The Chicago Cubs have a long list of things that need to be fixed in order to avoid another 100-loss season.
From better depth pitching, to more consistent hitting in the lineup; the Cubs need a major overhaul in almost every department of the game.
Every department except for one: Cubs' manager Dale Sveum should be back for at least a few more seasons.
It's easy to point a finger at the manager when his team is well below their expected success level, but in the case of the Chicago Cubs, this was expected to happen.
These are the five reasons why Dale Sveum should remain as manager of the Cubs.
The 2012 season was only the third 100-loss season in Cubs franchise history, so there is enough blame to go around the clubhouse.
The Cubs entered this season with low exceptions, enough so that many fans were calling it a forgettable year back in April.
And to make the challenge a little harder for Sveum, the Cubs traded away veteran players like Ryan Dempster and Reed Johnson to acquire young talent. It was surely a rebuilding year for the franchise, and Sveum had a front row seat to the show.
Theo Epstein, Cubs president of baseball operations, said that he sticks by Sveum and that he can't judge the manager based off wins and losses this season (via Cubs.com):
The 100 losses are not his fault the least bit. He's done a really good job of maintaining as much of a winning culture as he possibly can during a season like this.
Epstein is just being fair in his assessment of the 2012 season. A manager can only play with the cards he's dealt and the Cubs organization recognizes that it will take at least a few years to rebuild.
Dale Sveum was brought in not only to lead the Cubs to an eventual championship, but to develop younger players and adjust them to the MLB.
This could be seen with young stars Starlin Castro and Anthony Rizzo, who both are building blocks in the overhaul of the Cubs' roster.
Sveum used some tough love that helped push Castro in areas that needed improvement, mainly on defense.
It was most evident when Castro made a baserunning gaffe by taking off for second only to slow down as he thought the ball was fouled off. It wasn't, and Castro was easily tagged out while jogging to second. An inexcusable mental error that should not happen in the MLB.
Sveum said enough was enough (via Chicago Sun Times):
It’s not acceptable. Those things have to stop happening or he’s going to stop playing. … Last straw. If he wants to play he better get his head in the game, period.
Castro responded to the warning and has been pushing himself to get better.
It’s very embarrassing. That can’t happen. I apologize to my team. That’s not supposed to happen.
Only time will show the kind of impact Sveum has had on the younger players in the clubhouse.
One of the most admirable qualities of a good manager is their ability to earn respect from the players.
Sveum has been shown tremendous respect in the clubhouse during his first year with the Cubs organization.
Pitcher Matt Garza said that he had a different perspective this season thanks to Sveum (via Chicago Sun Times):
I told him, ‘We’re on the verge of 100 losses, and last year we were close to .500 [for two months], and I hated every day of my life coming in here. It was miserable.’ And I said, ‘This year I’m not even performing, and I enjoy it, and I look forward to coming here.’ I said, ‘You brought that back.’ I said, ‘Thank you.’
A manager's ability to earn respect is a telling sign of how well he is able to communicate with the players.
Even in the depths of a 100-loss season, Sveum is able to communicate exactly what he wants from his players.
Veteran players on the Cubs' roster have also praised the work of Sveum.
Alfonso Soriano was the biggest recipient of Sveum's work with veteran players this season. Sveum suggested that Soriano use a lighter bat (via nbcsports.com):
There’s no question I’d like to see a much lighter bat. He has adjusted a little bit, but I think a really smaller, lighter bat would help a lot.
The bat did in fact help Soriano hit 32 home runs and 108 RBIs, one of his best seasons as a MLB player.
It's easy to judge Sveum's short managerial career on the 100-loss season that the Cubs just finished up.
But the Cubs organization needs more time to properly evaluate how effective Sveum is at his job.
This was a tumultuous year for the Cubs; tearing down a roster, trading away key players and giving young prospects a chance all take a toll on a manager's patience.
Sveum was able to handle it as best a manager could, it would only be fair to give him a couple more years to see how he handles a team in contention for a playoff spot.
Until that point, the organization and players must take most of the responsibility for a 100-loss season.
Follow James Maahs on Twitter for the latest on the NHL and MLB.