5 Things Chicago Cubs Manager Dale Sveum Must Do in 2013 to Keep His Job
Manager Dale Sveum may have averted the worst season in Chicago Cubs history, but will his job be in jeopardy if the brass doesn't see results in 2013?
Sveum has managed this season very well, all things considered. There has not been any clubhouse commotion or drama, young players like Darwin Barney have exceeded expectations and the team was playing really well until the July 31st trade deadline when the team lost Ryan Dempster, Geovany Soto, Reed Johnson and Paul Maholm.
The Cubs have gone 6-20 since then but have seen young prospects like Josh Vitters and Brett Jackson get their first chance to play in Chicago. Both guys have struggled early on, but catcher Welington Castillo has played well and could be the starting catcher next season.
Sveum will lead this team for the foreseeable future. Like Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer, he appears to have plans much bigger than what we're seeing on the field every day.
Let's explore five things Sveum must do to keep his job secure going forward.
Believe in the Cause
Manager Dale Sveum appears to be on board with this long-term plan the Cubs brass have pushed over the course of this season.
He is playing young talent, identifying reliable pitchers in the Cubs pitching staff and is utilizing the bench properly with players often playing two or three times a week.
There are a lot of things that will simply work themselves out over the course of a few months, and we have seen gradual changes over the course of the season that show he's fielding the best team possible.
Identify Prospects Ready to Contribute
While the manager does not have sole control of who gets called up and sent down, he does play a very important role in the decision process.
This season, the Cubs have seen several players from the minors who would likely not have seen time if the circumstances were a bit better.
Luis Valbuena, Welington Castillo, Josh Vitters and Brett Jackson are the four hitters who have seen significant time this season. Tony Campana and Adrian Cardenas as well, but they have also spent more time recently in the minors.
There's also been a slew of unsuccessful pitching prospects who have made their debuts, but none of them appear destined to stick around in a major league rotation.
But the good thing is those pitchers have been identified as such. The Cubs drafted heavy on pitchers and have been taking feelers on just about any available pitcher. Justin Germano, who was waived recently, has found a spot in the Cubs rotation.
They are not ideal options, but they show the team is casting a wide net and getting creative.
Manage Pitching Staff
The current pitching staff is especially raw and unproven.
With Jeff Samardzija leading the way, he offers the Cubs the best option as a long-term ace for the future. Still, he has struggled at times with his control and has fallen victim to poor run support.
I think it is important for them to maintain a positive relationship. Samardzija was very forward about expecting himself to be in the starting rotation, and the Cubs continue to expect more.
If he regresses, and it is a public issue in any way, it could spell trouble for Sveum.
The rest of the staff could look very different come April with only Matt Garza and Travis Wood as probable mainstays.
Continue Development of Team
What direction is this team heading?
Are Josh Vitters and Brett Jackson here to stay? Who will be the catcher, or who is the best option at catcher long term?
These are just a few of the difficult questions Sveum will have to ask himself before the 2013 season.
And they are questions that can be quantified along the way if things don't work out. Cubs fans are patient, but they are not that patient. This team does not appear to have the makings of a playoff-caliber team just yet.
Maintain Good Relations with Young Players
The Cubs—executives, managers and players—need to be on the same page.
They need to understand that winning is going to take time, but if done right, they will be part of the greatest story in sports history. Not just that, they will be immortalized by a city forever.
While the game is played one day at a time, Sveum needs to keep everyone's eyes on the prize, which appears to be developing a winning mentality with the winning formula for a team.
That formula consists of a healthy amount of talent from within the organization, as well pieces from outside the organization.
It'll be interesting to see what Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer bring in this offseason.