So it’s been a few days since Theo axed Dale Sveum, and I think I’ve had a pretty good run at sorting out what I think about it. And I keep coming back to one question.
The Cubs embarked on pretty heavy interview process. It was hours long, and all the candidates seemed to comment on the thoroughness of it. So I’m having a hard time figuring out why the Cubs’ brass was surprised at Sveum’s stewardship to the point where they felt they needed to have a sit-down at the All-Star break, and then were surprised that it didn’t apparently get through. But then maybe everyone sounds different in an interview than they do when they actually get on the job, and bosses probably let things play out a little more to see how employees react and adjust. It’s not a major thing, just one I find curious.
As for whether Sveum was fired because of the job he did or there’s someone else out there they’d rather have… I think it’s probably both. It’s hard to say the Cubs were taking any steps forward. Sure, fringe players improved when they got here, but was that just a result of getting at-bats regularly for the first time? Valbuena, Murphy, Feldman, Maholm, Sweeney, Bogusevic, Schierhotlz, and maybe one or two others all found more success at points during the two years. Some of that is to Sveum, and some of that is to Chris Bosio (who I really want to stick around).
But none of that success is really going to matter, and maybe Theo and Jed thought that kind of work with those kinds of players wouldn’t translate to work with players who actually matter down the road. But the overall theme was the work with Rizzo and Castro.
I keep hearing that Castro suffered from hearing from multiple voices, not all in his head. I wonder where they’re coming from. Was the hitting coach and Sveum telling him two different things? Were people coming down from the front office? It’s clear the approach to handling Castro was not consistent. And that’s a problem. But it’s still early enough to erase it all and have the Castro back we remember (whether that form is good enough, I’m not sure. But I know it’s closer).
As for Rizzo, it’s still his first year around the majors. Or his first and a half tour. In fact, his numbers don’t look all that different than Freddie Freeman’s second major league season, and I think we’d all be happy if Rizzo turns into Freeman. That’s not how these things work, but you know. Rizzo still gets jammed too easily and never seemed to adjust to that. His swing was getting long again. They didn’t seem as hands on with Rizzo as they were with Castro. Or with Junior Lake. I just wonder.
I don’t know if Girardi is the right hire. The Marlins weren’t enamored with his handling of young pitching, but they’re owned and run by a loon. This is a different job than the Yankees’ one, and we really don’t know how he’d do it. The inkling is that he’d do well, but we don’t know. And now with the Reds and Nats jobs open, those are far more attractive.
What I’ve hated about all this is this narrative that by firing Sveum, Theo has “ramped up” the rebuild or something. What a bunch of bullshit. The rebuild is only in its first year, as the tear-down took up last year. Everything is still on schedule, and erring slightly on their first manager doesn’t put that off. The only thing it changes is there’s some pressure to get the second one right. But it doesn’t mean that the Cubs have to win sooner than they had to. The prospects will get here and prove to be what they are when they always were. Nothing stops.
-Dusty got fired again, and as he always does he went running for the cover of the Klan member under his bed. I’ve been arguing with a friend about this all morning. I do not mean to undervalue the sickness in this society that causes far too many to write or express racist views. But when it comes from Dusty, I turn off. He’s not trying to highlight society’s ills or start a conversation about it to lift us all up. He’s trying to deflect blame and not take responsibility for underachieving with yet another baseball team. There’s no excuse for the Reds not even winning a playoff series the past three years. They just haven’t. But instead of focusing on that, Dusty pulls out the hate mail again, just as he did here before he got fired, and just as he did in San Francisco. It’s never Dusty’s fault. It’s never his players’ fault, as witnessed by him letting Brandon Phillips fly off at a writer who’d pointed out his OBP sucks in September in the middle of a playoff chase. It’s always outside forces that conspired against Johnny B. It’s meant to shame all Reds fans, 95% of whom just wanted to see their team win and didn’t care what color Dusty was. It’s not fair to them.
Again, this kind of disgusting thought exists far too much in society, and we always need to work to eradicate racism where we can. But I can’t accept it from Dusty, who is only using it to cover his own ass.