Chicago Cubs: Dale Sveum Makes First Critical Error of the Season

Tommy StokkeCorrespondent IApril 16, 2012

In the opening series between the Chicago Cubs and St. Louis Cardinals, the Cardinals won the pivotal third game 10-3 capturing the series.

Sunday's game was won before either team took the field.

With a chance to win a series early in the season against the arch-rival Cardinals, Cubs manager Dale Sveum failed at his duty to give his team its best chance to win.

Sveum sat half of his regulars Sunday afternoon, including three of his four best offensive players.

Joe Mather replaced Alfonso Soriano in left field. David DeJesus had the day off in right and was replaced by Reed Johnson. The right side of the infield sat as Jeff Baker and Blake DeWitt started for Bryan LaHair and Darwin Barney.

I understand the strategy of a routine day off, but just because Sunday is referred to as a day of rest doesn't mean you rest everyone. It's a week into the season. I'd be shocked if any of the aforementioned players were itching for a day off.

If they really needed a day off, look no further than today, Monday, for that day off.

It's impossible for me to believe Sveum thought his team had a chance with the lineup he put out there. While it's fathomable to imagine winning a game without perhaps Soriano and Barney, it isn't imaginable to win without your two best power hitters.

This wasn't just any series. This was the Cardinals. St. Louis accepted its World Series rings in front of the Cubs prior to Game 1 of the series. In a season that may not have many highlights, Sveum and the Cubs had a chance to build some momentum by spoiling opening weekend at Busch Stadium.

Sveum is new to the rivalry, but he shouldn't be ignorant to it. If he isn't aware by now, it won't take long to figure out the intensity of the rivalry. A series win at St. Louis just amounts to a series win in the standings, but it goes much further than the standings this season.

The Cubs won't be at the top of any standings this yeah, so take extra-incentive wins where you can get them. The Cubs will struggle to compete consistently with their regular line up, let alone with four starters sitting for the afternoon.

Sveum missed a critical chance at building early-season momentum and a chance to extend the patience of the Cubs fans.

Even if the patience would've only lasted till Tuesday, it's better than hearing about it on Monday.