Those of you who sleep under a rock probably just realized that the Cubs fired Dale Sveum yesterday. Â You probably noticed because you rolled over and he wasn’t there.
On Sunday night, Theo Epstein and Dale had a couple of beers and chatted for a couple of hours. Â During the chat, Theo fired Dale. Â Given Dale’s crack communication skills he probably didn’t notice.
So yesterday they met at Wrigley Field and Theo fired him again. Â Some (well, let’s be honest almost all) of the media are proclaiming Theo’s first managerial hire with the Cubs a failure.
They are, of course, wrong.
Cubs fans are in full panic mode over what comes next. Â If the Cubs can’t hire Yankees manager Joe Girardi (whose contract ends November 1) then everything is a failure. Â Cubs fans are, of course, the worst.
Theo said some interesting things yesterday. Â He said something about “lifting up the kimono” (which actually was a party game Yosh Kawano used to play back in the Stan Hack days), and “Soon, our organization will transition from a phase in which we have been primarily acquiring young talent to a phase in which we will promote many of our best prospects and actually field a very young, very talented club at the major league level.”
What he didn’t say was that Dale had been hired for a thankless job. Â The team was going to suck, and suck on purpose. Â If a player who wasn’t part of the long-term future played well, he was going to get traded for prospects. Â Dale was going to lose and there wasn’t much he could do about it, except handle it with dignity, keep the team playing hard and avoid the kind of on-field, in-dugout and in-clubhouse craziness that has plagued the Cubs since the Dusty Baker era.
Not long after Theo took over the Cubs, baseball put in a new set of rules that were supposed to level the playing field between the big spending teams and the low revenue teams. Â No longer could you just throw extra millions of dollars at the draft or on international free agents and load up. Â The new system awarded one thing more than any other…losses.
It’s why the Astros have chosen to completely bottom out, too. Â You lose, you get better picks (like always) but you get more money to sign them with. Â Being mediocre has always been it’s own hell, but it’s even more of a hell now. Â Win 80 games and you get a mediocre draft pick and a pool of money inadequate to spend your way around it.
What Theo didn’t say was that Dale didn’t get fired for not doing his job. Â He got fired because the Cubs feel enough progress has been made in their farm system for the job to change. Â What Dale didn’t do was prove he was the guy they’d need to get the most out of the prospects who come up.
The Cubs didn’t make a mistake when they hired him. Â He was always a patsy. Somebody had to stand there in the dugout and not lose his mind as the losses piled up. Â There was very little chance that guy was still going to be around when the team made their first move from 95-100 losses to 75-80 wins. Â That’s supposed to start now. Â The next hire should be the guy who is there when the Cubs start to contend again. Â So, somebody very, very, young.
The media and the fans will focus on Girardi, and he could very well be a great fit. Â He’s a proven manager, he’s handled crazy shit in New York, he’s been fired by Jeffrey Loria (always a good thing) and he has played for the Cubs. Â This last part is only important to the dumbest in Cubs fandom. Â He even has practice announcing the death of a Cardinals’ player, and, given their driving skills, that might come in handy again.
But Girardi could very well re-sign with the Yankees, because that’s a great job. Â He could decide to talk to the Nationals who are much farther along in their rebuild than the Cubs and could realistically contend for a World Series next year. Â So if Joe doesn’t take (or get) the job, it’s the end of the world, right?
Call me crazy, but I think Theo’s list might have more than one name on it.