Hearing the news that the Chicago Cubs are hiring Dale Sveum as their new manager hit me harder than the cold Chicago air when I walked out of my house today. I loved everything Theo Epstein and the crew had done up until now.
The Sveum hiring is a yawn, and makes you wonder what they saw in him that the Milwaukee Brewers didn't. They passed him over twice for the managerial job, including after he took over as the interim manager in 2008 when the Brewers fired Ned Yost with 12 games left in the season.
He went 7-5 and the Brew Crew made the playoffs before falling to the Philadelphia Phillies in four games.
The next year, Milwaukee thought Ken Macha was a better choice to lead the team.
Brewers GM Doug Melvin was quoted in a column in the Chicago Sun-Times speaking about Sveum saying, "Dales a good guy, a good solid baseball guy."
He then gave his reason for not giving him the job.
"We just felt we wanted to go outside. It's somewhat of a philosophy...Coaches that become interims in September, I don't always feel they have a lot of success the following years. I haven't seen where that works a lot.(Too bad Jim Hendry didn't realize that.) So I just felt we needed to go outside to get a fresh face, fresh voice, whatever."
To translate, what Melvin said was, "Yost lost it and we needed someone to finish the season. He was there, so we asked him to take over, but I knew I could do better with a full off-season to look for a manager."
Did the Cubs make a mistake giving the job to Sveum?
How come the Cubs couldn't do better than this? People are making a big deal because he was in the running to become the Red Sox manager.
Well, yea, wasn't Theo there when they put their list together?
The Cubs could have done much better, but Mike Maddux proved to be a small-town tease. He played with the Cubs affections and led them on, then turned them away when it was time to close the deal.
He was believed to be their first choice for the job. Maddux "won" the press conference after his interview.
He was the "next big thing," a pitching coach that could give the Cubs organization an edge on other teams like Theo and the boys had when sabermetrics were still in the early stages.
The Maddux name resonates in Chicago, and the thought was his brother Greg couldn't be far behind.
Epstein brought hope that had been lost in Chicago with the Cubs. This move feels strangely like something the past regime would do.
Nobody, including me, knows if he is going to be a good manager. Hell, Maddux might have been a bust, but if he were being announced as the new manager on Friday, I don't think more than half the voters in a fan poll would be against the move.
So we get the second choice. I doubt if this second banana is going to be as good as Tampa manager Joe Maddon is, who was his runner-up to Terry Francona.
I would have rather heard that the Cubs were hiring Sandy Alomar Jr. Everyone thinks he's going to be a really good manager some day, and he could have grown into the job with the Cubs probably not being very good next year.
A caller to a Chicago sports radio show once had a famous quote about the Cubs. He said, "The Cubs don't have to get better. The other teams just have to get a little bit worse."
That might happen next year with Tony LaRussa no longer managing the St. Louis Cardinals and the possibility of Albert Pujols leaving the team. The same goes for Milwaukee with Prince Fielder almost a cinch to be gone.
A writer with Yahoo Sports who covered the New York Yankees in 1998 made a big deal about Sveum coming back to finish the season with them as their bullpen catcher after they cut him in August.
While that might be a big deal to him, I see a journeyman player who wanted to enjoy the ride of being there with a World Series winner.
How about a Hall of Fame player worth millions of dollars riding the buses in the minors for five, long years so he could get the opportunity to manage in the big leagues?
His name is Ryne Sandberg, and he couldn't even get an interview with the Cubs and they end up hiring this guy.
At the press conference with Theo Epstein where he introduced new GM Jed Hoyer and Jason McLeod as senior VP of scouting and player development, writers described them as the "smartest guys in the room."
They may have been the smartest guys in the room, but I wasn't in that room. Let's hope this wasn't their first mistake.