Results tagged ‘ Dale Sveum ’

3/2 Sveum: No regrets

Dale Sveum had a tough time finding the visitor’s clubhouse at Cubs Park. After all, he expected to be using the home dugout this year. Sveum, who was dismissed last October after two seasons as Cubs manager, returned on Sunday in his new role as the Royals third base coach. Kansas City manager Ned Yost offered the job as Sveum was walking back to his apartment the day he got the news from Cubs president of baseball operations Theo Epstein.

Sveum said it wasn’t strange to be at Cubs Park. He’d offered advice on the new facility but spent more time on the plans for the nearby training complex. Still, he had expected to be part of the Cubs’ rebuilding process and see some of the young talent.

“That’s what your vision was to see those guys develop and be here through all that,” Sveum said. “We’re five months removed from everything now. We’ve got a nice ballclub [with the Royals] and a chance to win, and a lot of young kids who have gotten to the point where it’s time to win. It’s far removed from what happened five months ago.”

He’d like to manage again, and has no regrets about his two years with the Cubs.

“I walked away with my head up and understood what I wanted to do, and did it — we got guys to play hard, we got guys to prepare every day,” he said. “People have asked me, ‘Would you do things differently?’ No. I don’t have that big of an ego. There’s nothing I’d do differently. The communication was what it was. People knew what their jobs were and their roles were. I demanded you to play hard and prepare and they did that.”

Sveum did expect to have dinner sometime this spring with Epstein. They’ve exchanged text messages and talked on the phone a few times in the offseason. Was managing the Cubs different than anywhere else?

“It’s going to be different than managing in Milwaukee or Kansas City,” Sveum said. “You obviously have way more media and press and obviously the fan base of a [televisoin] channel going throughout the whole country. I guess it’s how you look at it, too, and what kind of personality you have. It’s part of the job. It never bothered me.”

– Carrie Muskat

12/30 A look back at 2013

The 2013 season was another step in the Cubs’ rebuilding process. For the second straight year, the Cubs dealt 40 percent of their starting rotation. They seemed to set a record for most deals in July as Alfonso Soriano, Carlos Marmol and Scott Hairston also were traded. In August, David DeJesus was sent to the Nationals.

In return, the Cubs felt they strengthened the organization with players such as third baseman Mike Olt and pitchers Pedro Strop, Justin Grimm, Jake Arrieta, Ivan Pineyro, C.J. Edwards and Corey Black. It’s all part of Theo Epstein’s plan since taking over as Cubs president of baseball operations.

All the transactions didn’t solve the 2013 team’s problems, and the Cubs finished last in the tough National League Central at 66-96, the fourth straight year they’ve posted a sub .500 season.

As 2013 comes to a close, here are five storylines from the Cubs’ season:

5. Hot prospects

Every time Javier Baez hit a home run, or first-round Draft pick Kris Bryant won another award, there were questions about where the Cubs top prospects would fit in the big league lineup. Baez, the No. 1 pick in 2011, and Bryant, who was the second overall selection in June, stole some of the headlines from the big league team. The Cubs front office’s mantra is that the kids need time to develop but fans are eager for someone to cheer for. Baez, who belted 37 homers and drove in 111 runs combined at Class A Daytona and Double-A Tennessee, and Bryant, the college player of the year who was named the Arizona Fall League MVP, aren’t the only super kids. The list of potential impact players in the Cubs system also includes Albert Almora, C.J. Edwards, and Jorge Soler. Now, the question is when.

4. Marmol, Fujikawa and Gregg

Carlos Marmol lost the closer’s job one week into the regular season, and Kyuji Fujikawa took over but he was limited because of elbow problems. The Japanese pitcher eventually needed Tommy John surgery, and the Cubs had to scramble. They signed Kevin Gregg, who was released by the Dodgers April 3, and he proceeded to reclaim the job, finishing with 33 saves. Marmol was eventually traded to the Dodgers for Matt Guerrier, and didn’t get another save opportunity the rest of the season. The Cubs bullpen was a problem most of the season, ranking on the bottom of the National League in ERA, walks, and home runs allowed.

3. Alfonso Soriano is traded to Yankees

For the second straight year, the Cubs were busy at the Trade Deadline, but none of the moves affected the players the way the departure of Alfonso Soriano did. The veteran outfielder was dealt to the Yankees, where he began his U.S. pro career in 1999. He has one year remaining on the eight-year, $136 million contract he signed with the Cubs in November 2006. While fans were critical of Soriano’s defensive ability, he was revered in the Cubs clubhouse. Soriano topped the Cubs in home runs and RBIs at the All-Star break, and they struggled to fill his spot in the lineup after he left. The Cubs may have been the only team to use a backup catcher, Dioner Navarro, in the No. 4 spot.

2. Manager Dale Sveum is dismissed

Sveum was a no nonsense kind of guy. He held players accountable. He believed in face to face communication. In Spring Training, he organized a bunting tournament, and included himself in the bracket. When Sveum was hired in November 2011, Epstein trusted the manager and his coaching staff to compile “The Cubs Way” handbook, to be used throughout the organization.

The Cubs lost 197 games in two seasons under Sveum, but Epstein and GM Jed Hoyer said the record wasn’t the reason the manager was dismissed. There were issues regarding the development of some of the Cubs, and Sveum got his signals crossed with a few players and the front office.

“There has to be a clear, unified message, and [players] can’t be getting different signals from different directions and collectively — myself included — we failed to provide that,” Epstein said.

Sveum wasn’t out of work for long. Royals manager Ned Yost waited one hour after Sveum was dismissed before calling to offer him a job on Kansas City’s coaching staff.

1. Starlin Castro takes a step backward

Castro was disappointed when he didn’t bat .300 for a third straight season in 2012, finishing at .283. But no one expected the shortstop to struggle as much as he did in 2013, batting .245 — including a .167 June. What happened? The shortstop lost his aggressive approach, struck out a career-high 129 times, and often looked lost at the plate. He was dropped to eighth in the order in August.

“This year, it’s too many things to think about [and] I’m not supposed to think [up there],” Castro said. “Sometimes you have a tough season, and you want to please everybody. But it’s not right. You have to listen to the things that can help you — not everything. When you come to home plate, you don’t have any idea, because you listen to too many things.”

Toward the end of the season, Castro announced he was just going to “be me.” The shortstop may be the Cubs’ new leadoff man in 2014 — he batted .263 there this past season — and the team can only hope he regains his approach, especially since this is Year 2 of his seven-year, $60 million contract.

– Carrie Muskat

11/10 Rowson returns to Yankees

James Rowson, who took over as the Cubs’ hitting coach in June 2012, has returned to the Yankees to be the Minor League hitting coordinator. Rowson was in the Yankees organization for six seasons, including four as the Minor League hitting coordinator from 2008-11. He left the Yankees to take over as the Cubs Minor League hitting coordinator, and was named interim Major League hitting coach in June 2012, replacing Rudy Jaramillo. Rowson, 37, got the Cubs job full time in 2013.

He’s the second member of Dale Sveum’s 2013 Cubs staff to find a job with another team, joining Dave McKay, who has joined the Diamondbacks as a first base coach. Sveum joined Royals manager Ned Yost’s staff as a coach just a few days after he was dismissed by the Cubs.

The Chicago Tribune first reported Rowson’s return to New York on Saturday, and he confirmed it to MLB.com on Sunday.

– Carrie Muskat

10/3 Gamel, Sveum & AFL roster

Infielder Mat Gamel, who missed the 2013 season because of a torn right anterior cruciate ligament, was claimed off waivers by the Cubs. Gamel, 28, ended the season on the Brewers’ 60-day disabled list, and was transferred to the Cubs’ 60-day DL. A left-handed hitter, he played parts of the previous five seasons with the Brewers (2008-12), posting a .229 batting average with 11 doubles, two triples, six home runs and 29 RBIs in 106 games. He’s played first base, third base, and three games in left.

In his most recent full pro season in 2011, Gamel spent most of the season with Triple-A Nashville where he batted .310 with 29 doubles, 28 home runs and 96 RBIs in 128 games. He made the Brewers’ Opening Day roser in 2012 but suffered a torn right ACL 21 games into the season on May 1 in San Diego. This year, he was expected to fulfill the void created by Corey Hart but reinjured the ligament in Spring Training.

Originally selected by the Brewers in the fourth round of the 2005 Draft, Gamel earned Topps Minor League Player of the Year honors in 2008 after hitting .329 with 35 doubles, seven triples, 19 homers and 96 RBIs in 127 games with Double-A Huntsville. Gamel made his big league debut with Milwaukee near the end of the 2008 season. The Cubs are set at first with Anthony Rizzo but Gamel could see action at third base.

* Dale Sveum wasn’t out of work long. Sveum, who was dismissed as the Cubs manager on Monday, was hired by the Royals to be part of manager Ned Yost’s coaching staff. Sveum will work with the infielders and in-game responsibilities will be announced later. Sveum was a coach on Yost’s staff for three seasons with the Brewers, and replaced him in 2008 for the final 12 games of the season. Milwaukee reached the National League Division Series that year. In two seasons with the Cubs, Sveum compiled a 127-197 record, finishing 66-96 this year and last in the National League Central. The Royals announced the contracts of third base coach Eddie Rodriguez and bench coach Chino Cadahia will not be renewed, and Sveum could fill one of those openings.

* Third baseman Luis Valbuena was recovering this week from a stomach ailment that forced him to miss the Cubs’ last series of the regular season. Valbuena did not travel with the team to St. Louis because of the problem, and was receiving treatment in Chicago.

* The Arizona Fall League gets underway next Tuesday. Among the Cubs prospects playing for the Mesa Solar Sox are outfielders Albert Almora and Jorge Soler, infielders Kris Bryant and Wes Darvill, and right-handed pitchers Dallas Beeler, Matt Loosen, Lendy Castillo and Armando Rivero.

– Carrie Muskat

10/1 Yankees and Girardi

Yankees GM Brian Cashman met with the New York media on Tuesday and said they’ve started negotiations with manager Joe Girardi on a new contract.

“We’re going to give him a real good reason to stay,” Cashman said.

If Girardi returns, Cashman said they would like to bring the entire coaching staff back as well.

The former Cubs catcher has been mentioned as a possible successor to Dale Sveum, who was dismissed on Monday after two seasons as Cubs manager.

– Carrie Muskat

9/29 Sveum preps for Game No. 162

Dale Sveum made out the Cubs’ lineup card for Sunday’s game as he has for the previous 161 games this season, not knowing if it’s his last one.

“Like I said the other day, you’d be lying if you didn’t have anxiety about what’s going to happen in 24 hours,” Sveum said Sunday. “That’s human nature.”

Theo Epstein will meet Monday in Chicago with Sveum and some of the coaching staff to discuss their status. It’s part of the evaluation process Epstein is doing. If Sveum is anxious, he hasn’t shown it.

“You try [not to],” Sveum said of keeping a low profile. “There’s obviously frustrations [with the season], but my personality — I can get as [ticked] as anybody, but the focus should be on the players anyway. There’s something wrong if I’m seen too much. That’s my personality. I am what I am.”

It isn’t just Sveum who will find out Monday, either.

“Theo’s still evaluating [the coaches], too,” Sveum said. “He didn’t specifically say he was evaluating me but evaluating the whole staff situation.”

The Cubs will finish with at least 90 losses for the third straight season, the second in a row under Epstein and with Sveum at the helm. The Cubs have used a franchise record 56 different players this year, and only 12 remained on the roster for Game No. 162 who were present for the first game.

Sveum’s fiery side was revealed during the Cubs last series in Milwaukee Sept. 16-18 when he was caught on camera in the dugout arguing with pitcher Edwin Jackson. The next day, Jeff Samardzija was seen arguing with coach David Bell in the dugout. Epstein called those incidents “brushfires” and complimented Sveum because they were the only such incidents during his two years at the helm.

“It happens,” Jackson said Sunday about the argument. “In families, there’s nobody who has brothers or sisters who hasn’t been in an altercation with a brother or sister. It happens in other sports. But when it happens in baseball, it’s the less aggressive sport than other sports, and sometimes it’s made to be a big deal.

“You see a first place team, a playoff team [like the Braves], and it happens,” Jackson said of Atlanta’s dugout tussle Saturday between coach Terry Pendleton and Chris Johnson. “I’m sure they talked it over the next day. I’m sure it’s happened with plenty of players and managers and they make up the next day.”

As to whether Jackson wants Sveum back, the pitcher deferred to Epstein and the front office.

“It’s my first year with the organization,” Jackson said. “That’s a decision for those guys on top to make. My job is to go out and take the ball every fifth day to give the team a chance to win.”

Sveum has met with each of the players, either with Epstein and general manager Jed Hoyer present, or just Hoyer, to review the season and talk about next year. Sveum said his relationship with the front office has been good.

“Theo was honest with everybody that there’s an evaluation going on with all of us, myself included with the coaches,” Sveum said. “That doesn’t change your relationship with anybody. It’s my job to do what I do, and Theo’s job to do what he does. Just because there’s an evaluation going on doesn’t change anything.”

It’s impossible to predict the Cubs lineup for 2014. Sveum will find out Monday whether he’ll be part of the continued rebuilding process.

What was on his mind as he prepped for Sunday’s season finale?

“The same thing that was on my mind yesterday,” Sveum said. “Obviously, it’s the last day so it’s a little different than any other day with the players. You know it’s the last day of the season and you’re going to play it out and hopefully win a ballgame.”

– Carrie Muskat

9/28 Cardinals 6, Cubs 2

Edwin Jackson’s final start of the season ended sooner than expected. Jackson was pulled after 2 2/3 innings in the Cubs’ 6-2 loss Saturday to the Cardinals at Busch Stadium because of discomfort in his right side. The only good news is that he’ll have a few months to heal.

“It’s just a crazy year, man,” said Jackson, who will likely finish as the Major League leader in losses with 18. “If I had the answer, I would’ve changed a long time ago. It’s one of those years where you forget it but still learn from it. It was a [bad] year to sum it up. There’s a lot of things to take from it.”

The Cardinals continued to tune up for the postseason. Matt Holliday hit a two-run home run and Yadier Molina drove in two runs off Jackson to back Adam Wainwright in front of 42,520 fans. St. Louis clinched the National League Central title with a 7-0 win on Friday night, and now is battling Atlanta to determine the top seed in the NL playoffs.

The Cubs lost for the 13th time in their last 17 games, and are simply trying to wrap up a disappointing season in which they will finish last in the division.

“We only have nine innings left this year,” said Anthony Rizzo, who hit his 23rd home run leading off the ninth. “Hopefully, those nine innings get us going and we can go into the offseason on a high note.”

With one out in the St. Louis third, Jackson walked two batters, and both scored on Molina’s double. One out later, Pete Kozma hit a ground-rule double that bounced into the Cubs’ bullpen, and Jackson intentionally walked Adron Chambers to face Wainwright, who hit a RBI single. Cubs manager Dale Sveum and athletic trainer PJ Mainville then went to the mound, and Jackson was pulled after 65 pitches. The right-hander said the problem began when he was warming up and continued as the game progressed.

“He hasn’t had the year he wanted or anything like that but [Travis Wood] has pitched really good and [his record is] under .500,” Sveum said. “[Jackson] has kept us in some games. He’s been a .500 pitcher his whole career. Obviously, you don’t want losses, but at the same time, the games we’ve been in, we don’t seem to win or get a lead.”

Since Jackson reported to Mesa, Ariz., for Spring Training, he’s been asked about the four-year, $52 million contract he signed with the Cubs, his first long-term deal. Maybe his struggles were related to putting too much pressure on himself with a new team?

“He handles everything really well and he’s ready to come back next year and prove himself,” Sveum said. “I think a lot of things go into it pressure-wise — you get a contract like that, you’re with a new team. I think next year he’ll be a lot more comfortable and settle in and have a good year.”

That’s the goal, Jackson said.

“I don’t feel like I pressed as far as playing,” Jackson said. “There were times when I was over analyzing things and thinking too much and not allowing myself to go out and do what I’m capable of doing athletically. As far as pressure with the new contract and new team and all that, I didn’t feel like there was a lot of pressure.

“When you’re not pitching well, it’s easy to make excuses and point out things that could be happening,” he said. “It’s the craziest year I’ve had in baseball for a long time. You just look forward the working in the offseason and coming back and turning it around.”

The Cubs avoided being shutout for a second straight game when they tallied in the ninth against Edward Mujica. Rizzo led off with his first home run since Sept. 13 and second of the month. J.C. Boscan doubled and scored one out later on Donnie Murphy’s double.

On Sunday, the Cubs close the 2013 season. The players will head home, and Sveum will find out if he’s coming back next year on Monday.

“At the end of the day, the manager can’t play for us,” Jackson said. “The 25 guys who go on the field, we have to produce and play baseball like we know we can. I think we’re capable of doing that. It takes everyone to believe we can win games and go out and play like that.”

– Carrie Muskat

9/27 Cardinals 7, Cubs 0

Travis Wood reached a milestone in his final start but couldn’t stop the Cardinals from celebrating. For the third time in five games, the Cubs watched another team spray champagne. Yadier Molina drove in three runs and David Freese and Matt Holliday each hit solo home runs to power the Cardinals to a 7-0 victory on Friday night at Busch Stadium and their first National League Central title since 2009. Last Sunday, the Braves partied at Wrigley Field after their win over the Cubs secured the NL East, and the next day, the Pirates earned a playoff berth with a victory in Chicago.

“You can get something out of it, the guys who have never seen a celebration,” Dale Sveum said. “I’ve already seen it and I don’t like watching celebrations if I’m not involved.”

Lance Lynn struck out eight of the first 11 batters he faced, and finished with nine strikeouts over six innings for the win, which was the Cardinals’ 95th of the season and their most since 100 victories in 2005.

Wood entered the game with 199 innings, and Sveum said the plan was to have the left-hander pitch one inning and that would be enough. The team felt Wood had thrown enough pitches this season, and totaled enough innings. What they didn’t predict was the Cardinals batting around in the first. Wood retired the first two batters, helping himself by catching Carlos Beltran’s popup near the Cardinals dugout for the second out. He then gave up three straight hits, including a line drive to left that Brian Bogusevic just missed. Molina smacked a two-run double, then Freese walked, and Jon Jay followed with a RBI single. Wood intentionally walked Pete Kozma and then struck out Lynn.

“Plays are going to happen, plays aren’t going to happen,” Wood said. “I had plenty of opportunities after that play to get out of it. I had two lefties to get out and several other batters. When you get two outs of the first two hitters, and then face the nine, that’s on me.”

Wood has been the most consistent pitcher on the Cubs, leading the team with 24 quality starts.

“That was a shame,” Sveum said of the first inning. “It kind of makes you want to throw up. Two outs, nobody on and all that happens. It’s too bad. I thought he had one [heck] of a year and was as good as the top 10 guys in the league if not better than that. For what he’s done for our team, it’s a shame how that all turned out.”

The Cubs told Wood they were going to limit him a few days ago.

“They could’ve shut me down,” Wood said. “For them to give me the opportunity to at least start the game and get that 200th inning was huge, and I thank them for it.”

Despite the loss, Wood still finished with career highs in wins, starts, innings pitched and strikeouts.

“You can always do more,” the lefty said. “The record wasn’t what I wanted it to be and the team’s record wasn’t what I wanted it to be. There’s always stuff to improve on.”

– Carrie Muskat

9/27 Sveum, staff to find out status on Monday

Dale Sveum will find out Monday whether or not he’ll be back at the helm for a third season. That’s when Theo Epstein will complete his evaluation of the manager and the coaching staff.

“It’s pretty standard at this time of year to take your time to look back at the season and make decisions on what can put the organization in the best position going forward,” Epstein said. “This is part of the process. At the same time, we owe it to everyone involved to get it done quickly and move forward. We’ll finish up the process on Monday.”

Epstein was in St. Louis to conduct end of the season meetings with most of the players along with general manager Jed Hoyer and Sveum.

Epstein first revealed the evaluation process regarding Sveum and his staff last week in Milwaukee. The lack of a definitive vote of confidence from Epstein prompted speculation regarding Sveum’s status.

“It is what it is,” Sveum said of the uncertainty. “It’s not like I have to deal with anything except the norm that comes along with this position and the situation the organization is in, the evaluation process of any team at the end of the year, especially a team that lost 90-plus games. It doesn’t affect me and doesn’t bother me like people might think it does. It’s just part of the process.”

The Cubs lost 101 games in Sveum’s first season in 2012, and will finish in last place in the National League Central this year.

“If you go into something not expecting this [evaluation] then it might be different,” Sveum said. “But when you go into any kind of job like this, you understand these things can happen at any given time. I’ve been around too long and have seen it on both ends. There’s nothing you can do but keep doing the same things you do. It’s not going to change you as a person or a baseball person.”

During the Milwaukee series, Sveum was caught on camera arguing with pitcher Edwin Jackson in the dugout, and the next day, Jeff Samardzija yelled at third base coach David Bell. Kevin Gregg also was upset at being told he would no longer close, but the problem was miscommunication.

“I look at those three little minor brushfires as things that naturally occur at the end of a difficult season and frankly, I think it’s been impressive that under Dale’s leadership we got through 11 months of the regular season without something like that happening,” Epstein said. “Those things are to be expected. If you don’t want those things to happen, then don’t trade 40 percent of your rotation every year. Those things are going to crop up.

“Frankly, the things behind the scenes are more important than some of the brushfires that sometimes become public,” Epstein said. “I don’t think those are a pattern at all.”

Epstein and Hoyer have said repeatedly they are not judging Sveum on the Cubs’ record.

– Carrie Muskat

9/25 Sveum waits for word

Dale Sveum is signed for next season but the Cubs manager and his coaching staff were expected to find out their status for 2014 on Monday in meetings with Theo Epstein.

“I’m not going to sit here and lie and say you’re not wondering what’s going to happen four, five days from now,” Sveum said Wednesday. “That’s just human nature. There’s nothing you can do about it, or control those decisions. You just keep plugging away.”

Last week, Epstein would not say whether Sveum would return, but said the manager and staff were being evaluated. Epstein and general manager Jed Hoyer have said Sveum will not be judged on the Cubs’ record, knowing that the team is in rebuilding mode. Sveum knew that when he took the job.

“Nothing’s really changed,” Sveum said. “The bottom line is we haven’t won as many games as we’d like to. I knew getting this job there was going to be a good chance of people getting traded for prospects and that we needed to get the Minor League system much healthier and hit the jackpot on some free agents that we signed. Nothing’s really changed from what I was told. You’re never promised anything.”

Sveum, in his second full season as manager, said he understood that Epstein and Hoyer had a check list.

“That’s their job to evaluate the organization on a daily basis,” Sveum said. “Wins and losses, they’ve told everybody they’re not evaluating on wins and losses.”

The Cubs finish the season in St. Louis with a three-game series, starting Friday. Sveum and his coaching staff were expected to meet Monday in Chicago with Epstein and Hoyer.

“That’s part of the gig is knowing the day after the season,” Sveum said.

The Cubs have used a franchise record 56 players this season, with a few of those arriving via trades or waiver claims. Sveum is hoping fans can see the progress in the system, including players such as first-round Draft pick Kris Bryant.

“If anybody pays attention, they know we’re much much healthier than we were a couple years ago,” Sveum said. “Our Minor League pitcher of the year [Kyle Hendricks] came from a trade, plus the [addition of] C.J. Edwards and the international signings we’ve had. In two years, it’s come a long way. I think the fans know, but patience can go so far.”

Sveum wasn’t going to alter his style in the final four games.

“I don’t try to do anything other than who I am,” he said. “That’s how I live my life, and that’s my personality. I don’t let a lot of things bother me or dwell on things. There are frustrations that go with everything but I don’t really take it home with me.”

– Carrie Muskat

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