Sveum's skill set perfect for Cubs

November, 17, 2011
11/17/11
3:42
PM CT
Levine By Bruce Levine
ESPNChicago.com
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[+] EnlargeDale Sveum and Prince Fielder
AP Photo/Morry GashDale Sveum's ability to develop relationships with players and communicate makes him a perfect fit for the Cubs.
The hiring of Milwaukee Brewers hitting coach Dale Sveum as the Chicago Cubs manager makes sense on several different levels.

There is a degree of familiarity between the Cubs' new front office featuring president of baseball operations Theo Epstein, general manager Jed Hoyer and vice president of scouting and player development Jason McLeod and their new manager, and there is a history of success. The relationship goes back to 2004, when they were part of a World Series championship in Boston.

Sveum was the Red Sox's third base coach, a position he would hold for the next two seasons before returning to Milwaukee, where he once played for the Brewers and coached in four different areas, including 12 games as manager.

Sveum is the right choice here because of the direction the Cubs' new front office wants to go. The management team will look to build its success by scouting and developing amateur players from the U.S. as well as internationally.

And Sveum's communication skills and ability to forge relationships will help with the younger players.

"Dale's a very, very hard worker," Brewers utility man Jerry Hairston Jr. said. "In sports terms, he's the equivalent of a basketball gym rat.

"As a hitting coach, he's always there to help you and to encourage on to doing better things. The Cubs got themselves a real winner there with Dale. He's done just about everything in baseball."

Getting professional athletes to give you all they have is the greatest challenge for a coach. And the atmosphere at Clark and Addison has needed a face lift almost as much as the 97-year-old facade.

The three previous managers were not able to get their players to get involved in team baseball. Bunting, situation hitting, driving the ball to the right side were all missing elements for most of the Dusty Baker-Lou Piniella-Mike Quade eras.

Not all of that falls on the manager, of course. Part of the equation is to bring in unselfish players who have not become set in their ways and have preconceived ideas.

The first part of the question will be up to the scouting and development people. The rest will be Sveum and his coaching staff.

As important as the hiring of Sveum is, bringing in a solid coaching staff is key to success. Hitting coach Rudy Jaramillo, bench coach Pat Listach and bullpen coach Lester Strode are under contract. Team officials have not told any of the coaches that they'll be back. They were all told they have to wait until the manager was hired.

Bruce Levine | email

Chicago baseball beat reporter
Bruce Levine has covered sports in Chicago for over 28 years and hosts "Talkin' Baseball," heard Saturday mornings on ESPN 1000.

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TEAM LEADERS

BA LEADER
Starlin Castro
BA HR RBI R
.290 14 65 57
OTHER LEADERS
HRA. Rizzo 30
RBIA. Rizzo 71
RA. Rizzo 81
OPSA. Rizzo .889
WJ. Hammel 8
ERAT. Wood 4.81
SOJ. Arrieta 135