Friday, November 18, 2011

Don’t Jump To Conclusions

New Chicago Cub Manager, Dale Sveum
This past Thursday, Dale Sveum was hired as manager of the Chicago Cubs. Sveum played for the Brewers from 1986-1991 and coached from 2006-2011. Sveum’s best season came in 1987, when he hit 25 home runs and drove in 95 runs while batting primarily in the ninth spot in the lineup. On April 19 (Easter Sunday), he hit a walkoff home run at County Stadium to give the Brewers a 6-4 victory over the Texas Rangers for their twelfth win in a row.

It wasn’t long after the announcement before the Chicago radio was putting its special spin on the signing. On 670 The Score, Boers and Bernstein were Googling “interesting facts” about Dale Sveum and joking that they couldn’t find any.

On their facebook page they posted Sveum’s high school picture for their meatball fans to mock. David Kaplan from WGN and Comcast couldn’t let that one pass him by and posted the photo on Twitter.

Along with all the Chicago-style hilarity came an observation regarding the natural connection between Sveum and Prince Fielder. The free agent first baseman has never been shy about how much he appreciated Sveum and considers him one of the best coaches he ever had. This prompted the following speculations:


“Does this all add up to Fielder signing the megadeal he seeks with the Cubs?

Just imagine how many times he’d hit the ball out onto Sheffield Ave. He’d have a fan club just waiting out on the street for a chance to nab a home run, much like Sammy Sosa did in his heyday.

Imagine Fielder spending 81 games hitting in cozy Wrigley Field. Imagine when the wind is actually blowing out. With his huge uppercut, there wouldn’t be a pitcher in the league that would want to pitch to Fielder.”

This was from -

“Hire the Milwaukee Brewers hitting coach and could their slugging first baseman follow? That has to be the line of thinking for many fans with the news that Dale Sveum has accepted an offer to manage the Cubs after spending the past six seasons in Milwaukee working with Prince Fielder, who is one of the biggest prizes in free agency this offseason.”

And finally, from Tom Haudricourt of the Journal Sentinel –

“No offense to Dale Sveum, but Brewers fans are way more worried that Prince Fielder will follow him to the Cubs than they are about losing their hitting coach.”

Mr. Haudricourt has got that right. While it doesn’t thrill me to see Sveum named manager of the Cubs, the very talk of Prince ending up on the Northside of Chicago sickens me. I really don’t know what I would do if the unthinkable were to happen. It would be odiously heinous.

Seriously though, I don’t think Prince will sign with the Cubs for a number of reasons.

Owner Tom Ricketts has intimated that the Cubs were looking to slash payroll in 2012. Spending 200 million dollars on a free agent isn’t exactly a cost saving measure. Granted, this could change with the hiring of Theo “the Messiah” Epstein as President of Baseball Operations.

I don’t believe Prince would want to join a team that is basically starting from scratch. It is not in his nature to be content playing with a bunch of underachievers whose style of play is lackadaisical at best. Just ask Manny Parra.

Prince isn’t going to play for Chicago just because Sveum is there. If he wanted to play with people he knows, he would stay with Milwaukee. They chose him in June of 2002 as the seventh overall pick in the draft. The Brewers have been a part of Prince’s family for ten years.

Prince is all about family. He wants to be a better father to his sons than his was to him. The presence of his young sons, Jadyn and Haven in the Brewer’s clubhouse is well documented. Would he be afforded this same luxury with the Cubs? Is there even enough room in their antiquated locker room?

Prince Fielder and his sons, Haven and Jadyn
 I honestly don’t think having Sveum as their manager gives the Cubs an advantage in signing Prince. Any talk of the Cubs having an inside track based solely on Sveum being there is ridiculous.

Sadly though, I must accept that while Prince possesses a rare combination of determination and childlike enthusiasm for the game, it could very well come down to money. That is a cold, hard fact.

But if it does come down to money, and the Cubs are one of the teams in the bidding, they had better out bid everyone else. Prince isn’t going there just because Dale Sveum is their manager.  He knows if he signs an 8-year contract, Sveum will only be around as long as the Cubs are winning.

Based on these reasons, I optimistically (okay, maybe foolishly) feel that the team with the inside track is still the Brewers. Prince needs to remain in Milwaukee. Hopefully, Mr. Attanasio agrees and will pay the man.

Until next time…from the booth.

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