The Chicago Cubs have fired manager Dale Sveum after finishing last in the NL Central for the first time in seven years.
The Cubs closed the campaign dropping 41 of their final 59 games, including six of their final seven. They finished 66-96 this season and Sveum went 127-197 in his two seasons at the helm. He has one year left on a three-year deal signed before the 2012 season.
Cubs President of Baseball Operations Theo Epstein said in a statement that the decision was not because of wins or losses. He said the team wants to begin developing young talent and believes "a dynamic new voice...provides us with the best opportunity to achieve the major league environment we seek."
"We had hoped Dale would grow with our organization to see it through the building phase to a period of sustained excellence," he said, painting a positive picture of Sveum. "Instead, I believe Dale, who felt the weight of losing perhaps more than any of us, will grow because of this experience and find excellence elsewhere."
However, Sveum's job security was undoubtedly hurt by the slow development of shortstop Starlin Castro and first baseman Anthony Rizzo, who appeared to regress this year.
The team will begin searching for a new manager immediately, Epstein said, and hope to complete the process by November's GM meetings.
Sveum's dismissal likely will ramp up speculation surrounding the status of Yankees manager Joe Girardi, a Peoria native who played college ball at nearby Northwestern.
Epstein's full statement:
“Today, we made the very difficult decision to relieve Dale Sveum of his duties as Cubs manager. Dale has been a committed leader for this team the last two seasons, and I want to thank him for all of his dedication and hard work. I have a lot of admiration for Dale personally, and we all learned a lot from the way he has handled the trying circumstances of the last two years, especially the last two weeks, with strength and dignity.
In his own authentic and understated way, Dale always put the team first and never complained about the hand he was dealt. He and his staff helped us excel in game planning and defensive positioning, contributed to the emergence of several players, and helped put us in position to make some important trades. I have no doubt that – much like Terry Francona, whom we hired in Boston after his stint with a losing Phillies club – Dale will go on to great success with his next team. We had hoped Dale would grow with our organization to see it through the building phase to a period of sustained excellence; instead, I believe Dale, who felt the weight of losing perhaps more than any of us, will grow because of this experience and find excellence elsewhere.
Today’s decision to pursue a new manager was not made because of wins and losses. Our record is a function of our long-term building plan and the moves we have made – some good, a few we would like back – to further this strategy. Jed and I take full responsibility for that. Today’s decision was absolutely not made to provide a scapegoat for our shortcomings or to distract from our biggest issue – a shortage of talent at the major league level. We have been transparent about what we are, and what we are not yet. Today’s decision, which was painful for all of us, was made to move us closer to fulfilling our ultimate long-term vision for the Cubs.
Soon, our organization will transition from a phase in which we have been primarily acquiring young talent to a phase in which we will promote many of our best prospects and actually field a very young, very talented club at the major league level. The losing has been hard on all of us, but we now have one of the top farm systems in baseball, some of the very best prospects in the game, and a clear path forward. In order for us to win with this group – and win consistently – we must have the best possible environment for young players to learn, develop and thrive at the major league level. We must have clear and cohesive communication with our players about the most important parts of the game. And – even while the organization takes a patient, long view – we must somehow establish and maintain a galvanized, winning culture around the major league club.
I believe a dynamic new voice – and the energy, creativity and freshness that comes with this type of change – provides us with the best opportunity to achieve the major league environment we seek. We will begin our search immediately – a process which will be completed before the GM meetings in early November and perhaps much sooner. There are no absolute criteria, but we will prioritize managerial or other on-field leadership experience and we will prioritize expertise developing young talent. We have not yet contacted any candidates or asked permission to speak with any candidates, but that process will begin tomorrow morning.”