This post is not being made because Ryne Sandberg is coming to town Friday as manager of the Phillies. In fact, I'm going to recommend below that the Cubs hire someone completely different. There, I've pretty much given away my answer to the question posed in the headline.
Dale Sveum will complete his second season as manager of the Cubs likely with more than 190 losses. No other Cubs manager has ever done this. Ever. Now, I'll grant you a lot of that is not his doing; his bosses, at times, have given him rosters that no major-league manager should have to deal with.
Sveum has, in my view, one overriding strength as a manager: he gets his players to respect him and play hard for him. That's a good thing. It's often not enough because of those players' talent level. It is a distinct improvement over the previous occupant of that position, and in fact, of the previous two managers, who under GM Jim Hendry often let the inmates run the asylum. In that, Sveum and Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer have, at least, begun to change the country-club atmosphere that ruled the Cubs clubhouse for too long.
Sveum's weaknesses include bullpen management, as I have often written. I'll give him a bit of the benefit of the doubt because, again, he simply hasn't had enough good relievers. But he has often misused the ones he does have, often to ill effect. His batting-order selections are at times baffling, and recently he went on record as saying Anthony Rizzo would stick in the No. 2 spot "for a while", and then reversed that the next day, apparently because Rizzo himself went and asked to be moved.
I can guarantee you Mike Matheny would have told Rizzo, "This is how I want to do it. Thanks for your thoughts, but I'm the manager."
You might think Sveum deserves to finish out the third year of his contract -- and the Cubs hold a team option for a fourth season -- but all that will do is push a media narrative in 2014 of, "Is Sveum going to be extended or fired?" That's not an unreasonable position, to give him another shot.
I think it's time for a change, and since people often say to me here, "Well, you should have a plan if you want to change", so here it is: the Twins' Ron Gardenhire is on the last year of his deal in Minnesota, where he is in his 12th season. The Twins are now in their third straight bad season (though they are a bit better than they were in 2012), but Gardenhire led them to six playoff berths in his first nine years. Granted, they won just one playoff series under Gardenhire, but he also had five 90-plus win seasons in those nine years. The Twins could have had a seventh postseason appearance, in 2008, but lost the A.L. Central tiebreaker game to the White Sox.
We'd take that, I think.
Gardenhire, who will turn 56 in October, has a reputation as a good strategist and a good manager of young players, which will become important for the Cubs over the next several seasons. I think he'd be the perfect "next guy" who can take the Cubs to the next level, and lead them in the postseason. Both the Cubs and Gardenhire, I think, could use a change.
What do you think? The poll only asks whether you want to retain Sveum or not, but you're welcome to leave your thought on who should be the next Cubs manager if you're voting "no."