I’m trying to get use to the idea of Dale Sveum as the Cubs new manager.
He wasn’t a candidate I gave much thought to, not with Tito, Maddux, and Alomar in the running. But, of course, that doesn’t mean he’s the wrong choice–just one that catches me a bit by surprise.
Sveum, on the other hand, earned just 5-percent of the vote, the second fewest only to Pete Mackanin. So apparently, I wasn’t the only one who ruled Sveum out too early.
If anything discourages me about Sveum, it’s the ever present Boston connection he shares with the Red Sox former front office–now reunited in Chicago.
My hope during the Cubs manager search was for Theo to move away from his Boston ties, making the effort to establish his ‘own way,’ one without the continued support of his cohorts in Bean Town–even at the expense of eliminating the most qualified candidate, Francona.
That said, it’s understandable why Theo would feel comfortable with Sveum, a former third base coach for the Red Sox from 2004-05, who he presumably knows better than any other candidate outside of Tito.
On the plus side, two characteristics jump to mind in Sveum’s favor.
1.) He should be well versed in the NL Central having spent the past 6 seasons as the Brewers hitting coach. 2.) Sveum’s calm and cool demeanor is ideal for a team in transition from pretender to contender.
For all intents and purposes, Milwaukee remains the favorite to win the division in 2012, even assuming the loss of Prince Fielder and K-Rod. However, Sveum’s inside knowledge of his former club will only strengthen the Cubs chances for keeping pace with the Brewers.
Secondly, Sveum’s stoic demeanor as bench boss is ideal for building a long term relationship with both his players and fans.
The Cubs have a long way to go from 91-losses to contenders, the sort of turnaround that doesn’t happen in one offseason.
Patience from the bench will be a necessity as the roster changes presumably to a younger and more inexperienced club.
The long term payoff of Theo’s work is still years away, and the steady hand of Sveum is more likely to last than a Rah-Rah manager whose tactics can grow old and tiresome with players after a few short seasons.
If Sveum is as stealthy and as confident behind the bench as he was during the interview process, we could be in for an even bigger surprise on the North Side–like a winning season in 2012.
Just another little something I wouldn’t have predicted.