chicago cubs logoTwitter is one of my favorite mediums for communication and information. I often find myself just aimlessly scrolling through my timeline and enjoying random wisecracks, marveling at a stat, or saving links to interesting stories for a later date. However, it’s also one of my more frustrating outlets. I often get questions or comments that I find off-base or uninformed. Trying to counter such opinions in 140-character bursts can be hard to do in a competent manner.

About a week ago, I ran into this problem once again. In addressing possible Joe Girardi-to-the-Cubs rumors, I said that, if the front office decided to hire Girardi, some would view it as a business move, not a baseball move. Immediately, people got upset by that, but my suggestion wasn’t that the business focus would in fact be the case, but solely that some would try and spin it that way to make it seem like the business side was interfering and/or pressuring the baseball side into making a move.

So let’s start there, and proceed with some (false) items in a more nuanced dialog than Twitter would allow …

1. Tom Ricketts, Crane Kenney or someone on the business side forced Theo Epstein and the front office to fire Sveum, with the direct order to hire Joe Girardi to help with the team’s image/credibility/attendance woes.

Let’s deal with the former first. Firing Sveum was the front office’s choice and strictly a baseball decision. While it may be an admission that they made a mistake in hiring Sveum two years ago, I view it  as more of an admission that somewhere along the line, the front office and Sveum stopped being on the same page.

At some point in the past year, Sveum’s message to the team either diverged from what the front office wants the message to be, or the front office felt that message was being relayed in an improper fashion. Either way, it’s clear that Sveum and the front office weren’t on the same page this past season and that ultimately led to Sveum’s firing.

Assuming that this firing occurred solely so they could target Girardi would be folly. I’m sure the business side of the organization would love if the Cubs got Girardi to manage the team. They’re paid to think about ways to generate more revenue and if they believe adding Girardi as manager is the best route to achieve that goal*, then they should undoubtedly share that with the baseball side.

But directing Epstein to fire Sveum and go after Girardi? Let’s really examine this thought process.

To force Epstein to do something he didn’t want to do, the business side would have to have some leverage over Epstein. Meaning they’d likely have to say something to the effect of, “Fire Sveum, hire Girardi or your job is in danger.” Really? Ricketts jumped through so many hoops to get Epstein and the rest of his crew to Wrigley just two years ago. Now he’s going to allow the business side to threaten Epstein’s job just so they can maybe sell more tickets by plastering Girardi’s face on some billboards? That’s lunacy.

Even if that did happen, which it most certainly didn’t, Epstein has built up enough clout and respect in this business that he’d happily take his walking papers and immediately find another job in baseball. He already dealt with a business side that got too involved while he was in Boston, and he didn’t come to Chicago to face the same challenges.

This theory makes no sense and should be summarily dismissed by anyone who takes half a moment to really think it through.

*There’s some dispute as to if hiring Girardi would have any benefit business-wise. I certainly agree that it would help with credibility (how fans and media view the rebuild) and marketing (let’s face it, Rizzo, Castro and Samardzija aren’t great selling points right now, regardless of how we may view their futures, their Q-rating, so to say, is down among the general fan base. Girardi would be an easy sell to a public searching for something positive to cling to). I do dispute the notion that the addition of Girardi would have any notable effect on attendance. Maybe there’d be an early bump – and I’m doubtful even that would be anything of significance – but unless the team starts winning, the fans will once again fail to show up.

2. Epstein and company have focused their job search on Girardi and only Girardi. Coming up short in their attempt to nab him as the next manager of the Cubs should and will be looked at as a complete and utter failure by the front office.

Yes, I believe that Girardi is at the top of the front office’s list to replace Sveum. However, their list most certainly isn’t one man long. Going into a managerial search with just one target would be a huge misstep for any team, let alone a front office that has proven to be as thorough and willing to investigate every avenue of improvement as this one. Epstein clearly laid out what they’re looking for in a candidate, and while it definitely sounded like they were describing Girardi, they didn’t limit themselves to focusing solely on him.

Not landing Girardi may be viewed as a disappointment to some, but it wouldn’t be a failure. The Cubs have a list of candidates and while Girardi may be the sexiest name on it, there are other competent candidates who could end up doing wonders given the opportunity.

3. Landing Girardi is critical to the future success of this team.

Again, there are multiple candidates for the job and all that matters is that the Cubs manage to land a competent manager. I’d even hesitate to say they have to ‘nail’ this managerial search, but I’ll delve into that in a bit more detail when I talk about the value of a manager.

Right now, everyone needs to realize that, while the front office had their reasons for removing Sveum as manager, the biggest problem with the Cubs at the major league level is a lack of talent. They could trot out a manager who combines the best skills of every great manager who every sat in a dugout, unless they have a playoff caliber roster, they’re not sniffing postseason play.

4. Why would Girardi pick the Yankees over the Cubs?

What makes the Cubs attractive? Let’s not debate the merits of the major league club. There’s some talent there, but obviously some of the youth stalled in 2013. Nobody’s selling this job using this past season’s roster as bullet point number one.

And while Esptein’s claim that, “Around baseball, the story is the Cubs are coming fast and the Cubs are coming strong,” may be a bit of hyperbole, it’s not that far off base. When talking with those around baseball about the Cubs, the amazing farm system is always the first thing brought up. And though there are concerns that the team may not have the funds it once did to go crazy in free agency, most don’t believe that will be the case in the near future.

Make no mistake about it, while on the face it appears the Cubs are your run-of-the mill bad team that just suffered their third straight 90-loss season, the outlook around baseball is much more optimistic than the jaded and beaten down view that seems to have permeated throughout this city.

So what about New York, that job is the plummest of the plum, right? Yes, the Yankees have been one the best, if not THE best, franchise in all of sports for nearly two decades. But let’s take a look at their current situation.

Their farm system is desperately lacking in any high ceiling talent. Once promising prospects like Gary Sanchez, Tyler Austin and Mason Williams (just to name a few) took steps back in 2013 with nobody else really making major progress. The Yankees have actually struggled to develop talent for a while now (outside of Robinson Cano, I can’t name a recent player they developed and didn’t trade who’s had extended success at the big leagues), but they’ve managed to overcome those issues by spending big in free agency.

However, even if they decide not to stick to their self-mandated $189 million payroll for 2014, their outlook for the next few years isn’t too bright. Teams are no longer built via free agency, it’s just an avenue used to supplement what should already be a strong roster.

The Yankees have an aging (and downward trending) CC Sabathia, Mariano Rivera and Andy Pettite have retired, Cano, Curtis Granderson and Hiroki Kuroda are heading to free agency, who knows what the future holds for Alex Rodriguez and the rest of the roster is either old, injury-prone, not very good or a combination of the three. So why would anyone suggest that the Yankees are clearly a better choice to lead over the next three to five years?

The Yankees will always be a quality gig, but by no means should anyone outright dismiss the notion of Girardi picking the Cubs over the Yankees as fantasy. This is something that’s completely based on fact and reality, not just the nostalgia of Girardi returning to his home state and first team and taking on the challenge of being the first to win on the North Side in over a century (although, all those things certainly help the Cubs sell the job).

5. Getting Girardi means the Cubs will spend more money in free agency. (I also heard the opposite from some folks – i.e., that the Cubs would divert the money meant for Girardi into landing a big-name free agent.)

I actually don’t doubt that this will be used as a selling point to lure Girardi, but I also believe it would be foolish if the team would spend only if they got Girardi. No front office should ever drastically change their approach to spending because of who is managing the team.

I can understand going after a particular player because you feel the manager or a certain coach on the staff can work with him and extract some unseen value, but to not spend because you have a lesser known manager at the helm? That doesn’t make much sense to me. As I’ve already said, the most important aspect of the Cubs future success is putting together a talented roster. If the identity of the manager changes your desire to field a stronger roster, that’s just a poor strategy.

However, if the business side is directly telling Epstein that they’ll open the coffers if Girardi is hired (I have no reason to believe this is the case), then, as long as Epstein believes Girardi is the right man for the job – and it’s pretty clear he’s at the top of their list* – then surely it gives them a little more incentive to land Girardi. Of course, I don’t think Epstein would be thrilled with that directive, but, since Girardi is already a desirable candidate, the added bonus of more money to spend on free agents doesn’t hurt.

But this almost seems counterintuitive for the business side. They surely understand that the best way to market the team is by winning, and the best way to win is to add talent to the roster. Making that possible only if Girardi is managing would be cutting of their nose to spite their face. The two options – hiring Girardi and spending on free agency – should be completely independent of each other.

But again, from everything I’ve heard, regardless of who is hired or not hired, the Cubs will have the same amount to spend in free agency.  Whether that amount is enough to help improve the play on the field remains to be seen.

*I want to make it clear that I also think Girardi is the best available candidate. He does many of the things a manager needs to do to succeed outside of the in game stuff (more on what that entails below) and he’s strong during the game as well. While I don’t love his tendency to at times micro-manage (hello small sample size splits!), I also believe that he’s one of the five to ten best managers currently holding that position.

6. Hiring someone like A.J. Hinch would be an underwhelming choice as far as the media or fan base is considered.

The moment this front office starts making decisions based on how it will be received by the fans and media is the moment I stop believing they’re making sound decisions.

Some fans may be disappointed in any choice other than Girardi. Some media members may say the front office failed if they don’t lure the Peoria native back to his home state. But as long as the front office is working with the best interests of the organization at hand, then their process is sound.

If that choice is Girardi, great. If it’s Hinch or Manny Acta or Sandy Alomar, Jr. then that’s wonderful as well.

Which leads me to my next point…

7. Hinch failed in Arizona, thus he is a poor manager.

There is no doubt that as far as his won-loss record goes (89-123 in parts of two seasons), Hinch didn’t get the job done with the Diamondbacks. But as I was told by one source, Hinch “was set up to fail in Arizona, anyone will tell you that. He didn’t get picked apart for (his on the field) moves or lack thereof.”

Going back and looking at how Hinch was brought in as manager, being thrust into a role that it wasn’t really clear if he wanted or not, one can see how he was put in a poor situation. When he was let go, it wasn’t an indictment of Hinch, but rather the whole organization – general manager Josh Byrnes was fired as well – as the Diamondbacks clearly decided to go in a new direction with a complete overhaul.

Regardless, let’s just admit that Hinch’s stint in Arizona was a failure. The team didn’t succeed and that’s the bottom line. But saying he’s a bad manager when most who make the proclamation couldn’t point to one thing outside of the team’s poor record to back that claim up? Utterly ridiculous.

By all accounts, Hinch, a Stanford grad, is very intelligent, highly respected by his those around him (both colleagues and players), thinks about the game at a very high level, and has a solid track history of being involved in the development of some young players who have panned out. Hinch was also the captain of the 1996 Olympic team and played seven seasons in the big leagues. Anyone with his resume is surely a competitor and indications are he’s itching to get rid of the bad taste that his poor record in Arizona left in his mouth.

The bottom line is, if we’re talking about Hinch, Terry Francona in his Philadelphia days, the current incarnation of Francona or any manager, many fans often do a very poor job of judging a manager’s worth. I’m not saying the media is much better; we work with a little more information, as we get a tiny view of what happens in the clubhouse (of course, often times what we see isn’t the full story, I recognize that), and can often get a read on how players or front office personnel feel a manager is doing in different areas that don’t include on-field decision making. And that’s really all most fans judge a manager on: what he does during a game.

I’ve often said that a manager’s role is overrated. I’ve realized that I’m not being clear when I say that. It’s not that a manager is overrated, but rather judging him on what he does in the three hours during a game is overrated. Don’t get me wrong, those things are important, but, since it’s the only thing many people see, too much value is placed on it. The fact is, there are plenty of managers who have very flawed in-game strategies but whose teams go on to consistently win because they’re talented and that manager does the other things (those things you can’t pick up by judging if he pinch-hit at the right time or pulled his starter too early) well.

Handling a clubhouse, managing different personalities, putting your players in the best position to succeed, strong communication skills, gaining the trust of both the players and the staff, making sure a player knows what their role is and so much more. These are the things that a manager must be able to do and these are the things that we so often just can’t see. That’s why it’s completely unfair to solely judge a manager by jumping on Baseball-Reference and seeing he had a poor record over a 200-plus game stretch.


It’s a fan’s right to be disappointed if Girardi isn’t sitting in front of the media at Wrigley putting on a Cubs hat and jersey in the coming weeks, but by no means should it be viewed as a failure. Ultimately, it’ll all come down to wins and losses. And, while you may feel more comfortable with Girardi leading the team, it’s the talent on the field that will dictate whether this rebuild is a success.

The bottom line is, whoever ends up as the next manager of the Cubs, Theo Epstein, Jed Hoyer and the people they trust in baseball operations will make the decision. While the business side may have its preference, they’re not guiding this process. And regardless of whether they introduce Girardi or someone with a much lighter resume, we can rest assured that the process to bring in that manager was thorough and sound.

  • itzscott

    I don’t think most of us were inspired when Sveum was hired and in the back of our minds kinda knew he was likely a short term, transitional hire. He turned out to be even shorter term than many of us thought.

    However, that being the case I’d love to be able to go back to see where the author stood on the Sveum hire at the time and whether he felt like many of us or if he thought Sveum was a good choice before I buy into his logic about Hinch.

    • Napercal

      I agree. I keep reading that Hinch’s Stanford degree is a huge plus. I cannot think of any sport in which the head coach/manager’s colege degree is relevant. Who knows … Hinch may be the next Earl Weaver. But based on the information we hae available, he could also be the next Jim Essian. When Sveum was hired, player development had to be one of his perceived strengths. The FO had stated that the talent on the field was going to be bad (they understated how bad IMO). By firing Sveum, the FO admitted that they did a bad job in assessing his ability to develop players. The question in my mind, and I suspect in many fans’ minds, is why we should believe that the FO’s next managerial choice will be any better at developing players than their first choice. We all hope Girardi is the selection because we can look at the stats and see that he can do the job. We don’t have to trust the FO. Yes I admit it. While the FO appears to have done an excellent job of re-building the farm system and there is cause for optimism, we won’t know for sure how good these prospects are for a few years. Cub fans have been burned before when it comes to prospects. When it comes to the farm system, our only option is to wait and see. The only tangible evidence of the FO’s capability to build a winning organization to date is their first managerial hire. They blew it. And that is cause for serious concern.

  • Kyle

    So because you thought through a nickel’s worth of a thought experiment, there’s absolutely no chance that something happened? Not buying it.

    Epstein had all that same clout in Boston, but that didn’t stop him from complaining that ownership influence forced him to do things he didn’t want to do.

    I don’t think it’s likely that Ricketts is flat-out forcing Epstein to fire Sveum and go after Girardi, but I don’t find it completely implausible.

    • Sahadev Sharma

      No, I ran through the thought experiment as a benefit to the reader to show how illogical it would be to jump to that conclusion. I am so sure it’s not the case because I have been told explicitly that by multiple sources.

      • Kyle

        Did any of those sources not have an interest in denying it?

        • Sahadev Sharma

          That’s a fair question, Kyle, it’s one I asked before I did my own digging. I don’t really think there is anyone who KNOWS the answer who doesn’t have an interest in denying it. Unless there is someone who has an axe to grind with Theo and wants him to look bad, it’s unlikely anyone would come out and say the business side is pushing for these moves. But here are a couple things I can tell you. I trust my sources, I also trust that they may not tell me everything on the record, but there are a few who I am close enough with who would stop me from writing all out lies if they knew to the contrary. Would I have shared that information with you if I got it? No. Would I have out right contradicted it? Not a chance. Also, please be aware that nobody in the media has written that that’s the case. All their sources, local or national, have said this is a baseball decision. I think with the combination of how illogical it seems for Theo to be listening to business orders and my sources, I’m very confident that it went down as I described.

          • Kyle

            I mean this as a compliment: I find your journalism much more convincing than your logic.

            • On The Farm

              Maybe its just me, but this kind of came off like a “with all due respect..” comment.

              • Cubbie Blues

                It’s not just you.

              • Kyle

                If someone tells me “It doesn’t make sense to me, and here’s why,” I’m usually unimpressed.

                If someone lines up some serious reporting credibility, which he has, then I’m much more likely to buy into their argument.

                • On The Farm

                  Maybe its because how I have been reading your comments this morning I am getting the impression that you are nearly impossible to please. Sharma can interpret your response differently than I have, but to me it came off as a backhanded compliment.

                  • Sahadev Sharma

                    I read it as he’d rather I present my case backed by legitimate info (me citing sources and doing my journalistic due diligence) than me presenting what I believe to be a logical step-by-step conclusion. I think my analysis was sound and worthy of being written, Kyle doesn’t see the value in that. But I’m not trying to convince just Kyle, I’m trying to get as many people as possible to understand what I’m saying. Since different people will be swayed by different things, I believe there was value in me showing how illogical that line of thought is.

                    • On The Farm

                      Not trying to brown nose, but I guess I just agreed, or followed your line of thinking. Kyle’s comment just rubbed me the wrong way because I felt you presented a sound argument, but I realize he is entitled to his own opinion and can think what he wants.

                    • frank

                      Not just that–I think that people don’t often make decisions based on strict logical rules. I believe there is always an internal logic to a decision, even one made by the most deranged of people, but it’s a logic of which we don’t necessarily have access to the rules. That is, unless we have access to all the information and the particular internal logic the decision-maker follows, we can’t necessarily trust an outsider’s analysis, no matter how formally and logically correct it may be. So–a logical argument/premise, and a rigorous journalistic inquiry/investigation, presents the best possibility for understanding what truly happened.

                  • Kyle

                    I’m not easily impressed by people who think that they are better arbiters of what I meant than I am. If that counts as not easily impressed, then guilty.

                    • On The Farm

                      I just meant that you seem to think Theo owes you an apology for you deciding to follow the Cubs X amount of years ago, you think that the current playoff formant is elegant, therefore anyone who disagrees will just never be satisfied, and now this. Just appears that you are on a mini-rampage today is all, but I guess upon further review of the rest of your comments you are making some valid points so I guess I was just using too small of a sample.

                    • Kyle

                      I think the fact that you can’t find two people who dislike the playoff format who would agree on a new format is why it shows that people can’t ever be pleased.

                    • Few are worse than Kyle

                      I don’t even like Sahadev, but seriously.

                    • On The Farm

                      Professional sports constantly look for ways to tinker their playoff system because nothing is perfect. The NCAA added more teams to their March Madness tournament, the NBA is considering altering the order of home games in the Finals, and the NFL is considering adding more playoff teams. Just because a sport is striving to find a new way to set their playoffs or move (in their opinion) closer to perfection is human nature. Their are flaws in the current method, and their will be flaws if they change. Your opinion on the playoffs doesn’t make it a perfect system, and I commend any business that tries to improve their product. Especially baseball which seems to be taking a back seat to the rest of the “major” sports.

                    • Kyle

                      I certainly agree that there will never be a perfect system.

        • Hookers or Cake

          I think the idea of Ricketts forcing Theo to do anything is implausible and ridiculous. I can see him perhaps denying Theo on the account of money or whatever but why would Ricketts meddle?
          Its like we have been programed to find drama and conflict in even the most innocuous situations. Maybe Sveum was underwhelming and Girardi expressed interest.

          • Kyle

            There’s a long history of owners meddling in sports. Why should we believe Ricketts is incapable of it?

            • Napercal

              Ricketts has done nothing to indicate that he is a smart businessman. His mismangement of the entire stadium plan is evidence. Hi continued employment of Crane Kenney is further evidence. I agree that it’s unlikely that he would tell Epstein who to hire as manager, but certainly not out of the question. Ricketts appears to be more a member of the lucky sperm club than a business wiz.

              • Scotti

                Ricketts founded and owns Incapital. Without getting into wonky detail, Incapital (Tom Ricketts personally) essentially invented its own niche in the bond market. Tom Ricketts is a business genius.

                Re. Tom Ricketts’ Cub dealings. He purchased the Cubs despite heavy competition. He stared down Zell and got $50 million taken off the agreed price (after Zell sold himself the crappy WGN contract that is about to expire), he got Mesa Arizona to contribute nearly $100 million to the new facility that will open up in a few months, he sought (and landed) a team president who was considered untouchable (and was under contract), and, while negotiations with the City are not yet complete, he has gotten the vast majority of what he wanted–in, easily, what is the most difficult environment for a major sports franchise in the US–and he STILL refuses to move off the negotiations until the the team is assured of business success (the rooftops capitulate).

                That last bit is something that the Trib NEVER did. They accepted piecemeal after piecemeal and created the climate where the tail has wagged the Cubs for decades. Good business is standing firm and creating a business friendly environment where your business can flourish.

                The Ricketts’ family business model–going all the way back to very early Omaha–has been to sacrifice short term gains by reinvesting short term profits into long term infrastructure investments early on. This is the model that TR is following to a T.

            • Sinnycal

              It just seems like a strange battle for Ricketts to have picked. If the business side was feeling enough pressure to meddle in baseball operations, you’d think they would be demanding a big name free agent. I mean, they can’t possibly believe a manager, ANY manager, is going to significantly put asses in seats, can they?

    • YourResidentJag

      I agree, Kyle. Decisions aren’t made in an independent vacuum. It’s like Walt Jocketty saying a few days ago, Dusty Baker’s our manager. And then a few days later Dusty gets fired. Nope, the ownership wasn’t involved in that decision one bit and Walt just had an epiphany over a few days. I wouldn’t buy it in as much as I’m not buying item No. 1 in this column. Also, Sharma fails to address why JG wouldn’t find broadcasting attractive over the Cubs job. I think something needed to be addressed on that front as well.

      Bottom line, wrong or right, Svuem’s comments in the Tribune say it all. Cubs fans might feel he wasn’t a scapegoat or that this decision was appropriate. It could be interpreted from his comments he feels he was.

  • jon

    After firing HInch in 2010, the Diamondbacks did a 180 the following season in 2011.

    Now a big reason of that was the rotation staying healthy and some young players stepping up. But it isn’t like they made tons of FA acquisitions The Hinch led dbacks did underperform to their pythagorean.

    • ssckelley

      The complete turn around for Arizona was because of the bullpen. Offensively they were about the same and they tweeked the starting staff a little but you go compare the performance of the 2010 bullpen to the 2011 bullpen and you see why Arizona did a 180. Most of those players were not on the team in 2010.

  • Mike

    I do believe Girardi might get more people in the seats, but not because he’s a beloved ex Cub. I believe hiring Giradi sends the message to the fanbase that things are trending in an upward direction. It just so happens he’s an former Cub player.

    • Scotti

      Correct. Just like people bought tickets in the off-season for the team when they hired Theo. NO ONE goes to a game to see Theo and no one will go to a game to see Girardi. People do buy tickets because they have more faith in the direction of the team, however.

      Selling those off-season tickets is a huge factor in anything. If a team loses its fan base (and over a million fewer people showing up IS loosing your fanbase), it’s just like a manager loosing his clubhouse. Time to make a change.

  • Blackhawks1963

    My sense is the following:

    1. The Cubs hired Sveum knowing full well that the shorter-term (2012, 2013) was going to be very ugly for the big league club as TheoJed immersed themselves in building the organization from the ground up. Sveum was hired to be a temporary bridge…an eventual sacrificial lamb.

    2. Sveum still took the job under this dynamic because it was still a big league manager job and opportunities don’t grow on trees.

    3. So now the Cubs are at the stage of development in the building program where things now should be on the uptick on all fronts. So the Cubs make Sveum the sacrificial lamb and bring in a new manager with a fresh slate.

    4. Hence, part of the reason why I think the Cubs never had much interest in hiring Ryne Sandberg to be manager in 2012….TheoJed knew things would be ugly and it would have been awkward at best to have to throw Sandberg under the bus the way they had to throw Sveum at the bus….Sveum was a “nobody” grateful for a job….he came into this eyes wide open.

    5. Don’t feel too sorry for Sveum. He got two years of manager duty under his belt plus the Cubs will pay him for not managing in 2014. A lot of successful big league managers had ugly starts to the managerial careers. If Sveum has interest in eventually managing, then he stands a fair shot of getting other opportunities in a few years. And the two years he put in with the Cubs will help his credentials.

    6. Girardi is staying in NY. That’s my strong and growing opinion.

    7. The Cubs WILL hire a high grade next manager. Whether that person is AJ Hinch, Tony Pena, Torey Lovullo or somebody else I trust TheoJed implicity.

    • Kyle

      If all of that were true, the Cubs could have easily given Sveum a two-year deal instead of a three-year deal.

      • Blackhawks1963

        Who really cares if they gave Sveum a 3 year deal versus a 2 year deal? It’s not my money, and Sveum wasn’t exactly making top dollar among managers.

        Sveum knew exactly what he was getting into. I think he was unfairly crucified in Chicago, but the truth of the matter is that is what he signed up for. TheoJed knew that wins were going to be very difficult to come by in 2012 and 2013, and that eventually somebody had to be thrown under the bus so they can keep concentrating instead on building the organization. If Sandberg would have been the manager instead of Sveum? Well, maybe his popularity in Chicago would have resulted in him keeping his job for one more season…but I seriously doubt he would have produced better win-loss results versus same. Or any other manager for that matter too.

        • Kyle

          It’s their money, so presumably *they* cared.

      • YourResidentJag

        Or they could have gone with a unproven manager (like Ausmus) from the start because really who cares on the onset of all of this. It’s more about the process of developing young players, which Theo and CO felt Dale didn’t do.

      • jayrig5

        Sveum was a more highly touted candidate than that. He was a Red Sox finalist too, before ownership/Lucchino stepped in and forced Cherington to hire Bobby Valentine. There was competition for his services. Hence the 3 year deal.

        I actually think Theo/Jed thought Sveum could potentially develop into a long-term manager, and I think they were happy enough with him after year 1. But Sveum did a lot of things this year that he didn’t do last year (how many fights/spats were there with players last year?) and things spiraled quickly, independent of record.

        So, going back, I think they thought he might be a long-term fit, but after two years decided that he wasn’t, so they cut their losses.

        I don’t have a problem with that process. I would have a problem if ownership was involved, because any process that features input from Crane Kenney is going to be a bad process.

    • EQ76

      I don’t think any professional organization hires a manager knowing he will be a “sacrificial lamb” or a lame duck. They hired him because they thought he would be a good fit to manage a young and rebuilding roster. They wanted to see certain things out of Sveum and obviously didn’t get the results they had hoped for. I don’t think any organization wants to continually have a revolving door of managers.. who wouldn’t want the next Bobby Cox or Joe Torre to lead their organizaiton?

      • Napercal

        Joe Torre sucked as a manager until he managed the Yankees. I believe that he managed the Mets, Cardinals and Braves before he managed the Yankees. He had little success at those stops.

        • Blackhawks1963

          Exactly. Joe Torre managed awful teams in NY, St. Louis and Atlanta before he resurrected his managerial career with the Yankees. Bobby Cox was the same in Toronto. Terry Francona was run out of Philadelphia. Charlie Manuel was run out Cleveland. Buck Showalter was run out of NY, Arizona, and Texas.

          The next manager of the Cubs DOES NOT have to have a great managerial track record in terms of wins and losses. That’s ridiculous. Hence why I am very intrigued by AJ Hinch and Tony Pena. Hinch did poorly in Arizona, but he had a rotten roster. But despite this several of their existing core players credit his work with them. Pena was a flop in Kansas City and had a sex scandal. But he too was widely praised for his work with players.

          • Napercal

            Pena intrigues me. I believe the Royals had one decent year while he managed them. Hinch does nothing for me. He might be Earl Weaver, he might be Terry Bevington.

  • cubfanincardinalland

    Sveum certainly could have kept his job. For a team that was only a minus 87 in runs to wind up 30 games under .500, that will get you fired. Team was 5th in the league in quality starts. His strategy and decision making was often flawed. Dragging Castro off the field was mickey mouse. Obvious at the end of the season he had lost the team.
    Improvement was what he needed to show. Team was playing as bad at the end as when he took the job. This was a team that could have and should have won 73-75 games. That is why he got fired.

    • Blackhawks1963

      Disagree completely. Sveum was handed a joke of a roster. The first 3 months of the season the Cub bullpen was the statistically worst in baseball. And to fill out a lineup card Sveum was reduced to a bunch of journeyman and career Triple A types to fill in around Rizzo, Castro, Soriano and Castillo. And Soriano was not good until he got traded.

      Casey Stengel in his prime could not have done much better than Dale Sveum with the roster the Cubs had in 2013. Lets not kid ourselves. And TheoJed knew this. Their focus has been singularly on building the organization and they have clearly understood that roster filler and less than satisfactory 25 man roster was going to be the reality in 2012 and 2013.

      • cubfanincardinalland

        Nonsense. This was a very competitive team the first 3 months of the season. At one point in June they had a positive run differential, yet were 10 games under .500. HIs use of the bullpen was often flawed, overused some guys, matchups were sometimes odd. For the team to tank as they did the last 60 games was absurd. They played .300 baseball, with a decent starter taking the mound every day, and at that point , a very solid bullpen.

        • Voice of Reason

          If this team was so competitive during the first 3 months of the season then why didn’t the front office make trades to improve it? They knew it wasn’t going to last, that’s why. The team on paper and on the field was terrible. Sveum should get some manager of the year votes just because this team didn’t lose 100 games!

          Over 162 games you will wade through all the teams who have a good couple of weeks or a good couple of months.

          • On The Farm

            I lean toward Jag here. There is a clear difference between rebuilding and mailing it in. Houston can’t even try and make a case that they put a competitive team on the field day one. Theo and Jed on the other hand, put a team on the field who had a positive run differential into the month of June. You ask why didn’t they try and acquire pieces to improve the team. How were they supposed to do that? On June 1 they entered 10 games out of the lead of the wild card. While some trades occur in June the buying doesn’t necessarily happen in this month. How is a front office supposed to find multiple RP in June which was probably our biggest weakness, when the other clubs in the league were still trying to figure out if they were going to be buying and selling in July?

            • Voice of Reason

              On The Farm typed: Houston can’t even try and make a case that they put a competitive team on the field day one. Theo and Jed on the other hand, put a team on the field who had a positive run differential into the month of June.You ask why didn’t they try and acquire pieces to improve the team. How were they supposed to do that? On June 1 they entered 10 games out of the lead of the wild card. While some trades occur in June the buying doesn’t necessarily happen in this month. How is a front office supposed to find multiple RP in June which was probably our biggest weakness, when the other clubs in the league were still trying to figure out if they were going to be buying and selling in July?

              So they had a positive run differential into the month of June? So what?

              And, you’re going to make excuses as to why they didn’t add pieces. There certainly were pieces that they could have traded for to improve the team. The bullpen was pathetic and they needed a closer. They blew a bunch of leads because of the closer. Why didn’t they address that immediately instead of continually putting Marmol out there? It’s because they wanted Marmol to get better so they could trade him. This front office wasn’t even in the mind set of adding players because they thought the team was good. They were in the mindset of moving trade able pieces to get minor league talent to build for the future, perid.

              Dude, you have to look at things realistically and let the Cubbie allegiance not play such a part. The team stunk!

              • On The Farm

                I am not looking through this with my team goggles on. This team was much better than I thought it was going to be to start the season. As for the closer situation. They spent money to bring Fuji to be the closer if Marmol failed. They did try to address that, but you can’t predict when a elbow is going to go out. As for the rest of the team, Russell was over used last year and clearly lost most of his effectiveness, Camp was a mess. But what options did the FO and Dale have then. When your FA signing goes down with year ending surgery, your two best setup men from the previous years are struggling, what else can you do, but turn to a guy who one season set a K/9 record, and hope he figures it out? To say that they didn’t try this offseason is a gross overstatment. They added 3 SP for day one (Feldman, Jackson – who was considered a great mid-rotation add – and Villaneuva) and a 4th who was supposed to be ready (Baker), added someone who was considered a setup man/closer (Fuji), added an OF (Nate), and they did bring in the guy became their closer in April.

                This team had a top 5 SP staff for the first two months, and tried to address the bullpen issue in the offseason (Villanueva was supposed to be a bullpen option, but Baker messed up that plan in ST). Through April they had added 2 BP + swing man. They tried, I am not saying this was a playoff team, but it looked like a team that could take us in the right direction.

        • YourResidentJag

          Yeah, kinda hard to amass a solid winning percentage when you trade pieces away every July since you’ve started as manager.

          • Voice of Reason

            That’s what rebuilding teams do. They trade away veterans and high priced players for young talent.

            The Cubs made no secret of what the plan was, a total rebuild.

            This is what makes cubfanincardinalland’s point even more strange. He says they were competitive when everyone else knew they stunk and were rebuilding?????

            • YourResidentJag

              I think that the Theo and Jed, at least in their own minds, felt they’re team to be competitive going into seasons. Not saying I would totally agree, but that’s what they felt.

              • Voice of Reason

                Boy, if they looked at the roster at the start of the 2013 season and said that’s a competitive team I would totally question their ability to judge talent.

                And, if they thought it was going to be competitive for the season and started out competitive to start the year, why didn’t they add pieces to it to help it be more competitive?

                The answer is they didn’t add pieces because they knew the team stunk before the season started and they knew it didn’t have the legs to remain competitive all season.

                • On The Farm

                  What indications did they have that Castro and Rizzo would have down years? With the progress Valbuena (who did have a good start to the season) and Shark made the previous year, the additions of Villaneuva, Jackson, Feldman, and Fuji for pitching, and adding a decent RF (who ended up having a career year), this FO didn’t do too bad in putting a team together.

                  • Voice of Reason

                    The progress of Valbuena when? Last year? This year? Valbeuna played third base because we didn’t have a minor league third baseman ready to play the position and Valbuena was cheap! That’s it. Valbuena SUCKS!

                    Villanueva was a decent middle reliever.

                    Jackson couldn’t have been worse and if he didn’t have a long term deal should have been outright released,

                    Feldman was decent.

                    Fuji pitched in 12 games and had an era over 5.

                    Schierholtz was just average.

                    I don’t know what team your looking at, but the players you mention don’t justify your debate.

                    Dude, that team was terrible!

                    • On The Farm

                      Because Valbuena posted a 2 WAR (17th in the league) in less than 400 PA. And you are ignoring the fact he had a good start to the season, but like the club dropped off at toward the end.

                      Jackson had a rough year, but go look at his stats, at $5.5M/WAR Jackson finished a 2 WAR so he was worth $11M. Its not like we vastly over payed, even for a poor season.

                      “Fuji pitched in 12 games and had an era over 5.”
                      Yeah he pitched injured in some of those games, and unless you know something FO around the league don’t, how were they supposed to know he was going to get hurt? If you do know, I would call Theo, I bet you could make a ton of money somewhere in baseball if you can magically know when an elbow ligament is going to go out.

                      Schierholtz had a career year, and was an upgrade over any internal option we had or if you look at WAR, DeJesus had a 1.3 WAR last season, Scheirholtz had a 1.5, still an upgrade.

                      Just because we lost doesn’t mean they didn’t try. I think you are assuming that I thought this was a playoff team. That is not what I think, but this team wasn’t like the Houston Astro’s, it was actually designed to win games.

                    • On The Farm

                      “The progress of Valbuena when? Last year? This year? Valbeuna played third base because we didn’t have a minor league third baseman ready to play the position and Valbuena was cheap! That’s it. Valbuena SUCKS! ”

                      Actually here is a whole piece Brett did back in in June about how well Valbunea started the season. You can read in your comments if you would like, that Valbunea had started so good, that people were questioning, if maybe they should flip over to the band wagon. Take it for what it is worth, but to say Valbuena only played because he was cheap and no one there is wrong.


                    • Voice of Reason

                      I remember the piece well! It’s where he said Valbuena should be considered for third base next year.

                      He also did a piece on how Edwin Jackson wasn’t having that bad of a year…..


                    • Voice of Reason

                      On The Farm typed: “Because Valbuena posted a 2 WAR (17th in the league) in less than 400 PA. And you are ignoring the fact he had a good start to the season, but like the club dropped off at toward the end.”

                      This is what I’m trying to tell you!! Some players have a nice run in the middle of the year, some at the end and some get out of the gate quickly. Over 162 games you’re going to really get the true stats for that player, the team, etc. It’s always cool when someone starts out the year hot at the plate and hitting .400, but as the season keeps moving forward, the player drops back down to earth. It’s no different with all players!

                      Other than an increase in home runs, Valbuena was AWFUL!!!!

  • jim

    Hire brenly! We have now entered the matt gamel era

  • desertrat
  • CubsFaninMS

    Many want to lay the reasoning on Rizzo, Samardzija, and Castro for Sveum’s dismissal, but I believe perhaps Baez, Bryant, and Alcantara were equally as important. All three are possibly at the cusp of being Major Leaguers and the front office did not feel Sveum’s player development traits matched the organizational philosophy they feel is needed to extract potential out of our young prospects. As generous as Theo was with his compliments on Dale, one thing is for certain: They don’t trust him in developing their young prospects.

    • On The Farm

      I wonder with the Watkins and Lake situation kind of played into their thinking. They called up Lake, Dale made the comment (at least I believe I am remember correctly) that Lake would not be an everyday player, but he forced himself into the lineup. It just seems to me if the brass wanted a player to come up from Iowa to sit on the bench, they would have called up other options. I am not even a pro-Watkins, but I have to think on a lost year the Cubs might have wanted to see more ABs for the youngster, and they certainly didn’t want Lake, who missed the start of the season with injury, to come up and ride the pine. I am also not saying these two were heavily weighted, but it could have factored in.

      • Blublud

        I think you make a great point. In fact, Lake and Watkins, as well as Jackson and Vitters before could have been the “test pieces” before the tide of better prospects rolled in. Either way, I think it play at least a small, but not tiny part.

      • ssckelley

        I often wondered if Theo or Hoyer were looking at the lineups like we were and wondering WTF is Sveum doing?!?

  • Robert Johnson

    If Sveum had landed the Red Sox job instead of the Cubs, he would be in the play offs &
    Be one of the candidates for manager of the year. The dismal 2012 & 2013 seasons is all on Epstein & Hoyer!

  • Crazyhorse

    Sveum deserved to be fired . The Cubs won and loss record is one of the worst in Cub history over a two year span. The person responsible in letting Sveum go should be awarded a medal.hopefully King or Little Theo made that baseball decision.

    I doubt Girardi alone can turn the Cubs into contenders but with Girard, I think most people can agree that part of the game will be an improvement over Sveum. . I feel since Girardi has managed in both leagues with success. Girardi failure rate in Chicago will rest upon the front office- Meaning Girardi will get the most out his players to play better baseball And it will be the Front Office responsibility to sign or promote players so Girardi can do his Job.

    The Yankees are a team in turmoil and this would be the best opportunity to get Girardi. The Yankees in short is an old team crippled plagued by expensive contracts and a slew of medical doctors for each superstar Yet…. The Yankees Front Office has never quit to give its on field management staff talent to succeed in being competitive. For that reason prying Girardi from the Yanks might be difficult. Heck i can see the Reds and Nationals paying more money in a bidding war to obtain Girardi and those teams are ready for a World Series ring.

    I doubt Girardi will make the Cubs a more attractive team to Free Agents. As popular as the Cubs are across America .The CuBS are no closer to winning a World Series than the Padres or Astros. and those team operate on social security pay scale . Historically Wrigley Field and the Cubs Organization needed to overpay GOOD Free agents to play at Wrigley. ( signing players that need to prove a contract should have been given has always been the Cubs way)

    Also in closing signing A.J Hinsh would be a waste of time in typing. If the Cubs sign him consider it a lost three seasons to come.

    • wvcubsfan

      Please tell us how many games this team would have won with JG as manager versus DS. 1, maybe 2 more? Yes a manager makes such a difference.

      • Crazyhorse

        This team Has lost 197 baseball games in a span of two seasons. Sveum has had his opportunity with The Cubs and he has failed.

        • Danny Ballgame

          What players on the roster lead you to believe that he was given an “opportunity” to win? Every decent player that they had was traded away midseason for your talent. They was no desire to win now.

          • Crazyhorse

            Every decent player the Cubs had was not traded ( Rizzo,Castro Wood, Shark…..)

            Sveum was fired for the lack of improvement to key players the Cubs have chosen to rebuild. when those players slump in groups throughout the season it is the managers fault .

            When team goes 19 – 50 some odd loses down the stretch pointing to one particular player will never happen but as a group of players The measuring stick is mirrored by its manager

            The Reds just fired its manager not because dusty cant win at a major league level they fired him cause he can not take them to next level.

            Sveum was fired because of his handing of young players on the team and his W/L record did not help his cause.

        • wvcubsfan

          It’s amazing that he lost less than 200 games with the crap roster out of spring training and trading off 80% of the productive players at the trade deadline.

          • MichiganGoat

            wvcubsfan meet crazyhorse

        • MichiganGoat


  • cubmig

    Two responses to what I read in your article Brett:

    1) “Anyone with his resume is surely a competitor and indications are he’s itching to get rid of the bad taste that his poor record in Arizona left in his mouth.”

    As a fan, I acknowledge this may serve as a motivation for Hinch, but along with that is the fact that he would be using the Cubs assignment as an On-The-Job lab. I, for one, feel we’ve had that in Quade and Sveum already. I’m not for supporting another “maybe” wrapped in all kinds of “ifs” again. The decision of the situation the FO brain trust is facing, is going to put their future credibility on the line. They need to tread carefully and judiciously in their evaluation.

    2) “It’s not that a manager is overrated, but rather judging him on what he does in the three hours during a game is overrated. Don’t get me wrong, those things are important, but, since it’s the only thing many people see, too much value is placed on it.”

    Winning and losing is all that counts from this fan. If the team wins, all else can be assumed to be going well. It says, to “moi”, the manager has his head in the game and doesn’t let “the personals” distract. Losing, on the other hand, sends up all kinds of red flags that raise baseball and non-baseball questions. As much as players want to assert themselves through their personalities, I say a manager has to allow for that—-BUT—it should never be at the expense of the team. Some players see themselves as leaders and that too is o.k., as long as it doesn’t turn into the disease of a leaderitis driven by ego.

    In short, everything we are about is the W-L record that gets us to the BIG SHOW. We need a manager that will do that.

    • wvcubsfan

      You do realize Brett didn’t write this right?

      If you’re not bright enough to figure that out, I’m not sure how much of the remainder of the post we should pay attention to.

      • ssckelley

        Ouch, that was harsh.

        • wvcubsfan

          Sahadev Sharma: Dialoging About the Managerial Dialog

          By Sahadev Sharma on October 4, 2013

          I mean it shouldn’t have been that hard to figure out who wrote the article.

          • Leo L

            maybe he thought Sahadev Sharma= Brett pen name. after all I havent ever seen Sahadev Sharma. then again I never met Brett.

            Sahadev Sharma= Brett pen name=Rickets pen name?

            • DarthHater

              Then the podcasts must be a ventriloquist trick. But which one of them is the dummy? 😛

      • cubmig

        I’m a Cubs fan wvcubsfan. I can take acid remarks. Now…. do you have anything to say about the content of my post?

        • wvcubsfan

          Sure, I think that any manager for the Cubs will get second guessed to oblivion based on nothing but hindsight, and will never get credit for the moves that they make that work. It seems to be what we do as a fan base.

          It won’t matter if it Hinch, Girardi, Torre, or Jesus unless they go undefeated, no pinch hitter ever makes an out, no relief pitcher ever gives up a run, and the Cubs win the World Series 75% of the so called fans will swear they are terrible.

          IMO, the most important thing a manager can do is off the field stuff and know what strengths and weaknesses the players have on the field so they can put them in the best situations to succeed. Problem is even if they do those things correctly 100% of the time the average fan will complain because they think they know better.

  • itzscott

    I think my buy-in to this whole manager merry-go-round would be infinitely more acceptable to me if Epstein would’ve just explained it as elegantly as Jerry Krause did when he replaced Doug Collins with Phil Jackson….. (paraphrase) “We’re at a point in our development where we felt we needed someone else to take us to the next level”

    Furthermore, I think we’re all seeing a full court press by the media, as likely being fed by the Cubs themselves, touting this guy Hinch. For the life of me, I see nothing appealing about his background or experience that would give me a shred of confidence that he’s anything other than just another year or two away from yet another managerial change for the Cubs.

    The Cubs go thru managers like Zsa Zsa Gabor used to go thru husbands and that’s just another thing about this organization that needs to change.

    • TWC

      From the statement released by the Cubs on Monday morning:

      “Today’s decision, which was painful for all of us, was made to move us closer to fulfilling our ultimate long-term vision for the Cubs….

      I believe a dynamic new voice – and the energy, creativity and freshness that comes with this type of change – provides us with the best opportunity to achieve the major league environment we seek.”

    • Napercal


  • Funn Dave

    Sahadev, I’m not nearly informed enough to make a statement behind the Cubs’ motivations for pusuing Girardi, but I will say this: I’ve already seen two front-page ESPN headlines about the Cubs since Sveum was fired. Before that, I saw one all year. It’s probably not their primary motivation, but firing Sveum & pursuing Girardi, definitely has people talking about the Cubs again, and not just talking about how little they’re willing to spend.

  • fromthemitten

    Pitching and Hitting coaches are more important to the team than a manager. Hell in a single game instance the third base coach could be more important to the outcome than the manager

  • Tommy K

    I think item 5 is a true statement as written: Hiring Girardi would mean the Cubs are going to spend more in free agency. But the cause/effect is that spending in free agency is a prerequisite to hiring Girardi, not that hiring Girardi would cause the Cubs to spend more in free agency. If I’m GIrardi, I don’t even consider coming to the Cubs unless I am convinced I will be given a roster capable of posting a respectable record. I wouldn’t be at all interested in coming to Chicago and suffering through another 90 loss season. So, if the Cubs hire Girardi, I will take it as a sign that they have assured him that they will spend the money necessary to field a major league quality team next season.

    • DocPeterWimsey

      The statement needs to be caveated, anyway. It will be true or false that the Cubs will be *willing* to spend more on free agents. It is neither true nor false that the free agents will take the Cubs offer. The Cubs have several needs, and a team thinking that it is one piece away from getting one step further than 2013 is going to be willing to trump the Cubs for *that* guy: and every player might be *that* guy for somebody. (That is the rationale for why the Rangers doubled the next highest bid on Darvish: Darvish was *an* important piece for the other teams, but *the* important piece in the minds of Daniels and other Rangers brass.)

      Of course, the other thing is that Girardi might increase the willingness of FAs to sign with the Cubs. Perhaps an FA takes $XM from the Cubs+Girardi who says “no” to $XM from the Cubs+Manager Doe. I do not know if Girardi has that reputation yet: in fact, I would worry a little that he might have the opposite effect because of his reputation for running a “tight” (= “boring” to some people) clubhouse. However, it’s possible that it can be spun that way!

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