COMMENTARY | So, is Dale Sveum on the hot seat?
Yes. Wow, that was easy.
Whether or not Dale Sveum should be on the hot seat is not the question at hand, though, for the record, I think he should be. Dissent among fans has been building for months and recent reports claim that Theo Epstein will be meeting with his manager on Monday to discuss his future.
So let's take a look at a few of the reasons why Sveum's days in Chicago are numbered:
It doesn't take a genius to start connecting the dots. Girardi is a Peoria, Ill., native who played college baseball at Northwestern before his two stints with the Chicago Cubs. He went on to manage the Florida Marlins, where he won the NL Manager of the Year Award in 2006.
After being unceremoniously dumped by the Marlins, Girardi caught on with the New York Yankees. All he's done in the Bronx is win more than 600 games and a World Series title, though rumors of his discomfort in New York have persisted.
With the Yankees failing to make the playoffs and his contract set to expire at the end of the 2013 season, Girardi may very well see the writing on the wall. It's unlikely that Girardi will take the same blank check tack as Andre Dawson did more than 25 years ago, but there could very well be mutual interest between him and the Cubs.
Performance of young stars
Theo Epstein has stated publicly that wins, or lack thereof, will not be paramount in judging Sveum's worth. Epstein and GM Jed Hoyer have admitted that they've not provided a roster that's capable of winning many games.
But they have provided what they had hoped would be a tandem of building blocks in Starlin Castro and Anthony Rizzo. Both were given long-term contracts in the offseason, yet neither has played up to the expectations of those deals.
Sveum was hired to lead and mold a young team, though his inexperience with managing a team have been made more evident by that youth. Absent enough talent to make up for mistakes (by both players and manager) all the Cubs' blemishes were on display.
While some could point out myriad instances of questionable managerial calls, perhaps the most egregious was something Sveum didn't do. Despite Castro's continued struggles through the start of the season, Sveum steadfastly refused to rest his young shortstop.
When he was finally benched on June 25 this season, after 269 consecutive games, Castro's focus at the plate and in the field appeared to have improved. Starlin sported a .988 fielding percentage in the 72 following the day off, despite an inexcusable mental gaffe in a game against the Cardinals.
While he leads the team in HRs, RBIs and walks, Rizzo's development has not been as pronounced as many had expected. Both Rizzo and Castro have massive potential, but questions abound as to whether Dale Sveum is the man to help them reach it.
He wasn't hired for the long-term in the first place
Admittedly, this is more speculation on my part, but Dale Sveum was never going to be the man to lead the Cubs for very long. Epstein and Hoyer were well aware that the team would not be winning many ballgames in Sveum's tenure, and he certainly makes for an easy target.
What better scapegoat than a little-known former big leaguer getting his first crack at a managerial gig? It was widely accepted that Ryne Sandberg wanted the job, but there's no way the front office could hold Ryno up as a human shield to deflect the sling and arrows of the fanbase.
It's certainly unfair to paint Dale Sveum in the same light as Francesco Schettino, the Cubs sure have resembled the Costa Concordia at times this season. While the outlook on his hiring may have been sink or Sveum, it now looks more like stink with Sveum.
It's still possible that Dale will get another year at the helm, but all signs appear to be pointing in another direction. It appears that the Wrigley renovations have started early, as Theo recently installed heated seats on the Cubs bench. So whether the blame should rest with Sveum or not, it will, and he'll likely discover that on Monday.Evan spent his formative years on a farm and a sleepy town in Northwest Indiana in the days before Wrigley Field was illuminated. As a result, every summer afternoon was spent watching or listening to the Cubs on WGN, a practice that ingrained the team into his DNA. His kids are named after the team and years of frustration have made him a self-loathing, yet still unapologetic, Cubs apologist. And, yes, he knows that that is contradictory.
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