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Cubs Tue Feb 28 2012

Coming & Going: Cubs Manager

It's been a tumultuous offseason for the local nines, with the Cubs and White Sox both saying goodbye to big names who played big roles in recent years. Let's get you up to speed as spring training gets underway. (Part of a series.)

    

Goodbye: Mike Quade

Hello: Dale Sveum

What Happened?

The Cubs fired manager Mike Quade soon after Theo Epstein was named president of the team. Quade finished 95-104 in parts of two seasons on the North Side, including 71-91 last year, after replacing Lou Piniella.

Then, the Cubs hired former Brewers hitting coach Dale Sveum as their new skipper. The Cubs appear to have gotten their guy from the start, a man who is universally thought of as being a good fit for the team.

How Will the Cubs Miss Quade?

Not to sound too harsh, but they probably won't miss Quade. It's very unlikely that anyone associated with the Cubs -- players, management, fans -- will be pining for the non-glory days of 2011. Managers get fired all the time, especially after sub-par seasons (whether the manager was to blame or not).

On a personal, off-the-field level, Quade seemed like a good guy. He was very much a man of the people, listening to Led Zeppelin in his office and taking the Red Line to the ballpark on occasion. He also was a great underdog story, managing more than 2,500 minor-league games for five franchises before getting his chance to lead the Cubs. So it's natural to sympathize with Quade, especially because he hasn't caught on elsewhere yet.

What Does Sveum Bring to the Cubs?

Other than a brief couple of weeks as Milwaukee's interim manager in 2008, this is Sveum's first managerial gig. Sveum's task is huge: turning around a team that hasn't won in forever.

Early reports give the sense that Sveum is a tough guy. Most notably, he has called out the Cubs' lack of effort in the past and has vowed to change that mentality. Also, Sveum's nickname is "Nuts." I'm going to make the guess it isn't an ironic nickname.

So far, the new boss has preached the things that people would assume a hard-edged manager would say. Sveum has stressed hustling, efficiency on the basepaths, and improving the defense. He is starting from the ground up, working on fundamentals.

Sveum is also connecting with his players. In addition to participating in a 64-man bunting tournament, Sveum has bonded with franchise shortstop Starlin Castro. Sveum was a utility infielder during his 12-year playing career.

"It's good, I like this guy," Castro told the Tribune. "He talks to me all the time and says the right things, tells me what to do in the game. It's very special to me."

On the tactical side, Sveum has started making his tweaks to the lineup. He plans on batting David DeJesus first and Bryan LaHair cleanup.

Interestingly enough, Sveum is refusing to call this a rebuilding season. Even though, barring extremely good fortune, the Cubs will be .500 at best this year, you have to like the guy that has this kind of attitude. Sveum is showing tough love, demanding a lot out of his players and pushing them to have a winning mindset. No doubt Sveum is trying to change the losing atmosphere around Wrigley.

 
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