5 Things Dale Sveum Should Do to Save His Job
To say that Dale Sveum's first year as skipper of the Cubs didn't go as planned would probably be an understatement. With a 10-game decline from 2011, the Cubs finished the 2012 campaign with a miserable 61-101 record.
Injuries, players who didn't perform to expectations, new management, etc., all led to a underachieving season. Theo Epstein has a track record of taking a group from underachieving to wearing the bling that comes with a World Series championship.
To say it will take time to right the ship for the Cubs is something Captain Obvious would say. But with the right group in charge at the top levels, the Cubs can once again be competitive. In the meantime, Dale Sveum needs to figure out a way to keep his job and get the Cubs to a competitive state in 2013.
Here are five things Sveum should consider when it comes to keeping his employ as the skipper of the Northside boys.
Try to Move Alfonso Soriano
Alfonso Soriano had a decent year last season after a miserable 2011. But let's be honest, Soriano has been a bust for the Cubs since they inked him to an eight-year, $136 million deal. He hasn't produced like he did in New York, Texas or Washington.
There have been glimmers of hope, but his contract has kept the Cubs from landing other free agents. Granted, Sveum doesn't have much say over personnel, but he has to push Theo Epstein to find a way to move this massive ball and chain of a contract.
If it is possible to move Soriano, the Cubs should try to find a cheaper alternative to fill his shoes in left field, and frankly anything is probably better defensively than Soriano.
Find a Catcher Who Can Manage the Staff More Effectively
Having a catcher who can manage the pitching staff is priceless. Look at Buster Posey, Yadier Molina, Joe Mauer, etc. While all these guys can hit, they all do an amazing job of managing their respective staffs.
With Geovany Soto becoming a fraction of the player he was when he Rookie of the Year in 2008 and being shipped out of town, the door is open for the Cubs to find their next signature catcher.
Welington Castillo appears to be ready to assume that role provided he can clean up his defense a bit. He brings a decent bat to the lineup and is young and has a very solid upside. A catcher who can instill confidence in his staff goes a long way.
Clean Up the Defense
The 2012 Cubs squad was 10th out of 16 teams in errors committed with 105 miscues. With a team thin in pitching, good defense will be a necessity for the Cubs to compete in 2013.
Sveum needs to work this angle in spring training. Sveum himself wasn't a great fielder in his 12 big-league seasons, posting a very pedestrian .956 fielding percentage. But Sveum needs to preach defense in the Cactus League in 2013.
As mentioned earlier, getting rid of Soriano would help tremendously with accomplishing that feat. But Starlin Castro needs to clean up his defense as well. Castro committed 27 errors at shortstop in 2012. Perhaps Castro should take a few lessons from his up-the-middle mate, Gold Glove winner Darwin Barney, who only committed two errors all last season.
Up-the-middle defense is essential for any pitching staff to have success, and cleaning up Castro's glove would go a long way.
Get Rid of Chris Bosio
To go along with poor hitting last season, the Cubs' pitching was just as poor. The staff's lack of control led them to leading the NL with 65 hit batsmen, which was 10 more than another other team.
The Cubs blew 21 saves, had the second lowest K/9 innings ratio in the NL and they were 14-of-16 in ERA with a 4.51 ERA.
Pitching coaches come in a variety of shapes and sizes. Some played different positions during the major league careers. But Bosio was very average during his big-league career, and I am not convinced he knows how to instill confidence in a staff.
He appears to be a funny guy whom the pitchers like, but the performance last season tells me he doesn't know how to pull the potential out of his staff.
I am not sure who Sveum would put in Bosio's place, but another miserable season will have both Sveum and Bosio looking for a job. Save yourself, Dale.
Don't Be Afraid to Show Some Lou Pinella
Most Cubs fans I have talked to liked the Lou Pinella days sans his last partial season. He was a fiery guy who would kick dirt on the umpire and throw a base into the outfield to light a fire under his team.
Sveum certainly has passion, but Pinella had a way to rally the troops that Sveum hasn't seemed to outwardly display yet. Perhaps he does all the right things behind closed doors, but fans love to get behind a fiery skipper.
I am not suggesting he has to follow the Pinella mold exactly, because obviously everyone has their own way to lead. But Pinella had a tremendous track record to lean back on and managed his teams to the playoffs on six different occasions.