Dale Sveum is Cubs' new manager
MILWAUKEE -- Dale Sveum has accepted an offer to be the next manager of the Chicago Cubs.
Sveum, previously the Milwaukee Brewers' hitting coach, will be officially introduced on Friday morning at Wrigley Field, the team said. He succeeds Mike Quade, who was fired a disappointing 71-91 season that extended the Cubs' infamous championship drought to 103 seasons.
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"He's a good manager," said Cubs reliever John Grabow, who played for Sveum at Double-A Altoona from 2001 to 2003. "Really works hard with the hitters. He was more of a hitting guy when I was in Double-A. He was at the field every day working hard with the hitters.
"It doesn't surprise me he got a big league job by any means," Grabow said. "If you would've asked me in Double-A if he was going to be a major league manager, I probably would've said he's got a pretty good chance."
Grabow said Sveum's communication skills are sorely needed in Chicago after the Quade experience.
"He's the kind of guy who can talk to players, not be their best friend, but get to know them and what they're feeling," Grabow said.
Sveum has little experience as a manager, other than an interim stint for the Brewers late in 2008 after Ned Yost's firing, when he led them to the playoffs. He also served as Boston's third-base coach when Theo Epstein was the general manager.
Epstein, now the Cubs' president of baseball operations, and general manager Jed Hoyer were seen walking into Sveum's hotel Thursday afternoon. They emerged an hour later, walking with Sveum out of the hotel and into a waiting car.
Sveum had competition for the Cubs job. Texas Rangers pitching coach Mike Maddux, Phillies bench coach Pete Mackanin and Indians bench coach Sandy Alomar Jr. all interviewed face-to-face for the spot. Red Sox bench coach DeMarlo Hale was interviewed over the phone and former Boston manager Terry Francona pulled himself out of contention.
Sveum served as Francona's third-base coach for two seasons, including Boston's 2004 World Series championship season.
"Players love him and they should," Francona said Wednesday on "The Waddle & Silvy Show" on ESPN 1000. "I played with him actually in Milwaukee. He's kind of a players' player. He does things right. He's solid."
Sveum was considered the leading candidate for the Red Sox's managerial vacancy, with the team flying him to Milwaukee for a second interview.
Sveum will take over a Cubs team that finished fifth in the NL Central and is saddled with big contracts belonging to Carlos Zambrano and Alfonso Soriano. But the Cubs also boast a talented young player in All-Star shortstop Starlin Castro, and now a management team led by Epstein with a championship pedigree that the new manager knows well.
When he served as Boston's third-base coach in 2004 and 2005, Sveum often was criticized for an aggressive approach that led to runners being thrown out at the plate. But he was part of a championship team and is a believer in advanced statistical analysis, which meshes with Chicago's new leadership.
He's the kind of guy who can talk to players, not be their best friend, but get to know them and what they're feeling.” -- John Grabow
"I do my due diligence and video work and prepare as much as anybody," Sveum said. "As far as the stats, those are what they are, and we can use them to our advantage. It's a big part of the game now. It's helping us win a lot of ballgames, the stats and the matchups. That's just part of the game now, and you use what you can."
Meanwhile, Red Sox general manager Ben Cherington was headed out of the country, telling reporters before he left the general managers' meetings Thursday that the team's manager search would "take a little breather this weekend."
The Red Sox have interviewed Alomar, Mackanin, Torey Lovullo and Gene Lamont. But the team confirmed Wednesday that Mackanin was no longer under consideration.
"We're not dissatisfied with the candidates we have,'' Cherington said Wednesday. "We feel like these are unique circumstances here. ... We're very happy with the candidates. Our next manager could very well come from among those candidates, but we're not ruling out adding candidates."
Sveum, a switch-hitting shortstop, played 12 seasons with the Brewers and six other teams. He had a 25-homer season before his career was slowed after an outfield collision.
Dale Sveum's journey started with a modest playing career, evolved into coaching opportunities and culminated with being named Cubs manager.
He did well in his limited run as Milwaukee's manager. After Yost was fired following a 3-11 slide in September, Sveum led the Brewers to their first playoff appearance in 26 years, winning six of seven down the stretch and capturing the wild card on the final day of the regular season.
Milwaukee then decided to hire a more experienced manager in the offseason and went with Ken Macha, who lasted two seasons. Sveum stayed on as the hitting coach and oversaw one of the best offenses in the National League last season. With Ryan Braun and Prince Fielder leading the way, the Brewers hit an NL-high 185 homers and were third with a .261 batting average on their way to the NL Central title.
The past two seasons have bottomed out for Chicago. Lou Piniella abruptly retired in August 2010 and while Quade stepped in and did well, the Cubs didn't respond this season.
Zambrano was suspended late in the season after another outburst and is likely gone, even with a year left on his five-year, $91.5 million contract. There is a potential ace in Matt Garza and a promising young arm in Andrew Cashner.
First baseman Carlos Pena, a free agent who hit 28 homers with 80 RBIs and a .225 average, would like to come back. Aramis Ramirez, who hit .306 with 26 homers and 93 RBIs, said he plans to explore the free-agent market, though there is a mutual $16 million option on the table. Soriano, who has three years remaining on his deal, batted .244 but hit 26 homers with 88 RBIs.
Gordon Edes is a baseball writer for ESPNBoston.com. Information from ESPNChicago.com's Jon Greenberg, Bruce Levine and The Associated Press was used in this report.