clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

Dale Sveum: Placeholder, Or Championship Manager?

New, 180 comments

Will Dale Sveum be the manager when the Cubs return to postseason play? Here are some things to consider.

USA TODAY Sports

I present to you the record of a manager, who managed two teams for a total of nine seasons: He went 581-742 and never sniffed contention.

Here's the record of another manager, who managed a team for four seasons: He went 285-363 and not one of his teams finished over .500; two of the four lost 94 or more games.

And here's the record of a third manager, who did a little better with three teams over 14 seasons: He went 894-1003, made the playoffs once, but other than that never really came close to contention.

Now, here's the managerial record of Dale Sveum, through Monday's game. He's 96-146 and did manage a playoff team, but that was mostly an accident after Ned Yost was fired from the 2008 Brewers with 12 games left in the season. Sveum managed the Brewers in the division series against the Phillies; Milwaukee lost that three games to one.

So Sveum appears headed down the road of the three men I've mentioned above, right?

Well, if he is, we should be very, very happy if the Cubs would keep him, because those managers are (in order): Casey Stengel, Terry Francona and Joe Torre. One is in the Hall of Fame, another will be, and the third might be if he wins more World Series. Between those men, they account for 18 pennants and 13 World Series titles. Stengel was thought of as a clown when he managed the Braves and Dodgers; Francona a nice guy when he was Phillies manager, but never thought of as a championship guy, and Torre had a nice career as a broadcaster after being mediocre with the Mets and Braves. The Cardinals hired him and he was pretty mediocre there, too, until the Yankees brought him in and he went on to success. Many Yankees fans thought George Steinbrenner was crazy to hire Torre in 1996.

Now, you'll say that those three men managed bad teams, and didn't win until they got to teams that had better front offices who provided them with better players. That, of course, is what we hope Theo and Jed will provide for the Cubs. Torre, for one, was thought of as terrible at bullpen management -- until he got Mariano Rivera. Then he got really smart. Obviously, better players make their managers look better.

The question is, then: is Dale Sveum the guy who will manage those better players to postseasons and World Series titles?

Sveum's strengths are in being a calm presence and getting players to play hard for him every day. His weaknesses include bullpen management (duh!) and sometimes weird lineup selections, and though he claims to be sabermetric-leaning, that doesn't really show in many of his choices.

So, here's where you weigh in. Is Sveum the next Stengel, Francona or Torre? And if so, will it be with the Cubs or another team? Or, is he the next Ned Yost? (Incidentally, Yost was a longtime coach under Bobby Cox, and when he got his first managing job with Milwaukee, he was considered a top managerial prospect.) And if it's not Sveum managing the Cubs when they return to the postseason, who will it be? Vote in the poll and leave your thoughts in the comments.