Dale Sveum, Joe Girardi, and the Impending Decision

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Dale Sveum, Joe Girardi, and the Impending Decision

Chicago Cubs

joe girardi managerI haven’t written much about the Dale Sveum managerial situation recently, in large part because I didn’t believe there was a whole lot to say that hadn’t already been said by Sveum, himself, and by team president Theo Epstein. Indeed, even as a bevy of national writers were talking about Sveum and the Cubs, each was kinda-sorta just saying, “yeah, it’s possible the Cubs might let Sveum go because they’ve had some struggles … and, hey, Joe Girardi might be available!” Not a lot of meat there – at least not any that we hadn’t already chewed on.

That said, these things have a way of reaching a smoke-before-fire kind of fever pitch, and it’s worth discussing, even if the bottom line remains “Sveum is under contract through 2014, he may return next year, and he’s being evaluated.” Most of what is out there beyond that is just informed speculation.

One thing we do now know is that Sveum – together with his coaching staff – is expected to learn his fate on Monday in a meeting with Epstein. Outside of that …

  • Ken Rosenthal wrote what was perhaps the most pointed Sveum piece this week, writing in unequivocal terms: “But let’s get one thing straight: The Cubs did not hire Sveum to be a long-term answer. He was the caretaker, the bridge to the big-name manager who would ‘complete the job’ once the team was ready to win. Sveum knew it. The Cubs knew it. Everyone knew it.” Rosenthal concedes that the Cubs might stick with Sveum for another year, the final year of his contract. To be clear, I like Rosenthal. I think he is among the best of the national guys for a variety of reasons. But I’d be remiss if I didn’t point out (1) Rosenthal’s “caretaker” comments are written in a conclusory fashion without any source language (that’s odd for Rosenthal, who always cites sources), suggesting he’s offering his own thoughts; and (2) Rosenthal suggested earlier this year that Don Mattingly would be let go, just before the Dodgers turned things around. This is all to say that, while I find Rosenthal’s thoughts intriguing, and encourage you to read them, I don’t think it’s quite fair to say that Rosenthal is reporting Sveum will be fired, or that Sveum is unlikely to return.
  • You can read a great deal of additional thoughts from the very-honest Sveum here. As he’d indicated before, he knows the score: it’s a constant process of evaluation, and the poor performance of the big league team certainly isn’t going to save him (even if it is excusable based on the roster). Sveum understood what he was getting into when he signed onto a clear rebuild that was going to involve selling assets and starting youngsters. Among his words: “The bottom line is we haven’t won as many games as we’d like to. I knew getting this job there was going to be a good chance of people getting traded for prospects and that we needed to get the Minor League system much healthier and hit the jackpot on some free agents that we signed. Nothing’s really changed from what I was told. You’re never promised anything.”
  • Jon Heyman writes dueling pieces – which ask more questions than offer answers – about whether Joe Girardi would head to the Cubs, and whether Dale Sveum is out the door. The Yankees publicly want Girardi back. That’s about the only factual update I could glean.
  • Kevin Capie, out of Peoria, writes about whether Joe Girardi would actually leave the Yankees for the Cubs. Sounds like Girardi’s Little League coach thinks Girardi would jump at the chance to come back to the Cubs. That’s as good of a source as anyone’s found.
  • ESPN New York argues that Girardi would be crazy to leave the best job in the sport – manager of the Yankees apparently holds that title (I’d’ve thought something involving parties in San Diego) – and suggests Girardi play the field a bit, if only to increase his offer to return to the Yankees.
  • Bob Nightengale and Nick Cafardo write generically about Girardi, Sveum, and the Cubs. Cafardo has a Yankee source who says it’s 70-30 that Girardi returns to the Yankees.
  • At bottom, I still think it’s more likely than not that Sveum is brought back. I can envision scenarios where, through back-channels, the Cubs have discerned that Dream Managerial Candidate A (could be, but is not necessarily, Joe Girardi) is amenable to coming to the team. In that scenario, maybe Sveum is dumped. Query whether big money for another manager is the best use of limited funds right now, but I guess we’ll get there when we get there. Circling back: I don’t think Sveum would be fired on Monday unless the Cubs already had a very good idea of who they want to replace him, and whether they’ll be able to land that guy.
  • Whatever decision is made on Monday, I’d think we’re going to hear about it loudly and quickly. If Sveum is staying, the Cubs will want to give him a swift public backing so that he can confidently resume his role as a coach and development cog. If Sveum is let go, the Cubs will want to set about finding his replacement as quickly as possible for largely the same reason.

Author: Brett Taylor

Brett Taylor is the Editor and Lead Cubs Writer at Bleacher Nation, and you can find him on Twitter at @BleacherNation and @Brett_A_Taylor.