Don't pity Cubs manager Dale Sveum. He has one of only 32 major league managing jobs in the world and earns millions of dollars. Plus, he knew what he was getting into when he accepted the position.
Well, maybe he didn't realize they would be quite this bad.
Still, one can't help but draw comparisons between the Cubs skipper and other sacrificial lambs who have coached in Chicago. For example, former Bulls coach Tim Floyd comes to mind.
Floyd was probably never a bad coach, though his career record when he left the Bulls was the worst of all time at 49-190. But, like the Cubs now, the Bulls were a bad team after the core of their championship teams retired or left.
In a similar way, Doug Collins was just holding down the captain's chair until the time when the Michael Jordan-led Bulls were ready to win, and then in popped Phil Jackson to reap the spoils.
And so it will likely go for Sveum, too. When the Cubs complete their rebuilding effort, he may just have one of the worst managerial records in baseball history. And what will his reward be for enduring such suffering?
He will probably be replaced by Terry Francona, who will lead the Cubs to their first World Series in more than a century.
Granted, such talk is a bit optimistic, but one thing is certain: Unless Theo Epstein gets cold feet, his plan will take a few more years to come to fruition.
By that time, Sveum won't have any hair left, and you can slap the straight jacket on him and send him on his way.
Whether Sveum is in over his skis is not the point. No matter what you think he should have done to discipline the talented, but wandering, Starlin Castro, he is just a guy to get from point A to point B.
In fact, all that losing will make it easy for Epstein and general manager Jed Hoyer to fire Sveum and hire Tito, and that could just be part of the plan. Building a farm system takes time, and turning those assets into productive major league players ready to win takes even longer.
So, assuming that owner Tom Ricketts believes in the plan enough to endure at least two more ugly seasons after this one, 2015 is around the time when the fortunes could start turning for the Cubs. But that would be the absolute earliest.
My fear is that Ricketts will try to cut corners in an effort to sell tickets and force Epstein and company to go out and try to field a competitive team. That would do nothing but continue the broken ways of past Cubs GMs and would not lend itself to consistent winning.
Sveum, meanwhile, will be doing a lot of head-shaking over the next couple years. And his thanks will be a pink slip.
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