dale sveum mediaIn case you’re wondering about the odd timing/order of posts this morning, it’s because I’m in Cincinnati getting ready to go to today’s Cubs/Reds game. The weather is crummy down here, but I’m told that it should abate in time for the game to be played relatively close to the scheduled start time. So, I’ll soon be heading out to the ballpark with The Father-in-Law. The EBS will be delayed.

  • In the face of a few days’ worth of criticism and job security discussions, Dale Sveum’s boss, GM Jed Hoyer, made a special trip to Cincinnati to show support for the manager. “We’re all in this together,” Hoyer told the media, per Carrie Muskat. “We’ve struggled, it’s been painful to watch because we keep on squandering leads. That’s on Theo and that’s on me. We have to figure out ways to get better. We’re not the most talented team in the league right now. We’re trying to build to get there but as we get there, we can’t continue to make the kind of mistakes we’ve been making. We have to clean it up and get better. Dale has our complete support. [Job security is] not what he should be thinking about in the least …. We know how hard he’s working and we’re having a lot of sleepless nights as we go through it, and we know he is as well …. The front office doesn’t watch the games and think things are happening on the field that shouldn’t be.” Hoyer said “we’re in this together” at least three times in his comments, so it’s pretty clear what his thesis was: stop putting the blame on Sveum. (He would have used that as his thesis, but the rhyme sounded campy.)
  • Hoyer made sure to dispel any of that demotion talk that muddied up the waters earlier this week. “The point Dale is trying to make, and I support him 100 percent, is that at some point there has to be accountability,” Hoyer said, again per Muskat. “If that means benching a guy or reducing his playing time, disciplining him in some ways, at some point, [Sveum] has to be able to pull the strings he has to pull to manage the team successfully and obviously, he has our total support to do that.”
  • Hoyer also made a variety of comments about the overall struggles of the team, bad luck, and bad roster creation. You can see more of those comments here, here and here.
  • (Worth discussing: would Hoyer make a special trip to Cincinnati to talk to the media about Sveum just because of a little unrest? I’m not saying I don’t believe Hoyer, but it seems a bit over the top and reactionary. I guess Hoyer hasn’t met with the media in a while, so it could simply be a little bit of this and a little bit of that. There was also the Garza thing to discuss, and, given the sensitive nature of the setback, I could see Hoyer wanting to address that in person, too.)
  • Of his decision to pull Carlos Villanueva and go with Carlos Marmol to face Joey Votto last night, Sveum said what you would expect him to say (per ESPN): “Those numbers don’t lie. He got the ground ball just, once again, it was ‘really, you can’t hit it at somebody?’ You’re kidding me.” Coming into the at bat, Votto was 1 for 15 against Marmol with 9 strikeouts. Like I said last night, the part about bringing Marmol in that bothered me was the fact that he’d thrown almost 30 pitches the night before, and there were other reasonable options available. Folks are giving Sveum some grief about relying on a small sample, and 15 at bats is almost as small as it gets, the 9 strikeouts (including one the night before, in which Votto looked baffled) thing suggests to me that Votto doesn’t see the ball well against Marmol. So, the sample is small, but it’s right on the cusp of being relevant.
  • Keith Law wrote a heavily-discussed piece yesterday about Anthony Rizzo’s struggles this year (clearly I cursed him, by the way), which he ties to a perceived change in Rizzo’s swing. That change has Rizzo’s hands even lower and further back, allowing him to swing in a more upwards motion (generating more power, but lengthening the stride, leading to more whiffs and more pop-ups). Dale Sveum denied that the Cubs have made any affirmative changes to Rizzo’s swing, but confirmed that he, too, sees the issue with Rizzo’s hands getting too low, per the Tribune. It’s a delicate balance: recall that Rizzo lowered his hands before the 2012 season so that he could get to the zone more quickly. But, too low, and you end up creating a new problem.
  • Alberto Gonzalez ended up clearing waivers, and was outrighted to Iowa.
  • It tentatively looks like the Cubs and Rangers will make up their rained out interleague game from last week on May 6 at Wrigley Field.
  • Reminder: Sign up for the fantasy contest. Full details here, homies.
  • http://www.justinjabs.com/blog/ justinjabs

    On the Marmol thing, I was one of those grief givers — until I much later realized Russell was on 30 pitches for the past two days as well. I thought it was the right thing to pull Villanueva at that point but even now I’m not sure who you put in.

    I will say one thing though. Like Len said: I like that Marmol was pitching because Sveum thought he had an advantage according to some numbers (regardless of how small they were), instead of some arbitrary rule that we have a “closer” and that is a “save situation” regardless of the matchup or previous pitch counts.

    • http://www.justinjabs.com/blog/ justinjabs

      If only all games could be managed like that

  • JR

    It’s amazing how the media digs into everything Sveum says. All he is saying is that everyone will always be held accountable with a losing team, and threw himself in there too as coach speak. What’s the big freaking deal. Sveum obviously isn’t great with his words, but this is over the top.

    • Clutch Cargo

      Remember, this is the Chicago media we’re talking about. Home of probably the worst combination of sports radio and sports newspaper reporting known in the free world. 99% smarmy, vindictive, self-important garbage. Embarrassing.

      • JulioZuleta

        I said last night, I think the group of guys covering the Cubs this year is collectively doing the worst job I’ve seen. Their “analysis” consists of just making saracastic jokes and hindsight criticism. I had to unfollow most of the guys on Twitter because their laziness and negativity was just driving me crazy. Most of them cover nothing of value. (exception to this is Bruce Miles, who’s always pretty damn good (and scored bonus points with me for calling out Kap the other night) and Mooney from CSN).

        • illinicubfan

          Yeah – last night Jessie Rodgers was close to an unfollow and then he called Pablo Sandoval “Panda Bear” and I just couldn’t take it anymore.

          • JulioZuleta

            It is absolutely incredible that he has that job. I get it that some beat writers aren’t experts on the sport they’re covering, but it seems like he knows NOTHING about the game. Also, he makes it very clear that he’d rather be covering hockey. I’m a huge Hawks fan, way bigger Cubs fan, and can safely say that the worst thing about the NHL lockout was Jesse Rogers getting pushed over to the Cubs. He and Sully were both unfollowed. I wish there was a way to unfollow Kaplan for analysis, but re-follow him for news/rumor type stuff.

  • JulioZuleta

    Off topic Sveum note that Len mentioned the other night: he is cousins with John Olerud. Interesting.

    • JOE

      Now that you mention it, I do see a family resemblance there.

  • StillCubsFan

    any of you feel like the front office controls Sveum’s decisions too much?

    • JR

      There are certain things that the FO clearly tells Sveum to talk about. But there are other things that I am sure they shake their heads when they hear it come out of his mouth.

    • JulioZuleta

      When you have a bad/developing team, that tends to happen. Unfortunately (and understandably) winning isn’t the absolute end-all be-all right now. They’re developing guys/worrying about maximizing trade value…which does artificially influence some decisions. I’m sure they’ll be more hands off with the Sveum (or whoever the manager is) when (if) they start winning in a few years.

  • Smitty

    When you look at one relief pitcher versus a hitter, I think 15 at bats IS relevant. That is 15 different outings he faced this hitter over the past 2-3 years. I would agree that 15 ABs is a small sample if we were talking a starting pitcher since they see each batter 2 times an appearance.

    I see your point about Marmol being overused with other reliable options, but 1/15 is the exact type of matchup I would want Svuem to take advantage of.

    • Featherstone

      I completely agree. 15 ABs for a relief pitcher actually is a decent sample given the amount of times a player will see the same relief pitcher. Sveum picked the best guy for the at-bat and it didnt happen to work out.

  • Kev

    Is it just me or does Sveum kind of have a David Bowie vibe in the above photo?

  • TNN2

    I know the Cubs have been bad and made a lot of terrible mistakes but what could their record be?

    I like to look at Fangraph’s expected win%. Their graphs famously tell you what the chances for victory are in at any moment within the game. They also tell you what the overall average win expectancy is for the entire game. If you add up all of these expected values you get the number of expected wins a team should have if they went through all of the same situations. It is similar to using the pythagorean win projections except it takes every game situation into account.

    Basically the Cubs record right now “should” be 9-10. They are playing well enough to have that record. When you have a questionable bullpen that can skew things of course, but essentially the Cubs have been unlucky to the tune of 3 wins which is pretty exceptional at this point in the season. If they keep it up they’re on pace to go 74-88, or almost exactly where preseason projections had pegged them.

  • Jay

    How about just leaving in your starters until they’re not effective? Especially with this trash can fire of a bullpen.

    • Internet Random

      You mean “not effective” for the rest of the game, or their career?

      • JOE

        ^^^ I agree it was hard to see Villanueva pulled considering he was still at a manageable pitch count last night, but I still prefer Dale’s philosophy of pulling starters too early and preserving their careers than Dusty Baker and the former regime’s philosophy of allowing starters (e.g. Mark Prior) to throw until their arms fall off. Hindsight’s always 20/20.

    • hansman1982

      What’s the definition of “not effective”?

      Is it when you think your guy might be getting ready to implode or after he has imploded? Damn, the goalposts for slamming Sveum’s decisions are moving so fast I’m not sure that I can see them as they whiz past.

  • Cubbies4Life

    It’s just you.

  • ETS

    I like the move by hoyer. Too often small things in the media snowball. Good to nip it in the bud.

  • Internet Random

    “Folks are giving Sveum some grief about relying on a small sample, and 15 at bats is almost as small as it gets, the 9 strikeouts (including one the night before, in which Votto looked baffled) thing suggests to me that Votto doesn’t see the ball well against Marmol.”

    Statistics are very powerful tools for analyzing and making decisions. But they are not the only tool.

    • Internet Random

      Die hard, for example, is also a tool.

  • DocPeterWimsey

    Votto whiffs 18% of the time. The probability of him wracking up 9+ K’s in (now) 16 PAs is just a hair over 0.0001. Yeah, that’s right: we expect to see it every 8341 pitchers against whom he has 16 PAs.

    Given how erratic Marmol appears to be and given how often the Cubs play the Reds, a lot of those PAs certainly have come when Marmol has been “down,” too.

    • bbmoney

      Hang on, that kind of assumes all pitchers are created equal, but not all pitchers have Marmol’s K rate. I wouldn’t expect Votto to k at 18% of the time against every single pitcher he faced. So I’m not sure those numbers you’re using are entirely accurate.

      • DocPeterWimsey

        Sure, they are accurate. What they are saying is that Votto’s K-rate against Marmol is almost certainly higher than his K-rate in general. The issue of all pitchers not being equal is the point when your are asking whether a batter’s performance against a particular pitcher deviates from that of pitchers as a whole.

        In truth, Votto’s K-rate will follow some distribution, which you could model by taking his K’s & PA’s from multiple stretches of time. (Something called a Dirichlet distribution would probably be the best model.) The binomial error bars on a single K-rate idea are tiny: you’d posit that Votto’s “true” rate is somewhere between .171 and .198. However, in reality there are some distributions of K-rates reflecting the distributions of different types of pitcher. This obviously will have a “mean” rate of 18%, but it should have some tail stretching (probably) into the low 20’s on one end and low teens on the other.

        Now just look at Votto vs. Marmol: the error bars on his rate against Marmol would be 0.35 – 0.82. The small sample size makes those error bars huge: but there is no way that even 35% fits in Votto’s K-rate distribution. Insofar as Votto is concerned, Marmol is not just another pitcher.

        • bbmoney

          I’m not a statistician, but your original statement of this happening 1 in every 8,341 pitchers is a lot different from saying Marmol is not just another pitcher.

          He’d strike out 9 out of 16 Abs when facing league average k rate pitchers 1 out of ever 8,341 times. That does not mean if he faced 8,341 pitchers with k rates above 11+ per 9 that he’d only strike out 9 of 16 Abs against 1 of them. That’s all I’m saying.

          None of which is to say, Marmol hasn’t been wildly more effective at striking out Votto than an average pitcher, or even than you’d expect a pitcher with 11+ k’s per 9 to be.

          • DocPeterWimsey

            Um, how is saying that Marmol is a 1 in 8341 pitcher not saying that he’s not just another pitcher where Votto is concerned? That was rather my point, after all: that’s probably as many guys as pitch any number of innings over multiple decades, after all.

            As for the rest of it, if you simply use Marmol’s K-rate against league-average as a prior probability, then you still don’t get an expected K-rate of even 25% for Votto. Moreover, you are omitting walks: Votto walks a lot more than league average and Marmol walks a lot more guys than league average, yet Votto is not drawing walks against Marmol.

  • Sahadev Sharma

    Here’s why I think the 1-for-15 is irrelevant. First, it’s a small sample. Mike Quade once used the reasoning that Albert Pujols was 0-for-8 against Rodrigo Lopez and that predictably ended in disaster. Second, Marmol is not the same pitcher he was when he faced Votto the bulk of that small sample, his stuff is no where near the quality it once was, that’s just a fact. Third, Votto looked bad against Marmol the other day, yes. But I recall Castro looking terrible against Sergio Romo one day, then knocking in the game winning run off him the next.

    All that said, though I didn’t like the decision at the time, I also get that Russell isn’t a sure bet to get Votto out. Nobody is a sure bet to get Votto out, that’s why he’s one of the best bats in the game. After initially being mad about the decision, I’ve realized that the fact is, the probability that Russell gets Votto out in that situation (after pitching in the previous two games) is likely minimally better (if at all) than Marmol getting him out after pitching two innings the previous night.

    Pulling Villanueva was the right move. The problem is, Sveum has limited options in his pen, and they’re just not very good options.

    • http://www.viewfromthebleachers.com Norm

      This is spot on.

    • JulioZuleta

      I guess it depends on what you mean when you say is stuff is nowhere near what it was for the bulk of those ABs. Sure, he’s not who he was in 2010, but he’s been in a pretty sharp decline ever since.

    • Bric

      Sorry man, but as soon as you used the words “Quade” and “reasoning” in the same sentence I stopped reading. But I’m guessing the bald guy did in the end.

  • Dan

    As much as i dont mind Dale, The dreaded “vote of confidence” almost always leads to an eventual (sooner rather then later) pink slip given. I would assume Dale will be gone by June with Qurik tabed as interam manager. I dont thin Dale is doing a bad job, and is doing the best he can. I think the starting rotatiions ERA is off the charts. If we could just get timely hits and not have mental lapses in the field and sure up our terrible bullpen we would be alright. but just saying the vote of confidence pretty much says svemns days are numbered

    • Rebuilding

      I don’t think there is a chance in hell that Sceum gets fired this year. As critical as I’ve been of him, his firing would make the FO look very bad. First of all, he was really their first big decision in charge and second it would bring heat in that they have openly admitted they are rebuilding. By firing him the FO would be saying they are trying to compete and then you would have to scrutinize the bullpen and bench they have put together. No, Sveum might get fired next year, but it isn’t happening this year. My only fear is that he loses Castro, who he seems to really pick on even though he’s arguably our best player.

    • Hansman1982

      Most “votes of confidence” don’t come with the GM taking the blame for giving the manager a shitty team to play with.

  • Stu

    Maybe someone can explain what is wrong with this thought pattern.

    Have 2 relief pitchers warming up when they are most likely to be needed. Evaluate who’s “stuff” looks the best after a few simulated pitches. Put that guy in as having the best chance of getting an out.

    I’ve never understood the percentages argument or the “he has to always close” argument because a pitcher’s effectiveness varies greatly from outing to outing.

    • JOE

      I’m not discounting that pitchers undoubtedly “have it” some nights and “don’t have it” other nights, but I don’t know how much of that can be determined by watching them warm up in the pen, if that is what you are saying. I remember when Kerry Wood struck out 20 he said in a post-game interview that during his pre-game bullpen warmup, he didn’t feel like he was throwing the ball very well, and look how that turned out.

  • ajbulls23

    I am not a big fan of past statistics when it comes to baseball, because so much changes every year now. Marmol isn’t the pitcher he was 3 or 4 years ago, so the statistics don’t really come in to play in my book. If I am looking at stats I would look at this years stats. But then you get your butt handed to you because the sample size is to small if the stats go against what someone else believes is true. The Cubs don’t have the horse to platoon players. Sveum keeps platooning them even though it isn’t working. Everyday players need to play every day. There is a rythem to baseball. Sitting a guy on the bench for 3 or 4 games and then putting him in the line up doesn’t work. Plus sitting a guy down and never playing him against pitchers who throw from the same side of the plate they hit on will not make that player better at hitting those types of pitchers. Which can come back to haunt you in a key situation late in the game when you don’t have a pinch hitter. Sit them down to often and you will see their batting average drop. Sveum over coaches. To much flip flopping in the lineup. I don’t see any other teams pinch hit for starting position players like I see the Cubs do it. I know it won’t be Sveum’s fault they don’t make the playoffs. He wasn’t given the talent to do so. But you can grade him on how he handles the players he has on this roster. I don’t like what I am seeing from him, and I would like to see a better manager in place before Baez and Soler come up.

  • FastBall

    In professional sports when the ownership or Sr Management comes out and says the Manager is our guy. It means he has about 1 week of life expectancy in the seat. Your our guy until we fire you next week. Sveum can start making plans for his bike trip to Sturgis and a couple fishing triips before then. Some morning in the next couple of weeks he is going wake up thinking about a Little Bif Of Jelly and a Little Bif of Jam cuz he is going to be Toast! Don’t have to be Carnack to predict this one. Personally I think they need to go head hunting a 1 rung up on the ladder. Jed Hoyer seems to be a better fall guy. The GM puts together the roster. This is a shitty roster. Shouldn’t he be the one getting his ass fired. We should ask ourselves is Jed so tight with Theo that is not accountable for this roster? I think we need to look at what Jed really brings to this equation anyway. He is Theo’s bitch boy and that is it. He goes and gets coffee and runs errands the office admin won’t do. If Theo wants to sit in the Presidents chair then we need a damned good GM and this kid doesn’t have the experience to be a large market GM. He would have never gotten on the radar for this job if Theo wasn’t his buddy. Rule No. 1 in business never hire your friends to run your operation. You put yourself in a place where you cannot be objective. I think Theo has compromised himself by hiring Jed Hoyer. I personally would never have hired a guy who had the same initials on the office door. JH = Jim Hendry. Maybe Ricketts had Theo on a budget and told him to hire someone with the same initials so they would not have to reprint any plackards in the office.

    • ajbulls23

      That is very true. I had forgotten about that. I am not liking what I see from Sveum or Bosio, but love the acquistion of Dave McKay.

  • VACubsFan

    Don’t Blame Sveum!
    Don’t Blame Swame!
    Don’t Blveum Sveum!
    … now that’s a campy rhyme. Feel free to use it anytime … (see what I did there)

  • http://Www.aorrockstop.com JB sports guy

    Dale Sveum is being the patsy for this team
    In the rebuild years! Poor dale he wanted a chance
    To coach and will always be bump to Maury wills!

  • Die hard

    A good mgr doesn’t let his team lose 1-0

    • DarthHater

      A good brain stops a person before a statement like that is made.

      • Die hard

        How did you complete that one?

        • DocPeterWimsey

          You basically just wrote that all 1-0 games are the fault of bad managing. I’m sure you will agree that that actually is pretty goofy.

          Here is one that is much closer to the truth: the vast majority 1-0 games are the result of very good starting pitching for both teams.

  • http://It'searly Mike F

    Sveum is not the one who put this roster together. I am still in the FO corner, but they not Sveum deserve the lion’s share for discredit here. They have starting pitching and not a hell of a lot more. Let me rephrase that, quantity of starting pitching, not necessarily quality. This is a money ball roster in transition with no middle of the order. Castro is fairly typical. Talented yes, fundamentally sound absolutely no. They lack young talent that really knows what they are doing in terms of winning baseball. And the holes at the ML level and AAA / AA are obvious. Everyone wanted this, get young and lose philosophy until it plays out and then little over a year into its time to call for people’s heads?

    In my view, they all are in the same boat today and need to be given until mid to late 2014 to draw assessments. They are a bad team at the major league level looking to start flipping, what the hell did people expect?

    • Timmy

      Yes, and yes. Our ownership refuses to invest in the team, the GMs aren’t competent to put together a team in the short term and may or may not have invested well in the future. And poor Coach Sveum is going to be scapegoated.

  • Die hard

    No and here’s why– Leo Durocher or Lou Pinella or Joe Girardi would tell a batter to get hit by pitch or take more time to set in batters box or bunt to get on or hit to opposite field or take every pitch til 2 strikes etc.. in fact that should be marching orders for every batter leading off inning or up with 2 outs and nobody on base