elementary probability.

            Seriously, when I get a spare day, I’m going to write an R-app to post here, where you put in a guy’s average or OBP, his BA or PA, and then the error bars of expected hits / on bases over that many BA or PA.

            (Why it is not intuitive to baseball fans is hard for me to fathom: when I began to formally learn stats, I thought of almost everything in terms of baseball!)

            • MichiganGoat

              as a teacher I can absolutely promise you that that is not being taught… unless its part of a high achieving school. Sadly many of our schools are putting that on paper as what we are doing (and its in the Common Core standards) but rarely every taught. The high school students I deal with still are struggling with multiplication and negative numbers.

              • DocPeterWimsey

                The shame of it is that sports would be such a great way to teach statistics, too. Of course, not everybody follows baseball or any other particular sport. Still, they probably are one of the “most common” denominator examples out there.

                • MichiganGoat

                  True but because of the muddiness of education creating a one for all model of standards and expectations. Teaching outside of a box less desired that it was even 5 years ago. We have one goal- hit a target number on a standardized test. The rest is just extra. Sad but true.

                  • Cubbie Blues

                    My two oldest kids are in a multi-age classroom. One of the benefits is that there can’t be a one size fits all way to do it. All the kids grow at their own pace and can excel well beyond where they would be in a “normal” classroom.

                    • MichiganGoat

                      Montessori? To be honest there are some really good looking models being practiced in the elementary grades but its HS where everything becomes about the ACT score and common core. I’m hoping in time we will realize that all this “NO CHILD LEFT BEHIND” speak is finally gone, but I doubt it. Plus you more school budget cuts will always improve education. ALWAYS.

                    • Cubbie Blues

                      No, they actually go to a public school. Montessori is supposed to be nice though. Their school has 3 multi-age classrooms. Two which are K-6 and the other is K-2. They love going to school everyday. They have fun learning. They create and act out plays on their own, learn about different animals and present their findings to the rest of the class. You know, they actually learn.

                  • ProfessorCub

                    So true, Goat. Basic statistics will never be taught unless it starts appearing on standardized tests.

                    Cool to hear that you’re a teacher. I’m a music education professor (my screen name is actually not a joke!) preparing teachers to go out and teach a subject that is NEVER going to be on a standardized test, and we’re certainly climbing uphill. Keep fighting the good fight!

            • Mysterious4th

              I am once again agreeing with you!

              Kids/teens cannot even count change back without a computer telling them what to give you back. lord knows do not go to Wal-Mart and get the correct change out after they’ve punched in the total you gave them. Half the time I think I smell something burning and see smoke coming out their ears when they have to even do simple math. By the time I was in 4th grade I was going algebra (I was in all AP classes my freshman year). I am stunned at the simple academic skills of our kids lack. So, in all reality I do not expect a large portion of our population to understand the multitude of stats now available in baseball or expect to know how to actually get the correct answers.

            • MightyBear

              When I learned it, I thought of gambling.

            • jt

              Wasn’t introduced to confidence intervals until Quantitative Analysis.
              That was before some on this board were born so when I say I’ve never heard the term error bars it may be that I just forgot.
              The stats stuff was pretty straight forward. You just built a Lotus Spreadsheet or wrote a Fortran or C program and filled the blanks.
              *
              The hard part was figuring out what it was you should be measuring and then again what it was that was actually there.
              *
              Maxwell and the Diff Eq stuff was not fun. I sucked at it but I like to think it gave me some perspective over “pure theoretical math”.

        • DocPeterWimsey

          If DeJesus has 6 PA against Holland, then his numbers are indistinguishable from his overall BA against LHP. Remember, 1 hit or walk is worth 0.167 in OBP in this sample size: i.e,. the difference between the best hitters in the league and pitchers.

        • hansman1982

          6, or even 11 AB’s don’t really prove anything.

        • MSG T

          Nothing is “proven” in 6 or 12 PAs. Maybe 100, maybe.

    • terencemann

      You have to give Hairston the chance to do what he can do against lefties. Over time, Hairston is more than likely going to be better against LHP than Scheirholtz as they regress toward their career averages.

      Playing Sappelt is an entirely different thing. I think DeJesus should be the starter going forward over Sappelt. I understand the FO’s desire to see what Sappelt can do and not give up on him based on less than a month of playing time this season but there is a reason Sappelt has as little service time as he does at his age.

    • hansman1982

      “but Sveum makes it worse by over coaching, over substitution”

      Wait, but, um, shoot, I thought he was a lazy, fire-less bum who just sat in the dugout and under-managed. At least that is what the experts told me yesterday.

      So is Soler or Baez the top prospect today?

      • http://www.bleachernation.com Luke

        Still Soler.

  • jayrig5

    You can’t judge him with no talent.

    Look at IU basketball. If you were judging Tom Crean on his first three seasons, when he inherited a decimated program, you would see all the fundamental mistakes players made and assume he didn’t know how to coach. Obviously that’s not the case. With talent, he wins. And in baseball, it isn’t even Sveum’s job to get the talent.

    If you want a baseball-specific argument, Terry Francona’s best season managing the Phillies was a 77-85 record in 1999. Judging manager’s strictly on wins and losses is not at all what should be done. I actually like Sveum’s game management more than I liked Piniella’s during the two playoff runs.

    He hasn’t been perfect, but on the list of problems that cause the Cubs to lose games, he is very far down. If anything, I think this experience is only going to help him as the manager when the Cubs do have talent.

  • Kukini

    Maybe I’m way off base here, but since Theo and Jed were brought in, and Quade was ushered out, I’ve always thought this fit right into the grand rebuilding plan. When Quade was fired, there was a lot speculation about what great manager the Cubs were going to steal away to help their rebuilding effort, or perhaps they were going to give Sandberg a shot. But instead, the relative unknown, Dale Sveum, was brought in on a three year deal…all while everyone knew the Cubs were going to have the roughest part of their rebuilding process over those next three years. I’ve always pictured Sveum as a fall guy, which is why they told Sandberg “no” early in the process, and didn’t try to get a well-known manager. For this same reason, I can’t see them firing Sveum early – why bring in another big name manager if they’re doomed to fail over the next 2 seasons?

    Give Sveum the worst three years, then hire a Sandberg or steal some other highly respected guy. I think this was the plan all along.

    • terencemann

      I think Sveum was a good choice at the time given the “fall guy” scenario at the top but also given that he had a history of being a solid hitting coach and the Cubs need a good teacher right now as much as anything.

      The thing you have to keep in mind is that inexperienced managers are far more likely to do more things over the course of a game than a veteran manager. When you look at the value of managers over the course of a season based on in-game tactics, the value of inexperienced managers can vary wildly compared to veteran managers. There seems to be a tendency among inexperienced managers to try to show what they can do instead of just letting their players do their job.

      • terencemann

        Also, I think Sveum makes good lineups and I like how he uses platoons. It’s the right idea even if it doesn’t always produce the intended outcome. There’s not much he can do if nearly every guy in the bullpen is going to struggle at the same time.

        Hopefully the Cubs can develop some cheap and talented bullpen arms with Zych and McNutt coming along and Sveum won’t have to spend so much time re-arranging deck chairs on the Titanic.

        • Kukini

          My comment is independent of Sveum’s performance, good or bad. For me, I just always feel that he’s had the odds stacked against him, with the administration knowing that he was brought in as a fill-in for when Theo’s plan comes together after 3-4 years. I think he was destined to fail, and that’s why we never opted for a bigger name guy for what should be one of the most sought-after managerial jobs in baseball.

          However, I do think Sveum’s mold was strategic. He’s a sabermetrics guy, and a former hitting coach – if any fall-guy was going to catch lightning in Epstoyer’s bottle, it was him.

  • The Dude Abides

    It will be ashamed when Sveum gets fired, if in fact he does before Theo gives him a shot with a decent roster. That said only Rickett$ and Theo know the long term goals of this team and how long they plan on taking.

    It is not realistic for him to have to wait until their top tiered prospects develop and unless they really plan on trading for major league quality starters and signing some free agents this will not be over next year either.

    Someone will pay if the howls get too loud from the media and attendance sags and that ends up being the manager. While his moves many times would be easy to second guess if they decide to go that way he never stood a chance of winning and honestly still doesn’t next year

  • Frank F.

    Am I alone in the I don’t care either way boat? Aside from a short stint as interim manager, he’s basically a rookie. I’d be lying if I said that I was familiar with the early track record of most successful managers, but truth is that when a young manager with minimal experience has a few bad years, they tend to get canned, and it’s not as easy for them to get another gig as it is for, say Dusty Baker or Lou Piniella.

    Think of him as any other prospect giving a chance to learn on the job, so long as he’s not blocking a better option. As long as he lays off on openly calling out the few players who may be of real long term value, I don’t think it matters whether or not he stays around. However, if they do can him, I hope that they have a replacement in mind. We don’t need another Quade.

  • Kramden

    Nothing against the guy, but I don’t think Sveum is right right type of manager for THIS team. A hard-ass boss is counterproductive and puts everyone more on edge than they need to be.

    Right now, the Cubs can use someone more along the lines of a Chuck Tanner and someone that works with and encourages their players rather than threatening them. That part should be Hoyer & Epstein’s job.

  • Jay

    He could leave the starter in until he falters, instead of pulling him arbitrarily for that snakepit of a bullpen.

    Oh, and Sandberg’s in line for the Philly job when Manuel leaves. Everyone knows it. No way he’s coming here for any reason, particularly not now with this trainwreck of a team.

  • MJ

    Joe Maddon is regarded as one of the best managers in the game today. But, the beginning of his managerial career didn’t exactly get off to a rip roaring start. Looks kind of similar to the guy being discussed here.

    http://www.baseball-reference.com/managers/maddojo99.shtml

    I think Epstein hired Sveum with a mutual understanding that the beginning was going to rough. Hoping that there will similar growth between manager, coaching staff and personnel, as they’ve had in Tampa Bay. By the way, Maddon was the other finalist when Epstein decided on Terry Francona in Boston. The Red Sox really wanted Sveum last year, if you’ll recall.

  • mudge

    I have problems with Sveum but there’s no way he should be fired.

  • jt

    Barney would be a good 5th IF’er…he is starting at 2B
    Valbuena may be getting to a point where he would be a good 2B… he is starting a 3B.
    Feldman seems to fit as a good swing man.. he is the fifth starter.
    Bowden seems to be ok as the 6th or 7th best BP guy… he is 4th or 5th.
    Maybe age has caught up to Camp
    Marmol, well, maybe it is just early season jitters?
    Gregg seems to be a potentially good insurance salesman… he is in The Cubs pen.
    Rizzo is still learning his craft
    Soriano, early season anyway, would best serve hitting 6th. He is hitting clean-up.
    *
    With the exception of Gregg, these are all good players who are somehow out of their nitch.
    *
    The saying is that you can not replace the players so the manager must go.
    Well, in this case, a few players need to be replaced and a few others re-positioned.

  • Spencer

    The lack of fundamentals and shoddy defense are the most important items to keep an eye on.

    • hansman1982

      It’d be interesting to see an objective metric that does a good job at looking at fundamentals and shoddy (as in, this error is acceptable but that error over there, HOLY CRAP BATMAN) defense.

      I have a feeling, even the best teams have terrible play at times, but they have the offensive ability to overcome it.

      • Spencer

        I agree that crappy plays get magnified if they occur by players on bad teams, mostly because those crappy plays result in losses, and then people talk about them more.

        For purposes of evaluating Sveum, I don’t care what the Cubs W-L record is. I think the things that he and his staff have control over is teaching defense and fundamentals, and of course game management. I think his game management is just so so, and the Cubs haven’t performed well fundamentally at all. Offensive struggles, plate discipline, etc aren’t really things that he can fix with the snap of his fingers – but they are things to keep in mind throughout the entire organization and minors.

        I also think Sveum says some really dumb shit. Like, “this is the best defensive team!!” in spring training. Welp.

        • Spencer

          Also, the platoon thing isn’t working at all so far. I dunno how much of this is Sveum and how much is the FO, but, yeah. It has been unsuccessful. Probably a touch too early to give up on it, but it’s only a matter of time before the small sample size argument doesn’t work anymore.

          • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

            Is the platoon thing not working, or are a couple guys not hitting? I think DeJesus and Schierholtz would say the platoon thing is working swimmingly.

            • Spencer

              Hmm that is a fair point. But at what point are Sappelt and Hairston going to stop playing? And, if they did, would that cause DeJesus and Schierholtz to regress because of the fact they aren’t exclusively seeing RHP anymore. I guess my point is you can only stick with it for so long.

        • MichiganGoat

          I would love to hear from an honest coach that worked on a MLB team. I just don’t think there is too much coaching you can do to a player that has made it through HS, College, Minors and been successful as a MLB professional. What else is there to be taught at this point that hasn’t already been learned, drilled, and practiced? I’m serious about this and would love to hear from a professional coach, I just think many of us see the coaching we’ve had in HS, college, minors and think it is the same as at the MLB level.

          • MightyBear

            Send a question to Brett and Sahadev on the podcast. I would like to hear that too. I bet Sahadev has talked to some major league coaches. Maybe Brett has too.

            When Sorano switched from infield to outfield, there had to be some coaching there to get him used to playing the outfield. There has to be something these coaches do, otherwise, why are they there?

          • Whiteflag

            I have the same question Goat. I’d imagine there is little these coaches can do to change techniques that have been drilled into the player’s head. However, then I think about Soriano. Who seems to have really improved in his fielding ability.

            • MichiganGoat

              Sori is unique because he learned the OF much later in his career, but most players have been through countless practice drills and know what is needed to become a better player

              • Cubbie Blues

                Still, last year Sori stated that nobody ever taught him how to play the OF until last year. Which, coincidentally, he was good.

          • Spencer

            I think this is a good argument. And that’s why I kind of think if veteran players make mistakes in the game…its really not 100% on Dale because those players have already played forever. I think its more important to be cognizant of with younger homegrown players, of which of course the Cubs don’t have many. I think this will be much easier and recognizable to measure in the next 2-3 years. Then we can see if The Cubs Way is really working.

            • MichiganGoat

              Yeah on the current team you really only have Castro as a true home grown player and Barney but his defense is the reason why he is starting. I’m not sure who else on the 25 man roster was drafted and developed by the Cubs.

              Man that is sad.

              • Kyle

                Castillo. Samardzija. Russell. Marmol.

                • MichiganGoat

                  Thanks, I can’t believe I forgot Shark but I wan’t thinking pitchers. I’d be curious to see what team as the most 100% homegrown players on the 25 man roster. 6 out of 25 nearly 25% that actually sounds better than I think most MLB roster have, now thats not saying its a good thing to have our 6 on the team but it would be interesting to see the home grown percentages of each team.

                  • Spencer

                    I think the Mets a year or two ago started a lineup with all home grown players and a big deal was made about it. But the Mets suck, so…

  • terencemann

    I almost think Sveum’s recent comments are the result of being with a crappy team. It’s frustrating to be on a losing team no matter if you’re a player, manger, or a bat boy. He has to show some concern to the media so it doesn’t look like he doesn’t care or he isn’t trying different things but I think, when I read between the lines, I just see someone frustrated with the current state of the team.

    • BluBlud

      I have seen pictures of baby Jesus in a “manger” but I have never seen a “manger” on a bad team. ;)

    • itzscott

      Well then if you’re Sveum you just say that the lapses are recognized, being addressed and that he’s never seen such a hard working team that’s committed to constant improvement.

      You don’t trash the guys you’re supposed to be managing. That pretty much throws Epstein & Hoyer (your bosses!) under the bus because they’re the ones who brought these players in and you end up doing yourself no favors.

  • Korean Goat

    EVEN when the cubs were the best team of NL in 2008, i strongly feeled a lack of offense. the next year hitting coach gerald perry was fired but their offense kept falling. though we are making some critical erroes and loosing some games, i think it’s not manager’s fault entirely. we are rebuliding team. they will be better.

    • DocPeterWimsey

      ??? The ’08 Cubs had the highest runs scored and highest OPS in the NL. They actually were 2nd in MLB in runs-scored and 3rd in OPS: and without a DH.

      They might have finished #1 in both had the batting not collapsed in September, too.

      • TWC

        Totally. Didn’t they set a record that season with the most games scoring 5+ runs in an inning? Maybe they just led the league int hat category…

        Fun season. Up until, say, August 29th.

        • Korean Goat

          yes, you are right. what i want to say is replacing manager is not the point now as perry was fired.

  • jim

    I think this conversation is crazy Dale is the best manager all around that we’ve had in quite some time I think he’s the guy for the transition I also think he’s the guy for the future we have to be patient it sucks but I feel that Jed,theo and Dale are all on the same page and the right guys to lead this organization.

  • Randy

    WTF- who is in charge of sitting players and not babying their asses. Dale. Who is in charge of making pitching changes. Dale who the hell left Bowden in the game when he is not a 2 inning pitcher. Dale. Who makes the lineup out . Dale
    So I guess I’m the stuoid one but for me the coach is over his head and lacks balls. Yea he may have some crappy players but he can mix and match and find something that works instead of saber metrics. Hows that working for you Dale. Not so much. Use your gut once in a while instead of a freaking book. There are teams with less talent actually winning some games.

    OK

    • Cubbie Blues

      Kind of ironic that you misspelled stupid.

      • Randy

        I guess I dont have all day to sit and type.

        • Cubbie Blues

          Lucky for all of you that I do, today.

    • Korean Goat

      sappelt is greedy to be hero, that’s all of today. bowden was good.

    • bbmoney

      Yes I long for the days of Dusty Baker and his gut telling him it’s ok to run wood, prior and zambrano into the ground. I love when managers like Grady Little listen to their gut and has the balls to do really smart things like leave Pedro Martinez in Game 7 of the 2003 LCS. Or Ron Washington listening to his gut and doing nothing but hurting his team’s chances in the playoffs the past few seasons…..and yes they made the playoffs but it certainly wasn’t because of his gut, it’s because the players he had were actually really freaking good.

      I’d rather my manager pay attention to numbers and stats and the like instead of going by instinct. The Cubs lack talent, the Cubs have had terrible luck so far this year, and the Cubs bullpen has been just terrible. Let’s not put this all on Dale.

      I did want to stab myself in the eye last night though. That was horrendous.

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