Many Cubs fans are looking forward to the 2012 baseball season, even though the team is not expected to be a contender this year. One of the reasons why there is newfound optimism for the future is new Cubs manager, Dale Sveum. Sveum played 12 seasons in Major League Baseball and has coached and managed at the big-league level. Mike Quade had many years of experience as a minor-league manager and big-league coach, but he never was a Major League Baseball player. This became evident last year when he assembled the "Not Ready For Primetime Coaching Staff" and made many questionable managerial decisions which indicated to many that he was in over his head at the big-league level.
Quade is gone. Thank God. But, we must not forget that a year ago there were many people, including myself, who were optimistic about Mike Quade's first year as Cubs manager. And, why not? He went 24-13 with the 2010 Cubs and the team continued to play hard the last two months even though they were eliminated from contention. So what happened? I think the losses of Alan Trammell and Larry Rothschild from the coaching staff hurt. Pat Listach probably is better-suited to be a third-base coach because he wasn't very good as a bench coach. And Mark Riggins? Don't even get me started. And then there was Quade who seemingly forgot to manage because he made one head-scratching decision after another last season.
It is understandable for some Cubs fans to be concerned that Dale Sveum could turn out to be Mike Quade 2.0 this year. Nobody really knows for sure, but based on what I have seen so far from Sveum, I don't think he's likely to turn into Q. This spring he's got the Cubs working hard on fundamentals in a way that Mike Quade never did in 2011. Sveum has also been working with Starlin Castro to improve his defense, and he will offer constructive criticism unlike Mike Quade who frequently made Castro his whipping boy. And, unlike Quade, Dale Sveum has Jed Hoyer and Theo Epstein as his bosses. He also has a very different roster than the one that Quade had at the beginning of 2011.
Sveum will make mistakes and he will become the ire of many Cubs fans this year when the team goes on a losing streak. But I believe that Sveum is a good hire and that while the record at the end of the year might not indicate much success, I think we have to measure success beyond just numbers. It'll be reflected in the attitude of the ballclub this season. The way the team carries itself and the camraderie we see between the guys on and off the field. I do believe that a manager or leader's attitude, positive or negative, does rub off on the people around him. If you have a person in charge who lacks confidence, the rest of the team will reflect that. If you have a person in charge who exudes confidence, the rest of the team will reflect that, too. This doesn't mean that everyone on the team will be buddies. But I do think it means that having 25 guys and a coaching staff that is all on the same page is a great start. And it has to start at the top with the manager.