Cubs big boss man Theo Epstein created some headlines this week when he offered a noncommittal response regarding the future of second-year manager Dale Sveum. Sports editor Jon Styf and columnist Tom Musick discuss:
Musick: OK, Jon, play along with me for a moment. Let’s say you have the authority to fire someone in the world of sports right here, right now. And it can’t be me. Who gets the ax?
Styf: I want to say Jacksonville Jaguars GM David Caldwell, because they are just a miserable excuse for a franchise and doing nothing to improve it, it seems. But he is way too new to the job (hired in January) to be fired already. Same goes for Rick Hahn, theoretically. So let’s fire Ron Gardenhire, whose haphazard team is nearly as bad as the Cubs and White Sox (though they also don’t have a ton of talent).
Musick: I kind of like Gardenhire, even if they have been terrible for three consecutive years. If this applies to broadcasters, I would fire Chris Berman. But if we’re talking coaches or general managers, then I would give the pink slip to Rex Ryan. He’s annoying and his teams are bad.
Styf: But they lost the franchise savior, Mark Sanchez. So can you really blame Rex? Back to Sveum for a minute. I just don’t see it. Was he supposed to win with that team? Was Edwin Jackson supposed to put them over the hump and make them a playoff team? They aren’t winning this year or next year anyway. And I doubt Sveum is the man to manage them when they do get good. But he certainly can coach out his contract, in my mind.
Musick: I generally prefer to butt heads with you, but I think you’re right in this case. Give a guy a roster with Triple-A talent, and he will produce Triple-A results. I guess the argument against Sveum is that the team’s young core players (Anthony Rizzo, Starlin Castro, the bat boy) have regressed this season rather than taking steps forward. But what is he supposed to do, walk up to the plate with them and help them swing the bat?
Styf: Your young players do have to produce, however. The long-failing Royals were the perfect example of that this season, when George Brett came and revived Mike Moustakos and Eric Hosmer. The Cubs very easily could become the Royals. And by that I mean bad for years and years and years. They’re well on their way. They just need to avoid making trades like the Royals did when they unloaded Wil Myers.
Musick: Have you heard that new song, “Royals”? It’s very catchy. But yes, it takes a long time to rebuild a baseball team, and I think that changing managers now would do little to change the direction of the Cubs. What could Joe Girardi do with this team, win another game or two? Give Sveum three, probably four years to see what he can do with a club that should be adding young talent each season. At that point, if the Cubs still are going sideways or worse, it might be time for a fresh start. By then, it also might be time to turn up the heat on Theo the Genius.