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Cubs Tue Oct 01 2013

Dale Sveum Shown Door After Not Showing The Love

Cubs_200.pngIt didn't matter if it was this year or next. Few people, if any, believed that Dale Sveum was going to be the manager of the Cubs following the expiration of his contract in 2014. Whomever Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer selected as their manager before the 2012 season was the guy to bridge the gap. The man that was going to take lumps with substandard Major League talent. That guy was Sveum, and he wasn't terribly bad at doing it.

It wasn't about wins and losses. Epstein said it himself. They were purposely not investing money in the free agent market -- instead choosing to gorge on international talent, prospect laden trades and high draft picks to re-stock the feeble farm system that stood in front of him when he arrived at the friendly confines a few years ago.

The plan, for the most part, has worked. The Cubs will enter the 2014 season with a farm system that is consensus top three, along with as many as five prospects in the top 40 in all of Major League Baseball. Some of whom -- namely, Javier Baez and Kris Bryant -- will have a chance at cracking the Chicago lineup at some point during the season. With that in mind, Epstein decided it was Sveum's time to go.

Epstein didn't necessarily delve into the specifics on why Sveum was being fired. But his news conferences are always loaded with information if you listen carefully to what he says.

"It's tricky to develop young players at the major league level," Epstein said. "They have to be supported along the way. There has to be tough love, but there has to be love before there's tough love. You have to be patient with them. There has to be a clear, unified message. They can't be getting different signals from different directions. Collectively, collectively, myself included, we failed to provide that."

And there it is. "...there has to be love before there's tough love." In nine eloquently compressed words, was the reason why Sveum was sent packing with a year remaining on his contract. Think back to the threats to send down anyone, Rizzo and Castro included, as early as April. An empty threat considering that each guy's contract is significantly longer than Sveum's (Rizzo was in negotiations on his long-term deal at the time).

The players, especially the cornerstones of the team, were never shown the love in Epstein's opinion. That's not to say he disliked his pick for manager. Quite the opposite in fact, as he compared him to World Series winning manager Terry Francona, who Epstein chose to handle the Boston Red Sox despite previously being fired in Philadelphia. He also let Sveum know about his decision over a couple of beers the night before. Nothing close to being fired before taking the team bus home from the airport.

It wasn't a blindsided decision either. Epstein and Hoyer verbalized their criticisms to Sveum during the All Star break. Apparently he hadn't done enough over the course of the second half to stay with the team for one more year. The firing of Sveum was basically a way of saying that he didn't want the embattled manager to coach the high ceiling new prospects.

Sveum can't be saddled with all the blame for Castro's or Rizzo's struggles either. The players have to take it upon themselves to improve their games. The stat lines each put up this season better be bumps in the road, or higher caliber talent will be waiting in the wings to take their place.

Whether the next manager is Joe Girardi or not, one thing is certain: treatment and development of talent will be at the forefront. There's little chance that the front office will make the same mistake twice.

 
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