This was never going to be a "Wow!'' hire.
In fact, if the
then the hire is more “Who?’’ than “Wow!’’
The Cubs already made their “Wow!’’ hire.
was as “Wow!’’ as any team could get. He was “Wow!’’ with a capital “WOW!’’
Epstein’s history told you this would never be a hire with marquee value. Last time he went to find a manager --- the only time he went to find a manager, now that I think of it --- he hired
Francona was coming off a lousy stint as manager of the
, so maybe he was less of a “Who?’’ than a “Why?’’
And then everybody found out why, as the
in 2004 and ’07.
Underscoring the type of evaluator of managers Epstein is, the runnerup to Francona a decade ago was
. He was
’s bench coach at the time, a “Who?’’ if there ever was one.
To recap, Epstein narrowed his choices to someone who would win two World Series and someone considered by many the best manager in the game right now.
For those of you keeping score at home, Epstein has better managerial discards than previous regimes here had first choices. So Cub.
That’s why you have to like your chances with Sveum, even if you don’t know who he is or why they want him here or what makes him such a hot commodity that Epstein’s former team kept asking him out for dates.
Maybe that, in fact, is all you need to know. Epstein’s Cubs are trying to get the right bodies in the right places to vertically inegrate TheoThink the way the Red Sox did and still do. It’s not that the parts are interchangeable. Otherwise, Francona would’ve been hired last month. It’s more like the bodies are
Most of the Cubs candidates showed up on Boston’s list. The Cubs have been rating the comparable values of Sveum, Mike Maddux,
Jr. and Pete Mackanin. Not a “Wow!’’ in the bunch, and that’s probably a good thing.
The Cubs tried designer managers recently. Dusty Baker and
raced to deliriously good early success, but those proved to be just spikes followed by epic failures followed by a disaster named
Sveum and the other candidates seem to be somewhere between the doddering Piniella and the disrespected Quade. They appear to candidates willing to be molded by the new bosses and smart enough to balance being a baseball traditionalist and a new-age decimalhead.
Presuming Sveum views this opportunity as a promotion over being the Brewers batting coach, the Cubs will be getting a manager familiar with the
and intimately familiar with a successful divisional rival, one with good pitching and holes to be exploited.
Sveum also coached third base when the Red Sox broke that 86-year championship drought. Whatever small edges can be won from such things before Epstein’s home-grown cavalry gets here figure to be important, in part because TheoBall doesn’t have an NL track record. Cubs titlular general manager
had a Cubs-like spike in his short time in charge of San Diego, but spiked just enough to complete a Cubs-like choke.