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CHICAGO -- The "Boston show" welcomed a new member Friday when Dale Sveum was introduced as Chicago Cubs manager.
Sveum, who was third-base coach for the Red Sox in 2004 and 2005, was the choice of fellow Boston import and Cubs president of baseball operations Theo Epstein, who has surrounded himself with familiar faces from his Red Sox days, including general manager Jed Hoyer and vice president of scouting and player development Jason McLeod.Of course, Sveum was asked the million-dollar question: What does he think about the Cubs' 103-year championship drought? "The past is the past no matter where you are," Sveum said during an introductory news conference at Wrigley Field. "You're only as good as you are right now. It doesn't really matter what happened in the past."
Sveum was considered the leading candidate for the Red Sox job, when the team flew him to Milwaukee, where the general managers' meetings were being held, for a second interview.
"When it came down to it, this was a better fit and the arrow stopped on the Chicago Cubs," Sveum said Friday.
Sveum, who will receive a three-year deal, according to a baseball source, succeeds Mike Quade, who was fired after a 71-91 season.
"He knows the game inside and out," Epstein said. "He has a great combination of intelligence and intuition both between the lines and in the clubhouse. Next is his rare ability to hold players to high standards and hold them accountable, while also earning their respect and admiration. Dale demands a lot of his players but is held in universally high regard by them. That's a tough thing to pull off."
Sveum had competition for the job. Texas Rangers pitching coach Mike Maddux, Phillies bench coach Pete Mackanin and Indians bench coach Sandy Alomar Jr. all interviewed with Epstein. Red Sox bench coach DeMarlo Hale was interviewed over the phone, and former Boston manager Terry Francona withdrew from consideration.
Sveum takes over a Cubs team that finished fifth in the NL Central and is saddled with the big contracts of pitcher Carlos Zambrano and outfielder 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, who has a championship pedigree that the new manager knows well.
"The thing that has to be addressed right away is playing the game the right way on an everyday basis," Sveum said. "We have to address some of the problems that caused [a 91-loss season], which is the defense isn't very good, or not enough power, whatever it might be. There's a lot of things when you lose that many games that you have problems with.
"It's got to go in another direction to play this game like it's the seventh game of the World Series every day."
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.
Sveum is essentially a first-time manager at the major league level. He had a brief stint as interim manager of the Brewers in 2008, but otherwise has served as a coach during his major league career.
He did well in his limited run as Milwaukee's manager. After Ned 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 a National League-best 185 home runs and were third with a .261 batting average on their way to the NL Central title.During his career, the low-key Sveum got to play under some of the marquee managers in the game, including Joe Torre, Tony La Russa and Jim Leyland. Each had an input on how he plans to approach his new job. "I think the one common thread is the ability to motivate and none of them were screamers or yellers," Sveum said. Even though he says he hasn't read the book, "Moneyball," or seen the movie, Sveum is a proponent of statistical analysis favored by Epstein during his years in Boston, saying it gives the manager options when studying matchups and filling out lineups. And he'll talk baseball for hours. Sveum was ready to start meeting with coaching staff holdovers after his news conference on a cold morning at Wrigley Field. He's promised to improve the defense -- the Cubs made 134 errors while losing 91 games last season -- and baserunning Like everyone else, he was impressed with the offensive skills of 21-year old Castro, who had 207 hits a year ago. He wants a bench coach whom he knows well because they are bound to tangle during the season. But it won't be former Brewers Hall of Famer Robin Yount, whom he calls his best friend. "That's not going to happen," Sveum said.
Information from ESPNBoston.com's Gordon Edes, ESPNChicago.com's Jon Greenberg and Bruce Levine and The Associated Press was used in this report.